The last of Barrett’s Privateers

In April of 2001, right around the time I started chatting with Dan online, I went to Toronto to visit some friends who lived there and to explore a new city (and a new country, I guess). One night while I was there, I was out with my friend Mike and some of his friends, and after dancing for a few hours in a club-type place we went somewhere a little more quiet to have a drink and wind down.

We ended up in what I think was an Irish pub in a well-to-do part of town. I ordered a hard cider and my friend and his buddies had beer, and we were happy to learn that there was a live band playing. Near the end of my drink, the band started playing a song that somehow, everyone in the bar knew, and every person in there (except me) began to sing along. It was a rollicking sea-chanty sort of song, and by the end I had gotten a bit of the chorus, and I happily clapped along to the beat. When it was over, everyone applauded and cheered the band. I asked my friend the next day what that had all been about, and he explained to me that the song, “Barrett’s Privateers,” was one all Canadians seemed to know. The song was originally written by Stan Rogers, a well-known (in Canada) folk singer. I had liked it so much that I bought a Stan Rogers CD in a record store while I was still there, and then after I met Dan I played it for him a time or two. He liked it enough to buy a copy of the CD for himself, so when we moved in together we had two copies of it. Anyhow, we’re both fans of Stan Rogers, who died tragically in an airplane accident in 1983.

Tonight, we were out to dinner at a local place called the Irish Snug with Scarlett, which is only a few blocks away. They have terrific French fries and Strongbow hard cider on tap. While we sat on the patio, amazed that less than 2 weeks ago there was a foot of snow on the ground yet it was nice enough tonight to sit outdoors to eat, inside was an Irish folk singer, accompanied by quite a few tipsy people. The longer we sat there, the more he sounded like Stan Rogers, and at one point I remarked to Dan, “If he starts singing ‘Barrett’s Privateers’ I’m going to wonder if Stan Rogers has come back from the grave.” Scarlett didn’t know who Stan Rogers was, so we told her about him, and I kept thinking that the guy inside sounded just like him.

When it came time to pay, the server was nowhere to be found, and we were getting cold, so we went inside to find her, only to stop and listen to the folk singer for a while. He even had a some songbooks with the sing-along parts in bold, and quite a few people were enjoying singing to the chorus.

I picked up one of the books and leafed through to find the song he was playing and sing along, only to notice that “Barrett’s Privateers” was one of the songs in his songbook! I showed it to him, and he agreed to sing it for me. I sang along, knowing most of the words by heart, and the rest of the drunkards joined in on the chorus and clapped along to the sea-chanty beat.

I’ll never get to hear Stan Rogers sing, but I had the next best thing tonight at the Irish Snug in Denver.

You can hear the entire song here or watch Stan sing part of it here.


One response to “The last of Barrett’s Privateers

  1. I love when stuff like that happens.

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