Since it was first heard on an American ship in 1885, “Leaving of Liverpool” has been adopted several times by sailors and non-sailors alike (including Bob Dylan, Anita Carter, the Pogues and the Dubliners). Now, 127 years later, it is the first single off Hal Willner’s Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys, a sequel to his 2006 compilation Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys.
Wilner was inspired to create these maritime anthologies while on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man‘s Chest with actor Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, both of whom are now executive producers of the album. “It is a very different record than Volume 1,” Willner tells Rolling Stone of the sequel. “It seems happier – not as much about torture, sodomy and death.”
Although “Leaving of Liverpool” is a lyrically melancholy song (“So fare thee well, my one true love/ For when I return, united we will be/ It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me/ But my darling when I think of thee”), this bright and uptempo rendition is certainly a happier take on it. It is sung by ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan in a gruff sailors’ accent so authentic that it’s nearly incomprehensible. Verbinski and Depp are also featured on the track.
Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys features Tom Waits, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Sean Lennon and Frank Zappa, among others. It will be released on February 19th.