Day of the Clipper

Contemporary Maritime-themed Ballad

Words and Music © Steve Romanoff

Sung with kind permission of Steve Romanoff.

You can see the squares of canvas dancing over the horizon,
You can hear the shanty wailing to the heaving of the men,
You can feel the seas up to your knees and you know the sea is risin’
And you know the clipper’s day has come again.

To the men on high the bos’n’s cry commands a killing strain,
‘Til every mother’s son begins to pray.
With a hearty shout she comes about and she heads into the rain,
And the ship has never seen a better day.

Sailing ships and sailing men will sail the open water,
Where the only thing that matters is the wind inside the main.
So all you loving mothers keep your eyes upon your daughters;
For the sails will mend their tatters and the masts will rise again.

Wooden beams and human dreams are all that make her go;
And the magic of the wind upon her sails.
We’d rather fight the weather than the fishes down below;
God help us if the rigging ever fails.

As the timber creaks the captain speaks above the vessel’s groans
‘Til every soul on board can hear the call.
It’s nothing but the singing of the ship inside her bones,
And this is when she likes it best of all. (Chorus)

Where the current goes the clipper’s nose is plowing fields of green.
Where fortune takes the crews we wish them well.
Where men could be when lost at sea is somewhere in between
The regions of a heaven and a hell.

Well they’re sailing eastern harbors and the California shore;
If you set your mind to see them then you can.
As you count each mast go sailing past you, prouder than before,
Then you’ll know the clipper’s day has come again. (Chorus)


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

Song Notes

Our friends The Jolly Rogers taught us the chorus for this song at the 2007 Port Washington Pirate Festival. We all enjoyed it so much we thought we might include it in future shows. Steve Romanoff is a friend of a friend and so he gave us his permission to perform the piece.

A former member of The Jolly Rogers taught them this song, but inexplicably replaced, “Where the current goes the clipper’s nose is plowing fields of green,” with “Where the current goes the clipper’s nose is plowing fields of bream.”  Whenever we perform together we struggle with what word we’ll use.  Mostly.

— Dean

From the Schooner Fare website:

Steve Romanoff (from Day of the Clipper) Steve wrote “Day of the Clipper” in the early years of Schooner Fare. It is the first of many Schooner Fare songs that labeled the group with a nautical theme. Later writing has changed that label somewhat. Schooner Fare tells the stories of Maine and Mainers and the nautical is only one element of those stories. “Day of the Clipper” was also recorded by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy and is very often found in anthologies of traditional Irish songs. The song was written during the oil crunch of the seventies when a return to sail seemed like a logical idea. After all the wind blows free…  Perhaps those days may return after all and “the sails will mend their tatters and the masts will rise again.”