Comic song exaggerating the dangers of keelboat work. During a storm on the river, the apprentice Pee Dee saves the day. Pee Dee, or P.D. is a common term used in a number of local songs to refer to a keelboat's apprentice. It is not known exactly what this abbreviation stands for but it is possible it is short for 'Poor Devil'.
'The Newcastle Songster', from which this song was taken, was printed by J. Marshall, one of the most prominent chapbook printers in Newcastle during the early nineteenth century. It is rather difficult to date the book, but as we know that Marshall didn't move to his Flesh Market premises until 1811, it is possible to say that it certainly wasn't published before this date. The appearance of much of the books contents in John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards', published in 1812, could also indicate that the book was printed around the same time. However which was printed first, can not be established for certain.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From 'Weel may the keel row' to 'Canny Newcastle', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as John Selkirk and Thomas Thompson, and would have been extremely popular among the local population.