My wife and I went last night with my brother and his wife to a place called the Tipperrary Inn, down in Dallas. I had an Irish beef stew in a bread bowl. We went to hear an "a capella" singing group called The Corsairs perform. My brother and his wife knew them from having seen them at a Renaissance fair a while back. Their schtick is that they are four rather ordinary looking fellows who play Ren fairs, dressed as pirates, and sing a combination of real sea shanties and modern songs designed to sound vaguely like sea shanties.
They were quite enjoyable, and they drew a crowd which ranged from "Ren Fair refugee" to the closely related "probable member of the Society for Creative Anachronism" to the more "hip" "probably more ear piercings than possessed by any other gorgeous woman not a character on a science fiction program, accompanied by man with electric blue hair, gently dyed" to "must be someone's parent or uncle" to "good old twentysomething prime" to "brown European cycle leathers on a 70something year old hipster man" to "you mean Phish is breaking up?" to boring old us. I felt right at home, somehow, though I did feel guilty (but not too guilty, and a bit relieved when my wife mentioned noticing the same girl, so maybe my glance can be chalked up to "interesting person" and not the kind of ignobility I hate to commit) about looking with passing interest at the young woman with all the cool post-Bajoran ear-rings and the decidedly intriguing tattoos, who wore the very flattering boat-wader-length jeans. The singing group managed to do something as silly as sing pirate songs without being annoying or sounding like a barbershop quartet nattering on about cutlasses. It's all about the non-bashful fun.
The group's lighthearted approach to the whole enterprise (thankfully, perhaps, the faux pirate suits were omitted in favor of T shirts with skulls and crossbones) won everyone over, although virtually everyone but my wife and I seemed to be some sort of fan to begin with. The band announced that they had just crossed a career total of seven thousand CDs sold, spread among some six or so releases. I completely approve of people who have a band which plays their own metroplex, and do not dream of "hitting the big time". If I had any talent at anything, I'd have a band whose highest aspiration was to be an institution in one city only, playing bars, churches and the city parks for nearly nothing, and otherwise just being a cheap CD auction on eBay. I am all for the artist with the day job.
In the second set, the group kindly sang the song whose version on CD my brother and his wife used to close out their son's funeral.
It's called "The Sailor's Prayer" by a fellow named Rod MacDonald.
Like a lot of their material, it sounds traditional, but it's in fact a 1982 song. It's about a sailor trying to make it home, sung in a quiet, gusto-lilt four part harmony.
The refrain goes:
"I will not lie me down
This rain a-ragin'
I will not lie me down
In such a storm
And if this night be unblessed
I shall not take my rest
Until I reach another shore".
Because the singers made a brief announcement (thankfully, not asking them to stand or going into detail) before the song, the bar buzz subsided a bit, except for the bleach blonde woman three tables over, whom I at first thought annoying as she chatted and giggled, but later thought to be alive and free as a buccaneer, which was a good thing.
For all the potential note of sadness in the context, I somehow felt glad that I was there with my wife, my brother and his wife, all of whom I love and love being with, chatting and listening and exploring and just enjoying a little simple music, in a tiny bar filled with people who truly appreciate faux pirates. I love my family. It's all about family, and being in the moment.