… and a barrel for the shanty man!
It’s a few years now since I travelled to the London Palladium to see the musical behemoth that was Bellowhead on its farewell tour. In among the group’s set list for the evening were a number of shanties played in a big-band, party style and the header for this post is a line taken from one of them, Whiskey is the Life of Man.
Originally, sea shanties were call and response songs from the days of sail-powered ships and usually accompanied some form of synchronised, manual activity, such as working a capstan to raise an anchor or when hoisting a sail. The caller was known as the shanty man.
Other shanties comprised verse and chorus songs with the shanty man leading on the verse and the crew responding in the chorus. Nowadays, well…
Shanties have been re-discovered by the TikTok generation! According to the New York Times, a 26 year old Scottish postman, Nathan Evans, started the trend with a shanty on TikTok, Soon May the Wellerman Come, a follow-up to his earlier posting of another shanty, Leave Her, Johnny, and, now, even Kermit the Frog has jumped aboard ship and added his dulcet tones to those of Evans.
And the point of telling you all this? A limerick, of course…
A Millennial went down to the dock
Dressed up in a fisherman’s smock
Where he sang out with glee
Of ships and the sea
And gave rise to the tag: #ShantyTok!