The Longest Johns - Santiano

Joined by Skáld’s Justine Galmiche, The Longest Johns supply us a big stomping French/English shanty that pays tribute, as I understand it, to a ship named the Santiano. This is no ordinary ship, it’s a three-master with sleek speedy design and tons of cannons.

Musically, we have just the stomping of feet and five voices that rival the Santiano for firepower. There’s something happening in every register, thick deep lows, solid middle, and Justine adding some extra melodic swirl. The song itself is an adaptation of the historically shady Santianna, which calls one or two battles the wrong way in favour of a Mexican General. Since it’s inception in the mid-19th century, the song has been re-worked many times (including once on Between Wind and Water). This melding of an English and French version smooshes together two very divergent versions, in a long line of smooshing together differing offspring of this perennial song.

It’s the excellent deployment of French language that makes this rendition stand out, with the stomp giving it that additional punch compared to a fully a cappella version. This rendition also casts the ship as the hero and reduces the Mexican connection to a more brief refrain. If you enjoy a bit of multi-lingual music, you’ll be pleased to hear that The Longest Johns are releasing Contre Vents et Marées in April, which will have plenty of French chants. If you’d rather shout along in English, the vinyl of Between Wind and Water is now available too.

You’ll find a video and English translation below…


Santiano – English Translation

For your pleasure, a rough translation follows, which hasn’t been finessed to preserve rhyme or rhythm!

Famous, three-masted, and sleek as a bird
Hoist and ho, Santiano!
Eighteen knots and four hundred barrels
I am proud to be a sailor

Hold the bar and hold the wind
Hisse and ho, Santiano!
God goes right before the ship
We’ll go all the way to San Francisco

Oh, the wind was foul and the seas ran high
Heave away, Santiano!
She shipped it green and none went by
Along the plains of Mexico

Hold the bar and hold the wind
Hoist and ho (Hoist and ho), Santiano!
God goes right before the ship
We’ll go all the way to San Francisco

I’m going away for many months leaving Margot
Hoist and ho, Santiano!
To think about it I had a big heart
By doubling the fires of Saint-Malo

Hold the bar and hold the wind
Hoist and ho (Hoist and ho), Santiano!
God goes right before the ship
We’ll go all the way to San Francisco

We swear by rote for want of more
Heave away, Santiano!
But now we’re through so we’ll go on shore
Along the plains of Mexico

Hold the bar and hold the wind
Hoist and ho (Hoist and ho), Santiano!
God goes right before the ship
We’ll go all the way to San Francisco

Fenton
Steve Fenton was Editor in Chief for The Mag and also wrote for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues across the country alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.