Monday, April 25, 2005

Nautical Wheelers (who call themselves sailors...)

Music is an integral part of any culture – sailing is no exception. Jimmy Buffet is the prototypical nautical minstrel and, though I’m no parrot head by any stretch, I’ll cop to a fondness for some of his tunes…particularly the ones on the “Boats” disc from his box set, Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads. As well “A Pirate Looks at Forty” will have meaning for me before too long. Many different types of music above and beyond the more popular variety contribute to culture – check out this link to Hull’s International Sea Shanty Festival and this one to the Sea Music Festival sponsored by the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Historically, sea chanteys began as work songs aboard the tall ships and schooners that plied the oceans when trade was conducted under .

Sea chanteys, traditional shipboard work songs, were created and sung by sailors to lift spirits and maintain rhythm while working as a team. Other sea songs, like forebitters, ballads and drinking songs, were sung at leisure, or ashore. Today, these songs are a musical porthole into the past.

A few of my favorite sailing songs include “Lee Shore” by CSN – taken from their days aboard the schooner Mayan (acquired by David Crosby in 1967), Lyle Lovett “If I Had a Boat”, “When I Feel the Sea Beneath my Soul” by Taj Mahal "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’ll be glad to compile a “Top Ten Sailing Songs of All Time” so please cast your vote by commenting on this post.

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

8 comments:

wingssail said...

Only one sailing song has ever touched emotions within me like the sea does, and is Heart's Mistral Wind

"And in my ear he blew his name
It sound so strange but I heard it plain...
Mistral Mistral wind"

Anonymous said...

SAILING, Rod Stewart

Zephyr said...

Nice additions folks - thanks for stopping and reading...any more out there?

Anonymous said...

David Gray, "Sail Away" album: White Ladder
XTC, "Yacht Dance" album: English Settlement

Anonymous said...

Being a non-sailer, but a Buffet lover (quite possibly a parrot-head depending on your definition), this song vexes me a little. I have always loved the sound of it, but never truly understood what is about.

The only definition I've found for a Nautical Wheeler refers to ship building, not sailing. While I can see that reflected in at least one line of the song, as a whole, I don't really "get" the song.

Is it something that be explained or is it just a story with no real meaning?

Thanks for any feedback.

Anonymous said...

There's a song I really liked when I was a kid - in the early 70's - I don't know the title or who sang it (he had a nice sweet voice), but the ballad went like this:

"Sail, sail, white schooner sail,
through the waters of the West Indies,
Back to Mary, back to Mary..."

I'd be glad to hear this song again, but not knowing the title or the singer's name doesn't really help...

Anonymous said...

"Sail, sail, white schooner sail,
through the waters of the West Indies,
Back to Mary, back to Mary..."

This song is called "Sail sail" by The Merrymen, a band from Barbados.

Anonymous said...

"The only definition I've found for a Nautical Wheeler refers to ship building, not sailing. While I can see that reflected in at least one line of the song, as a whole, I don't really "get" the song.

Is it something that be explained or is it just a story with no real meaning?"


I saw this really old blog chain while looking for the Nautical Wheeler lyrics. The Nautical Wheelers JB refers too were (and may still be for all I know) a square dance club/team in Key West back in the 60's and 70's (if not earlier also).