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Whom the Sea Will Keep

by The National Lights

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Swift Ships 03:20
I was a boy about your age If you can believe it When I lifted on a cool trade wind And have never yet to leave it I had the love of a woman then If you can believe her Bless swift ships and honest men And the lass that loves a sailor I've shook hands with kings and thieves And lined my shirt with silver But not once in these 30 years Have I returned to see her When these planks and bolts make port Leave these ocean waters A fool is he the man that leaves The lass that loves a sailor My lad Let the land and not the water Seal your grave
To the shore, take the oars Tonight we sail Give us a stove boat if not a whale Can ten men's lives be spared for the take in our pail? What's a boy supposed to do? What a boy's supposed to On deck there's a jig And a tambourine No lover could draw out such bravery So it's a dead whale or a stove boat for me What's a boy supposed to do? What a boy's supposed to
On the planks of the lee Outfitted for sea A ship in 1819 Charged with the care Of a vessel affair Of which I've had the fond company Off to the war And our place in ocean lore Onward through ivory seas Weeks out from land And a whale on the bend Took from us all but our teeth We cast our lots A nephew was lost Once placed in my custody Off to the war And our place in ocean lore Onward through ivory seas We sharpened our knives Down the lengths of our spines We'll pray for you And split your sides Fingers to bone Your skeleton combed We'll leave here For none to find
I made a life of the ocean Mending the boot soles of fishermen Counting my ribs on my good hand Sewing the salt in my skin Traded my last for the odd bark And took a wife without captain's leave Who gave me three sons and a daughter at sea I buried in Argentine With Buenos Aires behind me I refit a sloop and I fell on the wind Without a companion beside me I sailed with a pulse in my limbs No man that takes to the sea life Is fit to live a life on the shore And I set sail once more from New Jersey Port To sail this vessel down
Tell us a tale of that fond maiden summer The wind and your lyre keeping time with the water Whales can recall songs of the captain's daughter Lost long ago If love were a word worth its weight in oil The light would come up all around the mainsail Drive us on through a night free from peril To leave us alone On seaboards and sails I've fettered a life Lost friends to the whale and brothers to wives And the love from years ago of a captain's daughter we gave to the night


Songs about ghosts, white whales, disappearances, drastic measures, and Joshua Slocum. Recorded intermittently between the summers of 2008 and 2018 in Richmond, New York City, and Baltimore.


released February 22, 2019

Written by Jacob Thomas Berns
Produced and arranged by Chris Kiehne
Performed by Jacob Thomas Berns, Chris Kiehne, Sonya Cotton, Jeff Alford, Derek Piech, and Gabe Dominguez
Recorded by Chris Kiehne and Patrick Scott Vickers


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The National Lights Eugene, Oregon

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