Harpers Monthly Magazine (1882)

Sailor Songs – William L. Alden

In the Harper’s Monthly Magazine from June to November 1882, we can find a spectacular collection of sea shanties. Interestingly enough is the fact that an author talking about the sailors says that the typical “Jack” of the pre-propeller age – the “packeterian”; and the able saman of the clipper-ship fleet – has, however, utterly varnished”, in an article from 1882! Whatever we can think, we need to understand how misunderstood and underestimated the importance of the sources, is and how priceless it is to read shanty collections like this one.

This is essential to preserve the authentic character of those songs. This is one of the earliest collections containing musical notations of the shanties covering around twenty shanties. “Bowline”, “Haul away Joe”, “Good-by My love goodbye”, and much more, we can find in this article. Very close to the original, printed, about 80 years before Stan Hugill’s “Shanties From The Seven Seas”. For all maritime and merchant fleet culture lovers, and most importantly for shanty enthusiasts, this article screams to be read. If anyone wants to read this article and does not have access, please contact me through Messenger, and I will be happy to share images of the whole article.

Do you want to be more involved?

You can find excellent records of sea shanties here. If you want to discuss this book or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or below post in the comment section.

Related to Harpers Monthly Magazine (1882) – Sailor Songs

Richard Terry – Shanties With Descants (1921)

Jerzy Wadowski – Piesni Spod żagli (1989)

Robert C. Leslie – A Waterbiography (1894)