Old Admirals

And now, courtesy of Al Stewart, a brief lesson in maritime history. The idea of a sailor’s life doesn’t hold much romance for us anymore, and neither do we care much about the state of the navy, unless we or our loved ones are enlisted in it. Now that oceanfaring is no longer the backbone of most travel, commerce and defense maritime culture has fallen from prominence. Also, ships are a lot less cool than they used to be. The only reminder we have of how important sailing used to be in so many aspects of life is an occasional nautical motif on Ralph Lauren’s spring runway. But remember when the unveiling of a new ship was an event that drew thousands of spectators? When the quality of a nation’s naval force could make or break its political and economic stability? When running off to sea was often a boy’s only path out of the circumstances he was born into? When even a genteel cruise was one thunderstorm or iceberg away from catastrophe? Never thought about it before, have you? Al Stewart is absolutely unparalleled in his ability to make such things interesting. He makes history more than interesting, really. He makes it meaningful.


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