Sea Shanty Saturday

A couple weeks ago Rick made what might be the Best. Comment. Ever. on Scicurious’ and my conversation about sex in science. I had admitted my guilt about singing some of the more misogynistic shanties, and Rick replied with:

BUT I LIIIIKE DIRTY SEA SHANTIES: A Feminist Deconstruction of Sex, Sea, and Sea Men
[Hardcover] by Miriam Goldstein
$19.50
$ 7.50 Kindle Edition

From Publishers Weekly: In this rollicking new collection of essays that examines more than 400 sea shanties from a philosophical, feminist, socio-sexual power dynamic, bawdy ocean scientist Miriam Goldstein demonstrates that not only does she know The Man from Nantucket, but she can clearly demonstrate to him how the deconstruction of sea shanties can allow us to rethink the political and explore the possibility that there is indeed life after identity politics.

“One of the more compelling ventures in feminist sea shanties that I have seen. I think that a book with this range, and with the kind of precise and cautious thinking exhibited by this author might just establish a new standard in the field.”
–Professor Iva Biggin, University of Very Serious Studies, Stoke on Trent

So, in honor this most epic of comments, I offer you The Fire Ship. This is relatively little-known bawdy shanty, nicely sung by hultonclint. Check out the rest of his shanties on YouTube.

Miriam Goldstein (228 Posts)





11 comments on “Sea Shanty Saturday
    • But then I’d have to have actual knowledge of “philosophical, feminist, socio-sexual power dynamics” rather just shooting my mouth off on the internets. :)

  1. I do not think that is a “relatively little-known” bawdy shanty: it’s one of the more familiar oines, I think! — usually in a shortened version, though.

    I like sailor songs too. I’m not even sure you can call some of that stuff misogynist, really.

    • More familiar to people who are deep in the sea music world (the shortened version is in Stan Hugill’s collection), perhaps, but I doubt most non-shanty-singing folks have heard “Fire Ship”! Happy to be corrected, though.

      And I do think it’s fair to call a fair number of sailor songs misogynist – I love “Bell Bottom Trousers” but it’s pretty much a rape-and-she-likes-it story. For a more extreme case, “A Matlow Told Me” is one of the few songs so disgusting that I won’t listen to or sing it.

  2. Miriam I’m sure you could get funding to attend the Mystic sea music festival every summer for a couple years. They have seminar sessions that I bet would

    • I’ve been to Mystic a couple times, but not since I moved to the West Coast. I miss it, especially the guy with the amazing bass voice who sings “Rolling Down To Old Maui” every year.

  3. We sing this song almost every time my music group meets, in honor of our Methodist church lady member. You’d be surprised how many respectable church ladies know and love it!

    My father raised us on sea shanties, and they weren’t half as bawdy as the army songs he taught us. The sea shanties seemed to focus more on the risk of STDs than on the activities that led to them — perhaps a reflection of the sailors’ greater experience with long-term reliance on prostitutes and the soldier boys’ inexperience and optimism?

    • Kate – Thanks for the tip! I’d not heard of this, though I do love me a good Nick Cave scary-ass traditional ballad.

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