A Life On The Ocean Wave

Album: English Melodies (1936)
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Songfacts®:

  • "A Life On The Ocean Wave" is written in 6/8 time; credited to H. Russell, it is included in the 1936 collection English Melodies easy arrangements by Cyril Stanford, published by H. Freeman of London.

    Although the melody is indeed English, this is an Anglo-American collaboration, but unlike the Horatio Nicholls/Edgar Leslie ditty "Shepherd Of The Hills" (the melody of which was actually written on the ocean wave), the words came first.
  • The American journalist and playwright Epes Sergeant (1813-81) was the son of a ship's master, which is all the inspiration a song like this needs. Although born in England - where he died in 1900 - Henry Russell lived in America between 1837 and 1841. He is said to have been walking in New York City one day with Sergeant; the two men were watching the ships come in, and this inspired Sergeant to write the poem, which Russell then set to music.

    This was not to be a budding John/Taupin relationship however, although Russell did also collaborate with the Scottish poet Charles Mackay.
  • In keeping with its Anglo-American origin, the song is the official march of the US Merchant Marine Academy, and is used widely in the British Navy. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3

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