Nautical Notes

originally published in Sound Waves Magazine August 2020

I’ve been spending a lot of time around boats and pretty much zero time with my guitar and it got me thinking. Why are there so many analogies about boats anyway? Is it because we were born in a womb of water and desperately just want to dive back in? Can all of boating be compared to all of life, just like baseball? Are boating and music intertwined?

I don’t know but suddenly I find myself a boater, and sort of a dodger of music-related things so I thought I’d have some fun comparing the two. Provided below are some nauticisms, if you will.

Abandon Ship – when the song just isn’t working and people are talking louder than the band so the lead singer just ends it with a fake slit across the neck

Ahoy Mate – means great to see ya, even though you’re late, I still love ya!

All Hands On Deck – when it’s time to break down the equipment at the end of the night (but the horn players inevitably, abandon ship)

Anchors Away – everybody’s plugged in and ready to go

Batten Down The Hatches – when you’re getting ready for an explosive audience response, or crickets

Cast Off – when you have to fire somebody in the band and send them to their own egomaniac island

Close Quarters – the square footage of most venue stages for bands

Come Around – instead of turning into the wind it’s when we keep the solos going because people are dancing for the one rare time

Dead Ahead – when a Grateful Dead cover band is playing down the street and everybody’s there

Even Keeled – the rare occurrence when the music’s meshing and the drummer’s not rushing things

Gangway – when the guitar player takes control of the song

Gone Overboard – when the lead singer crashes and burns

Keep a Sharp Lookout – when everybody in the band is looking for the booking agent (this can last for months)

Land Ho! – the eruption of applause and standing ovation at the end of the night

Lost at Sea – when the bass player is in the key of G but everybody else is in A

Make Waves – when somebody in the band starts questioning everything – where the band is going, song choices, upcoming gigs or the lack thereof

Making Headway – when your musical career is going just fine but then a global pandemic hits

Pass Down the Line – when the lead singer yells something to the bass player who then yells to the drummer who then yells to the guitarist. No need to yell to the horn players, they don’t care.

No Wake Zone – when the leader of the band just tries to keep everybody in the band happy by constantly compromising their convictions

Rock the Boat – self-explanatory

Rough Seas Ahead – the dreaded third set when you’ve already played all the good songs

Run Aground – when no one in the band knows where we are in the song but we pretend like we do and consequently just make things worse

Set a Course – when the bandleader makes a set list, prints it out for everybody, it’s right in front of everyone, but we skip around and ignore it anyway

Shoot Across the Bow – when the guitar player gets going on an opening riff to a song but the drummer starts a different song

Stem the Tide – when the drummer decides he’s had enough of the disastrous song and just goes “Plop Plop” on the snare

Stem to Stern – when the whole band shows up on time, are all in tune and on the same wavelength (wait – that’s a radio term… hmm… maybe next month)

Storm Warning – that uneasy feeling every time we start a show. Will they hate us? Will they dance? Will anyone even come?

Three Sheets to the Wind – when we imbibe too much to get through the show

Wide Berth – when you have to get out of the way of the lead singer because he or she is going nuts, and three sheets to the wind

That’s all for now. The ocean is calling me.

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