The Titanic - April 15, 1912

The story of the "unsinkable" Titanic going down with 1,517 people after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic is well known.

 

There were 20 lifeboats aboard the ship, capable of carrying roughly a third of the passengers. After being rescued and taken aboard the ship Carpathia, survivors of lifeboat 13 reported having sung the hymn "Pull for the Shore" by Philip Bliss through the night to keep spirits up.

African American folksinger Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter, 1888-1949) reported that he was performing with Blind Lemon Jefferson in the teens when he wrote his song about Jack Johnson (1878-1946), the first black heavyweight boxing champion being denied passage on the Titanic on the ship's ill fated maiden voyage. Less than two years before, on July 4, 1910, Johnson had fought the previously undefeated ("unsinkable"?) Jim Jeffries who was seen by many- as "the great white hope" for defeating the black champion. Johnson not only defeated Jeffries but knocked the former champion down for the first time in his career.

 


Illustration by Mik Augustin
Contact Mik Augustin at augusmi@gmail.com

 


Leadbelly

 


Jack Johnson

 

Titanic Ė Leadbelly

It was midnight on the sea,
band played nearer my God to thee
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well
Titanic when it got its load,
Captain hollered all aboard
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Jack Johnson went to get on board,
The Captain said this ship donít haul no coal
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well
Titanic was coming round the curve
When it ran into that big iceberg
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Fare thee well fare thee well Oh fare thee well
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Titanic she was sinking down,
Had them lifeboats all around
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well
Had them lifeboats all around
Savin the women and the children lettin the men go down
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Jack Johnson when he heard the shock,
You might a seen him doin the eagle rock
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well
When the women & children got on the land
They cried out Lord have mercy on my man
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Fare thee well fare thee well Oh fare thee well
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Black man ought to shout for joy
Never lost a girl or either a boy
Oh fare thee Titanic fare thee well

Recording personnel:
Jon Waterman- Vocal and Guitar
Chris Paglia- Bass
Dave Troen Krasnow- Drums


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