Category Archives: music

Boat songs #3: “Trolling Atlantis”

Let’s just go ahead and get to it: this song is awesome.  I mean, come on, it’s freaking Billy Joel.  Either you listened to him forever because he was there and rocked it, or your parents listened and you got all excited and tried to learn the words for the grocery list of the twentieth century in ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ or you didn’t listen to him in which case Sad Emoji for you. 

This particular song, ‘The Downeaster Alexa,’ is the narrative of a fisherman in Long Island Sound, struggling to steer his faithful Alexa through storms and economic decline, having lost his house, now straining to keep possession of his boat, searching for the stripers upon which his life depends in the polluted waters of factory overfishing.  This was actually a real crisis, too.  He’s lost amidst tempests and failed hopes.  You kind of get worried about the guy.  But these lyrics though: “tell my wife I am trolling Atlantis,” “there ain’t no island left for islanders like me.”  Plus it’s just enough in the minor key to be sad but still isn’t a party-ruiner.  And those trilling sounds that come through on the bridge, and then the violin, and the whole harmonizing calls of despair.  Everything about this song is fabulous. 

Also, apparently Billy was fiercely supportive of the actual fishermen, the Baymen who experienced this crisis, and was pals with a fellow whose boat was called Alexa Ray.  And now that’s the name of Billy’s daughter.  Trivia!

Featured image by 19th century painter Winslow Homer, if you were curious. Weirdly, a Google image search for this revealed a yoga mat with this picture printed upon it, I kid you not.

Boat Songs #2: “The rum is for all your good vices”

Well ahoy again!  Welcome to the second entry in our SY Wake playlist, in which we get our groove on to music about boats or sailing or the sea.  This one is an obviously essential number, because there’s no excuse for being on a boat and not hearing some classic Jimmy Buffett (unless you are an old-timey pirate, since back then Jimmy Buffett hadn’t been invented yet).  So here’s his song “Son of a Son of a Sailor”, from the 1978 album of the same title:

*margaritas optional but highly recommended


Boat Songs #1: “Old Captain Ahab ain’t got nothin’ on me”

Welcome to the first sample of the SY Wake playlist!  With weeks upon weeks nestled in a cockpit watching the cats chasing bugs,  obviously music is a necessity for marginal sanity.  And what better than songs about boats?

Our first number comes from Tom Waits, a virtuoso and multifarious musician whose career spans decades of the blues and the experimental, the poetic and the sinister, the mysteries of trainyards and the glittering highways  – and the sea!  Here’s his song, “Shiver Me Timbers”, from the 1974 album The Heart of Saturday Night:

The fog’s liftin’ and the sand’s shiftin’, enjoy!