The Titanic (song)

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"The Titanic"
Written by A. P. Carter, Sarah Carter, Maybelle Carter
Language English
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[1]. 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."


In popular culture[edit]

"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.

The song is commonly sung at many Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps, and other children's camps with numerous more hilarious verses added on.


External links[edit]

  • [2] - Lyrics on Scoutorama website.
  • [3] - Lyrics with "Uncles and aunts, little children lost their pants" variation.
  • The Sinking Of The Titanic – Music and lyrics.