The multiple versions referenced here have some lyrical similarities but could probably be called separate songs. The Lou Killen recording follows from Terry's lyrics from The Shanty Book. This seems to be the less-recorded version.

Johnny Collins, Stuart Gillespie, Jim McGrath, Danny Spooner, and Broken Social Scene all sing another version. The verses are very amenable to improvisation: rhyming and strict rhythm are not crucial. The melody of the chorus is typically the same after each line of a couplet so that the song does not necessarily resolve.

Pressgang Mutiny has even recorded both distinct versions under the same track title.

A third song about a literal wild goose is part of the Canadian Northwoods folksong tradition (see e.g. Wade Hemsworth).

There has been much speculation about the phrase "Wild Goose Nation" and whether it has any actual location. It likely has origins in minstrel songs and was used as the title of a song by Daniel Emmett. Joanna Colcord believed it referred to the Irish as Irishmen who refused to fight for the British Crown were occasionally called "wild geese" (see the Kipling Poem The Irish Guard). However, Colcord had a habit of underselling (African) American influence on shanties.