Mixtape Mondays | Songs About The Sea

Monday, May 09, 2016 2 Comments A+ a-

A post by Charlie Hole,
a.k.a @charliehole

I have a strange and natural affinity with the sea. I grew up swimming in the shallows, watching it move, twist and speak through the seasons. I learned to respect its beauty and danger, its mystery and vastness. It was peaceful in the calm, but vicious and dark in storms.

I chose these songs because they all reflect the emotions that flow from the sea, as well as the ways the sea has impacted on our lives in different ways.

Ben Howard's Old Pine encapsulates everything that the sea meant to those who grew up next to it.

Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding, for instance, tells the story of working class shipbuilding communities in the north of England, building warships for the Falklands War. They were saving a dying industry, yet sending their young off to war in the very same ships.

It opens with the line "Is it worth it?", the human cost for the economic gain…

"A new winter coat and shoes for the wife,
And a bicycle on the boy's birthday"

And the immortal line:

"With all the will in the world,
Diving for dear life,
When we could be diving for pearls"

Likewise, The Lake Poet’s Shipyards tells a more personal story of how the shipyards of the north east reminded him of his late grandfather, where he used to work, and how the shipyards are all gone now.

My personal favourite is Randy Newman’s Sail Away, which is a masterpiece of sarcasm, wit and irony, written from the perspective of a North American slave trader trying to sell the idea of America to an African slave. It’s as twisted and funny as it is poignant.

"In America you'll get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You'll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American"

Mixtape Mondays | Songs About The Sea

Josh Ritter’s Another New World tells of the discovery the sea used to offer sailor’s sailing for the promise of a new world. And what’s not to love about Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic… The sea is as much about going away as it is about coming home.

"When that fog horn blows
You know I will be coming home"

That’s what the sea is to me, it’s home. And no-one puts it better than Ben Howard in Old Pine. Ask anyone who grew up by the sea, these words encapsulate everything that the sea meant to us. Sleeping down the beach, making fires from driftwood, singing, laughing and drinking with friends in "the boom of summertime".

"Careless and young, free as the birds that fly
With weightless souls now"

I’ll always remember the feeling of "Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags".

Check out the playlist on Spotify for loads more Songs About The Sea…

More about the Guest Blogger


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28 June 2018 at 10:15 delete

good post.thank you

7 October 2019 at 14:49 delete

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