A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
Although he was only 33 when he died, Stan Rogers left behind a rich legacy of amazing songs. He was an incredible wordsmith, story teller, and musician.
Among his songs, is “The Mary Ellen Carter,” a very powerful anthem to holding on to hope, to dreams, to aspirations. A copy of the lyrics usually adorned my office to remind me of the power of believing. The Mary Ellen Carter remains my rock in wild seas.
The YouTube video has two takes of the song. The first is the raw, live performances I prefer to couple with the lyrics. Not the perfect pitch of the studio or more professional recording. The second version on the same video is smoother, and I think you get a better sense of Stan’s powerful voice.
When you listen/read the last verses, the anthem motif will become clear. The song opens with a tragedy and closes with an anthem to optimism on how to see your way clear through the storm.
The Mary Ellen Carter
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 five of us 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 them, 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 watch 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!
As usual, we’ll accept anything from staged karaoke filmed with an iPhone to Shakespearian-worthy sonnets. Anthems, sea shanties, folk stories, facing down adversity – plenty of themes to run with.
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Like a good vj/dj, I’m open to musical suggestions. Put them in the comments box or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.