Six 13 - The Red Sea Shanty: A Pirate Passover

A number of well-known musicians from different music genres joined in the #SeaShanty hashtag, including Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical theatre), Nickelback (Canadian rock), and Gary Barlow and Ronan Keating (British pop).

TikTokers and Youtubers experimented with different songs, harmonies, instruments, and percussion. For example, in the duet chain by @mimo_mio, a cat lapping milk sets the beat, and brass, woodwinds, aerophones, and vocalists layer in to create a shanty-like version of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy.”

The acapella group Six13 joined in the sea shanty trend with “The Red Sea Shanty: A Pirate Passover,” adapting more general sea-fairing/crossing lyrics to the Red Sea crossing, a key moment in the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

Musically, Six13’s shanty is a mashup of three tunes: “The Wellerman,” “The Drunken Sailor,” and the theme to “Gilligan’s Island.” Lyrically, the verses alternate between historical Exodus events and current Passover practices.

The “Wellerman” section summarizes the historical narrative, to be retold each year (Exodus 13:8). Each story segment concludes with the refrain: “Soon may our freedom come/ to bring us liberty, peace, and fun.” In the last 2 stanzas, the refrain changes, bookending the celebration: “Hey, lads, the seder has come/ With questions asked by the youngest one/ We'll sing and have some fun” and “Hey, lads, the seder is done/ We told our tale of redemption.”

Six13 puts a playful, seasonal spin on the “Drunken Sailor” shanty lyrics, transposing the question “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?” to “What shall we do with the middle matzah?” The suggestions for sobering-up the sailor turn into reminders of Passover Seder customs/practices like hiding the afikoman away “early in the seder” and getting “some prizes later in the seder,” for finding it.

Where the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song names the actors in the tv show, Six13 names the stars in the Exodan drama: “So every year we celebrate our freedom with a smile/ With Moses and Ramses II/ Yocheved, the Levite/ The Pharaoh's daughter and Aaron and Miriam/ On the Egyptian Nile.” Six13 turns the planned, 3 hour tour of the SS Minnow into a joke about the length of the Passover Seder: “Just when you think it’s almost done, there's three hours more.”

Whether you listen on your phone or sing with a group, this year “sing and have some fun” with Six13’s “The Red Sea Shanty: A Pirate Passover.” 

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