White Squall (song)
|Song by Stan Rogers|
|from the album From Fresh Water|
White Squall is a song by Stan Rogers, about a young crewman being washed overboard (and presumably drowning) from a Great Lakes ship, due to not following safety procedures. It is the 1st track on his posthumous CD From Fresh Water. The song was covered by Dublin O'Shea on their 2009 album Have another Drink Boys and Enter the Haggis on their 2011 album Whitelake.
The narrator is an older sailor, who well knows the sudden weather changes upon the Great Lakes:
Now it's a thing that us old-timers know, in the sultry summer calm;
There comes a blow from nowhere, and it goes off like a bomb!
And a 15,000-tonner can be thrown upon her beam,
While the gale takes all before it with a scream.
While he laments it being "Just my luck to have the watch", he wistfully relates the story of a naïve, eager younger sailor. While the story gradually builds to its inevitable climax, each repeated chorus alludes to the tragedy to come:
But I told that kid a hundred times, Don't take the Lakes for granted!
They go from calm to 100 knots so fast they seem enchanted.
But tonight some red-eyed Wiarton girl lies starin' at the wall,
And her lover's gone into a white squall.
As promised, the white squall strikes the ship, and the younger man is swept overboard, while the narrator watches helplessly, unable to move for fear of losing his own life. The song is then brought full circle to the first verse, which seems to haunt the narrator's thoughts as he repeats:
So it's just my luck to have the watch with nothing left to do
But watch the deadly waters glide as we roll north to The Sault.
And wonder when they'll turn again, and pitch us to the rail,
And whirl off one more youngster in the gale.
In the final repeat of the chorus, the narrator changes the lyric to, "And I tell these kids a hundred times, don't take the Lakes for granted", implying that this tale may be one of several deaths that he has witnessed over the years.