Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trad Tuesday: Barrett's Privateers by Stan Rogers


"Barrett's Privateers" is a modern folk song in the style of a sea shanty, written and performed by Canadian musician Stan Rogers, having been inspired after a song session with the Friends of Fiddler's Green at the Northern Lights Festival Boréal in Sudbury, Ontario. Although Barrett, the Antelope and other specific instances mentioned in the song are fictional, "Barrett's Privateers" is full of many authentic details of privateering in the late 18th century.

I was reminded of this song recently by a friend. Just a warning, it is the type of song that gets stuck in your head.

Lyrics:
Oh, the year was 1778
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
A letter of marque came from the king
To the scummiest vessel I've ever seen
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

Oh, Elcid Barrett cried the town
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
For twenty brave men all fishermen who
Would make for him the Antelope's crew
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
She'd a list to the port and her sails in rags
And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers and jags
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

On the King's birthday we put to sea
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
We were 91 days to Montego Bay
Pumping like madmen all the way
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

On the 96th day we sailed again
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
When a bloody great Yankee hove in sight
With our cracked four pounders we made to fight
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

Now the Yankee lay low down with gold
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
She was broad and fat and loose in the stays
But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers