Gary Brooker explained in an interview with Songfacts how this song is an example of how he was always coming up with musical ideas that he could marry to Keith Reid's words. Said Brooker: "Usually the best combinations do happen very naturally. If we take something like 'A Salty Dog' that was a musical idea, it's very much a type of chord progression with a certain rhythm. And I think soon after I got that idea, Keith…
(brooker / reid)
'all hands on deck, we've run afloat!' I heard the captain cry
'explore the ship, replace the cook: let no one leave alive!'