The Titanic (song)
|Written by||A.P. Carter, Sarah Carter, Maybelle Carter|
|Original artist||William and Versey Smith 1927|
"The Titanic" (also known as "It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down" and "Titanic (Husbands and Wives)") is a folk song and children's song most known for being sung in the United States at summer camp. "The Titanic" is about the sinking of the RMS Titanic which sank on April 15, 1912 after striking an iceberg.
There are several regional variations on the song. According to Newman I. White's 1928 book American Negro Folk-Songs, "The Titanic" has been traced back to 1915 or 1916 in Hackleburg, Alabama. Other versions from around 1920 are documented in the Frank C. Brown Collection at Duke University in North Carolina. Early recordings include Ernest Stoneman's "The Titanic" (Okeh 40288) in September 1924 and William and Versey Smith's "When That Great Ship Went Down" in August 1927. According to Jeff Place, in his notes for the American Anthology of Folk Music: "African-American musicians, in particular, found it noteworthy and ironic that company policies had kept Blacks from the doomed ship; the sinking was also attributed by some to divine retribution."
- William and Versey Smith on Anthology of American Folk Music, Smithsonian Folkways 1952
- Lead Belly on The Titanic (Volume 4)
- Sissy Spacek on Coal Miner's Daughter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 1980 (Not this song - completely different.)
- Bessie Jones on The Alan Lomax Collection Sampler Rounder 1997
- Woody Guthrie on The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1: This Land Is Your Land, Smithsonian Folkways 1999
- Pert Near Sandstone on "Paradise hop" version called "sad when the great bridge came down" 2011
- Ruthie Foster on Let It Burn (2012)
In popular culture
"The Titanic" was sung by Paul Newman and Brandon de Wilde's characters after a drunken night out, in the 1963 film Hud.
Traditionally, the University of California Marching Band performs the song during its march up to Memorial Stadium from Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus.
- Habing, B. "The Great Titanic - American Folk Song". PotW.org. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
- Levang, Rex. "It Was Sad When the Great Ship Went Down". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved December 2, 2005.
- White, Newman I. (1928). American Negro Folk-Songs. Harvard University Press.
- Google: Titanic