The sea chantey and songs of the sea have made an impressive comeback, thanks to public radio and social media.
BATH, Maine — Chuck’s Big Adventure is traveling to New England. It is an area known for its beauty, history, lobsters and, in autumn, it’s explosion of color.
Songs of the sea
Sometimes, a sound can take you to a place you’ve never been for the first time but makes you believe it’s always been a part of you.
Wander by the coastline of Bath, Maine, near a renovated mockup of the state’s first ship, and you hear it – and see it. A rigging crew hoisting a sail, sing an old sea chantey:
“Whiskey gave me a broken nose…
Whiskey made me pawn my clothes…
Whiskey for the Johnny O.”
That crew and those songs are all part of the everyday life of Fred Gosbee and Julia Lane, better known as Castlebay.
For decades, they have documented – with books, concerts and tours – the songs of the sea and the chanties that hard-working sailors used to make their life and work more bearable.
Our Big Adventure team met with Fred and Julia near the world-famous Bath shipyard and toured the replica 1607 ship. While there, Fred and Julia sang for us, and their rigging crew demonstrated the songs – songs that brought perfectly to mind the life, the feeling and the deep emotion of life working on the sea.
“Sea chanteys are work songs. And one of the big differences between the sea chanteys and the other songs, which you call ‘forebitters,’ is there’s no plot, there’s no story – they’re just random verses to keep the cadence,” Fred said. “When the sail is up or the anchor’s up, when their job is done,