Antarctica

Album: Last Days of the Century (1988)

Songfacts®:

  • This is another historical folk rock song from the inventor of the genre. The version he recorded for the album was more rock, but Al Stewart is basically an acoustic animal, and has both played and recorded acoustic versions, at least one live with Laurence Juber in 1995. "Antarctica" was inspired by the heroic but doomed attempt of Scott to reach the South Pole, and the exploits of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

    Robert Falcon Scott and his party perished in a blizzard in 1912; the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had reached the Pole weeks before, though bizarrely Scott's failed quest is the one that has gone down in history.

    Shackleton died from a heart attack on South Georgia 10 years later; in 1901, he had served under Scott on a research expedition.

    Although Al Stewart has never visited Antarctica, he wrote this ballad to a beautiful, but at times dangerous continent. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Here are three more songs on our database about famous historic explorers:

    "Mr. Powell" by Ozark Mountain Daredevils

    "Amerigo" by Patti Smith

    "Hudson" by Vampire Weekend
  • Stewart wrote this with his guitarist, Peter White, who also played on the track.

Comments: 1

  • Ian from York, United KingdomI feel I should point out that, as Al has said on a number of occasions, Antarctica is not actually about the continent but is in fact a love song.
    It is obviously inspired by the continent, but the representation of the icy land is a metaphor for the seemingly unattainable woman the song is actually about.
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