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Great Big Sea

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I wonder if GBS' repertoire of reworked sea chanties and drinking songs has kept them off Songfacts? I've read that Newfies are considered to be unsophisticated, funny speaking, and often-drunk fisherfolk by urban Canada. (Imagine that, Canadian Rednecks!) Oh well, I'll play "When I'm Up," "Seagulls," and "Captain Kidd," assured that MusicStrands and Last.FM folk know a great band when they hear them. :afro:

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It was late Summer, 2004 when I spotted a PBS special on Great Big Sea. This was a concert/party, with fans "getting vertical" and singing as loudly as the band on stage. This led to the "Great Big DVD & CD" release, which captured the look/feel of GBS. Here's a cover that caught my interest:

"When I'm Up (I Can't Get Down)"

I am the fountain of affection

I'm the instrument of joy

And to keep the good times rolling

I'm the boy, I'm the boy,

You know the world could be our oyster,

You just put your trust in me,

Cause we'll keep the good times rolling

Wait and see, wait and see....oh wait and see!

His exhaltation, a sweet disintegration.

A few discolorations, then it comes along

up is why he chooses, the kisses and the bruises

There ain't nothing he refuses, then it comes along

It comes along, and I am lifted, I am lifted, I am lifted!


When I'm up I can't get down

Can't get down, can't get level

When I'm up I can't get down

Get my feet back on the ground

When I'm up I can't get down

Can't get down, can't get level

When I'm up I can't get down

Get my feet back on the ground

He just needs, something to blind him

Something to wind him up

It won't take long to find him

When it comes on strong.

Wise guys are grinning, street lights are spinning

The night is just beginning, and then it comes on strong

It comes on strong, and I am lifted, I am lifted, I am lifted!


Oh it comes on strong, and I am lifted.

It comes on strong, and I am lifted.

I am lifted, I am lifted!


GBS also writes interesting originals:

"Ordinary Day"

I've got a smile on my face, I've got four walls around me

The sun in the sky, the water surrounds me

I'll win now but sometimes I'll lose

I've been battered, but I'll never bruise, it's not so bad


And I say way-hey-hey, it's just an ordinary day

and it's all your state of mind

At the end of the day, you've still got to say,

it's all right.

See that girl on the street, what keeps her from dying

Let them say what they want, she won't stop trying

She might stumble, if they push her 'round

She might fall, but she'll never lie down


It's a beautiful day, but there's always some sorrow

It's a double edged knife, but there's always tomorrow

It's up to you now if you sink or swim,

Keep the faith and your ship will come in.

Then, there's a tale of strong drink:

"The Old Black Rum"

I drank sixteen doubles for the price of one

Trying to find the courage to talk to one

I asked her for a dance

Not a second glance

My night had just begun

Well I drink to the father and the holy ghost

I'm kneeling at the altar of my nightly post

So I'll raise a glass, not the first nor last

Come join me in this toast


Because the old black rum's got a hold on me

Like a dog wrapped round my leg

And the old black rum's got a hold on me

Will I live for another day?

Hey, Will I live for another day?

Well the queen of George street just went walking on by

Walking on by with some guy who don't care

That she stood in line

Since half past nine

And spent three hours on her hair (On her hair!)

Well her friend is looking at me with an evil grin

I think the bloody racket might soon begin

I must have said some thing

To the George street queen

The boys are joining in!


So I drank all of my money

And I slept out in the rain

Everyday is different but the nights they're all the same

You never see the sun on the old black rum

But I know I'm gonna do it again!

[Chorus 2x]

From what I've read at Last.FM posters, GBS concert goers really get their money's worth and it's nearly impossible not to "get vertical." :guitar:

Edited by Guest

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Actually, the Songfacts Staff was very close to seeing Great Big Sea at the Pines Theater in Northampton this summer, and their version of The Mermaid is in regular rotation on my iPod ("I did not like the tail").

Otokichi, if you can track down any contact info on the band (record label maybe), and find out who the primary songwriter is, we can try to finagle an interview.

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(Cracks open "The Hard And The Easy" CD case and extracts the booklet.) "The Mermaid" is a cover, with the original written by Phil Hillier. Currently, GBS' distributor is Rounder Records as of "Courage & Patience & Grit." (Their third live album to date.) Recent credited songwriters are: Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, and Bob Hallett. This band has been shaking up the rafters of various concert venues since 1993, which doesn't exactly make them an unknown Indie group.

According to a poll on the GBS official website, this song is the most popular among voting fans:

"When I Am King" (Alan Doyle)

Wake up, without a care. Your head's not heavy, conscience clear

Sins are all forgiven here, yours and mine

Fear has gone without a trace

It's the perfect time, it's the perfect place

Nothing hurting. Nothing sore. No one suffers anymore,

The doctor's found a simple cure.

Just in time


All these things if I were King would all appear around me

The world will sing when I am King

The world will sing when I am King

She walks right in she don't even knock. It's the girl you lost to the high school jock

She shuts the door and turns the lock, and takes your hand.

She says she always felt a fool, for picking the Captain over you

She wonders if you miss her, says she always told her sister

That you're the best damn kisser

That she's ever had


Daylight waits to shine until the moment you awaken

So you never miss the dawn

No question, now, you know which road you're taking

Lights all green, the radio plays just the perfect song

Well, the war's been won. All the fights are fought

You find yourself in just the spot

It's a place where everybody's got a song to sing.

Just like the final movie scene. The prince will find his perfect queen

The hero always saves the world. The villains get what they deserve

The boy will always get the girl

When I am King

This tune is off their 2004 "Rock & Roll" album, "Something Beautiful," and there are more gems on this album if the world is getting to you. :guitar:

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