I’ve never been real big on poetry. I’ve tried reading it and even writing it, but I just don’t have the knack for it. Or, in some salty way, do I?
I had a friend years ago that aspired to be a musician. Unlike many of his and my contemporaries who simply wanted to be in a band (we were young then and like today, young gals just seem to love guys in a band), my friend didn’t want to play and sing songs written by others. He wanted to write and perform his own songs… to have people hear what he was thinking and feeling. So he wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
One day I asked to leaf through the spiral-bound notebook he was constantly scribbling in, to maybe give him some advice or at least a different perspective on what he was trying to say. I must admit, I didn’t think much of it was very good. To me, it read more like poetry than song lyrics (back then my idea of song lyrics was “Yea, baby, yea, yea, yea”) and I told him as much. At that point, he picked up his guitar, spent a minute or two tuning it then broke into song. I listened and thought it was quite good, very good in fact as I heard some of the same words I’d just read put to music. It made all the difference in the world.
Ever since then, when I listen to music I often find myself concentrating more on the lyrics of a song – its true meaning – than the actual melody itself and in so doing figure I do finally “get” poetry. The only problem is that it’s sometimes difficult to discern the exact words of a song.
Nautically speaking, there are a number of songs that I’ll always love since it’s the poetry of the lyrics that sing to me the most and here I’d like to share what I think are the three of the best. I’m sure you know the songs well, but did you ever actually know the lyrics?
Brandy – by The Looking Glass
There’s a port on a western bay, and it serves a hundred ships a day. Lonely sailors pass the time away, talkin’ ’bout their homes.
And there’s a girl in this harbor town, and she works layin’ whiskey down. They say “Brandy, fetch another round,” she serves them whiskey and wine.
The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, What a good wife you would be yeah your eyes, could steal a sailor, from the sea.”
Brandy wears a braided chain, made of finest silver from the North of Spain. A locket that bears the name, of the man that Brandy loves.
He came on a summer’s day, bringin’ gifts from far away. But he made it clear he couldn’t stay, no harbor was his home.
The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea.
Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes when he told his sailor stories, She could feel the ocean fall and rise, she saw its ragin’ glory! – But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man, and Brandy does her best to understand.
At night when the bars close down, Brandy walks through a silent town. And loves a man who’s not around, She still can hear him say…
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor – by Jimmy Buffett
As the son of a son of a sailor, I went out on the sea for adventure. Withstanding the view of the captain and crew, like a man just released from indenture.
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man, Hell, I’ve chalked up many a mile.Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks, and I’ve learned much from both of their style.
Son of a son, son of a son, son of a son of a sailor. Son of a gun, load the last ton, one step ahead of the jailer.
Now way in the near future, southeast of disorder,well you can shake the hand of the mango man, as he greets you at the border.
And the lady she hails from Trinidad, Island of the spices. With salt for your meat, and cinnamon sweet, and the rum is for all your good vices.
Haul the sheet in, as we ride on the wind, that our Forefathers harnessed before us. Hear the bells ring, as the tide rigging sings, it’s a son of a gun of a chorus.
And where it all ends, I can’t fathom my friends, if I knew I might just toss out my anchor. So I cruise along, always searching for songs, not a lawyer a thief or a banker.
I’m just a son of a son, son of a son, son of a son of a sailor. Son of a gun, load the last ton, one step ahead of the jailer.
I’m just a son of a son, son of a son, son of a son of a sailor. The seas in my veins, my tradition remains, I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer.
Southern Cross – by Crosby, Stills & Nash
Got out of town on a boat goin’ to Southern islands, sailing on a reach before a followin’ sea. She was makin’ for the trades on the outside, and the downhill run, to Papeete. Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas. We got eighty feet of the waterline, nicely making way. In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you. But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away.
Think about how many times I have fallen, spirits are using me,larger voices callin’. What heaven brought you and me, cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, lookin’ for that woman-girl, who knows love can endure. And you know it will.And you know it will.
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand now why you came this way. ‘Cause the truth you might be runnin’ from is so small, but it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a comin’ day.
So I’m sailing for tomorrow,my dreams are a dyin’. And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain. I have my ship and all her flags are a flyin’!She is all that I have left, and music is her name.
Think about, how many times I have fallen, spirits are using, me larger voices callin’. What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, lookin’ for that woman-girl, who knows love can endure. And you know it will. And you know it will.
So we cheated and we lied and we tested. And we never failed to fail,it was the easiest thing to do. You will survive being bested. Somebody fine will come along, make me forget about loving you. At the Southern Cross…