The Oxford Book of Sea Songs

The Oxford Book of Sea Songs

Book - 1986
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The sea song holds a special mystery for many, and the sailor's life has a romantic aura all its own. For centuries, songs about the sea have buoyed sailors' spirits throughout their adventures and misfortunes. Bawdy, lyrical, and sentimental, sea songs--often composed by the sailors themselves--relate every aspect of nautical life, from mutiny and shipwreck to pressgangs and piracy to relations with wives and sweethearts.

This anthology gathers together 176 sea songs, including tunes wherever possible, ranging geographically across the seven seas and in time from the 1560s ("John Dory") to 1979 ("The Final Trawl"). The shanty, sung to accompany heavy labor, "was like a shot of grog to the men," according to one old sailor; one of the best known is "Blow the Man Down" (c. 1850s). Songs sung for recreation, called forebitters or shore songs, were as often comic and frivolous as they were melancholy. Though the purpose of sea songs was not primarily aesthetic, there is poetry in the vivid energy of the language and in the many moods it evokes.

A wealth of historical and technical detail gives fascinating backtground to the songs, and a glossary of nautical terms is also included.

About the Editor:

Roy Palmer is the editor of many anthologies of folk songs and ballads, including Everyman's Book of English Country Songs and E's Book of British Ballads.
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, c1986.
ISBN: 9780192141590
Additional Contributors: Palmer, Roy 1932-2015


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