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Sea Ballads

09 Jul 19 - 03:56 PM (#4000054)
Subject: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Rose


I am searching for ballads with a sea theme for a project. I would love to find love ballads involving the sea. Songs and stories of grief, worry, loneliness of women with husbands & lovers at sea....lost to the sea. Say wives with husbands who work jobs as fisherman..the worry of rough seas, storms and shipwrecks. Ballads of falling in love with mermaids/selkies/sea creature etc.
Themes with fishermen down on their luck with a poor fishing season.
Ballads of the mystery and beauty & yet the haunting sea.
For this project I am staying away from sea shanties & more interested in sea ballads.

Any leads would be so wonderful. Are there any great sea ballad collections, websites, links, CD's? I would love to hear from anyone you would like to share a favorite sea ballad.

Much thanks. I really appreciate any help.

Again thank you.

09 Jul 19 - 04:13 PM (#4000055)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Try the Vaughan Williams memorial library's song subject index.
Derek Schofield

09 Jul 19 - 04:37 PM (#4000058)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,henryp

No More Fish, No Fishermen
(w. (c) 1996 I. Sheldon Posen, Well Done Music, BMI m. See, Amid the Winter's Snow by John Goss 1800-80)

Out along the harbour reach
Boats stand dried up on the beach
Ghost-like in the early dawn
Empty, now the fish are gone.

What will become of people now?
Try to build a life somehow
Hard, hard times are back again
No more fish, no fishermen.

No more shoppers in the stores
Since the fish plant closed its doors
Men who walked a trawler's decks
Now line up for welfare cheques.

There's big "For Sale" signs everywhere
Pockets empty, cupboards bare
See it on the News at Ten
No more fish, no fishermen.

Once from Ship Cove to Cape Race
Port aux Basques to Harbour Grace
Newfoundlanders fished for cod
Owing merchants, trusting God.

They filled their dories twice a day
They fished their poor sweet lives away
They could not imagine then
No more fish, no fishermen.

Back before the Second War
We could catch our fish inshore
Boats were small and gear was rough
We caught fish, but left enough.

And now there's no more fish because
The trawler fleets took all there was
We could see it coming then
No more fish, no fishermen.

Farewell now to skate and flake
Get out for the children's sake
Leave all friends and kin behind
Take whatever job you find.

There's some that say things aren't so black
They say the fish will all come back
Who'll be here to catch them then?
No more fish, no fishermen.

09 Jul 19 - 04:41 PM (#4000059)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Steve Gardham

Join the forum, then use the search engine for the subjects you are looking for. Be prepared for a mountain of material.

10 Jul 19 - 12:28 PM (#4000155)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Marje

One to start you off: look up Lament to the Moon in the database.


10 Jul 19 - 12:34 PM (#4000156)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads

Check out the repertoire of English singers like Walter Pardon and Sam Larner for sea ballads! Have a look in the Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection (Scottish) which has a whole section of sea songs and ballads. Some titles off the top of my head of ballads/songs with a sea theme...

The Golden Vanity
Henry Martin
William Taylor
The Bold Princess Royal
The Loss of the Rammillies
The Handsome Cabin Boy
Edmund in the Lowlands Low
Sweet William (father build me a boat)

etc etc etc

10 Jul 19 - 01:40 PM (#4000173)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Mg

I have some few I have put together..two on salmon one on cod..latest on lifesaving at about shore workers...five each no cover, ten with cover plus shipping. Highly recommend...Lots of different singers....

10 Jul 19 - 03:21 PM (#4000205)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Steve Gardham

Try Googling 'Stow Brow'. There are literally hundreds of ballads on drowned sailors and laments by their wives. 'Ah, my love's dead' dates back to the 17th century and is still sung in folk clubs today albeit in a burlesqued form. Keyword 'drowned'.

10 Jul 19 - 05:12 PM (#4000226)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads

Love songs of the sea...

Sweet William

A beautiful song by Owen Hand about whale fishing 'My Donal'...

10 Jul 19 - 08:06 PM (#4000259)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Kristoffer Ross

Hello, Rose!
    Yes, as Steve Gardham notes, there will be an enormous amount of material available.
    To throw out a few names of recorded artists I enjoy, I would suggest you look up Peter Bellamy, John Roberts, and Matthew Byrne for more traditional ballads, and for some hauntingly beautiful contemporary ones, the late Stan Rogers (who wrote many stunning examples in his tragically short life).
    I'm sure I'll think of a load more in the next twenty minutes, but that should give you a good start

10 Jul 19 - 10:53 PM (#4000267)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: mg

go straight to newfoundland. here is one by ron hynes..good version but please to look up original lyrics.

others: wave over wave
plenty concerning ocean ranger

check out barry delaney of around marystown..he is on all my cds..great songwriter..

check out gest database

next maybe go to cornwall

then check out basque songs

10 Jul 19 - 11:25 PM (#4000270)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Susan-Marie

My Donald (Mary Black) - a beautiful song about the loneliness of loving a sailor.

Also The Lady Mary Sails.

10 Jul 19 - 11:34 PM (#4000273)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Julia L

I am just completing my transcriptions of 150 + sea ballads found in collections made in Maine. I can send you the list of titles if you want them

12 Jul 19 - 05:12 PM (#4000542)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Gibb Sahib

What kind of project? Historical? Interpretive? Performative? Socio-cultural? Textual [~or~] musical?

What time period? What geographic and/or cultural sphere?

12 Jul 19 - 11:27 PM (#4000576)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,henryp

Davy Cross by Paul Davenport

The Widow Cross had but one son and indeed he was his mother’s pride and joy
So she knitted him a gansey, cable stitched both fine and fancy
And it looked like royal robes upon the boy

How we knew his bright blue eyes
How we knew his golden hair
And the gansey that his mother made was fine beyond compare

Tall and bright was Davy Cross, with a smiling face that never bore a frown
How the lasses smiled and sighed, at his strong and manly stride
On a Friday when the fishing fleet left town

For they…

At the dance on Saturday, the lasses fairly swooned to dance with him
How they fluttered at his charms, as he held them in his arms
And their hearts beat faster at his boyish grin

For they…

Then one dark October day, there came a storm which drove us hard to lea
And our fishing fleet was tossed, yet just one single craft was lost
Leaving Widow Cross a-gazing out to sea

Well she…

When just ten weeks had passed and gone, they finally brought us news about the loss
Seemed a body had been found, of a sailor lost and drowned
And in our hearts we knew ’twas Davy Cross

For we…

But it wasn’t eyes of blue, nor that hair as pale as foam
It was the gansey that his mother made that brought young Davy home

13 Jul 19 - 01:11 PM (#4000595)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Dave the Gnome

Bee salads?

Sorry, I can't help it :-)

14 Jul 19 - 09:33 AM (#4000688)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Mary Pigeons


Robert Wyatt- Sea Song? :

Also if brand new ones count- Raft...:

15 Jul 19 - 05:23 PM (#4000871)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,Jwhizzkid

Check out Silly Wizard's Fisherman's Wife on You Tube. Written by the late great Andy M. Stewart.
On a storm torn headland a woman is standing
The spray hung like jewels in her hair.
And the sea tore the rocks near that desolate landing
As though it had known she stood there

But she had come down to condemn that wild ocean
For the murderous loss of her man.
His boat went out on Wednesday morning
And it's feared she's gone down with all hands....

The Bay of Biscay
3 Score and 10

15 Jul 19 - 07:49 PM (#4000891)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: Mrrzy

Beat me to it, Dave!

Clancy Brothers have a sea album.

Allan Mills too. Older and less folked up.

15 Jul 19 - 08:04 PM (#4000895)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: CupOfTea

Look for the fabulous late Lou Killen's output - not to be missed.
Deb Cowan is inclined to pick some choice ballads, sung in a voice that conveys truth and emotion. Her acapella rendition of "Rose in June" is a spellbinding 7 minutes, and a tribute to Lou Killen. She also sings some sea songs with the aforementioned John Roberts.

Contemporary ballads of the sea - many fine writers: Stan Rogers, Gordon Bok, John Conolly.

The performer roster of sea - oriented festivals like Mystic will lead you to many performers with broad repertoires.
The range is huge if you consider all maritime- themed songs, not just ballads. Lots of sources include Maritime along with lots of other sorts of songs: a couple of the Rudyard Kipling ballads, to Jez Lowe, Pete Seeger,

Some songs pop up in unexpected places, too -" Run Come SeeJerusalem" sort of Caribbean blues. You can spend the rest of your life on this- someone above asked questions to limit the parameters some, and this would certainly help dealing with a manageable range of songs.

Joanne in Cleveland (where the Tall Ships sailed away this morning).

17 Jul 19 - 03:02 AM (#4000987)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,threelegsoman

I have a playlist of "Sea Songs", some of which might suit your search:

Sea Songs

17 Jul 19 - 01:35 PM (#4001038)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: GUEST,9

as a kid had a favorite album: Songs & Sounds of the Sea put out by National Geographic. I believe many of those songs have now been downloaded onto Youtube.

18 Jul 19 - 11:08 AM (#4001074)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: sleepyjon

Don't miss Peter Bellamy's "Maritime England Suite" for some interesting and quite rare stuff - especially "We have fed our seas" (Kipling, I think)

18 Jul 19 - 05:48 PM (#4001145)
Subject: RE: Sea Ballads
From: sciencegeek

almost an embarrassment of riches here... go to for the index os songs... and just wander through it

Heather sparling has the University of Cape Breton's disaster songs... ne section just on ship wrecks that she maintains

recordings go back many decades but in the 1960s and 70s Judy Collins did Farewell to Tarwathie and there were many other artists who did albums that had sea ballads of all sorts...