THE MARY ELLEN CARTER
“The Mary Ellen Carter” is a song wrien and recorded by Stan Rogers, intended as an
inspira!onal hymn about triumphing over great odds. It tells the story of a heroic e(ort to
salvage a sunken ship, the Mary Ellen Carter, by members of her former crew.
The song has become a classic of the genre and many ar!sts covered it even before Rogers’
death, including Jim Post who began performing it in the 1980s, as did Makem and Clancy, and
the English a cappella trio, Ar!san, who went on to popularise their harmony version of it in UK
folk circles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and Portland, Maine-based folk group Schooner
Fare. Ian Robb recorded it with the other members of Finest Kind on his album From Di(erent
Angels. It was recorded by the seven piece Newfoundland band The Irish Descendants as part of
the tribute album Remembering Stan Rogers: An East Coast Tribute, performed by a large
number of acts at Rogers’ favorite venue in Halifax, Dalhousie University.
It was recorded by Williamsburg, Virginia-based Cel!c rock band Coyote Run as part of their self-
!tled Coyote Run album. According to liner notes with their 10 Years and Running retrospec!ve
album, Coyote Run’s recording of the song was done with the same 12-string guitar that Stan
Rogers himself had used when recording the song.
As a tribute to Stan Rogers, “The Mary Ellen Carter” has been sung to close the annual Winnipeg
Folk Fes!val every year since his death.
She went down last October in a pouring driving rain.
The skipper, he’d been drinking and the Mate, he felt no pain.
Too close to Three Mile Rock, and she was dealt her mortal blow,
And the Mary Ellen Carter seled low.
There were <ve of us aboard her when she <nally was awash.
We’d worked like hell to save her, all heedless of the cost.
And the groan she gave as she went down, it caused us to proclaim
That the Mary Ellen Carter would rise again.
Well, the owners wrote her o(; not a nickel would they spend.
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end.
But insurance paid the loss to them, they let her rest below.
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.