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SWING THE CAT……………….WORDS AND MUSIC BY MEG DAVIS © 1985

                                                      PUBLISHED BY LEELANAU HERITAGE ARTS (P) 1985

                                                      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

CHORUS:

 

SWING IT HIGH, SWING IT LOW

IF IT HOLLERS LET IT GO,

IF IT’S DROWNED THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO TAKE CARE OF THAT:

YOU MUST GRAB IT BY ITS FEET, SWING IT HIGH AND SWING IT NEAT,

(FOR) YOU MIGHT SAVE A LIFE AT THAT IF YOU CAN SWING THE CAT !

 

VERSES:

 

1.

IT WAS JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT WHEN I HEARD THE CAPTAIN SHOUT,

“ CURSE THE DEVIL BELOW BUT THERE ARE RATS ABOUT !”

THEY WERE STREAMING CROSS THE GANGPLANKS,

THEY WERE TEARING UP THE SHEETS,

EVERY SAILOR HAD A HUNDRED SNAPPING AT HIS FEET.

 

2.

“WHAT CAN WE DO ?!”, CRIED THE SAILORS AS THE RATS BEGAN TO DANCE,

“IT’S A HOPELESS SITUATION, BUT WE HAVE ONE CHANCE.

EVERY MAN GO ASHORE, SEARCH THIS WAY AND THAT,

DON’T DARE TO SHOW YOUR FACES ‘TILL YOU FIND A CAT !”

 

3.

WELL, WE LEAPT TO THE DOCKS AND WE BOLTED THROUGH THE TOWN

EVERY YOUNG MAN AND OLD MAN SEARCHING UP AND DOWN.

THREE-HUNDRED SAILORS ON THE LOOSE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT ?

AND EVERY SAUCY SAILOR SURE HE FOUND A CAT !

 

4.

BACK TO THE SHIP WE WENT RUNNING WITH OUR PRIZES

THERE WERE CATS OF MANY COLORS, THERE WERE CATS OF MANY SIZES,

WHEN THE RATS SAW US COMING SURE THEY ALL BEGAN TO SHOUT,

“CURSE THE DEVIL BELOW BUT THERE ARE CATS ABOUT !”

 

CHORUS

 

5.

WELL, WE LET OUR KITTIES LOOSE ON THAT UNSUSPECTING HOARD

AND THE RATS BY THE THOUSANDS SCRAMBLED OVERBOARD,

THEY WERE SWEPT OUT TO SEA, EVERY GERMY LITTLE TAIL,

(AND) WITH THE MORNING LIGHT UPON US SURE WE HOISTED SAIL.

 

6.

Some sunny day you might meet us as we’re out upon the sea,

We’ll be flying Jolly Roger on a tropical breeze.

(And) though we’re over run with kittens, don’t be scared of that

For we’ll welcome you aboard if you can Swing The Cat !

 

 

 

SWING THE CAT……..(CONTINUED)

 

 

7.

NOW WE SAIL THE MIGHTY OCEAN (AND WE’RE SUCH A HAPPY CREW),

WITH OUR KITTIES HERE TO HELP US THERE IS NOTHING MUCH TO DO !

(FOR) IF A CAT CATCHES TWO FISH HE IS SURE TO GIVE YOU ONE,

AND HE’LL SING YOU OFF TO SLEEP WHEN YOUR DAY IS DONE.

 

NOTE: THE RECORDED VERSION OF THIS SONG IS:

SING VERSE 1.

SING VERSE 2,

INSTRUMENTAL CHORUS

SING VERSE THREE,

SING VERSE FOUR,

SING CHORUS FOLLOWED BY INSTRUMENTAL REPRISE,

SING VERSE 5,

SING VERSE 7

SING CHORUS AND END WITH REPEATING INSTRUMENTAL CHORUS THEME

(VERSE #6 WAS OMITTED FROM THE ORIGINAL RECORDING)

 

COMPOSER’S MESSAGE: THE TERM TO “SWING THE CAT” HARKENS BACK TO THE DAYS OF GALLEY SHIPS WHEN THE ROWERS WERE CHAINED BELOW DECKS. WHEN YOU HAD SO MANY MEN BELOW DECKS THAT THERE WAS NO ROOM TO MOVE IT WAS REFERRED TO AS ‘NOT ENOUGH ROOM TO SWING THE CAT’. THE ‘CAT’ WAS AN INSTRUMENT OF PUNISHMENT CONSISTING OF IRON NAILS KNOTTED INTO LENGTHS OF LEATHER THAT WERE THEN ATTACHED TO A LONG STIFF HANDLE. (ALSO KNOWN AS A  ‘CAT O’ NINE TAILS’).

MY USE OF THE ‘SWING THE CAT’ IDEA REFERS TO SOMETHING ELSE ALTOGETHER. I HAVE READ IN SEVERAL VERY OLD MANUSCRIPTS THAT THERE WAS A WAY TO SAVE A DROWNED CAT’S LIFE BY HOLDING IT’S  HIND LEGS AND SWINGING AROUND IN A CIRCLE. THUS, THE CENTRIFUGAL FORCE WOULD PULL THE WATER OUT OF THE CAT’S LUNGS.

I’VE PUT THESE IDEAS TOGETHER IN A SIMPLE, AND HOPEFULLY, WHIMSICAL WAY AS A PROCESS OF CREATIVE WORD USE. IN NO WAY DO I INTEND TO SUGGEST THAT ANYONE MANHANDLE A CAT OR TREAT IT IN ANYWAY BUT A KIND AND GENTLE MANNER !

MEG DAVIS 3/8/1999