Now, in the era of the digital cloud, it's easier than ever to match the perfect song to a good day on the water.
So, let's take a musical journey a€” from folk, to seafaring, to classic, to indie, to, well, wild! Richard ThompsonWhen I was 16 years old and living in the fo'c'sle of a 130-foot brigantine the first time, I heard "Song for the North Star" a€” one of many times my life was incontestably steered by a song.
I knew nothing then about Jorma Kaukonen, nothing about his electric band Hot Tuna, or his previous membership in Jefferson Airplane, nothing even about his Piedmont Blues mentor, the Reverend Gary Davis. It was just that song, played on a cheap cassette recorder, that crept inside me and told me where to go. EnyaPlaylist 1: The Starter KitUnless you haven't been a boater for more than about two weeks or you just want to visit some old music friends of your own, you can slip right out of this well-marked channel to the next playlists where we'll explore some lesser known gunkholes of the music world. The first part is a top-10 list, based on a survey of boaters recently conducted by Discover Boating, an arm of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Let's face it: The Starter Kit wouldn't be complete without highlights from the whole Jimmy Buffett oeuvre. Love him or hate him, "JB's" music has thoroughly infused the boating scene since his 1977 release, "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes".
The Discover Boating list places CSN's 1982 "Southern Cross" as number 4, and that's well deserved. Legend has it that Stephen Stills reworked that song from an unreleased Curtis Brothers demo called "Seven League Boots," recorded a few years earlier with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. A cockpitful of do-it-yourselfers with any music sense at all could learn these songs and play them live at anchor.
Just add voices and maybe a guitar; any fiddles, bodhrA?ns, mouth harps, or mandolins would be gravy in the mix.
Based on baritones and tenors singing in parallel fifths, this song sounds even older than whaling: It hints at thousand-year-old monastic chants, yet is sung by men made of tarred marlin and iron. In 1980, the Celtic folk band Morrigan recorded a six-minute rendition featuring strings that give the song a friendlier feel.Tim MurphyFor more local traditions, check the songs by Stan Rogers, Gordon Bok, or Cindy Kallet. These songs are based on Celtic musical structures but are infused with North American seafaring details. Tragic ballads about brave men and ships that never made it home trade places with lyrical, polyphonic a cappella fishing tunes like "Shantyboatin'."We all know "Sloop John B," whether from The Beach Boys or The Kingston Trio, if not from a lifetime of campfire singing.
You'll hear the line, "Down in Nassau town we did roam," in a whole new way.Lyle Lovett's "If I Had a Boat," is one of the rare songs that make both Kit Staton's list and the Discover Boating Top 10. You'd be hard-pressed these days to walk into any seaside watering hole with a guitar player banging away in the corner and not hear this song.
Still, when you take that song's signature line ("If I had a boat I'd go out on the ocean, and if I had a pony I'd ride him on my boat"), you make the link from boating songs to the great cowboy songs from inland America that eloquently speak to an errant, restless soul.
Better yet: Listen from the end of a taut towrope, with stinging spray and a steep white wake around you.
The songs in this list come from video soundtracks: "12 Honkeys," "Fluid," "DoubleUP Experience," "High-Wake Drifters," all films that feature the biggest-name champions and innovators in wakeboarding.Want to try a Bel Air to Blind handle pass?
This song a€” two minutes and 42 seconds of pure pop bliss from the sliding bass and jangly arpeggios of the first measure a€” comes from one of 3,000 lyrics that Woody Guthrie left behind.
In the mid-1990s, Woody's daughter invited Billy Bragg and the members of Wilco to write and arrange all the music for a project that resulted in two "Mermaid Avenue" albums.
Come to think of it, Woody was, among other things, a sailor, an Able Seaman (AB) in the U.S.
Merchant Marine during World War II, so maybe it's no coincidence that virtually all the songs in these two volumes make great water music.The piano-driven vibe of the second Wilco song, "Theologians," is altogether different.
Yet it does drive, the rhythm and music holding together lines like, "I'm an ocean, abyss in motion.
But beginning with the line, "Spooning water from the broken vessel, as far as I can see there is no land," and through the song's haunting chorus, they take it right over the edge.
They each have whole discographies well worth exploring, or better yet, catching live in some seaside watering hole.
So, whether you like your music recorded or live, digital or analog, introspective or loud, you'll find plenty among these playlists to rock your boat.A Tim Murphy is an independent writer, editor, musician, and the former executive editor of Cruising World magazine. The bonus track listed under Author's Choice is something he composed in the fo'c'sle of that aforementioned brigantine.

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