Saturday, January 27, 2018

Schooner Fare - The Mary Ellen Carter

I wrote yesterday about my misspent youth, and how buddy 2cents and I would hang out in a local pub listening to sea music (it was Maine, after all; think of it as Country music but with boats instead of tractors).  Schooner Fare was famous in New England for this kind of music.  This will give you a feel for the music, but you need to imagine the smoky basement of a pub with glasses of Guinness on the tables to really get the feel.

Sadly, Tom Rowe lost his battle with cancer in the 90s, passing far too young.  The songwriter of this song - Nova Scotia's Stan Rogers - dies in an airplane fire at the shockingly young age of 33.  The song, interestingly, seems to have saved a sailor's life.

The Mary Ellen Carter (Songwriter: Stan Rogers)
She went down last October in a pouring driving rain.
The skipper, he'd been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain.
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low.

There were just us five aboard her when she finally was awash.
We'd worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost.
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again.

Well, the owners wrote her off; not a nickel would they spend.
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to us, they let her rest below.
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go.

But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock,
For she's worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.
And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Rise again, rise again,
that her name not be lost
To the knowledge of men.
Those who loved her best
and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

All spring, now, we've been with her on a barge lent by a friend.
Three dives a day in hard hat suit and twice I've had the bends.
Thank God it's only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I'd never have the strength to go below.

But we've patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down.
Put cables to her, 'fore and aft and girded her around.
Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain.
And make the Mary Ellen Carter Rise Again.

For we couldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.
She'd saved our lives so many times, living through the gale
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won't be laughing in another day. . .

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again, rise again
though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you've lost,
be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Bootnote: I posted about a different Schooner Fare song a few years back, about the man who saved Old Ironsides.


Old NFO said...

Stubborn watermen... :-)

libertyman said...

Ah yes, many pleasant memories associated with Schooner Fare. I remember the excitement of getting their first LP in the late 70s.

Great music, and Tom is sorely missed. As is Stan Rogers, with his magnificent voice and storytelling ability.

It was always great fun to introduce their music to newcomers.

Eric Wilner said...

This is where I drop in and ruin it for everybody by pointing out that, with a little fudging, one can sing the Gilligan's Island theme song to that tune. (Works better at the Stan Rogers tempo.)

And, just to make things extra weird: some years ago, Jordin Kare wrote a Lovecraftian version. Sample:
But all winter we've been reading in the Necronomicon,
Though our bodies twisted strangely and our minds are almost gone.
And tomorrow night our sacrifice, dread past all mortal ken,
Will make the elder god Cthulhu rise again!

Borepatch said...

Eric, that's hilarious. Disturbing, but hilarious.