A while ago I went looking for sea shanties that I might have known or heard during the life I lived in the mid-19th century. I found a couple that sounded familiar.
I came across this song, called “Rio Grande,” which really caught my attention as soon as I heard it. In this case, the “Rio Grande” they’re referring to is one in South America which oddly enough I might have stopped at. The song itself sounds really familiar but I’m wondering if there wasn’t another set of lyrics to this same tune since I seem to remember the lyrics being about another port:
Here’s another one called “Haul Away Joe” that’s pretty well known, though I think I first heard it at a very young age and it always gave me a weird feeling:
I’m pretty sure I crossed the Atlantic on a masted vessel, incidentally. I believe the paddle steamer was one bound for British Columbia I boarded in San Francisco. But it’s all intuition really, I don’t have anything more than that. I really hope there’s something left on the California coast that’s familiar enough to bring me more memories.
I’ve been thinking about this life more often as my trip to California gets nearer. It’s funny, I thought I’d be thinking more of my life as Phil but I already know so much about that life; what about this nameless sailor who shipwrecked off the Marin Headlands 100 years earlier? I’ve been able to trace locations and rough dates but I know nothing of the person I was, only vague recollections of being a troubled soul and possibly on the run from the law.
Perhaps I didn’t know myself back then either. A man on the run wears a thousand faces, none of them his own.