From the album One For the Road
© Stan Rogers
Mark Clavey: lead vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Bowerman: vocals, percussion
Tara McCullough: fiddle
Mudcatter Charlie Baum recounted a moment from a Stan Rogers performance at the Sounding Board in West Hartford CT… Stan recalled seeing the Grand Ole Opry when he was young, and remembered, at the end of the show, Tennessee Ernie Ford looking up, staring into the blinding spotlights and singing, with profound earnestness, a hymn of great inspiration, of triumphing over all odds with the help of the Almighty. He decided, then and there, that he wanted to write a hymn of great inspiration, except without God in it… His recollection over, Stan then launched into "The Mary Ellen Carter". This song is a monument to Stan Rogers' talent as a songwriter, and his gift for breathing life into a magnificent story of perseverance and conviction.
She went down last October in a pouring driving rain. The skipper, he'd been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain. Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow... and Mary Ellen Carter settled low. There were just us five aboard her when she finally went awash. We'd worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost, and the groan she gave as she went down - it caused us to proclaim that the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again.
Well, the owners wrote her off - not a nickel would they spend. "She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end. But insurance paid the loss to us, so let her rest below." Then they laughed at us and said we had to go. But we talked of her all winter (some days around the clock), for she's worth a quarter million afloat and at the dock. And with every jar that hit the bar, we swore we would remain and make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.
Rise again, rise again - that her name not be lost to the knowledge of men. And those who loved her best and were with her 'til the end will make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.
All spring, now, we've been with her on a barge lent by a friend... three dives a day in hard hat suit and twice I've had the bends. Thank God it's only sixty feet and the currents here are slow or I'd never have the strength to go below. But we've patched her rents and stopped her vents, dogged hatch and porthole down, put cables to her, fore and aft, and girded her around. Tomorrow, noon, we hit the air and then take up the strain and make the Mary Ellen Carter rise again.
Rise again, rise again, &c
For we couldn't leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale - she'd saved our lives so many times, living through the gale. And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave... they won't be laughing in another day. And you - to whom adversity has dealt its final blow, with laughing 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 and 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.