Barrett's Privateers

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"Barrett's Privateers"
Song by Stan Rogers
from the album Fogarty's Cove
Released1976 (1976)
RecordedSeptember 23–24, 1976
GenreSea shanty, folk song
LabelBarn Swallow
Songwriter(s)Stan Rogers
Producer(s)Paul Mills

"Barrett's Privateers" is a modern folk song in the style of a sea shanty, written and performed by Canadian musician Stan Rogers, having been inspired after a song session with the Friends of Fiddler's Green at the Northern Lights Festival Boréal in Sudbury, Ontario.[1] The song describes a 1778 summer privateering journey to the Caribbean on a decrepit sloop, the Antelope, captained by Elcid Barrett; when it engages in a failed raid on a larger American ship, the Antelope sinks and all the crew is killed except the singer, who returns six years later "a broken man."[2] Although Barrett, the Antelope and other specific instances mentioned in the song are fictional, "Barrett's Privateers" is full of many authentic details of privateering in the late 18th century.

The song was released on the album Fogarty's Cove in 1976 and has since gained popularity as a drinking song, with cover versions by many bands. It also appears on later Stan Rogers live albums Home in Halifax and Between the Breaks ... Live! The song makes use of mixed meter, regularly switching back and forth from 2
to 3
time. It is regarded as one of the Royal Canadian Navy's unofficial anthems, the unofficial anthem of Atlantic Canada and also often heard sung at many Atlantic universities including (west to east) University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University, Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, University of King's College, St. Francis Xavier University, Cape Breton University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Cover versions[edit]

The popularity of "Barrett's Privateers" has inspired cover versions by many bands, such as the pirate metal band Alestorm on their third album, Back Through Time. This cover also features a guitar solo by Heri Joensen from Týr.

The Australian band Weddings Parties Anything and the folk group Schooner Fare also covered this song.

The song was recorded by the Scottish folk trio The McCalmans on their 1986 album Peace & Plenty (Song title spelled "Barratt's Privateers" on the album) [3]

Phil 'Swill' Odgers singer with UK band The Men They Couldn't Hang does a rousing solo version after learning the words and melody from Weddings Parties Anything backstage over a few beers at Mariposa Folk Festival 1989. It's become a firm live favourite ever since.

Covered by Canadian folk band The Irish Descendants on their 1994 album Gypsies & Lovers.

The Cornerboys performed a comedic rap version, the Dub Pub Club Mix version; this was included on their mooseTracks beer premium CD from Moosehead Breweries in the early 2000s.

Covered by Fisherman's Friends on their 2002 album Home From the Sea.

Covered by the Corries and released on their 2006 album Barrett's Privateers. In this version, the line "I wish I was in Sherbrooke now" is replaced with "I wish I was in Edinburgh now".[4]

Covered by Blackbeard's Tea Party on their 2011 album Tomorrow We'll Be Sober.

Covered by Alestorm on their 2011 album Back Through Time.

In 2012 the Kingston Trio recorded an a cappella version on Born at the Right Time and Celtic punk band the Real McKenzies covered it on Westwinds.

As part of a comedy bit on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in July, 2022, both the host and Jack White sang the first verse together, neither of them knowing that the other knew the song.[5] Stephen Colbert had sung the song before in March, 2022 with Michael Bublé.[6]

The singer Jonathan Young also made a cover of the song with Caleb Hyles, annapantsu, Peyton Parrish, RichaadEB and Colm McGuinness in 2023.

Ian Robb made a cover using different words under the title Garnet's Home-Made Beer.

The Longest Johns, a British folk music group, made a cover of the song in August 2023.

Seth Staton Watkins covered the song on his album "Songs of the Sea" in 2023. The recording contains multiple harmonies, and he sings all of them.


  1. ^ "Stan Rogers: 10 Years Gone". Ottawa Citizen, July 11, 1993.
  2. ^ Smail, Ron (2012). Barrett's Privateers. Cypress Choral Music. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  3. ^ The McCalmans, Barrat's Privateers, retrieved February 27, 2024
  4. ^ "Barrett's Privateers, The Corries Official Website". Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Maybe Dropping Soon with Jack White, retrieved October 11, 2022
  6. ^ Michael Bublé Sings With Stephen Colbert On A Classic Sea Shanty, "Barrett's Privateers", retrieved October 11, 2022

External links[edit]