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The Meaning Behind The Song: Boston and St. John’s by Great Big Sea


The Meaning Behind The Song: Boston and St. John’s by Great Big Sea

Boston and St. John’s is a popular folk song by the Canadian band Great Big Sea. Released in 1995, this catchy tune has captured the hearts of many fans over the years. While the song may appear to be a light-hearted celebration of two vibrant coastal cities, there is a deeper meaning hidden beneath its lively melody.

The Journey of Two Cities

At first glance, Boston and St. John’s seems to be a simple travelogue, describing the adventures of the band as they journey from one city to another. The opening lines, “From Boston harbor we set sail, And brought our ship to anchor,” paint a vivid picture of the band’s departure from Boston and arrival in St. John’s.

However, as the song progresses, it becomes clear that there is more to the story. The lyrics evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for home, as the band members reflect on their time in each city. The chorus emphasizes the emotional connection they feel to both places, singing, “Oh, from Boston to St. John’s, we’ve sailed a thousand miles, And every time we got to shore, Well we knew we’d stay awhile.”

A Celebration of Friendship and Unity

Beyond its surface narrative, Boston and St. John’s carries a profound message about friendship and unity. The song celebrates the bond between the band members and the people they encounter along their journey. It reminds us that distance and differences can be overcome through shared experiences and a sense of kinship.

This theme is beautifully encapsulated in the lyrics, “We are friends, just friends, no matter where we go, Yes, we are friends, just friends, no matter where we go.” Here, Great Big Sea emphasizes the importance of human connections and the power of music to bring people together, regardless of their background or location.

Frequently Asked Questions About Boston and St. John’s

What inspired Great Big Sea to write Boston and St. John’s?

The band members drew inspiration from their own personal experiences of traveling between Boston and St. John’s. They wanted to capture the unique charm and character of both cities, as well as the emotions associated with leaving one place behind and discovering another. The song serves as a tribute to the band’s deep connection with these two cities and the lasting memories they carry.

Is Boston and St. John’s based on a true story?

While Boston and St. John’s does have autobiographical elements, it is not based on a specific true story. Rather, the song is a heartfelt reflection on the band’s experiences as they journeyed between these two cities. It captures the essence of their personal connections and the feelings associated with traveling and exploring new places.

What does the phrase “from Boston to St. John’s, we’ve sailed a thousand miles” signify?

This line symbolizes the distance traveled and the emotional journey undertaken by Great Big Sea. It reflects the band’s dedication to their music and the commitment they have made to their craft. The mention of sailing a thousand miles signifies the dedication and perseverance required to pursue their passion while also highlighting the vast geographical distance between the two cities.

Why do you think Boston and St. John’s became such a beloved song?

Boston and St. John’s resonates with audiences due to its infectious melody, relatable lyrics, and underlying themes of friendship and unity. The song captures the essence of travel, nostalgia, and the human connections that transcend geographical boundaries. Its universal appeal and uplifting spirit have made it a beloved anthem for fans of Great Big Sea and folk music enthusiasts alike.

Are there any live performances of Boston and St. John’s?

Yes, Great Big Sea has performed Boston and St. John’s numerous times during their live shows. These performances showcase the band’s energy, charisma, and ability to engage audiences through their music. The song often elicits enthusiastic responses from fans, who eagerly sing along and embrace the camaraderie portrayed in the song.

How has Boston and St. John’s impacted the music industry?

Boston and St. John’s not only helped solidify Great Big Sea’s reputation as a talented folk band but also served as a testament to the enduring popularity of traditional Newfoundland music. The song’s success has contributed to the broader recognition of Canadian folk music on an international scale, inspiring other artists to explore their own cultural roots and incorporate traditional elements into their music.

What other songs are similar to Boston and St. John’s?

Great Big Sea has a repertoire of songs that capture the spirit of camaraderie, travel, and cultural identity. Some notable songs that share similarities with Boston and St. John’s include “Ordinary Day,” “The Night Pat Murphy Died,” and “Lukey.” These songs often feature lively melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and a sense of celebration that resonates with listeners.

Does Great Big Sea have any upcoming projects related to Boston and St. John’s?

While Great Big Sea disbanded in 2013, the band’s music continues to captivate audiences around the world. Although there are no specific upcoming projects related to Boston and St. John’s, the impact of the song and the band’s legacy endures. Fans can continue to enjoy their extensive discography and relish in the memories that Boston and St. John’s evokes.

Was Great Big Sea influenced by any other artists?

Great Big Sea drew inspiration from various sources within the folk music genre, including influential artists like Stan Rogers, The Chieftains, and The Pogues. These artists helped shape their unique sound and influenced their approach to storytelling and performing. Great Big Sea’s music reflects a fusion of traditional Irish, Scottish, and Newfoundland influences, blended with their own distinctive style.

Does Great Big Sea have any other notable songs?

Absolutely! Great Big Sea has a rich repertoire of songs that have become fan favorites. “The Old Black Rum,” “Mari-Mac,” and “Sea of No Cares” are just a few examples of their well-known tracks. Each song showcases the band’s distinctive sound, incorporating folk elements, catchy melodies, and heartfelt lyrics that resonate with listeners.

What impact has Great Big Sea had on Canadian music?

Great Big Sea has made a significant impact on Canadian music, particularly in terms of promoting and preserving traditional Newfoundland folk music. They have helped popularize this genre both within Canada and internationally, exposing audiences to the rich cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their success has also inspired other Canadian artists to explore their own cultural roots and contribute to the diverse tapestry of Canadian music.

How has Boston and St. John’s been received by fans and critics?

Boston and St. John’s has been widely embraced by fans and critics alike. It continues to be revered as one of Great Big Sea’s most beloved songs, resonating with audiences of all ages. The song’s infectious melody, poignant lyrics, and celebration of friendship have garnered praise for its universal appeal and timeless quality. Boston and St. John’s has become synonymous with Great Big Sea’s legacy and continues to be celebrated by their loyal fanbase.

What makes Boston and St. John’s unique compared to other Great Big Sea songs?

Boston and St. John’s stands out due to its dual exploration of two distinct cities and the emotions associated with leaving and arriving. While many of Great Big Sea’s songs capture the spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador, Boston and St. John’s showcases the band’s experiences beyond their home province. The song’s universal themes of friendship and unity, combined with its vibrant melody, contribute to its unique place within the band’s discography.

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About Warren Barrett

Warren has spent nearly half a century (now that's a long time!) as an ink-stained wretch writing for music magazines and websites and has no plans on giving up soon.

He is curious about all types of music and instruments apart from any genre with 'Urban' in the title. He's also not so keen on Plastic Potted Plants, Reality TV, and any movies with Kevin Costner in them.

He lives in Delaware with his wife Wendy and lots of great memories...

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