What does Nautical Disaster mean?

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The Tragically Hip: Nautical Disaster Meaning


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Nautical Disaster Lyrics

I had this dream where I relished the fray
and the screaming filled my head all day.
It was as though I'd been spit here, settled
in, into the pocket of a lighthouse on some
rocky socket, off the coast of France, dear.

One afternoon, four...


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    Aug 18th, 2016 8:27am report

    German battleship Bismarck's sinking on 27 May 1940, ~1000 miles off St. Nazaire, France. Survivors were left in the water & literally clawed at the sides of HMS Dorsetshire as it steamed away and left hundreds to die of exposure in the frigid North Atlantic. Survivors (about 100) spent the duration of the war in POW camps, many of them in Canada. I agree with the above poster's interpretation.


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    Sep 21st, 9:37am report

    All true, but if you watch the Hip concert at Woodstock, he streams as usual, and this time he mentioned the 'young Trudeau'. All his songs are about (at least) 3 things, and I think he wrote this song also for Michel Trudeau, who died in an Avalanche in Kokanee, BC, at a young age.


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    Sep 22nd, 2019 9:38pm report

    History recalls the Scotish being invaded , twice . We called upon our brothers to help . This was definatly about 1 of those occurrences, in my opium ;-) . It goes back 1000's of years .

    They paid people , or befriended them to become traitors. Im sure they got stabbed in the back ... just like Julius , eye for an eye . They got kicked off the pant legs . The parasites in the blood . Look at your history for that ... its hidden a little ... jsyk .

    Go leafs Go Gord ♡ you, rest in paradise ... hope 2 see there 1 day .

    Your a very brave and honourable soldier . I know that .


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    Oct 19th, 2017 10:47am report

    Not my interpretation, but the actual meaning of the tune.

    Nautical Disaster is actually about the tragic Canadian raid on Dieppe, France August 1942

    The Hip was a Canadian icon because of the Canadian culture and history in all their albums.


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    Nov 11th, 2016 11:15pm report

    Possibly talking about the leopoldville disaster during Christmas Eve 1944. Accident occurred 5 miles from Cherbourg off the coast of France. It was a troop carrier which had 2000 soldiers. 500 died in the water. Turned out the Belgium crew took the life boats for themselves. There was a lack of communication between the crew and the young troops. The American troops had no instructions. There were dingy type rafts which could have been released but the crew didn't release them, resulting in needless loss of life.


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    Oct 20th, 2016 10:32am report

    The key to the song is in this line:

    "anyway, susan, if you like, our conversation is as faint as a sound in my memory

    as those fingernails, scratching on my hull..."

    He's using the escape from the shipwreck as a metaphor for the loss of a relationship...where even though susan may be dying of pain and heartache herself, he has no choice but to "kick her off his pantleg" and "head for home"...


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    Aug 18th, 2016 8:40am report

    Sorry: ** 27 May 1941, not 1940.


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    Aug 18th, 2016 8:38am report

    Sorry: **27 May 1941, not 1940


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    Aug 13th, 2014 8:41am report

    It's indeed about the sinking of the HMT Lancastria. But that happened in 1940 & about 4000 got killed (like it says in the song)


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    Sep 24th, 2013 9:03pm report

    The song is about the bombing of RMS Lancastria, the mission to evacuate British nationals from France in 1947.

    6,500 died.


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    Mar 28th, 2013 3:36pm report

    Not to dissuade the first interpretation of this song, but there appears to be more than waking up in this song. It is reasonable to assume that with "the screaming in his head" that this could have more to do with a mix of memories and dreams. Perhaps the song is an introspective look at post-traumatic disorders that could have occurred (and most likely did occur) during the previous conflicts around the world.


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    Jun 21st, 2011 6:49am report

    the song is a narraration of a dream followed by being woken up by his phone. The dream that takes place is a WWII event known as the "Sinking of the Bismark," a German battleship. The Bismark was sunk of the coast of France by British ships. Survivors of the shipwreck were rescued by passing British ships but most were left behind due to a U-Boat alarm. When the phone rings the dreamer awakes. He talks to Susan, presumably an ex. he compares the pain she brings him to that of his memory. He voice is like the "finger nails on the hull"

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