Sailor (song)

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This article is about the English- and French-language renderings of the song "Seemann (Deine Heimat ist das Meer)". For the original version by Lolita and renderings in other languages, see Seemann (Lolita song).
"Sailor"
Single by Anne Shelton
B-side "Souvenir of Ireland"
Released January 1961
Format 7" single
Recorded Philips Studios (Bayswater) January 1961
Genre traditional pop, schlager
Length 2:45
Label Philips
Writer(s) Werner Scharfenberger, Fini Busch (original German lyrics), David West (English lyrics)
Producer(s) Johnny Franz
Anne Shelton singles chronology
"Come Back Again"
(1960)
"Sailor"
(1961)
"I Will Light a Candle"
(1961)
"Sailor"
Single by Petula Clark
B-side "My Heart (Amor)"
Released January 1961
Format 7" single
Recorded Pye Studios (Marble Arch) January 1961
Genre traditional pop, schlager
Length 2:57
Label Pye
Writer(s) Werner Scharfenberger, Fini Busch (original German lyrics), David West (English lyrics)
Producer(s) Alan A. Freeman
Petula Clark
UK singles chronology
"Cinderella Jones"
(1960)
"Sailor"
(1961)
"Something Missing"
(1961)
"Sailor"
Single by Petula Clark
1968 re-release South Africa
B-side "My Friend the Sea"
Released August 1968
Format 7" single
Recorded Pye Studios (Marble Arch) January 1961
Genre traditional pop
Length 2:57
Label Vogue
Writer(s) Werner Scharfenberger, Fini Busch (original German lyrics), David West (English lyrics)
Producer(s) Alan A. Freeman
Petula Clark
South African singles chronology
"The Other Man's Grass (Is Always Greener)"
(1968)
"Sailor"
(1968)
"I Want to Sing In Your Band"
(1968)
"Marin"
Single by Petula Clark
from the album Tête À Tête Avec Petula Clark
B-side "My Heart (Amor)"
Released April 1961
Format 7" single
Genre traditional pop
Length 2:57
Label Vogue
Writer(s) Werner Scharfenberger, Fini Busch (original German lyrics), David West (English lyrics), Jean Broussolle (French lyrics)
Producer(s) Alan A. Freeman
Petula Clark
French singles chronology
"Sur Un Tapis Volant"
(1961)
"Sailor"
(1961)
"Calcutta (Ma Fete A Moi)"
(1961)

"Sailor" is the title of the English-language rendering of the 1959 schlager composition "Seemann (Deine Heimat ist das Meer)" originally written in German by Werner Scharfenberger (de) and lyricist Fini Busch (de): featuring lyrics in English by Norman Newell (writing as David West), "Sailor" would in 1961 afford Petula Clark her first UK #1 hit, simultaneously granting Top Ten success to Anne Shelton while also bringing her chart career to a close. Clark was also afforded international success with both her recording of "Sailor" and also with Marin the French-language rendering of the song.

Original German-language version[edit]

see Seemann (Lolita song)#Original German-language version.

English-language version[edit]

Composition[edit]

Lyricist Norman Newell would recall that his publisher phoned him on a Friday requesting he write English lyrics for Lolita's hit "Sailor (Your Home is the Sea)": although Newell agreed to prepare the lyrics over the weekend the assignment slipped his mind until a messenger arrived Monday morning to pick up Newell's work. "I sent [the messenger] to the canteen and wrote the lyric 'Sailor' in ten minutes." [1] While the original German lyrics of the song had addressed a seafaring love object with an acceptance of his wanderlust the lyrics written by Newell - as David West - inverted this sentiment turning the song into a plea for the sailor to return.

Anne Shelton[edit]

The first recording of the English version of "Sailor" was made by Anne Shelton: the session for Shelton's version was arranged and conducted by Wally Stott and featured guitarist Big Jim Sullivan who'd also play on the version by Petula Clark.[2]

Shelton had spent four weeks at #1 UK with "Lay Down Your Arms" in 1956 but had since only had one further chart record: "The Village Of St. Bernadette" #27 in 1959, when her version of "Sailor" reached #10 in January 1961. Although she'd been recording since 1943 "Sailor" was only her fifth UK chart appearance as her most intense period of popularity had pre-dated regulated record-sales chart formatting in the UK, and "Sailor" would mark Shelton's final chart appearance.

Shelton's strongest association was as an entertainer of the forces in World War II:[3] while this made "Sailor" a good thematic choice for her this association also probably made her seem outmoded despite her only being four years senior to Petula Clark whose version of "Sailor" would best Shelton's. Although Shelton's version of "Sailor" and Clark's both debuted on the UK Top 50 for 28 January 1961 there was immediate preference apparent for Clark's version at #18 over Shelton's at #27. The 4 February chart had Clark rise to #4 for the first of six weeks in the Top Five three of them at #2 and one at #1, while Shelton's version in its second week rose to #19 and in its third week to #10 which proved to be its peak as it subsequently descended the charts over the next five weeks for a total eight-week chart span: Clark's version had almost double the chart span at fifteen weeks.[4][5]

Petula Clark[edit]

Petula Clark recorded "Sailor" with her regular producer Alan A. Freeman who suggested the song choice: Clark recorded the track with the Peter Knight Orchestra and Chorus, with additional session personnel including guitarists Vic Flick and Big Jim Sullivan,[6] and also Harry Pitch whose harmonica playing was a striking feature of the track.[7] Freeman was assisted with the production of "Sailor" by Tony Hatch marking the first collaboration between Clark and her future hit making mentor.

"Sailor" debuted at No. 18 on the UK Top 50 dated 28 January 1961, becoming Clark's first UK chart entry since "Baby Lover", No. 12 in March 1958, an intermittent ten single releases having failed to chart.[8] A sales total of 250,000 units for Clark's "Sailor" was announced by Pye Records the week of 18 February 1961 when the single was in its second week at No. 2: on the chart for the following week: that of 23 February 1961, Clark's "Sailor" moved to the No. 1 position of the UK chart,[9] besting Clark's previous strongest UK charter: the No. 4 "With All My Heart" (1957).

Although "Downtown" was to become Clark's signature song its UK chart peak would be No. 2: the second Petula Clark single to reach No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart would be "This is My Song" in 1967. [4] Both of Clark's UK #1 hits would compete with rival versions: "Sailor" would be a #10 hit for Anne Shelton [5] while Harry Secombe's version of "This is My Song" would rise as high as #2.[10] (The relevant recordings by both Shelton and Secombe have Wally Stott perform arranging and conducting duties.) [3][11]

Clark's "Sailor" became the third hit version of the song in the Low Countries reaching #13 in the Netherlands and - in a tandem ranking with ""Seemann (Deine Heimat Ist Das Meer)" by Lolita - #12 on the chart for the Flemish Region of Belgium. [12] "#1 in New Zealand and Israel in respectively March and September 1961, "Sailor" also afforded Clark a hit in Denmark (#9) and Spain (Top 20). In South Africa "Sailor" would twice become a Top Ten hit for Clark, first reaching #2 in its original 1961 release and subsequently afforded a #9 chart peak via a local re-release in the summer of 1968. [8][13]

Preceded by
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley
UK Singles Chart UK number one single
23 February 1961 (one week)
Succeeded by
Walk Right Back" b/w "Ebony Eyes by The Everly Brothers

Also[edit]

Besides the versions by Anne Shelton and Petula Clark detailed above, two other acts had UK single releases of "Sailor" in January 1961: veteran American vocal trio the Andrews Sisters and also American stage musical actress Eileen Rodgers, the latter's version being entitled "Sailor (Your Home Is In sic The Sea)". The Andrews Sisters, who were in London for an engagement at the Talk of the Town, made a one-off single for Decca Records (UK) comprising "Sailor" backed by "Goodnight and Sweet Dreaming"; the tracks, which featured Bernard Ebbinghouse conducting his orchestra, were recorded 29 December 1960.[14]

In 1974 actor Peter Gilmore, then renowned for his sea-captain role in the BBC-TV series The Onedin Line, recorded the album James Onedin Songs of the Sea from which his rendition of "Sailor" - entitled "Sailor (Seemann)" - was issued as a single (the album was recorded and released in the Netherlands).

Louise Morrissey recorded "Sailor" for her 2008 album release The Gift.

An instrumental version of "Sailor (Your Home Is The Sea)" appears on the 1961 album Songs Of The Soaring '60s Volume 1 by Roger Williams: the track later served as B-side for Williams' 1965 single release "Summer Wind".

Marin: French-language version[edit]

When Petula Clark charted in her native UK with the English-language rendering of "Sailor" reaching #1 in February 1961 she ended a UK chart absence of almost three years. However, during those same three years Clark did enjoy a string of hit singles in France and she expediently rendered her UK hit "Sailor" with French-language lyrics - by Jean Broussolle (fr) - with the resultant track "Marin" becoming Clark's eighth French chart hit, its #2 peak - reached in May 1961 - matching Clark's previous best French charting that being with "Java Pour Petula" #2 in 1959. (Clark's English-language recording of "Sailor" had been issued in France in February 1961 failing to chart.) Clark's next French chart hit after "Marin": "Roméo" (also a French rendering a UK hit by Clark), would be the first of Clark's five French #1's.[15]

"Marin" reached #10 on the charts for the French-speaking sector of Belgium and the single also entered the Montreal charts (as "Sailor") in January 1961 peaking at #13 marking Clark's first appearance on an accredited North American chart almost four years before her breakout hit "Downtown".[16] A cover version of "Marin" - so entitled - was recorded by Québécois singer Pierrette Roy and was ranked at #22 on the annual tally of Québécois hits for 1961.[17]

"Marin" has also been recorded by Charles Level (fr), Florence Passy (fr), John William (fr), Antoni Williams, and by Alain Morisod (fr) & Sweet People for their 2009 album which is entitled Marin.

Versions in other languages[edit]

see Seemann (Lolita song).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Norman Newell". The Independent. London. 7 December 2004. 
  2. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20121124003055/http://bigjimsullivan.com/Pamra.html. Archived from the original on November 24, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b "RPM/Anne Shelton". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Chartstats/Petula Clark". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Chartstats/Anne Shelton". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  6. ^ "Big Jim Sullivan - UK Hit Albums and Singles". Overzeal.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Harry Pitch: harmonica virtuoso who recorded the theme to Last of the Summer Wine". Independent.co.uk (The Independent). Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "RPM/Petula Clark". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  9. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 55. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  10. ^ "Chartstats/Harry Secombe". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  11. ^ "Philips Discography". Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  12. ^ "PClark/ChartsEuro". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  13. ^ "PClark/ChartsSAfrica". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  14. ^ Nimmo, H. Arlo (2004). The Andrews Sisters: a biography and career record. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 338. ISBN 0-7864-1731-5. 
  15. ^ "PClark/ChartsFrench". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  16. ^ "PClark/ChartsCdn". Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  17. ^ "Palmarès rétro 1961". Retrojeunesse60.com. Retrieved 2014-04-04.