Sea songs and semantic distance

Here’s another one of those semantic distance stories: how long does it take to formulate the right question when you just know the answer is out there somewhere?

One of the various obscure records* in my house when I was growing up was Songs & Sounds of the Sea. It was a collection of sea chanteys recorded by National Geographic. I’d been looking for it over the years online and never had any luck. Because of its sentimental value, this recording is in the category of things I’d be happy to pay real money for if I could just find someone to sell it to me.

My web searches were thwarted partially because I had misremembered the name of the album as Men, Ships, and the Sea. This is in fact a book by Alan Villiers which we also had in the house when I was growing up. But there is no recording by this name, so I would curse and assume that no one had bothered to index this obscure album. I should have suspected that no recording is so obscure that nobody so much as mentions it once on the web. But then when I searched for individual songs I remembered, I sailed into another kind of semantic fog: there are lots and lots of sea chantey sites and recordings that masked the instance I was looking for.

Misremembered labels, over-rich results field… it made me wonder how many kinds of semantic fog there are. Or rather, what factors contribute to semantic distance?

At any rate, eventually I got lucky and found all the MP3s in the clear on this web page for Radio KRUD: Songs & Sounds of the Sea / Star Wars / Fresh KRUD. Enjoy. It may not be your cup of tea, but I know at least some family members out there who will be happy to rediscover this old friend.

* What do you even call these things anymore? LPs? Vinyl? Half the online population has never seen them.

8 thoughts on “Sea songs and semantic distance”

  1. So… here are two quotes I’ve never been able to find on the web, undoubtedly because I’m not exactly sure of how they go….

    One is something about “When you see a bear(or elephant?) dance it’s not how well they dance, it’s just interesting they can dance at all.”

    The other is “Never argue/wrestle with pigs/engineers/insert your favorite profession here: You just get dirty and the pig/engineer/whoever likes it”

  2. Aha! I can help you with the first one. It’s old Dr. Johnson himself who treats us to this offensive remark about walking dogs and preaching women: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

  3. As an aside, do you know how long I’ve waited for this opportunity? If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was all a setup, and that comment was a cleverly laid trap. I had another Shaw quote, but I think it was actually Whistler…

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