Sea shanty TikTok: how a 19th-century seafaring epic inspired a Covid generation – The Guardian

Fri 15 Jan 2021 06.29 GMT

New Zealand
Rediscovered tune, which has a pleasant energy, was likely written by a teenage sailor or shore whaler in New Zealand in the 1830s

Even from “the back of no place, far from any city”– not to mention the sea– John Archer captured wind of the sea shanty revival before anyone else.From his home in landlocked Ōhakune, Archer had observed a sharp uptick in visitors to the New Zealand Folk Song site he set up in 1998. One 19th-century seafaring legendary was of particular interest: Soon May The Wellerman Come.Views of Archers highly-detailed, lovingly-compiled entry for the shanty all of a sudden spiked in late September, with most originating from the US. “I believed, thats unusual,” states Archer, a former teacher who initially set up NZ Folk Song as a mentor resource. “I understood absolutely nothing about TikTok.” From “no visits at all” for many of last year, Archers Wellerman writeup has now drawn nearly 10,000 views in 7 days, driven by the unexpected resurgence of sea shanties on TikTok– widely reported on this week with a tone of faint surprise.Not just for drunken sailors: how sea shanties took control of TikTokNathan Evans, a 26-year-old postman and aiming musician from outside Glasgow, is credited with having begun the “ShantyTok” pattern with his rousing rendition of Wellerman, published in late December.In the United States and UK, Wellermans surprise appeal is being held up as proof of the mental toll of months-long lockdown– however the shanty itself originates from the Antipodes, and tells of a critical point in Australia and New Zealands history.A “Wellerman” was an employee of the Sydney-based Weller Brothers shipping company, which from 1833 was the significant provider of provisions– such as the “sugar and tea and rum” of the shantys refrain– to whaling stations on New Zealand shores.The whalers wistful eye on a future date “when the tonguin is done/Well take our leave and go” refers to the practice of stripping blubber from beached whales.The bros Joseph Brooks, George and Edward Weller emigrated from Folkestone, Kent, to Sydney in 1823 and within 10 years had established themselves as the regions preeminent merchant traders.At the time, whaling was a prime export market of New South Wales while, in New Zealand, the Wellers whaling station base at Ōtākou on the Otago Peninsula was the very first long-lasting European settlement of what is now Dunedin city. (Their ship, the Lucy Ann, likewise went on to be crewed by one Herman Melville.).
As Ronald Jones composes in Te Ara national encyclopaedia, that period of seafaring market “slipped unobtrusively out of the pages of New Zealand history”– preserved only through song.Wellermans six verses inform the impressive tale of a ship, the Billy of Tea, and its crews fight– “for 40 days, or even more”– to land a bold whale. Archer recommends that it is the shantys “cheerful energy and confident outlook”– in contrast to other more “uninspiring” whaling songs– that has actually led to Wellermans rediscovery on social media.” Its welcome by TikTok is an unanticipated 21st-century twist in a folkloric tradition that can be traced through New Zealands past.Neil Colquhoun– a New Zealand folk music leader, who passed away in 2014– very first recorded Wellerman in 1966, from a man then in his 80s who stated he had actually been taught it by his uncle.
His Google “uncertainty” recommends Wellermans author was a teenage sailor or coast whaler around New Zealand in the late 1830s, who penned the ditty on settling in Australia then passed it down within his household around the turn of the century.From there, the shanty is thought to have spread around the world by its inclusion in Colquhouns book Songs of a Young Country, released in England in 1972. “I was singing it with others in folk clubs 40 years ago,” states Archer.And now Wellerman is being flowed even more by Spotify by method of its brand-new “sea shanty season” playlist, celebrating “centuries-old tunes gone viral”. That recording, by Bristol group The Longest Johns, is revealing 8.5 m recent plays.The rising tide of ShantyTok has reached New Zealand coasts, too. The Wellington Sea Shanty Society recorded Soon May The Wellerman Come on their 2013 album, Now Thats What I Call Sea Shanties Vol 1, and once again in 2018. It is now receiving 30,000 streams a day on Spotify.The Wellerman by Croche Dedans and the Wellington Sea Shanty Society Guitarist and singer Lake Davineer says it has long been a floor-filler– second only to Drunken Sailor– at their programs. “Before all this occurred, it was still the huge banger that ended our set … Its simply a terrific tune.”.
Davineer includes, their Wellerman is “more of a celebration variation” than the conventional styles favoured by TikTok. “We do a big psychedelic introduction.”.

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Even from “the back of no place, far from any city”– not to point out the sea– John Archer caught wind of the sea shanty revival before anyone else.From his home in landlocked Ōhakune, Archer had noticed a sharp uptick in visitors to the New Zealand Folk Song website he set up in 1998.” From “no check outs at all” for many of last year, Archers Wellerman writeup has actually now drawn almost 10,000 views in seven days, driven by the abrupt revival of sea shanties on TikTok– extensively reported on this week with a tone of faint surprise.Not simply for drunken sailors: how sea shanties took over TikTokNathan Evans, a 26-year-old postman and aiming artist from outdoors Glasgow, is credited with having started the “ShantyTok” pattern with his rousing rendition of Wellerman, published in late December.In the United States and UK, Wellermans surprise popularity is being held up as proof of the mental toll of months-long lockdown– however the shanty itself originates from the Antipodes, and tells of a critical point in Australia and New Zealands history.A “Wellerman” was a worker of the Sydney-based Weller Brothers shipping business, which from 1833 was the significant supplier of arrangements– such as the “sugar and tea and rum” of the shantys refrain– to whaling stations on New Zealand shores.The whalers wistful eye on a future date “when the tonguin is done/Well take our leave and go” refers to the practice of stripping blubber from beached whales.The brothers Joseph Brooks, George and Edward Weller emigrated from Folkestone, Kent, to Sydney in 1823 and within 10 years had established themselves as the regions preeminent merchant traders.At the time, whaling was a prime export market of New South Wales while, in New Zealand, the Wellers whaling station base at Ōtākou on the Otago Peninsula was the first long-lasting European settlement of what is now Dunedin city.” Its welcome by TikTok is an unanticipated 21st-century twist in a folkloric tradition that can be traced through New Zealands past.Neil Colquhoun– a New Zealand folk music leader, who passed away in 2014– very first recorded Wellerman in 1966, from a male then in his 80s who said he had been taught it by his uncle. His Google “uncertainty” recommends Wellermans author was a teenage sailor or coast whaler around New Zealand in the late 1830s, who penned the ditty on settling in Australia then passed it down within his family around the turn of the century.From there, the shanty is thought to have spread out around the world by its addition in Colquhouns book Songs of a Young Country, published in England in 1972. “I was singing it with others in folk clubs 40 years earlier,” states Archer.And now Wellerman is being circulated further by Spotify by method of its brand-new “sea shanty season” playlist, commemorating “centuries-old tunes gone viral”.

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