The Best of Call Me Ishmael

by Patrick Shea

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about

Buy the book at: www.lulu.com/shop/patrick-shea/call-me-ishmael/paperback/product-20300323.html

In the summer of 2008, Brooklyn elementary school teacher and musician Patrick Shea set two goals for himself—to read Moby-Dick, and to write a song every day for two months. Those two goals quickly merged to become to beginning of the Call Me Ishmael project. Three years later, Shea had written, recorded, and blogged about all 135 chapters of Moby-Dick, plus the epilogue.

The book contains the lyrics to all 136 songs from the project, along with free downloads of all 8 volumes of music. The book also includes an introduction to the project as a whole, and an afterword for each volume of songs, written by the author.

Some responses to the project:

"Patrick Shea’s highly imaginative, wide-ranging song cycle takes us chapter-by-chapter through Moby-Dick. Shea’s innovative, haunting lyrics share the fecundity and suggestiveness of Melville’s dazzling novel."
--David Reynolds, Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center

"There is music in Moby-Dick because Melville put it there. But there is another kind of music that comes from readers who, once they have read Moby-Dick, simply have to sing. Lucky, then, that we have Patrick Shea whose clever, amusing, stirring, happy, sad songs do not attempt to retell Melville's classic story but give added musicality and life to Melville's thought."
--John Bryant, Editor of the Melville Society and Professor of English at Hofstra University

"Patrick Shea’s songs are deeply insightful responses to Melville’s masterpiece. They illuminate the power of Moby-Dick and enrich our experience of that remarkable novel. Shea understands that, at its heart, Moby-Dick is an orchestral work. Its chords resonate throughout Shea’s lyrics."
--Bill Kelly, President of the CUNY Graduate Center

credits

released 07 March 2012

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about

Patrick Shea Brooklyn, New York

Patrick is a nerd, a book lover, a math afficianado, an Ishmael, and an Ahab. He lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn with his wife and daughter. He grew up in Portland, OR; and has also lived in Grinnell, IA (for college); and Austin, TX (for a try).

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Track Name: The First Lowering
Chapter 48: The First Lowering

The more the merrier!
Came out of the heat, and they're pulling beside.
There's noting scarier
Than losing a whale while you pray to the sky.

Those devils are good fellows, too!
You see them row, and the rowing's proof!

Break your back on it!
An angry dog with a knife his teeth.
But don't belabor it --
You're nodding off, like a day at the beach.

Now, hail ye, Starbuck, pull aside,
Have you seen such sights in the whole world wide?

Oh, the whales abound and the action's nigh!
With duty, our profits will rise and rise!

Look thee out at the deep, dark blue --
The ocean's looking at each of you!

And now, prepare you
To chase your death to the heart of a storm.
With hearts of caribou
We tarry on, and we're never undone!

Now whale and squall and harpoon are one,
With hope aloft in the setting sun.

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Crotch
Chapter 63: The Crotch

Not foreshadowing,
I take my time with the details still,
To set the stage.

No complaining!
You need to live every moment of
A whaler's life.

Let's not sully
The great defiance
In every action
With mere description!

Let's prepare you
To construct
The moments as they come,
And I will step aside.

Now imagine
Two harpoons on a single line,
And tossed at sea.

The whale is struggling;
The loose harpoon flaps from side to side
With sharpened steel.

Now imagine
Every boat on a single whale
With loose harpoons.

You're gonna use it.
The image sifts back into your mind
Until the end.

Let's not sully
The great defiance
In every action
With mere description!

Let's prepare you
To construct
The moments as they come,
And I will step aside.

It's not the way
You're used to reading --
I'm aware of it.
Now let me step aside!

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Lee Shore
Chapter 23: The Lee Shore

Your solemn eyes survive
As howled lullabies
By the hearthstone, in its comfort,
A ground to firmly stand.

There's nothing to it!
It's a safety dance.
When the weather's fair,
Do the Lee Shore!

But when the storm arrives,
Turn your keel to sea;
The immensity is your safest bet
To find a better way.

There's nothing to it!
Preconception's fine.
When the sky is bright,
Do the Lee Shore!

There's nothing to it!
When the tempest comes
Let your soul roam free
From the Lee Shore!

There's nothing to it!
There's a higher truth,
If you break the chains
Of the Lee Shore!

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Gam
Chapter 53: The Gam

Whaling ships are having a good time,
Roaming on the open sea!
Pirate ships are villainous rascals,
Locked in their castles
With no "good day" to me.

Merchant ships are spurious dandies,
Brushing off their brethren without a heed.
Slaving ships are running from something,
And ceremony mars
The meeting Men of War.

On the open sea,
Lend the courtesy
As the whalers do with every passing of keels.
Oh, let's have a gam;
I'll extend my hand
To all sailors who share the jaunty rhythms of the sea.

Passing correspondence between us,
Pluck upon my tethers to home,
Tell us where the whales run the thickest,
Wherefore the riches
Surface from the foam.

On the open sea,
Lend the courtesy
As the whalers do with every passing of keels.
Oh, let's have a gam;
I'll extend my hand
To all sailors who share the jaunty rhythms of the sea.

Whaling ships are having a good time
Roaming on the open sea!
Join us for a bit of a ramble,
And let the ocean handle
The grave philosophies.

On the open sea,
Lend the courtesy
As the whalers do with every passing of keels.
Oh, let's have a gam;
I'll extend my hand
To all sailors who share the jaunty rhythms of the sea.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: A Bower in the Arsacides
Chapter 102: A Bower in the Arsacides

Turn, and turn, and turn,
The body's a temple!
Turn, and turn, and turn,
The body's a temple!

Everybody go to an island in the Arsacides!
In a hilltop glen, find the secrets of a function
Long layered as the base,
Foundation of every dead or living race.
It's all in the body,
The memory of body.

Turn, and turn, and turn,
The body's a temple!
Turn, and turn, and turn,
The body's a temple!

Every man a life woven through the spaces of every death.
Frames of passage carved with a long-learned certainty.
A pean to the shoulders
We grow on, but not over;
A density, breathing.
Oh, oh.

How to measure life? Turn into the body!
Measure every rib, measure every quarry!
Every bit is made from a something made before.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Right Whale's Head -- Contrasted View
Chapter 75: The Right Whale's Head -- Contrasted View

We're all in the whale's mouth,
Swallowed whole by a sullen pout --
The king of the ocean,
With stoic emotion.

Hey! Look at all the oil we got!
Hey, hey, hey! The tongue and lip and blanket's off!
And ladies, hey ladies!, here's a little savagery for you --
Not a little savagery.

Step in this mouth;
It's twelve feet tall. (Oh, no, no, twelve feet tall!)
Pipe organ bones,
So worshipful. (Oh, oh, oh worshipful.)
It's the teepee of an Indian;
I swear I'll never sin again!

Hey! Look at all the oil we got!
Hey, hey, hey! Order in the sea's chaos!
And ladies, hey ladies!, here's a little savagery for you --
Oppressive little savagery!
And ladies, hey ladies!, here's a little savagery for you --
Not a little savagery.

It's the teepee of an Indian;
I swear I'll never sin again!

Hey! Look at all the oil we got!
Hey, hey, hey! Order in the sea's chaos!
And ladies, hey ladies!, here's a little savagery for you --
Oppressive little savagery!
And ladies, hey ladies!, here's a little savagery for you --
Not a little savagery.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: Moby Dick
Chapter 41: Moby Dick

Let's talk of the depths!
We're of the cavernous Earth;
We take in the rocky chasms
At the very moment of birth.

Under the heart
(In all a darkness),
An ancient and fragile king
As pillar, quivering.

As a whale under the ocean, no one knows
All to bear from private spaces.

Now spin me a yarn,
No simple matter of fact.
In facing the grandiose
We take a supernatural tact.

So as within,
Deep down below
An ancient and fragile king
As pillar, quivering.

As a whale under the ocean, no one knows
All to bear from private spaces.

In all the world
There is a weight of defeat
Breaching the placid surface
With an ubiquity.

So grand, indeed,
Call it the devil and plead,
Or muster the soul's harpoon
From madness.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Ramadan
Chapter 17: The Ramadan

No suicides here,
And no smoking in the parlor, dear.
He's locked himself inside --
I'm shut out 'til the rising tide.

The keyhole affords
No better view than half the floor --
He's nowhere to be seen
Beyond his weapon in the corner leaning.

Queequeg prays (sit alone in the cold for your Ramadan
With Yojo on your head) to the God who gives him voice;
It's the choice of every man.

Queequeg prays (sit alone in the cold for your Ramadan
With Yojo on your head); oh, who am I to say
That my Christian faith's the only way.

I burst into the room --
Shuttered like a bud to bloom,
My best friend remains
In the piety of pagan names.

I tell him when he wakes,
Religion needn't cause him pain.
He smiles back at me,
In friendship, never condescension.

Queequeg prays (sit alone in the cold for your Ramadan
With Yojo on your head) to the God who gives him voice;
It's the choice of every man.

Queequeg prays (sit alone in the cold for your Ramadan
With Yojo on your head); oh, who am I to say
That my Christian faith's the only way.

Queequeg prays.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: Cetology
Chapter 32: Cetology

You decide,
And science will accommodate!
You decide,
And science will allow
For your base impressions
To rule their calculated epiphanies.
Spread it on the breeze,
And deep into the seas.

We're the same inside,
But you can't oppress a man,
So they must
Be of beast --
Well they live like beasts.

You decide!
For your base impressions
To rule their calculated epiphanies.
Spread it on the breeze,
And deep into the seas.

Let the science ride;
Be as simple as you can!
Darker skin: different race,
Harder work, submissive face.
Speak eugenically!

You decide,
And science will accommodate!
You decide,
And science will allow
For your base impressions
To rule their calculated epiphanies.
Spread it on the breeze,
And deep into the seas.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Counterpane
Chapter 4: The Counterpane

Now he's hugging me,
Oh so lovingly;
I woke up in Queequeg's embrace!
Like a brother, pagan other
In my bed.

It reminds me of when I was but a child,
I once fell asleep
And woke with a phantom's limb
Hand in hand with me.

He's considerate,
Though not literate --
Politeness must be innate!
Like a patchwork of decorum
And disgrace.

And for all of my high civil breeding,
I have to admit
I stared on quite rudely
Through Queequeg's strange toilet.

So he shaves his face
With a harpoon blade --
A savagely civilized art!
He's a darkness, with a
Civilizing heart.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Musket
Chapter 123: The Musket

Spinning in the storm,
An angel adored me,
Tempted my escape from every claimant,
And we'd take the open sea,
And turn it around.

A token of the war
In every arrangement
Made between a man and that which taints him --
It's a life to overthrow,
May heaven allow.

Tell me, could it be the loss,
The stinging loss
I feel in every dream? In every
Meaning lost to waves in rugged sea?

Here I stand alone,
At opposite corners
From my only duty as I claim it --
Can I take the open sea,
And turn it around?

Tell me, could it be the loss,
The stinging loss
I feel in every dream? In every
Meaning lost to waves in rugged sea?

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: Wheelbarrow
Chapter 13: Wheelbarrow

Packing my bags with my best friend.
Walk down the street with my best friend.
People will stare at us always,
Sharing the load!

Don't be embarrassed,
Because we cherish
Mutuality.

Stare at the sea with my best friend.
Happy to be with my best friend.
Closing the gap there between us,
Building the road!

Don't be embarrassed.
Platonic marriage.
The world's a joint-stock company!
We help each other be.

People may laugh at my best friend,
Stab at the back of my best friend,
He never holds it against them;
He'll always help his fellows!

Don't be embarrassed.
Platonic marriage.
The world's a joint-stock company!
We help each other be!

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Lamp
Chapter 97: The Lamp

I'm bathed in the light;
I shine in the purity.
A tailor of right,
Equal luminosity.

And the vessels of light are the common vials
Of the everyday man
Emptied of their recipe,
Retooled to help us see.

I live at the roots,
The primal dichotomy,
A fork in the road,
A choice in its infancy.

And I'm filling our lamps with the murdered beasts;
Only nature can lead
From the fool's eternity,
Untainted by human beings.

Sleep in the light as if I'm only
Closing my eyes for a while.

I'm bathed in the light;
I shine in the purity.
A tailor of right,
Equal luminosity.

And the vessels of light are the common vials
Of the everyday man
Emptied of their recipe,
Retooled to help us see.

And the vessels of light are the common vials,
And the vessels of light are the common vials,
And the vessels of light are the common vials
Of the everyday man,
To help us see.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

Science could never relate
(With a partial view of the animal state)
A true description of whales,
That would speak itself to our animal states,

Neither the stories of old,
Predetermined by man,
Prior to Noah, alone,
Floating over the sand.

Show me Platonian form,
And I'll show you one who has yet to have sworn
Blessings for each of the crew
In the eye of fear, in the mouth of the storm.

Give out an animal wail
In its terrible face;
And draw it, as bravery pales
To indifference.

Give out an animal wail!
Give out an animal wail!
Give out an animal wail!

Fault can only be laid
When a man assumes all experience stale,
Lifeless, and easy to rate,
'Til the distance makes his illusion the same.

Lay out the soul of your soul,
A majestic array,
Tuned to the palpable, flawed
Imbrication of days!

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Needle
Chapter 124: The Needle

You sent me head over heels,
Lost in the peals of my
Heart as it reels.

Sailed headlong into the storm --
Nothing could warn me off you.

Oh, lightning but only strikes once!
Oh, lightning but only strikes in paradise!

My compass pointed me East,
On to defeat your
Magnetic retreat.

Proud compass spun me anew,
Shocked into running from you.

Oh, lightning but only strikes once!
Oh, lightning but only strikes in paradise!

Natural deceit turned me far from thee,
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!
What a great relief, the sun, so indiscreet,
A fiery wrecking ball.

Now, with a sleight of the hand,
I turn where I stand
In magnetic demand.

Once more, faced into the wind,
Nothing could keep me from you.

Oh, lightning but only strikes once!
Oh, lightning but only strikes in paradise!

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Line
Chapter 60: The Line

From the bow to the far aft end,
Where you loop it 'round that post, my friend,
And then up the middle, touching every hand,
Ahh-oop! We're back again!

Now to the notch in the pointed prow,
Let it droop a little down across the bow.
Coil a loop into the box for now
And then tie it to the harpoon, pow!

Each man sitting in a noose --
It's a funny feeling!
Precarious and quite perverse,
But it's life, it's every life.

Do your job in the counting house --
It's still a noose if you smile or grouse.
Or sitting quiet by the fire, I'd rather be you,
But you're still in a noose.

Each man sitting in a noose --
It's a funny feeling!
Precarious and quite perverse,
But it's life, it's every life.

Always threatened by the perils, love,
Of this mortal world, though you push or shove,
Or if you tiptoe around with new kid gloves,
Or you pray to the Lord above.

So, take advice from the lofty stacks,
And never worry, never watch your backs.
You'll never know it 'til you feel the ax,
So relax! You have to relax!

Each man sitting in a noose --
It's a funny feeling!
Precarious and quite perverse,
But it's life, it's every life.

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Ship
Chapter 16: The Ship

Yojo sent me to find a ship!
Yojo sent me to find a ship!

Oh, Yojo, did you send me to the Pequod?
Oh, Yojo, did you send me to Ahab?

Nothing could seem more wise
Than the wrinkles 'round Pelig's eyes.

Oh, Pelig, won't you tell me what whaling is?
Oh, Pelig, it's a right ferocious accident!

To see the world from a whaler
Is just lookin' at water, sailor.

And he despises those merchant ships!
And he disguises old Ahab's tics.

We'll sign you on, young fellow,
But first give our other owner a hello.

How could a Quaker kill a whale?
Bildad? Captain Bildad, can't you say?
You read the scriptures every day!
How far ye got?

So sign on for a 300th lay my son (you're a lucky one!),
And bring your mysterious harpooner friend along (he's a-welcome on!).
The Pequod will be your final home.
The Pequod will take you to your home.

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Battering-Ram
Chapter 76: The Battering-Ram

May Truth reveal itself
In moth-fed predilections,
Furnished by the wealth
Experience conditions.
So we do it!

I can't conceive your eyes,
But I don't care --
Maybe another day.

In all, precedes a form,
A wall of indivision,
A cold protecting warm
In palpable commission.
And so we charge ahead.

Behind it all, amassed,
Tremendous life,
Or so I see in you.

But take, take, take, take, take, take, take it easy!
Now believe each fateful sight!
A wonder in every fold,
A truth waiting to be told!

A youth who steals the path
From timely revelation,
When sorrow takes it back,
Dies in observation
Of the only Truth.

I can't conceive your eyes,
But I don't care.
Maybe another day.

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Track Name: The Sermon
Chapter 9: The Sermon

Purge your pride, in the belly of
Desire, in the valley of
Required opportunity --
Delight in obedience.

The flame burns true as a compass, there's
No skew on perspectives you
Want to simply justify --
And so do you slumber.

But, oh!
The hand of God is up above!
And, oh!
You cannot run from boundless love!

Carried down with a tempest of
Renown, to the stillness of
Each round individual sphere --
Peace now is a punishment.

So beg your Lord for the trying reward
Bestowed for the congress of man,
Each lost in his wickedness --
And so, with your pilot!

And, oh!
The hand of God is up above!
And, oh!
You cannot run from boundless love!

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea