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Sailor Song: The Shanties and Ballads of the High Seas | Gerry Smyth

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Who knew that the shanty would return in a locked-down 2021, but return it has. Read on for the British Library's description of their latest title!

 

From the earliest of voyages, seafarers have sung, be they homeward bound or rolling in a merciless sea to an unknown horizon. The shouts and cries of these sailors’ shanties provided a musical rhythm to their work and such ‘concerted’ efforts improved efficiency as anchors were raised, sails hoisted, and bilge water pumped. Boredom was allayed, concentration increased, and the stamina-sapping agonies were borne on a melody.


In Sailor Song acclaimed writer, playwright and musician Gerry Smyth presents the words and music of some 40 ‘heaving or hauling’ working shanties and 10 off-duty sea songs and ballads. The meanings and history of each song is revealed alongside thematic sections exploring celebrated shantymen, song types and traditions as well as the influence these songs have had on the folk music movement, rock music and the modern shanty revival.


The volume is illustrated with specially commissioned artworks by popular folk artist Jonny Hannah alongside many previously unpublished artworks from the holdings of the British Library.

Sailor Song: The Shanties and Ballads of the High Seas | Gerry Smyth | Colours May Vary
Sailor Song: The Shanties and Ballads of the High Seas | Gerry Smyth | Colours May Vary
Sailor Song: The Shanties and Ballads of the High Seas | Gerry Smyth | Colours May Vary