Santianna

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"Santianna", also known as "Santiana", "Santy Anna", "Santayana", "Santiano", "Santy Anno" and other variations, is a sea shanty relating to the Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The song is listed as number 207 in the Roud Folk Song Index.[1]

Origin[edit]

The theme of the shanty, which dates from at least the 1850s, may have been inspired by topical events in the news related to conflicts between the armies of Mexico, commanded by Antonio López de Santa Anna, and the U.S., commanded by Zachary Taylor, in the Mexican-American War.

The lyrics themselves are rather economical with historical accuracy; for example, the result of the Battle of Monterrey (or alternatively the Battle of Molino del Rey), in a few renditions, is presented as a US rout rather than the Mexican defeat that really occurred.

Lyrics[edit]

"Santianna" is a capstan shanty, and follows a call-and respond pattern. The call is in normal type, and the response is in italics.

O! Santianna fought for fame![citation needed]
Away Santianna!
And Santianna gained a name
All on the plains of Mexico!
Mexico, Mexico,
Away Santianno!
Mexico is a place I know!
All on the plains of Mexico!
O! Santianna had a wooden leg
Heave away, Santianna!
He used it for a cribbage peg
All on the plains of Mexico!
Chorus:
Heave her up, and away we'll go
Heave away, Santianna!
Heave her up, and away we'll go
All on the plains of Mexico
O! Santianna fought for his gold
Heave away, Santianna!
The deeds he did have oft been told
All on the plains of Mexico
Chorus
O! Santianna gain'd the day,
Heave away, Santianna!
He gain'd the day at Molly-Del-Rey*.
All on the plains of Mexico
Chorus
He won the day at Molly-Del-Rey,
Heave away, Santianna!
And General Taylor he ran away.
All on the plains of Mexico
Chorus
O! Santianna fought for his life,
Heave away, Santianna!
He gained his way in the terrible strife.
All on the plains of Mexico
Chorus
O! Santianna's men were brave,
Heave away, Santianna!
Many found a hero's grave.
All on the plains of Mexico!
Chorus
O! Santianna's day is o'er,
Heave away, Santianna!
Santianna will fight no more.
All on the plains of Mexico!
Chorus
O! Santianna's day is gorn,
Heave away, Santianna!
We left him buried off Cape Horn.
All on the plains of Mexico!
Chorus
We dug his grave with a golden spade,
Heave away, Santianna!
And marked the spot where he was laid.
All on the plains of Mexico
*Monterrey or Molino del Rey

Other versions[edit]

Covers in French-language[edit]

Main article: Santiano

Covers in other languages[edit]

The English version by Odetta and The Kingston Trio is also about a ship that leaves from Liverpool to California, a wealthy place: "Plenty of gold, So I've Been told, way out in California..." this version is probably about the California Gold Rush – "Back in the days of '49... Way out in California". The rendition is based in the one sung in 1935 by sailor J. M. Hunt, which was reproduced in Lomax's Our Singing Country (1941). The Kingston Trio omitted Hunt's verses about "Zacharias Taylor gained the day..."

There is also a Norwegian version of this song, which it is about a man who sails from Copenhagen to Kristiansand and meets a girl whom he spends a night with. He then has to travel to India, and when he arrives he is handed a letter saying that his Norwegian "friend" is dead. He then sings of how he never returned to Norway, for his Anna is dead. The song is remodeled by Storm Weather Shanty Choir.

Welsh singer-songwriter Meic Stevens recorded a version in which he refers to the Free Wales Army and the influx of English settlers to Wales.

In 2008 German folk-collective Werkraum under leadership by Axel Frank recorded an own adaption of the English original, but using some changes in the verses, referring to Tory Island instead of Liverpool, probably inspired by a stormy cruise to the coast of Northwest of Ireland plus the historical fact of the massive Irish immigration to America.

In 2012 the German group Santiano recorded a new version of this song. The group has had much success, and received an Echo for their first album containing Santiano as well as other shanties.

A version of the song was also released in 2010 by critically acclaimed doo-wop group Lemanis, as part of a compilation of sea shantys for One.C records. This version had the ship leaving Plymouth for Mexico, with the crew recounting their tales of the women they left behind. Why they were going to Mexico is unknown.

There is a version in Icelandic, called "Fulla ferd Santíanó" (Full Ahead Santiano). This is a sea mans story about one sailing home after days at sea, written by Siggi Björns an Icelandic musician, and an ex fisherman. This version was recorded and realised on a cd with a band called"Æfing" from a small fishing town, Flateyri, in the Icelandic Westfjords.

References[edit]

http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/santyanna.html