Straight Lines

15. The Mary Ellen Carter

Lyrics & music by: Stan Rogers
1979 Fogarty's Cove Music

Lead vocalsl & guitar: Mike Agranoff
Harmony vocals & electric bass: Stuart Markus
Harmony vocals & shaker egg: Hillary Foxsong
Harmony vocals & lead guitar: Gerry McKeveny

One of the all-time great anthems in the folk repertoire by my all-time favorite folk performer. Stan Rogers from Ontario, Canada, was an icon of the folk world in the 70s and early 80s until his life was cut short in an airline accident. I sang this song for many years in social situations: at parties, jamming with other musicians, etc. But I was loath to take it to the stage, knowing my performance would pale against Stan's powerful original. It was only after I met and joined forces with Gathering Time (Stuart Markus, Hillary Foxsong, and Gerry McKeveny, who sing backup on this recording) that I felt I could present something that would hold a candle to Stan's rendition. It's still a candle in comparison, but hopefully a bright one. And the song deserves to be sung.

1.
She went down last October in a pouring driving rain.
The skipper, he'd been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain.
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low.
There were just us five aboard her when she finally was awash.
We'd worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost.
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again.

2.
Well, the owners wrote her off; not a nickel would they spend.
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to us, they let her rest below.
Then they laughed at us and said we had to go.
But we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock,
For she's worth a quarter million, afloat and at the dock.
And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain
And make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

Chorus 1
Rise again, rise again,
T that her name not be lost to the knowledge of men.
Those who loved her best and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

3.
All spring, now, we've been with her on a barge lent by a friend.
Three dives a day in hard hat suit and twice I've had the bends.
Thank God it's only sixty feet and the currents here are slow
Or I'd never have the strength to go below.
But we've patched her rents, stopped her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down.
Put cables to her, 'fore and aft and girded her around.
Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain.
And make the Mary Ellen Carter Rise Again.

Chorus 1
Rise again, rise again,
That her name not be lost to the knowledge of men.
Those who loved her best and were with her till the end
Will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.

3.
For we couldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale.
She'd saved our lives so many times, living through the gale.
And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave
They won't be laughing in another day.
And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go,
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Chorus 2 (repeat 2x)
Rise again, rise again
T though your heart it be broken and life about to end.
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.