|Winkin, Blinkin and Nod performed by The Big Three ()|
If you ask any industry bigwig right now what’s gonna be the next big thing, they’ll all say the same, “Sea Shanties”. Every one of them. You think I’m joking? Well listen up ignorami because I’m not.
You might have noticed ripples rolling in from the Indie scene on both shores of the Atlantic, as The Coral, The Decemberists, and others, have romanticised the plight of the seafarer, but now Shanties are due to hit the mainstream, and hard. As I write this Richard X is in his London studio working on the final mix of ‘Salty Seadog’, an explosive slab of “neo-shant’ purred over seductively by Rachel Stevens. Cathy Dennis, my old pal from our days changing skates at Norwich Rollerama, told me yesterday that she’s just sold three ‘Shanties’ to some “top name artists”. For legal reasons I’m not allowed to say who, but let me assure you these are white hot names. The kind of names that kids get on their knees and pray to. So, you see, Shanties are big business. I’ve also heard that Jennifer Lopez, J-Lo, ‘Loopy’ Lopez, Jell-O, whatever, never one to miss a passing fad, is rumoured to be changing her name to One-Eyed-Jenny. Make of that what you will, might just be street talk. Now what concerns me is the forthcoming release from Britney Spears. This you may have heard about. It’s called, ‘Wingin’, Blingin’ and Not!’, and it’s a ‘fresh’ adaptation of the 19th century poem/song, ‘Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod’ by Eugene Field. I know this song from the glorious version by Cass Elliot’s pre-fame folk trio, The Big Three. It’s less a shanty than a bewitching lullaby, intended to lull a child into restful slumber, as Winkin’ and gang sailed not in rusting trawler through the bleak North Sea, but, “in a wooden shoe/off on a river of crystal light/into a sea of dew.” And it contains some of the most hauntingly beautiful oooh ooohs and aahh ahhs ever waxed, as Tim Rose and Mama Cass harmonise the rolling waves of slumber. Nevertheless because of it’s sea-faring theme (“we’re going fishing for the herring fish/that live in the beautiful sea”), it’ll probably get caught up in the nets of the inevitable ‘Sea Shanty Fever’ cash-in compilations that will soon litter our shores like syringes and floor tiling. I wanted to draw your attention to it now before it gets beaten blue and bloody by the Spears, and rattles out over supermarket tannoys the world over.