Two Songs by Bob Watson

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Chorus (to start and finish): So many are the secrets of Antarctica,
So many that so few could ever know;
And who’s to say or tell, Antarctica, she guards them well,
Deep buried underneath the snow.

1. When old time sailors saw her there in all her frozen glory,
Antarctica she filled their hearts with wonder and with fear;
In stories and in songs they told of distant Southern beauty,
Guarded by the ice that wouldn’t let their ships come near …


2. And some men loved Antarctica, and longed to know her better,
And once her spell was on them, so their souls could never rest;
From far away she’d call them back through wilderness and blizzard,
Some to sleep for evermore, their heads upon her breast …


3. Now danger for Antarctica floats through the dirty heavens,
Hungry eyes are on her from across the poisoned sea;
So who’s to stand as guardian now, when ice no more protects her,
Who’s to keep Antarctica a virgin pure and free? …


Optional Coda Finish line: Who knows the secrets of Antarctica?


Score image

Now modern ships carry mighty funny gear
And away, get away, you Shantyman!
Ain’t seen a halliard in many’s the year,
And they got no use for a Shantyman!
Slick new fittin’s is all you’ll sight
And away, get away, you Shantyman!
All very clever, but it just ain’t right
And they got no use for a Shantyman!

Shantyman, oh, Shantyman!
Who’s got a berth for a Shantyman?
(Oh!) Sing us a song of a world gone wrong
When they got no use for a Shantyman!

Dials and buttons is all they need,
And your real live sailor, he’s a vanishing breed;
It’s pushin’ on the buttons and pullin’ on the levers,
They got no use for the horny-handed heavers …

Old time ways is forgotten and gone,
And nobody listens to the Shantyman’s song
No, things no longer like they used to be
It’s the knackers yard for the likes of me

Ships’ll soon be sailing by remote control,
And that’ll be pleasin’ to the owners’ soul,
They’ll move their ships from dock to dock,
All sat on their arses in an office block

New fangled gear’s no use to you,
When you’re off Cape Horn with your fuses blew
Then’s the time for to curse the day
You sent your shanty crew away

Now listen at night and you might hear,
A ghostly voice on the quiet night air
Is it a voice from the distant past?
Or just the wind a-whistling in the radar mast?

Here’s a couple more alternative verses:

Now a seaman’s life it once was hard
Way up aloft in the tops’l yard
Now it don’t matter if the wind blows high
You can face force ten with your feet still dry

Cargo comes stowed in a polythene pack
Raised and lowered by a dry bollocks jack (hydraulic jack)
Floating computer dressed up as a ship
All skippered and crewed by a microchip


1. Words given on Page 1 are the verses that I would normally sing myself. The appended verses also fell off my pen at the time of writing, but as time goes by I’ve found that 6 verses are enough in any one rendition, and a lot of other people seem to have come (independently) to the same conclusion.

2. Most singers start with Verse 1 and finish with Verse 6, but what gets sung in between seems to vary quite a bit. Some sing more (or less) verses, and some mix ‘n’ match by combining pairs of lines taken from different verses.

3. Additional Verse Add/1 is sung by some people, but one should be aware that some parts are not strictly true!

4. Over the passage of time—coming up thirty years—various word variations have arisen . . . hardly surprising with a song often learned orally.

5. Hopefully readers will enjoy singing the song—whatever way the chosen mode of handling it!

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