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Great Big Sea is a band from Newfoundland, on the East Coast of Canada, probably the most well-known band to come from there - certainly the most well-known outside Newfoundland for being from Newfoundland.
Their music is often energetic pop-rock (mixed with slower folk ballads) infused with a Newfoundland sound, which can be mistaken for an Irish one at a distance. This results in a Celtic sound that has proved popular with listeners from around the country. About half of their repertoire is simply their interpretations of traditional Newfoundland sea shanties, drinking songs, folk songs, etc. Well, the sea shanties and folk songs are mostly about drinking too.
Their concerts are known for their infectious atmosphere and a healthy amount of audience participation.
- Great Big Sea, 1993
- Up, 1995
- Play, 1997
- Turn, 1999
- Road Rage (live), 2000
- Sea Of No Cares, 2002
- Something Beautiful, 2004
- Great Big CD and DVD (live), 2004
- The Hard and the Easy, 2005
- Courage Patience and Grit (live), 2006
- Fortune's Favor, 2008
- Safe Upon the Shore, 2010
Tropes involving Great Big Sea include:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The Chemical Worker's Song" describes the horrific conditions faced in the chemical industry. It follows that the first verse uses this very dryly:
Well a process man am I, and I'm tellin' you no lie
I work and breathe among the fumes that trail across the sky
There's thunder all around me and there's poison in the air
There's a lousy smell that smacks of Hell, and dust all in me hair!
- Justified, given that the dust in such a factory is probably just as toxic and life-shortening as anything else there, and he's covered in it.
- Audience Participation Song: Lots of 'em.
- Deal with the Devil: Straight to Hell. Strangely enough, both sides get exactly what they want: A life of Rock and Roll in exchange for One Eternal Soul. Straight To Hell is easiest one of the cheeriest stories of eternal damnation there is. The chorus:
Love me now while we're alive
It's the best thing we can do
We'll have no time up on Cloud Nine
So Heaven on Earth will have to do
I can sing like a bird
And dance like a demon
And I do it all so well
Cause I made a deal with the Devil
And when I die
I'm going straight to hell.
- Fridge Brilliance: Their video of "The End of the World as We Know It" has a lot of images of St. John's, Newfoundland, where they got their start. The easternmost place in North America, it really is the "end of the world as we know it," in a geographic, if not temporal, sense.
- The Fun in Funeral: The Night Patty Murphy Died starts out with a gang of hoodlums stowing a bottle of booze in Patty's casket as a makeshift beer-fridge, and ends with the "mourners" so smashed that they end up leaving the body at the tavern.
- Henpecked Husband: "Scolding Wife".
And if the devil would take her
I'd thank him for his pain
I swear to God I'll hang meself if I get married again
- Hilarious Outtakes: On the Great Big CD & DVD, Alan Doyle begins a song with the wrong verse, stops singing, asks the audience for "your amnesia to forget that ever happened", and has Sean ask if he plans to sing it right this time. On the DVD you can see Darrell cuff him on the head.
- In the Style Of: Their cover of R.E.M.'s "It's The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", sped up about three times.
- I Will Wait for You: Subverted in Dream to Live. First, its told from the guy's perspective, who tried to make his fortune in Boston. Second, he hopes desperately that she is still waiting for him... until she lets him down in the letter. He ends up moving on and starting a family of his own, but is left wondering "what if".
- Libation for the Dead: "The Night That Pat Murphy Died".
- Long-Distance Relationship: "Boston and St. John's"
It's true I must be going, but I swear I won't be long
There isn't that much ocean between Boston and St. John's
I'm a rover and I'm bound to sail away
I'm a rover, can you love me anyway?
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Haven't Seen You in a Long Time" is a very upbeat, cheery-sounding track . . . in which the singer laments about the unfortunate accidents of timing which have prevented him from being with the woman he loves, and asks her if she remembers him at all.
- "Over the Hills" does this as well; it's an up-tempo positive sounding song about being drafted for a war in Afghanistan.
- Mermaid Problem: "The Mermaid". The album cover for The Hard and the Easy even shows a fish with women's legs in reference to it.
- It's in the song, too. He chooses the human-legged fish of a sister, since that's how he "gets his tail".
- Motor Mouth: "It's The End of the World As We Know It", which is a minute and a half shorter than the original without skipping any of the words and even adding an extra chorus at the start.
- And "Mari-Mac", which gets faster and faster and faster as the song progresses: even the instruments can hardly keep up with the hair-raising speed, let alone the singers.
- One-Woman Song: "Sally Anne", "Penelope", "Margarita".
- Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful: In "John Barbour" a princess has gotten pregnant. When the king finds out that the father, John Barbour, isn't nobility, he plans to have him killed. But when the king sees how incredibly handsome the father is ("If I were a woman as I am a man, my bedfellow you would be"), the king gives him the princess's hand in marriage, and offers to let him "take charge of all my lands."
- Shotgun Wedding: "Hit the Ground and Run" (co-written with Russell Crowe) tells the story of a poor boy who finds himself in this situation.
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: "It's The End of the World As We Know It" again - Trope Namer.
- Studio Chatter: Several songs, which makes sense given their history of Audience Participation. For example, in "Jakey's Gin", one singer excitedly tells the other to start singing an entirely different drinking song.
- Talk About the Weather: "How Did We Get From Saying I Love You" is about two people whose relationship has devolved into awkward pauses and discussions about the weather.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "General Taylor" is a sort of sly Take That sung by British sailors. General (later President) Zachary Taylor was responsible for a decisive victory against the British, so the song describes his funeral (a very lavish funeral, of course - but still a funeral) in great detail.
- Unwanted Spouse: "Scolding Wife".