Shipwreck Culture: Old songs and new songs

We’ve all heard Gordon Lightfoot’s “Edmund Fitzgerald,” but there are many more shipwreck tunes floating around. Many thanks to Brendan Kohrn for sending these my way. Enjoy!

The video shows  William Pint and Felicia Dale playing “Lost,” a Ron Baxter song cut on heir 2004 LP Sea Seas. (I hear they do a great rendition of the classic “The Mary Stanford of Rye” as well.)

I haven’t found good online versions of these other classics — if you do, please send them along.

Ralph Sanders’s “The Booze Yacht” (here’s a bit more about the song’s background)

John Lay’s “When Carissa Came Ashore,” described as “a tongue-in-cheek ballad of the 1999 wreck and salvage of the cargo ship New Carissa on the Oregon coast.”

Know of any others?



Filed under Shipwreck culture

11 responses to “Shipwreck Culture: Old songs and new songs

  1. Buck

    Leadbelly and Pete Seeger did songs about Titanic.
    Dick Gaughan did several songs; one notably called Shipwreck.
    Stan Rogers sang Mary Ellen Carter.
    Sinead O’Connor did a haunting Lord Franklin.

    • Jamin Wells

      Thank you! These are great (I completely neglected all the Titanic tunes — Steven Biel has a great discussion of them in “Down with the Old Canoe” and I think the Smithsonian has a decent online exhibit.) I haven’t heard the others before–have to see if there are utube versions available.

  2. Andy

    A boxed set called “People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938” comes to mind. The first disc deals with shipwrecks, trainwrecks and all sorts of other transportation catastrophes. I haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy myself, but I think you and I would both enjoy the set just based on the track list.
    Check out the Pitchfork review at:

    Also, you can download the apropos cover art at:

  3. Jen

    Came across this older post looking for shipwreck songs… Can I add the Bee Gees song Odessa?

  4. Ari

    Josh Ritter’s “Another New World,” also notably covered by Punch Brothers.

    Thanks for these other resources, I’m gonna give’m an ear.

  5. Ralph C

    There are two shipwreck songs by civil war era composer Henry Clay Work. When the Evening Star Went Down, and The Ship That Never Returned.

  6. Ewoud

    Stan Rogers sang some others in addition to “The Mary Ellen Carter” that were almost as good (“The Flowers of Bermuda,” “Barrett’s Privateers,” “Three Fishers”).

    Greenland Fisheries ( and The Golden Vanity ( are also good.

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