Ye Mariners All

Songs of the Sea

Playlist   |   Technical Info   |   Song Notes   |   Order

1.The 'Fame' of Salem3:03 WAV-MP3
2.Marcherot1:48 WAV-MP3
3.The Steam Packet5:22 WAV-MP3
4.Wings of a Goney4:00 WAV-MP3
5.Pique la Baleine4:16 WAV-MP3
6.Three Jolly Fishermen3:28 WAV-MP3
7.Jack Robinson3:36 WAV-MP3
8.Old Billy Riley-O1:23 WAV-MP3
9.Hourra les Filles3:01 WAV-MP3
10.Serafina2:37 WAV-MP3
11.Rolling Down to Old Maui4:04 WAV-MP3
12.Yangtse River Chantey3:23 WAV-MP3
13.The 'Balaena'3:14 WAV-MP3
14.Hullabaloo Belay1:13 WAV-MP3
15.You Gentlemen of Boston3:36 WAV-MP3
16.Nantucket Point/Off She Goes3:55 WAV-MP3
17.Noah's Ark Chantey1:57 WAV-MP3
18.The 'Jamestown' Homeward Bound3:14 WAV-MP3
Total Duration58:00
Lyrics for each song can be accessed by following the links in the playlist above.


Recorded by Connie Karatza at Rhythmattic Sound Studios, Beverly MA.
Mixed and mastered by Donald Person and John Roberts at Studio 14, Albany NY.
Produced by John Roberts, with a little help from his friends.
Photos by Becky Rockwell aboard the 'Friendship' of Salem, modeled after the original East Indiaman; courtesy of the National Park Service.
Graphic layout by John Roberts and Lisa Preston.
Special thanks to Lisa Preston for much-needed musical and artistic input.
2003 Golden Hind Music


Our group was originally formed as an impromptu trio to fill an extra performance slot at the Salem Maritime Festival. Adding John Roberts' solo to the local duo of John Rockwell and Larry Young, we discovered in serendipitous fashion that we enjoyed playing music together as a threesome. Occasionally at first, but now on a more regular basis, we sing and play the music of the sea with a spiritual home port of Salem, Massachusetts.

Inevitably, the idea of a recording came up, so here it is. Some well known songs and chanteys, a few not so well known, some familiar songs in less-common versions, and even a few from the French tradition. Sea fare, homestyle maybe a few lumps in the sauce, but hopefully just the right amount of salt. We hope you like it.

The Songs

The "Fame" of Salem celebrates this privateer of the War of 1812, a replica of which is now sailing out of Salem harbor. We borrowed the tune from The Bold Richard and added a chorus. Larry found You Gentlemen of Boston in the Revolutionary War journal of Timothy Connor, an American prisoner held in Portsmouth, England. Larry took the tune from The Gallant Seaman's Sufferings, an older version of the song. The broadside ballad Jack Robinson is found in John Ashton's "Real Sailor Songs." It comes to us from the singing of Tim Laycock, who remarks that it was in the repertoire of Sam Cowell, an early music hall star. From roughly the same period we get The Steam Packet, a broadside from the press of Harkness of Preston (1840) set to music by Chris Pollington of the English band Strawhead. The 'Jamestown' Homeward Bound comes from Joanna Colcord's book "Songs of American Sailormen," and refers to the sloop of war built in 1844 which three years later was sent to Ireland with supplies to help relieve the famine.

Several of the songs come from the whaling industry. From the English singer and folklorist A. L. Lloyd (who also worked for a season on a whaling ship in the 1930s) we get The 'Balaena' and Wings of a Goney. The text of the latter comes from Gale Huntington's collection of songs from whaling journals, "Songs the Whalemen Sang." He also prints this version of Rolling Down to Old Maui with the tune he adapted from Frederick Pease Harlow's "Chanteying Aboard American Ships." We learned it from the English group Jolly Jack. The French chantey Pique la Baleine, like many of the English songs, is found in several quite different versions. If my recollection is correct I first heard this version from William Pint and Felicia Dale. It is printed (and recorded) in Marc Robine's "Anthologie de la chanson frangaise," where we also found the rowing song Hourra les Filles, a cheer for the ladies of the port.

The other French song presented here (also found in the "Anthologie") is Marcherot, a chantey published as long ago as 1888 by Laura Alexandrine Smith in her "Music of the Waters"; she describes it as a chantey particular to the port of Dunkirk. Versions of Old Billy Riley-O and Serafina are found in the chantey singer's 'Bible,' Stan Hugill's "Shanties from the Seven Seas." I note here that there are several alternate spellings of this word for a sailor's work-song; not following Hugill for once, I choose "chantey" as being a word unique to this purpose. Hugill also gives a verse and the chorus of Hullabaloo Belay, and recounts that the remaining verses were written for popular consumption (indeed, I learned it from a Burl Ives recording). It's a fine song nonetheless, and I wanted to include it hear to point out the tune's similarity to Marcherot. Checking my references for these notes, I see Stan Hugill made the connection long before I did.

Cecil Sharp collected the Noah's Ark Chantey from Captain Hole of Watchet, Somerset, in 1914. We learned it from the singing of Swan Arcade (yet another English group). Hamish MacLaren included the Yangtse River Chantey in his book of verse "Sailor with Banjo." Charlie Ipcar of Portland, Maine is responsible for the musical setting, and also did a nice job of making the text more singable. I learned it from our good friend Barry Finn (with much patience on his part). Three Jolly Fishermen I first heard sung by Ian Robb and the late David Parry. It is a Yorkshire fishermen's song, and is published in Roy Palmer's "Oxford Book of Sea Songs." Finally, I found Nantucket Point in Harlow many years ago, set to the first half of The Black Joke, an old English country dance tune; I knew the rest of the tune. We round it off with the well-known jig Off She Goes.

John Roberts

Schenectady, New York

Memorial Day 2003

© Golden Hind Music