Song Library‎ > ‎

John Kanaka

An old sea chantey, and ingenious call-and-response song, with words like "Kanaka-naka" that kids just love to say.
A little background: "Kanaka" is a Hawaiian word for "man", usually a sailor. More here.
You might enjoy this version from the 2014 Folk Awards!



I heard, I heard, the Old Man say,
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-e!
Today, today is a holiday!
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-e!
Tu-lai-e!, oh, tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-e!

We'll work tomorrow, but no work today,
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!
Today, today is a holiday,
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!
Tu-lai-e, oh! tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!

We're bound away for Frisco Bay,
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
We're bound away at the break of day.
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Tu-lai-e, oh! tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!

A Yankee ship with a Yankee crew,
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Oh we're buckos for to push her through.
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Tu-lai-e, oh! tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!

A Yankee ship with a Yankee mate,
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
He's the bugger who can change your gait!
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Tu-lai-e, oh! tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!

Oh, haul away, oh, haul away!
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Oh, haul away, an' make your pay!
John Kanaka-naka tulai-e!
Tu-lai-e, oh! tu-lai-e!
John Kanaka-naka, tulai-e!



(Pronounced "too-lie-ay")