Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

The girlfriend has shown me a few of these.

I couldn’t help but wonder if a new audience was reached when they made an appearance in… was it the Red Dead Redemption video game?

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

"was it the Red Dead Redemption video game?" I don’t even know what that is! No, I would blame Spongebob Squarepants.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Interesting you should mention SpongeBob. Because I hardly know about these things, either, Gobby! I don’t play video games. My brother, on the other hand, loves them (he is 30, I am 38). And being firmly nonmusical, he took to them readily. One night perhaps two years ago, and rather late, I received a desperate sounding phone call. It was him, and he needed to know, quite quickly and without delay, where he might learn more or hear more of these "old rhymey sailor songs." I said, "sea shanties?" He said, "yes." I said, "are you in trouble?" But he wasnt, and he began to explain a number of details about this game he was playing, and the role of sea shanties within it. I’ve forgotten the details, but managed to refer him safely. Since then, I’ve heard tell of the same game, Red Dead Redemption, on two Facebook groups covering traditional instruments or music. One was a request for a transcription!

FWIW, as soon as the girlfriend played me the song on TikTok (I couldn’t see the video, as I was in the kitchen), I said, "Is that Oyster Band?" She said, "No, it’s TikTok! What’s OysterBand?" Yet again proving that 95% of my friends and family will rarely ever have a blasted clue what I’m talking about.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Ha, ha,… but yes, I do love those "old rhymey sailor songs."

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Assassins creed: Black Flag was a very big game that had sea shanties featured in it (being a pirate-themed game). Thats the first modern one I can think of.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Ah it’s a flash in the pan - most likely -

But it’s great to see shanties reaching a broad audience!

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

It’s not video games resurrecting them, the tradition is alive. There was a gathering of singers of sea shanties in the Before Times in my small coastal town here in WA in the USA before the pandemic. It’s a town associated with wooden boat building, historical reverence for seafaring, so a good place for people to carry the tradition forward. Nothing to do with Internet posts or flash-in-the-pan fads. They used to hold public events down at the docks singing shanties.

I hope this group in our town can pick it back up again after the pandemic eases, even though it’s definitely not my style of music. Any traditional acoustic music culture is good, and needs support. Otherwise we’ll be overrun with synth pop played by AI machines 100 years from now.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

I think video games are helping sea shanties and some traditional music reach wider and younger audiences. I found myself very much enjoying and even learning songs and tunes in The Elder Scrolls Skyrim. I’m very much looking forward to the next game, and hoping there’s more the to Bard’s College than just quests!

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A question about the song, what does ‘tonguin’ mean in the context of the song? I couldn’t find a meaning other than musical.

Soon may the Wellerman come
To bring us sugar and tea and rum
One day, when the tonguin’ is done
We’ll take our leave and go

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

"tonging’ was a whaling term. The whalers used a tool to cut long deep slices from the dead whale. These slabs of blubber were called ‘tongues’. The Wellerman, or in plural ‘Wellermen’, were supply boats that came from Australia.

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I just looked it up here:- http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-McNOldW-t1-body-d1-d6.html
It looks like the song (which I’d never heard before) must be either of New Zealand or Australian origin. The Weller brothers from Sydney founded a whaling station in Ontago (NZ) in 1831 and serviced it from Sydney. Having studied a bit of whaling history, I would imagine they would also have operated in the Bass Straights (between mainland OZ and Tasmania).

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

I went to a sea shanty gig in Bristol a few years back and I was startled at how popular it was - the venue was rammed, the audience was very mixed in age and background and lots of people seemed to know the words for many songs. There’s definitely a thriving sea shanty scene out there in the UK.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

I fell on ice and cracked my elbow bone (no fiddling for a while). Perhaps I’ll venture to sing the lovely sea-shanty "Spanish Ladies" - "Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain".
It’s a rattling good tune and the song is so evocative of sea routes round the British Isles.

"The first land we sighted was called the Dodman,
Next Rame head off Plymouth, off Portsmouth the Wight,
We sailed by Beachy, by Fairlight and Dover,
And then we bore up for the South Foreland light."

There’s also a reference to a ship’s gear (not too meaningful to me but will be to seamen)

"…Let go your shank painter, let go your cat stopper!
Haul up your clewgarnets, let tacks and sheets fly!"

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

I can verify that Red Dead Redemption 2 does have Irish Traditional tunes, and also that Sea of Thieves has shanties. I heard a set of tunes on RDR2 when watching my little cousin play, and a friend of mine asked me to learn a shanty from Sea of Thieves on concertina.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

This goes back a long time, but I remember watching a Disney movie called Treasure Island. In the film, a tune was played that I assumed was a sea shanty - only later did I learn that it was Heather Breeze (or Heathery Breeze). I believe that it was played by The Chieftains. Can anyone tell me what musical characteristics define a Shanty? Thanks for any info on this.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

All I know is that shanties are sung, not merely played. They were usually work songs.

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I am SO glad they’re making a comeback! We had a unit in elementary school where we learned about sailing (hell if I remember years, though) where we learned a ton of sea shanties. All through growing up, though, everyone around me hated any trad songs, folk, sea shanties (and country music)! I was VERY uncool. But it’s quite the nostalgic walk through pre-teen-me’s obsessions and I’m loving it.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

FYI, for the uninitiated: shanties/chanteys/chanties are songs to facilitate group work on sailing ships. Typically, a "shantyman" leads the song with an often-improvised line or two, which is followed by a refrain and/or chorus sung by the other workers at the task. The hey-day of shanties was, roughly, 1830 - 1860, due to the specifics of the ships of that time, which required many group tasks - I’m not enough of a sea-nerd to know the details of that. Before that time, there seems to have been little in the way of shanties; after that, they gradually fell into disuse, with the ships in question.

A big inspiration for the shanties seems to have been the group singing of work songs by Black dock workers/stevedores/longshoremen in Mobile, Alabama, in particular, though, given the make up of ships’ crews and their routes and stops, shanty-singing was a truly international activity (nothing particularly Irish about it).

There are various other types of songs associated with ships and seamen that are not shanties; e.g., ballads, drinking songs, music hall songs, etc. They can collectively be called ‘sea-songs’, if they are presumed to have that connection.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

"chanteys/chanties"…. Thanks meself. I only just got that association between the name ‘shanties’, and a ‘chant’. That makes sense in that these songs were intended to put a common rhythm into the group work (e.g. hauling ropes, rowing, etc.). It’s pretty much the same thing we often see on the telly with the call and response between the American drill sergeant and the training soldiers.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

The term is thought to come from the French "chanter" (to sing), though that is speculation, AFAIK.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

There is also a thriving pirate cosplay scene where shanties and sea-songs are popular.

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

6.20am. here in Australia. I just turned on my radio to ABC Melbourne and ‘blow me down me boyo’s’, they were playing the Wellerman sea shanty. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard it, and it was brilliant. And then the announcer said that they would be back at 7.45 with more sea shanties. Wow… what’s going on? It’s not just happening on TikTok. Whatever, I hope it keeps going.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Lets hear one, why not? This one is called "Bully in the Alley". Apparently it has nothing to do with a bully as in a thug. ‘Bully’ is (or was) a good, happy state of intoxication, i.e., a sailor on shore (i.e., having a ‘bully’ time). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS5xR7jBxDw


Some members, BTW, may question what all this shanty stuff has to do with ITM. I would argue that it has had an important part in it. But that would be an ecumenical matter… ooops, Sorry, I meant to say, that would be a matter for a separate discussion.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

There was even a feature on this on the Channel 4 [UK] news programme earlier tonight. Jon Snow gi’in’ it laldy, singing away !

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Is it too soon to say, "I was into shanties before it was cool?"

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None of the kids who now think it’s cool will believe you.

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That’s one of my favorite videos Gobby! Mr. Kimber could sink a schooner with that baritone, no?

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I’ve sank a few schooners myself in my day Mr.Elf (a schooner being a measure of drink). And yes, it’s true… if you sink too many of those you start singing sea shanty’s on the way home.

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Thank you Gobby for your info re Tonguin.

I think it’s a shame we don’t sing work songs anymore in the course of physical labour, I can’t imagine brickies labourers belting out a shanty while on a construction site. More’s the pity.
When I did bush regeneration, hacking away at lantana deep in the bush somewhere I imagined it would be fun for everyone to sing a work song together. Why are we so embarrassed to sing? Is it because of the modern music industry and that we are just ‘commoners’, not ‘professionals and uncool if we were to try to sing in public?

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My wife’s late mother’s brother’s ex-wife (yep, it’s distant, but she’s a very nice woman) is from a *very* wealthy family of the name of Weller in the SE corner of Australia. Same lot, perhaps!

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What about a work song - could even be thought of as a shanty - for computer programmers ? - Stan Rogers from 1983 :
https://youtu.be/iOzI0KXxTqU

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Now, while I certainly enjoy the Wellerman, I’m not convinced it’s a shanty. Shanties are normally call-and-response songs used to synchronise effort. This sounds to me more of a foc’sle song - a song to sing while relaxing in the foc’sle after a hard night’s battling the gales. But, nit-picking aside (hmmm, wonder if there are any nit-picking shanties?) it is great to see such international attention to one of our folk traditions.

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I have to confess to having had to look up ‘foc’sle songs’, but it looks to me like you are clearly right there Terry.

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Here’s the first verse a nit-picking shanty for you, Terry McGee:

Well, I used to write lyrics, but they weren’t always right,
so once in a while, I’d get into fight!
Chorus:
Oh, it’s nit-picking here we go, we go,
Oh, it’s nit-picking here we go!

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Very good, hnorbeck. Although, if I were nit-picking, I might suggest the chorus could go:

Chorus:
Oh, it’s nit-picking here we go, me boys,
Oh, it’s nit-picking here we go!

Although at the risk of disenfranchising 51% of the population. Then again, they might interpret that as a blessing!

Now, can you have the rest of the Nit-picking Shanty on my desk before International Speak Like a Pirate Day?
Sunday, 19 September 2021. Arrghhhh!

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

"me boys" of course Mr. Nitpicker!

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Just spent an enjoyable half hour listening to some of the songs and acquainting myself with the tiktok shanty phenomenon. Thanks for the links, folks! It’s great to see all the musical collaboration, especially with young males, who in some communities are not encouraged (or it’s not cool) to sing. I just recently watched "Fishermen’s Friends" about the Welsh singers - melodramatic plot in the movie, but the singing and scenery were enjoyable!

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The one I liked goes something like this:

"Row, Boys, Row.
Another one hits the dust."

(Showing my age, I had to look up the reference!)

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"Now, while I certainly enjoy the Wellerman, I’m not convinced it’s a shanty. "

It’s not… I was listening to NPR yesterday where they were interviewing an expert on such matters and this actually came up. From the transcript:

SIMON: Now, "Wellerman" is by far the most popular ShantyTok, but it’s technically not a sea shanty. Blow me down - it be a ballad.

MALLOY: The songs that are now appearing on TikTok, a lot of them are actually songs that were sung on shipboard, but they weren’t sung for work. So technically they’re not shanties.

SIMON: But TikTokers don’t care for technicalities.

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/16/957593535/why-sea-shanties-have-taken-over-tiktok

Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

British people of a certain age probably learned a lot of sea shanties from the music lessons on the radio.

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Scottish people of a certain age were forced to sing them in school.

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As were English kids, but they must have been carefully selected songs which were linguistically sanitized. Or maybe that didn’t apply in (say) Glasgow. I heard that in Glasgow a kid with Tourettes syndrome is considered gifted!

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Re: Shanties make a comeback on TikTok πŸ˜€

Learned a bunch of shanties in elementary school here, too, in the states! (California, specifically)

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I don’t claim to be an authority on this genre, but as a longtime fan of shanties I think the best of all shanty albums is:

https://youtu.be/X_pDvLv-R2c