The Bards

Truly, one of the best parts of this trip for me, was the music. I am absolutely delighted that Adventure Canada saw fit to include local musicians among our guides. For each place that we visited around Newfoundland, we were treated to local music and songs, by performers both aboard our ship and ashore. These songs entertained us, educated us, and helped draw us into the Newfoundland culture in a way that lectures and tours alone could never do. Also, each night aboard ship we would have both formal and informal performances, and many of us would stay in the ship's bar late into the night, singing along to songs both new and old. As it turned out, many of the Newfoundlanders aboard had brought their own instruments, so we had nightly accompaniment with guitar, drum, "4-stop" accordion, and the traditional spoons.

Music is such a wonderful link to generations past. And the oral tradition of teaching via words and music strikes a powerful chord within us. I especially love the concept of bards who learn of an event and then write a song about it, and thereby immortalize a story that can then be transmitted to countless others who weren't there to witness the event itself. One delightful example of this on our own journey, was when our guide and master bard himself, Jim Payne, accidentally fell overboard into the icy waters one day while trying to dock a Zodiac raft full of passengers to the Polar Star.

Though this could have been quite a calamity, everything turned out alright -- he was fished out in a few moments by the crew, and, aside from an increase in the, um, moisture and salinity content of his clothing, he was quite alright. News about his little adventure went around the ship rapidly, especially since most of us were gathered by the side of the ship that afternoon to observe a pod of killer whales swimming nearby (quite an event since it was our first major whalesighting in several days of travel). By evening, not one but *two* songs had been written about Jim's mishap: One by Tom Kovacs, who'd put some words to the music of "King of the Road", and turned Jim into "King of the Sea" (this was especially appropriate since Tom has a habit of doing Elvis impersonations). The other story of the event was by Jim himself, who'd written a humorous recitation with his "fish's eye view" of the happenings. Not to be outdone, Tom then modified his own lyric, poking fun at Jim's recitation, and performed his latest version at our next "kitchen party" later in the trip.

I have to admit that I found the entire thing hilarious, and I enjoyed greatly both the songs themselves, and the "back and forth" process between the two songwriters. Though I'm sorry Jim had to get chucked into the drink to inspire this kind of creativity, I still think that it was worth it!

To see the final versions of these two lyrics, please check these links:

The music aboard ship also inspired the passengers to write their own songs, and for the "Talent Night" we had some delightful musical adventures with more stories of our trip. For some examples of other songs that were sung aboard ship, please check the following links, too:
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