Between the Breaks … Live!
For those who never heard Stan Rogers live, here are the links to a concert that became a record in 1979. Only six of these songs were written by Stan. “The Witch of the Westmorland” is by Scottish singer/songwriter Archie Fisher, “White Collar Holler” is attributed to Nigel Russell, and “Rolling Down to Old Maui is a traditional sea shanty.
Only one of these songs contains an explicitly Canadian reference. The second last line of the chorus of “Barrett’s Privateers” refers to Halifax. The action in “First Christmas,” “Mary Ellen Carter,” and “Harris and the Mare” can be seen in Canadian traditional settings. “Rolling Down to Old Maui,” though it’ about north Pacific whaling, also fits the experience of Captain George Vancouver and other explorers of the north Pacific Coast who retreated from the rains to winter in the Hawaiian Islands. Bermuda served the same function on the east coast for those who chose not to go as far as the Caribbean.
When making these caveats, it’s important to remember that what made Stan a good songwriter and an authentic voice was often his understatement. He focuses on settings and interactions, not labels. He rarely used the word “Canadian” in lyrics; an exception is the line “I saw pure Canadian concrete and glass down to the water line” (Fisherman’s Wharf.”) is not a flattering reference. He does mention regions: Newfoundland, Alberta, the Soo and cities/towns Carcross, Queenson, Calgary, Edmonton, Wiarton, Tobermory,
Most of his locations are implicit in his lyrics: “if you have to ask…” This affirms the point of contemporary Tim Rogers (not related) that “Canadian culture is regional culture.”
- The Witch of the Westmorland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxls60aYSZA
- Barrett’s Privateers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIwzRkjn86w
- First Christmas away… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chTMOuuUZi4
- The Mary Ellen Carter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhop5VuLDIQ
- The White Collar Holler https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsDkmVo2fg4
- The Flowers of Bermuda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVUei-0WYC4
- Rolling Down to Old Maui https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPYAZUcohmw
- Harris and the Mare https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQSEn-SZzpM
- Delivery Delayed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgMwSl0Jpks