A Life On The Ocean Wave

Album: English Melodies (1936)

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 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and is used widely in the British Navy. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go'sSongwriter Interviews

Charlotte was established in the LA punk scene when a freaky girl named Belinda approached her wearing a garbage bag.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Harold Brown of WarSongwriter Interviews

A founding member of the band War, Harold gives a first-person account of one of the most important periods in music history.

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.