Barbershop Shanty

A barbershop treatment of a maritime-themed song; a Fo’c’sle Song

Music and Words © Jonathan Krivitzky

I signed up on this ship as the shanty man
But it hadn’t been going as planned
When you stand five foot three
And you look, well, like me
It’s hard to assert your command

I call “T’ME” – the crew barely stirred
I yell “Heave Ho!” – nothing occurred
My voice wasn’t made for
This job I’ve been paid for
And I’m sure that the captain concurred

But one day, as the capstan went ’round
The first mate joined in and it sounded profound
Then the cook and the bos’n
Turned us into a foursome
And soon we had found an incredible sound

[SLOW duet with JON/GINA] So we be-

-gan to sing together and it made us smile
To suddenly had found ourselves a brand new style
What’s the point of singing ‘less your chords are ringing?
Singing the barbershop shanty!

We spread the news about the sound we pioneered
But the crew they seemed to find it all a bit too weird
The captain looked kinda pale, leaning over the taffrail
As we were singing the barbershop shanty!

We had this barbarian, just in from Ireland
And we liked to keep him on his toes
When he was stuck on the oars – his least favorite of chores
We’d sing as that Wild Irish rows…

It took a lot of practice – there was so much to learn
We got that vessel ringing from the bow to the stern
It turned out we sounded best
Singing down from the crow’s nest
Singing the barbershop shanty

One day the weather turned stranger
The skies were all brimming with danger
Afraid for their very existence
The crew desperately yearned for assistance
So, we quickly arranged a key change …
And now we’ve be-
-come the most famous shanty singers of all
Our legend has spread to every port of call
Each time we raise the sail, we get four pints of ale
Singing the barbershop shanty

We cast ourselves adrift, around the circle of fifths
We’ve found our new heaven in a dominant seven
We sail the high Cs, along with E flats and Gs
Singing the barbershop
We’ll never ever stop
Singing the barbershop shanty every day …
When the sky’s turning grey
And the ship starts to sway
You’ll hear us say … t’me!
Anchor’s aweigh!


image of album cover for Bounding Main Lost at Sea - click for more info about the album

Song Notes

Jon has a long history with barbershop music and contemporary acapella groups. Combine this with the maritime music he’s been singing with Bounding Main since 2003 and you get … this.