‘Chanteys moved up the Chesapeake…’

“[John Frye, author of  ‘The Men All Singing : the Story of Menhaden Fishing’] suggests that the menhaden chanteys originated in North Carolina, and later inspired regional variations. He quotes Charles E. Williams, a fisherman aboard the Stephen J. McKeever in 1929: ‘The chanteys moved up the Chesapeake Bay and on north.’

“It’s treacherous, of course, to romanticize labor—particularly labor that was often backbreaking, segregated, and poorly paid. But there is, nonetheless, real beauty in the chanteymen’s heavy, rhythmic singing, in the way the crew briefly blurred together, briefly becoming a single body. In a moment where we are looking for escape and communion wherever we can find it, #shanteytok, as it has come to be called, feels like a safe and welcome portal to anywhere but here.”

— From “The Delights of Sea-Chantey TikTok” by Amanda Petrusich in the New Yorker (Jan. 14)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *