Rise again!

I’m tired, my sense of time is all screwed up, and some evil virus is making my mucosa do disgusting things, so I needed this to feel alive again. This is Nathan Rogers, son of the Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers (who died far too young) setting the stage on fire with one of his father’s songs.

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again, rise again—though your heart it be broken
Or life about to end.
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Always good to make one feel optimistic again. Although I’m not feeling any great loss right now, just a case of the sniffles, so it’s a little bit of an overkill.

(via Peter Sagal.)


  1. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Oh hell YES!

    This song is kept in a locked box of a play list. I only take it out on the rarest of occasions for it still has the power to raise goosebumps on my arms. And that is far too precious a thing to destroy via repeated casual listening.

    Get well soon PZ

  2. cicely says

    If it were not an obvious presumption, I would offer a *hug*.
    Ah, hell; I’ll offer it anyway.

  3. unclefrogy says

    thanks for that I would not have listened to that or any of the other linked videos there
    makes my “spirit” fly!

    uncle frogy

  4. kevinalexander says

    I only take it out on the rarest of occasions for it still has the power to raise goosebumps on my arms.

    By Holy Mary’s crabs, I thought I was the only one who did that!

  5. otrame says

    Stan Rogers was a poet of enormous power. Each song is a short story. Each tune is beautiful. I find it so hard to choose my favorite. The Lock-Keeper? Northwest Passage? Tiny Fish for Japan? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through Lies without tearing up.

    I remember my son and one of his friends singing along to McDonnell on the Heights, and my son explained what “the powder in their hair that day was powder sent their way” meant then he finally admitted he didn’t know what “six pence and found a day” meant.

  6. Ogvorbis: ArkRanger of Doom! says

    Oooohkay. Stan Rogers. Nathan Rogers. Gonna have to find them on iTunes or Amazon.

  7. says

    Otrame, I rarely hear people mention Lies but it is nice to know I am not alone in my love of that song.

  8. evilDoug says

    I had the privilege of seeing Stan sing that live in concert at least twice. I also attended a song writing workshop he did at the Calgary Folk Festival. (not that I’m a song writer, I just wanted the opportunity hear what he had to say about song writing). I saw Eric Bogle and John Munroe under similar circumstances; small tent maybe 30 people.

  9. ekwhite says

    Thank you PZ. The Ballad of the Mary Ellen Carter still brings tears to my eyes. Nathan Rogers sounds eerily like his father – with my eyes closed, it is like Stan Rogers is still alive.

    FossilFishy at #1 – what a great sentiment. Music like this is indeed to powerful to be conjured with lightly.

  10. newfie says

    My grandmother being from Hermitage, and myself having once made the trek out west to Alberta for work, this one always put a lump in my throat.
    “In the taverns of Edmonton, fisherman shout..”

  11. spandrel says

    I needed that.

    I first heard of Stan Rogers when a friend started drunkenly singing Barrett’s Privateers at a party. All Canadians secretly dream of turning pirate and sailing south after Yankee gold.

  12. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Uh spandrel, have you listened to the end of that song? ;)

  13. says

    Hell, even the early parts of that song make it clear to me I do not want to be a pirate on that ship.

    The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight.
    (How I wish I was in Sherbrooke Now!)
    She’d a list to the port and her sails in rags
    And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers and jags

    the end just makes it clear I do not want to be a pirate at all. I prize my legs.

  14. otrame says

    You are going to have so much fun learning Stan Rogers.

    His voice was a precious thing as well. The most beautiful baritone. Exquisite. Nathan is a good singer, and I enjoyed the video. He has the passion, but he doesn’t have that resonance that his Dad had. Nor could he be expected to.

    Yeah. For the others who don’t know:

    Is this the face that won for her the man
    Whose amazed and clumsy fingers put that ring upon her hand?
    No need to search that mirror for the years.
    The menace in their message shouts across the blur of tears.

    So this is Beauty’s finish. Like Rodin’s “Belle Heauimiere”,
    The pretty maiden trapped inside the ranch wife’s toil and care.
    Well, after seven kids, that’s no surprise,
    But why cannot her mirror tell her lies.

    All lies.
    All those lines are telling wicked lies.
    Lies all lies.
    Too many lines there in that face;
    Too many to erase or disguise;
    They must be telling lies.

    Then she shakes off the bitter web she wove,
    And turns to set the mirror, gently, face down by the stove.
    She gathers up her apron in her hand,
    Pours a cup of coffee, dripps Carnation from the can,
    And thinks ahead to Friday, ’cause Friday will be fine!
    She’ll look up in that weathered face that loves her’s, line for line,
    To see that maiden shining in his eyes
    And laugh at how her mirror tells her lies.

  15. knut7777 says

    This tune is a rare gift to humanity.
    Note that you never learn if they succeed in their task.
    It is determination that matters.

  16. says

    Part of me wonders if I can attribute some of my love of stories to Stan Rogers. I grew up with Stan Rogers and other folk music and I have been drawn to storytelling in song for the longest time. Some of my earliest musical memories are of listening to From Fresh Water. My other passions in entertainment are things like adventure games, folklore and history. All my passions outside of my science-y and tech stuff revolve around stories of some sort.

  17. says

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this!

    I adore Stan Rogers, beyond words. Which was annoying, when I was younger and trying to fit in…all my friends were listening to My Chemical Romance or whatever and I was into Canadian folk music. Luckily, I was able to get my younger brother into Stan, as well. And Shane, my brother, is an amazing guitarist. There are very few things I would rather do than sing with him, and “Mary Ellen Carter” is one we’ve really perfected, because it’s right in my vocal range. (Our other favorite is “Lies”–again, because I can sing it, but also because it’s just a beautiful song. Unfortunately for me, a lot of Stan Rogers songs are definitely made for a male voice. “Northwest Passage” is just outside my range…I can sing it, but it’s obvious I have to really reach for some of the notes.)

    Growing up in California, not Canada, I was really lucky to find Stan Rogers music. (It certainly wasn’t on the radio or carried at the local music store!) But I found him in a really geeky way…anyone remember the TV show due South? Canadian Mountie (and his deaf half wolf) hook up with a Chicago cop and together they Fight Crime? I ended up getting the DVDs years after the show ended, from a friend who (accurately) predicted I would fall in love with it. Anyway, in one episode, Fraser (the Mountie) leads a ship full of pirates in a rousing rendition of Barret’s Privateers. And in the very last scene of the show, he and his cop buddy ride off into the Canadian sunset, singing “Northwest Passage”. Of course I was on youtube that night trying to find clips of the song, and boom! Hello Stan Rogers, and suddenly, my world was a little bit brighter. :)

  18. opposablethumbs says

    I haven’t heard more than a handful of his songs (though at one point I had Barratt’s Privateers almost memorised, the one I really wanted to learn was Tiny Fish for Japan) – but a lot of what Stan Rogers I have heard causes severe Something In My Eye syndrome. And coincidentally, EEB, I came across him totally thanks to Due South too :-) (Magical Realism FTW)
    Get well, PZ. Hot toddy via USB?

  19. David Wilford says

    @otrame, it may not come across in the recording you heard, but Nathan Rogers does have as much resonance to his voice as Stan did. I heard him perform live last summer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and when Nathan sang Mary Ellen Carter during the festival’s finale on Sunday I would have sworn it was Stan if my eyes were closed. This year Nathan will be back and and will be doing a whole set of just Stan’s songs, and I’m looking forward to singing along with him and around 10,000 other people.

  20. fwtbc says


    Love Stan. Own all his CDs. Didn’t know Nathan had followed in his footsteps, and holy shit he sounds like his dad. Would love to see him live.

    I like Mary Ellen Carter, but the song I feel most love for is The Bluenose, specifically the live version from Home in Halifax. There are lines in that sung with such feeling and emotion they make me shiver.

  21. katiemarshall says

    In case anyone is wondering…the NSLC is Nova Scotia’s Liquor Commission. Nova Scotia, like many of Canada’s provinces (including Ontario, alas), only allows government stores to sell alcohol. But most of them do a fine job, and make a lot of money for the province.

  22. says

    I love it when all the Stan-fans come out of the woodwork here ;-).

    I’ll have to watch that vid when I get home. There’s a docko One Warm Line which I think is available on Youtube, which includes an interview with a mariner whose ship sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He spent a night clinging to wreckage in the cold water, singing that song to himself to keep from just giving up and drowning.

    Re Lies: Try listening or singing that back-to-back with Field Behind The Plow, and imagine that you’re hearing two halves of the same story (OK, strictly speaking I guess a “ranch-wife”‘s husband would not be plowing, but skim over that bit…..).

    Re Barrett’s Privateers: My wife and I wrote a filk on that, to mark the slow-motion bankruptcy of her employer. It was entitled “The Last of [two-syllable company name redacted]’s Engineers”. Canadians (and not a few Americans) can probably guess the name that goes in that space.

  23. David Wilford says

    How many Stan Rogers fans here hail from Minnesota or Wisconsin? Just curious as I’m one of the many folk music fans in the U.S. who travel to Winnipeg each year to enjoy their folk festival that’s held in July and it might be nice to make connections with anyone else here who might be heading up north also.

  24. bryanfeir says

    Ahh, yes, Stan Rogers… the greatest Maritimer ever to be born in Ontario.

    I’ve got several friends who can belt out Barrett’s Privateers… and even once heard Enter the Haggis do a cover of that one.

    @Eamon Knight:
    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know what company you’re talking about. Let me put it this way… twenty years ago, I did a co-op work term at BNR.

  25. says

    @ opposablethumbs #22

    (Magical Realism FTW)

    The last episode of the show is my favorite, and it’s one of those things I watch when I’m feeling lousy and want something to cheer me up. So I was watching it a while ago, and my mom was out in the living room with me while it was on. She’d never seen the show before. And every couple minutes she would interrupt: “I don’t get it.” “That’s impossible.” “What is he doing?” “Why didn’t they die when they jumped out of the plane?” She was getting close to being upset, because she didn’t understand, and she was twisting herself in knots trying to understand. (If it was just straight fantasy, or even if Fraser was a sort of evolved super human–eg. “The Sentinel”–I think she would have handled it better. But trying to reconcile the magical aspects with the typical cop show format drove her up a wall.) My explanations didn’t help at all; if anything, they made it worse.

    Finally, I just responded: “It’s Canadian, Ma.”

    Which she totally accepted as an explanation! (At least she didn’t bug me for the rest of the episode.)

  26. kreativekaos says

    Stan Rogers.. wow. There’s a name and singer I haven’t heard in ages! Always loved Stan’s music and voice. I’ll have to check out his son. (Gawd I love Canada!)

  27. says

    Here’s that mariner (yes, I misremembered the details): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT-aEcPgkuA

    While we’re on the topic of story-songs about ship wrecks by Canadian folkies, I can’t pass up recommending* James Keelaghan’s Captain Torres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kcPjpzxsMw
    (Song starts at ~5:00, but the patter is worth listening to. Note that, unlike Mary Ellen, this is a true story that ends badly).

    (You were expecting Gordon Lightfoot and Ed Fitzgerald, right?)

  28. says

    Wow, I needed that right now.

    A song with lore of its own that goes as deep as the story the song tells, well, that’s poetry of epic proportions, isn’t it? A bit more:

    1. As a tribute to Stan Rogers, “The Mary Ellen Carter” has been sung to close the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival every year since his death.

    And, verbatim from the dreaded Wikipedia:

    2. It saved a sailor’s life:

    So inspiring is the song that it is credited with saving at least one life. On February 12, 1983 the ship Marine Electric was carrying a load of coal from Norfolk, Virginia to a power station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The worst storm in forty years blew up that night and the ship sank at about four o’clock in the morning on the 13th. The ship’s Chief Mate, fifty-nine-year-old Robert M. (“Bob”) Cusick, was trapped under the deckhouse as the ship went down. His snorkeling experience helped him avoid panic and swim to the surface, but he had to spend the night alone, up to his neck in water, clinging to a partially deflated lifeboat, and in water barely above freezing and air much colder. Huge waves washed over him, and each time he was not sure that he would ever reach the surface again to breathe. Battling hypothermia, he became tempted to allow himself to fall unconscious and let go of the lifeboat. Just then he remembered the words to the song “The Mary Ellen Carter”.

    And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
    With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
    Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
    And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

    Rise again, rise again—though your heart it be broken
    Or life about to end.
    No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend,
    Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

    He started to sing it and soon was alternately shouting out “Rise again, rise again” and holding his breath as the waves washed over him. At seven o’clock that morning a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him and pulled him to safety.[1] Only two men of the other thirty-three that had been aboard survived the wreck. After his ordeal, Cusick wrote a letter to Stan Rogers telling him what had happened and how the song helped save his life. In response, Cusick was invited to attend what turned out the be the second-to-last concert Rogers ever performed. Cusick told his story in the documentary about Stan Rogers, One Warm Line.[2][3]

    Bob Cusack testified to people who had sense and authority and power, and got changes made in safety equipment and procedures for cargo ships in cold waters; still alive at 85, in 2008, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

    Plus, I found out Peter Sagal Tweets.

    Good work, P.Z.

  29. David Wilford says

    While the Mary Ellen Carter is sublime, I’ve always had great affection for another of Stan’s shipwreck songs, the Wreck of the Athens Queen.