Sea shanties and maritime music

A chanty is a seaman's work song, and the Chanty Man is its leader – the acknowledged foresinger, forehand of the working crew. Black and blue from the thuggery of Shanghai Brown's boarding-house – or Patch Eye Curtin's, or Katie Wilson's; split-lipped, broken-nosed, ear-slit, scalp-torn; cheated and shown by cozen and crimp; sick of soul and body; his chief earthly possessions a port, pannikin, and spoon, and a pair of leaky sea-boots...

And still he could sing! Blessed was the ship that could boast one good man of his tribe. Thrice blessed she that could boast one in each watch.

William Brown Meloney IV, Everybody's Magazine, 1915

This Day in History (February 29, 1908)

This Day in History (January 8, 1806)

The death of Lord Nelson was a national tragedy like no other for England. "From Greenwich to Whitehall Stairs, on the 8th of January, 1806, in one of the greatest Aquatic Processions that ever was beheld on the River Thames" drifted the royal shallop (barge). The event is referenced in the modern lament, Carrying Nelson Home. Nelson is mentioned in nearly a dozen other songs.

Try a random shanty sampling

Nelson's Victory at Copenhagen
Forecastle song

Draw near, ye gallant seamen, while I the truth unfold
Of as gallant a naval victory as ever yet was told.
The second day of April last, upon the Baltic main,
Parker, Nelson, and their brave tars fresh laurels there did gain.

Ch: With their thundering and roaring, rattling and roaring.
Thundering and roaring bombs

Gallant Nelson volunteer'd himself, with twelve sail form'd a line,
And in the Road of Copenhagen he began his grand design;
His tars, with usual courage, their valour did display,
And destroy'd the Danish navy upon that glorious day.

With strong floating batteries in van and rear we find,
The enemy in centre had six ships of the line—
At ten that glorious morning the fight begun, it's true;
We Copenhagen set on fire, my boys, before the clock struck two.

When this armament we had destroy'd, we anchor'd near the town,
And with our bombs were fully bent to burn their city down;
Revenge for poor Matilda's wrongs our seamen swore they'd have;
But they sent a flag of truce on board, their city for to save.

For the loss of his eye and arm, bold Nelson does declare,
The foes of his country not an inch of them he'll spare;
The Danes he's made to rue the day that they ever Paul did join,
Eight ships he burnt, four he sunk, and took six of the line.

Now drink a health to gallant Nelson, the wonder of the world,
Who, in defence of his country, his thunder loud has hurled;
And to his bold and valiant tars who plough the raging sea,
And who never were afraid to face the daring enemy.