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Entries Related To: sea

Georges Banks

Henry Campbell & Gerald Campbell

Georges Banks / Henry Campbell & Gerald Campbell

Georges Banks, song (Ye roving sons of Newfoundland, I hope you will draw near …) Georges Bank is a large plateau-shaped shoal off the coast of Massachusetts. It is part of a series of banks and shoals that extend along the edge of the North American continental shelf—the most northern of which are Newfoundland’s Grand Banks.  This ballad tells the story of a ship, the Morning Star, whose crew was fishing on Georges Banks. The ship was caught in a November gale that resulted in many fisherman freezing or being swept overboard before they could return to Newfoundland.  Other versions of this song are included in Greenleaf and Mansfield’s Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland (1933:260–263); Kenneth Peacock’s Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3 (1965:916–21); and among the recordings of MacEdward Leach.

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Golden Bay

Anthony Power

Golden Bay / Anthony Power

Golden Bay, song (In nineteen hundred and twelve, my boys for Golden Bay set sail …) Composed by brothers Henry Nash (Sr) and Bernard Nash who fished together in Golden Bay, this song describes a whaling expedition that left Branch in 1912. The crew caught a whale, but it rotted before they could sell it for the thirty pounds in gold that they expected to receive.  Henry Nash (Sr) was the father-in-law of Anthony Power, who performs the song here. 

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Jack was a sailor on board a whaler

Caroline Brennan

Jack was a sailor on board a whaler / Caroline Brennan

Jack was a sailor on board a whaler, song (Jack was a sailor on board of a whaler ...) This children’s son features a sailor named Jack. A friend asks him to pay a debt, and Jack responds, “You’ll have to wait till my ship comes in.” When Jack later survives a shipwreck and his friend makes the same demand, Jack gives the same excuse.  Though the song follows a standard verse-and-refrain form, the metric structure of the song is somewhat unusual: verses are sung in triple metre and choruses are in duple metre, matching shifts in the narration from third to first person.

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My boy Willie

John Joe English

My boy Willie / John Joe English

My boy Willie, song (The sailing trade is a weary life …) This English broadside ballad is also known as “The sailor boy” or “Sweet William.” It is widely anthologised and recorded, with variant versions transforming Willie from a sailor to a lumberjack. It recounts the pain of a woman who is left behind when a loved one goes to sea and dies far from home.  This song was among John Joe English’s favourite songs.

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The barque in the harbour

John Hennessy

The barque in the harbour / John Hennessy

The barque in the harbour, song (The barque in the harbour, I went roaming on shore …) Also known as “The Spanish lass,” “The young Spanish lass,” and “The Indian lass,” this broadside ballad probably has its origins in 1820s Britain (Guigné 2016:347). It tells the story of a sailor who goes ashore, meets a local woman, and then leaves her to return home. 

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The brave volunteer

Henry Campbell

The brave volunteer / Henry Campbell

The brave volunteer, song (One cold stormy night in the month of December …) The song tells the story of a widow lamenting the loss of her husband, whose ship sank off the shore of Galway. In this version of the song, the protagonist (whose name is Henry) leaves to seek his fortune, but how remains unclear. Another version of the song, recorded on a 19th-century ballad sheet held in the Bodleian Libraries (Bod7845) specifies that Henry has volunteered to fight as a mercenary for a Portuguese king. 

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The drunken captain

Dermot Roche

The drunken captain / Dermot Roche

The drunken captain, song (In the stream of cancer [Strait of Canso] our good ship lay …) This song is usually known as “The drunken captain” in Newfoundland. Dermot Roche’s version closely resembles a variant titled “In Canso Strait” that more typically is associated with Nova Scotia origins. In both cases, the song tells the story of a ship’s captain who drinks too much and endangers his crew with his poor judgement. See Genevieve Lehr’s Come and I Will Sing You (1985:53–3) and Kenneth Peacock’s Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3 (1965:871–2) for other versions of this song collected in Newfoundland.

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The northeast gale

 Denis McGrath

The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

The northeast gale, song (Ye hardy sons of Newfoundland pay attention to my song ...) Composed by Walt Young, this song tells the story of a gale that arose off the coast of Newfoundland on 18 June 1906. Several fishing craft from Placentia Bay that were fishing off Cape St Mary’s were caught in the storm and men were lost at sea.

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The schooner Annie

Caroline Brennan

The schooner Annie / Caroline Brennan

The schooner Annie, song (Young and old I pray make bold, and listen to my tale ...) Composed by Peter Leonard (1890–1964) under the title “Jim McCarthy,” this song recounts the story of a ship (the Annie) that left St John’s in 1915 with a cargo bound for Placentia Bay. The schooner was caught in a gale and, despite the best efforts of the crew, was eventually lost. The crew, however, was rescued by a passing ship, the Monarch.

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The schooner Mary Ann

Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann / Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann, song (Oh ye landsmen that live on the land, it's a little do you know …) Strong shipping links connected Newfoundland and New York during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This song tells the story of a smallpox outbreak on a ship travelling this route. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock publishes the title of this song as “Bound down to Newfoundland” and observes that, though the subject matter might point to its being quite an old song, the reference to the Statue of Liberty dates its composition to after 1886 (1965:905–6).

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Transcript of '[My boy Willie]' as sung by John Joe English / Aidan O'Hara

My boy Willie (The sailing trade is a weary life …) A typed transcript based on Aidan O'Hara's field recording, with annotations and corrections by the collector.

Transcript of 'Georgie's banks' [Georges banks] as sung by Henry Campbell & Gerald Campbell / Aidan O'Hara

Georges banks, song (Ye roving sons of Newfoundland I hope ye will draw near …) A typed transcript based on Aidan O'Hara's field recording, with annotations and corrections by the collector.