Sunday, August 17, 2008

Late Canadian Cultural Icon -- Stan Rogers

Stan Rogers lived in town with us; his kids went to Montessori with my best friend, Lisa's. He was killed in a plane fire in Cincinnati or someplace. I believe the fire started with some bastard smoking in the can, and he was off the plane and went back in to help the others get off, and died of smoke inhalation.

This is wonderful. I've known it for years -- we had the "Between the Breaks" album as vinyl for a turntable. Tom used to go around singing the chorus to Barrett's Privateers when he was about three: "God damn them all! I was told we'd cruise the seas for American gold. We'd fire no guns; shed no tears. Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier, the last of Barrett's Privateers." A little embarrassing sometimes. I’m posting two videos – Barrett’s Privateers, just mentioned. The second is The Mary Ellen Carter, and the beginning of the video is important -- it's not the singer, it's what the song can do to someone. Here's the words:

(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 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'd 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, so 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'll 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.


Oystercard said...

Wonderful story on the Mary Ellen Carter song - and good the have the Canadian icons back :)

Kate Morningstar said...

I'll have to do one early this week, Derek -- leaving Thursday for the wilds of Parry Sound for a week. I need to get a new battery for the camera, I think, before I go.