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"Off to Sea Once More" is one of my favourite sea songs and, according to mood at the moment, it may be my absolute favourite. I first heard it from Brian Kelly but the version I sing can be found in Roy Palmer's The Oxford Book of Sea Songs. For my taste Roy's version is a lot more tuneful but the lyrics are virtually the same.
The gap separating whalers in the 19th century and aircraft carriers in the 20th century are indeed worlds apart. This song is so evocative of the love/hate relationship between a seaman and his chosen element that I always find myself thinking about H.M.S. Victorious whenever doing "Off to Sea Once More". The title alone brings it all back. The song itself is about being seen-off by agents, the ladies, the hard life at sea and finally the wish of being ashore with a loving wife.
Maybe one day I'll try my hand at a sea song about aircraft carriers, atom-bombs, radar, biological and electronic warfare etc., the lot of a 20th century naval sea-goer, in the same vein. Even if I succeeded, I doubt whether it would go down with present day audiences.
Since writing the above in the late 1990's I have recently (August 2013) had the good fortune to have been invited to the 2nd LeserPromenade. There I sang this song on the Schulschiff Deutschland along with Fareweel to Tarwathie and Whaling in Greenland to provide a musical background to the reading of Moby Dick by Egbert Heiß. A most enjoyable occasion!
This song may be found in the Tyneside Maritime Chorus songbook
Geoff sings with concertina (4:43), performed by Geoff Grainger.
"Off to Sea Once More" has been recorded by:
The Dubliners on "The Original Dubliners" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Jerry Garcia on "Shady Grove" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
A.L. Lloyd on "Leviathan!" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Various Artists on "Sea Shanties" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Kimbers Men on "Don't Take the Heroes" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Geoff Grainger on "Mostly at Sea"
Ship'n Whales on "Northern Link"