Anon has never done a cover of another song before. Nor has Anon ever been particularly known for following trends. Dedicated followers of fashion Anon is not. But there was something inherently punk about the explosion of this song by Scottish artist Nathan Evans. No copyright entanglements due to the folk roots of this traditional song, whose author is still and will likely forever be unknown. And the people made this song what it has become today. Sea shanties ruling the roost amid a sea of factory, identikit music certainly raises a smile.
I wanted to find out what the song was all about. What was the Billy o’ Tea? Who was the Wellerman? What was tonguing…?
And that’s when my interest really peaked. Here was a ‘jolly’ song about the hardships of life aboard a ship that was part of man’s most dreadful acts of carnage. Whaling is sadly not confined to the history books. According to the WDC, “Commercial whaling was banned in 1986. However, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have killed nearly
40,000 large whales since then. Over 100,000 dolphins, small whales, and porpoises are also killed in various countries each year.”
Here then, was a perfect opportunity to try and raise awareness of this terrible crime against nature. When does it end? When there are no more whales left in the sea? Seas that were once teeming with whales as far as the eye could see.
This is undoubtedly a darker take on the tune. But it’s not an exercise in sucking the joy out of sea shanties and trends, I was just fascinated by the subject matter of this song and how whaling is worse now than it has been in years!
Ultimately, if Anon is going to break tradition and record a cover as well as getting in on the popular zeitgeist, then no point in doing things half-heartedly.
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Trad. arrangement by Anon
Featuring Gemsy Davison
Mastered by Matt Glasspool @
Whales & Dolphins Conservation