The Wreck of the John B
Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

We came on the sloop "John B"
My grandfather and me
'Round Nassau town we did roam
Stayed awake all night
We got into a fight
Well, I feel so broke up
I just want to go home
Hoist up the "John B" sail
See how the mainsail sets
Tell the captain ashore
I wanna go home
Well, I wanna go home
I wanna go home
Lord, I feel so broke up
I just wanna go home

Well, the first mate he got drunk
And he broke into somebody's trunk
And the Sheriff had to come and take him away
Sheriff John Slone
Please let me alone
Well, I fell so broken up
I just wanna go home

Hoist up the "John B" sail
See how the mainsail sets
Tell the captain ashore
I wanna go home
Lord, I wanna go home
I just wanna go home
Well, I feel so broken up
I just wanna go home

Hoist up the "John B" sail
See how the mainsail sets
Tell the captain ashore
I wanna go home
Well, I wanna go home
I wanna go home
Lord, I feel so broken up
I just wanna go home




Well, I feel so broken up
I wanna go home

Overall Meaning

"The Wreck of the John B" is a folk song that was popularized by Jimmie Rodgers in the early 20th century. The song tells the story of a group of men who went on a trip aboard the sloop "John B" but ran into some trouble. The singer and his grandfather were among the men and as they traveled around Nassau town, they got into a fight. The singer expresses his desire to go back home as he feels so "broke up."


In the second verse, we learn that the first mate got drunk and broke into someone's trunk, which led to the Sheriff coming to take him away. The singer pleads with Sheriff John Slone to leave him alone, as he just wants to go home. Throughout the song, the chorus repeats the plea to "hoist up the John B sail" and "tell the captain ashore" that they want to go home.


The song is a classic example of a sea shanty, which is a type of work song that was sung by sailors while performing various tasks on a ship. The lyrics are based on an actual event that occurred in 1896 when a Bahamian vessel named "The John B" became shipwrecked off the coast of Key West, Florida. The song became popular among sailors and was passed down through oral tradition before it was recorded by various artists, including Jimmie Rodgers.


Line by Line Meaning

We came on the sloop "John B"
My grandfather and I arrived on the ship named "John B"


Round Nassau town we did roam
We traveled around the town of Nassau


Stayed awake all night
We were up all night


We got into a fight
We got involved in a fight


Well, I feel so broke up
I feel really upset


I just want to go home
All I want is to return home


Hoist up the "John B" sail
Lift up the sail of the ship "John B"


See how the mainsail sets
Observe how the big sail is aligned


Tell the captain ashore
Inform the captain who is on land


I wanna go home
I want to go back home


Lord, I wanna go home
Oh God, I want to go back home


Well, the first mate he got drunk
The first mate got drunk


And he broke into somebody's trunk
And he broke into someone's luggage


And the Sheriff had to come and take him away
The Sheriff had to intervene and take him out


Sheriff John Slone
The Sheriff's name is John Slone


Please let me alone
Please leave me by myself


Well, I fell so broken up
I am so devastated


I just wanna go home
I just want to go back home


Well, I feel so broken up
I am feeling really upset


I wanna go home
I want to go back home


Lord, I wanna go home
Oh God, I want to go back home


I just wanna go home
I just want to return home


Well, I feel so broken up
I am feeling really upset


Hoist up the "John B" sail
Lift up the sail of the ship "John B"


See how the mainsail sets
Observe how the big sail is aligned


Tell the captain ashore
Inform the captain who is on land


I wanna go home
I want to return home


Well, I wanna go home
I really want to go back home


I wanna go home
I want to go back home


Lord, I feel so broken up
Oh God, I am feeling really upset


I just wanna go home
I just want to go back home


Well, I feel so broken up
I am feeling really upset


I wanna go home
I want to go back home




Contributed by Joshua J. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Comments from YouTube:

@thomasnatera3388

This is the best version ever. Jimmy Rodgers has a great voice.

@TomokoAbe_

What a delightful song and heavenly voice! Thank you for posting!

@kmslegal7808

RIP Jimmie Rodgers. We will miss you

@3vino1

this is the version I was looking for. This is the one I remember as a teenager.

@dabprod

+3vino1.......Yep, I've been all over youtube looking for the one I remember when I was 16 in Hi School in 1960. I remember it so well.

@gudyung9744

rip james frederick rodgers gone but never forgotten

@treverparish

Went to a thrift store with my grandfather 10 years ago when I was 16 and bought this gem of an album along with Marty Robbins and my grandpa's personal favorite, Eddy Arnold. Thanks for the memories and good music, gramps!

@kmslegal7808

I think about my grandfather everyday and I'm 62

@jayjaynella4539

My deceased parents. Mom liked Eddy Arnold and Dad loved Marty Robbins.

@ronthesledge

I've always loved the unique purity of his voice. When I first got started my now long defunct ride share career here in Nashville one of my first pick ups turned out to be Jimmie Rodgers daughter.

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