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All Hands
Lyrics: John Popper
Music: Brendan Hill

Every time the water breaks and soaks me to the bone
I remember what I left behind by sailing off alone
Pitch and yaw through hurricane, my position is unknown
And the bell rings seven times

Salted brine, I drink it down and breathe it through my nose
No sign of land but I hang on and do my best to close
But the swirling tidal undertow keeps pulling me below
And the bell rings seven times

All hands left on deck

An icy rest is waiting at the bottom of the sea
She's tried her best to take me as I struggle to get free
But while I have a breath to breathe, she isn't taking me
And the bell rings seven times

All hands left on deck

No hope of rescue
No hope of dry ground
The siren calls all souls on board
To follow her down

Swirling silently beneath the noise and light up there
Push past the frozen arms and legs, ignore the lifeless stare
I grab a line that pulls me up for a precious gasp of air
And the bell rings seven times

All hands left on deck


2001 Blues Traveler Publishing Corporation

First release: Bridge
Released: 05/08/2001
Earliest time played: 10/03/2000
Last time played: 11/03/2010
Playing frequency:
  262 plays (see all shows)
  14.10% of shows in the database
  28.79% of shows since debut
  Detailed statistics
Song information:
  The musical "jig" following the title line in this song is borrowed from one of the "Sun, Storm and the Traveler" tunes.
  Chan commented in an article that the drowning and storm-related imagery in this song is meant to represent the mental state of the band shortly after Bobby's death.

Other recordings of "All Hands":
  Live: What You And I Have Been Through, 2002
  Live: Thinnest Of Air, 2003


This song was written to describe the state of confusion and despair the band was in after the one-two punch of John's angioplasty and Bobby Sheehan's death within two months in 1999. John used a nautical theme and the image of a boat struggling through a hurricane to convey these feelings.

pitch and yaw
There are two basic motions for a boat - pitch is a forward-and-back tilting, while yaw is a side-to-side tilting. A ship that does both is in dire straits.
the bell rings seven times
Each watch on a ship consists of four hours, which are divided into eight half-hours. In order to keep track of time on the watch, a different number of bells are rung each half-hour - one bell after 30 minutes, two bells after an hour, and so on. For the shift starting at midnight, seven bells are rung at 3:30. For the four o'clock shift, seven bells ring at 7:30, and for the eight o'clock shift, seven bells ring at 11:30. While the seven bells could refer to either the time Bobby's death was discovered or the time it happened, this seems unlikely, as reports have him going to bed at approximately 4am and him being discovered around 11am.

A more likely explanation is rooted in the naval expression, "to knock seven bells out of a man", or to nearly kill him. Presumably, to knock eight bells out of him would mean death.

Another possible reference is the sinking of the Titanic, which struck an iceberg in the northern Atlantic just after 11:30 the night of April 14th.
All hands left on deck
"All hands on deck" was the frequent order when all members of a ship's crew were needed to be prepared for action. So if all hands were left on deck, it implies that they were either deserted or not needed.
The siren calls
The sirens were a race of sea nymphs in Greek mythology whose calls were irresistible to anyone who came near them. They lived near an island that was surrounded by hazardous rocks, and sailors who came too close were invariably lured in by their songs and sent to their doom by shipwrecking on the rocks.