Sea shanties and maritime music

[The chanty] is not recreation, it is an essential part of the work on ship-board, it mastheads the topsail yards when making sail, it starts and weighs the anchor, it brings
down the main-tack with a will, it loads and unloads the cargo, it keeps the pumps a-going; in fact, it does all the work where unison and strength are required. I have
heard many an old salt say that a good chanty was worth an extra hand.


Laura Alexandrine Smith, The Music of the Waters, 1888

This Day in History (September 3, 1884)

September 3, 1884 marks the sinking of the John Bigler, an otherwise unremarkable schooner out of Detroit (or possibly Chicago) memorialized in song. The slow-moving timber drogher was sailed, and sometimes pulled, through the Great Lakes canals, averaging some 4 miles an hour. The ship was lost with $3,500 worth of stone in the middle of Lake Superior. A clipping from the Toronto Telegram, 3 Oct 1942, provides more detail about the ship, the times, and the song.

This Day in History (August 31)

Try a random shanty sampling