Are you a fan of tall ships and sea shanties?
Have you ever been on board a tall ship and felt the wind in your hair and the salt on your skin, while singing a rousing sea shanty with fellow sailors?
If you have, then you know how magical and unforgettable the experience can be.
But if you haven’t, we have compiled the ultimate list of the best tall ship songs and sea shanties that will transport you to the high seas and give you a taste of the sailor’s life.
How to Sing Like a Sailor: Tall Ship Songs and Sea Shanties
1. “Drunken Sailor”: A Classic Sea Shanty with Enduring Appeal
Possibly one of the most well-known sea shanties, “Drunken Sailor” has been sung for centuries by sailors on board tall ships. The repetitive lyrics make it easy to chant in unison with fellow sailors, and the jaunty tune is perfect for lifting spirits and passing the time on long voyages.
2. “Spanish Ladies”: An Elegy of Distant Love
A favorite of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, “Spanish Ladies” is a traditional English sea shanty that dates back to the 1700s.
The song tells the story of a sailor’s love for a Spanish lady and the perils he faces on the high seas.
3. Rolling Home
This sea shanty is believed to have originated in the 19th century and was often sung by sailors on their return home after a long voyage. The lyrics tell the story of a sailor’s yearning to return to his loved ones and his anticipation of the comforts of home.
4. “Haul Away Joe”: A Rhythmic Rendition of Labor
A rhythmic masterpiece, “Haul Away Joe”, perfectly synchronizes the efforts of sailors as they toil on deck. The alternating verses and choruses provide a structured rhythm to various tasks, making the arduous labor feel lighter and more manageable.
The melodic allure of this shanty exemplifies how music not only entertained but also enhanced productivity during the demanding hours aboard a tall ship.
5. Blow the Man Down
Another classic sea shanty, “Blow the Man Down” features a catchy tune and lyrics that describe life on board a tall ship. It tells the story of a sailor who gets into a fight with a crewmate and is punished by the captain, but ultimately learns his lesson and becomes a better sailor.
6. “Leave Her, Johnny”: A Bittersweet Farewell
A poignant and emotional sea shanty, “Leave Her Johnny” was often sung by sailors who were leaving their ship and their fellow crewmates for good.
The song expresses the sadness and camaraderie that comes with life on board a tall ship, and the deep bonds that are formed between sailors.
Why are Tall Ship Songs and Sea Shanties Popular Today?
Tall ship songs and sea shanties have experienced a resurgence of popularity in recent years, thanks to various factors such as:
- The internet and social media platforms, such as YouTube, Spotify, TikTok, etc., allow people to discover, share, and create new versions of these songs.
- The video games and movies that feature these songs or are inspired by them, such as Assassin’s Creed, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sea of Thieves, etc.
- The festivals and events that celebrate these songs or the maritime heritage they represent, such as The International Sea Shanty Festival, The Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, etc.
- The artists and groups that perform these songs or incorporate them into their own styles of music, such as Nathan Evans, The Longest Johns, The Dreadnoughts, Stan Rogers, etc.
These factors have contributed to the revival and innovation of tall ship songs and sea shanties in the 21st century. They have also introduced these songs to new audiences who may not have any direct connection to sailing or the sea but who appreciate their musicality, diversity, and storytelling.
Preserving the Legacy: Keeping the Songs Alive
In addition to these classic sea shanties, there are countless other tall ship songs that capture the spirit and adventure of life on board a ship. From traditional folk songs to modern compositions, there is something for everyone.
In the digital age, these treasured tall ship songs and sea shanties continue to inspire artists, musicians, and enthusiasts worldwide.
As we celebrate the maritime heritage, it is our collective duty to keep these cultural gems alive by sharing, performing, and passing them down to future generations.
So hoist the mainsail and sing along with these timeless tunes!