My dad was in a community theatre production of Guys and Dolls when I was a kid. I loved going to his rehearsals with him. I don’t know how old I was but it was younger than 9. I loved the songs, the rehearsal atmosphere, the dancing. We listened to the soundtrack a lot. I was a particular fan of Adelaide’s Hot Box numbers and would sing, “Take Back Your Mink” at top volume quite often. I also loved “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” which I was sure was “Sit Down on Your Rock In the Boat.” I figured the rocks were the chairs in the boat.
I had no context for the song’s religious qualities. I don’t think I processed that the boat was going to heaven – nor did I care much about the devil threatening to drag the singer under. I was mostly interested in the “Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down” repetition. I found those sit downs very exciting. And then at the end, you were meant to sit down on your rock in the boat.
I still think of this boat this way – a boat with no seats, just rocks for everyone – and the singer is just a misbehaving adult that everyone wants to just sit down on his rock in the boat. Like the kids in my class who couldn’t be compelled to stay at their desks. I know this song is about something else entirely now but because I learned it at such a young age, my old version is forever emblazoned on my imagination.