This song was usually sung near the end of the voyage and at port while sailors worked the pumps and aired their grievances. It could have been sung as early as the Potato Famine. 'Her' refers to the ship, rather than a woman.
Other names for the ballad include 'Leave Her Bullies, Time for Us to Leave Her' and 'Leave Her'.

On the Rogue's Gallery album, Lou Reed is accompnied by a mellow electric guitar and a soulfull backing voice.

Sheet music can be found here and here




Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her
(A Sea Chanty for Pumping and Halliards)

I thought I heard the captain say,
Leaver her, Johnny, leave her;
You may go ashore and touch your pay,
It's time for us to leave her.

You may make her fast, and pack you gear,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
And leave her moored to the West Street Pier
It's time for us to leave her.

The winds were foul, the work was hard,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
From Liverpool Docks to Brooklyn Yard,
It's time for us to leave her.

She would neither steer, nor stay, nor wear,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
She shipped it green and she made us swear,
It's time for us to leave her.

She would neither wear, nor steer, nor stay,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
Her running rigging carried away,
It's time for us to leave her.

The winds were foul, the trip was long,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
Before we go we'll sing a song,
It's time for us to leave her.

We'll sing, Oh, may we never be,
Leave her, Johnny, leave her;
On a hungry ship thge like of she,
It's time for us to leave her.

Coil down

So Long




References:
E.W. Parker 1936
Lesley Nelson-Burns
- an extended version of lyrics