The WellermanSteven Lieberman
I use this space to hopefully educate, illuminate and entertain. I am asked… quite regularly…why I don’t confine my musings to weapons training, Second Amendment news, tactical “stuff”, and the like.
My honest answer: Because I don’t want to.
I believe that mastery of Skill-at-Arms is a holistic endeavor. Simply being able to manipulate a piece of machinery, or understanding how to achieve a superior position over an adversary is admirable, but wholly lacking in the fundamental development of the “virtuous citizen”. So I focus on a broader range of topics from culture and civics, to philosophy, to the state of modern politics. Sometimes (usually fairly irregularly)… I delve into aspects of the modern zeitgeist.
So… last week I was perusing Facebook (yeah… I’m still there), and I saw a story about a young man from Glasgow, Scotland. His name is Nathan Evans and he decided to record a short video of himself on TikTok doing a semi-acapella version of a sea shanty song from the eighteenth century called The Wellerman.
Because… why not, right?
Mr. Evans had been a post office worker until last week. He has since quit his job and signed a record contract with a major label.
If you have not seen his original version, I encourage you to watch it here:
So… that was cool, right?… It’s kinda catchy and, in an odd sense, pretty wholesome.
TikTok, for those of you who don’t remember, was called into question by the Trump Administration because of its ties to China, more specifically, the data that it was generating and reporting back to Beijing.
One of the things that is somewhat funny about TikTok is that it encourages collaboration and, essentially, a complete abandonment of copyright laws. (This does, in fact, seem to be a phenomenon that is consistent with Chinese acquisition of technology.)
So… when one person posts something, others who find it interesting or entertaining are able to “layer” on top of the original work.
Well, as his little video went viral, others started to “sing along”…
Still, others decided to add instrumental accents…
Regardless of your taste in music, there is something weirdly transformational in this whole exercise.
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One of the instant takeaways from watching all of these videos is the relative age of the participants. These are young people. They transcend race, gender, and even age to an extent (Andrew Lloyd Webber has also recorded an accompanying version as well).
There is no political message. There is no angst and no aggression (well… except for the subject matter of the song… whales might be offended). This is about as wholesome as it gets.
It is not the first time either.
A group of fishermen in England a few years back were “discovered” by a local music executive singing sea shanty songs. In their little village this crew of sailors would meet every Friday and essentially do a free concert for the local townsfolk. They were recorded and, ultimately, had a movie made about them (See Fisherman’s Friends).
Collaborative work (and, frankly, what makes this story so interesting is the collaborative and organic nature of the song) usually ends in some degree of failure. My commanding officer once quipped, “A camel is a horse that was designed by committee”.
Every so often it comes out right. This is one of those times. The paradoxical thing is that it is so successful not because of a strong organizational process… it is successful because it is essentially leaderless. This is the ultimate informal system of order. People have independently taken a liking to something and, without seeking permission or approval, just made it better.
Okay… I can’t control myself: Perhaps this is a lesson for those who believe in centralized planning… sometimes the most efficient way of achieving spectacular results is to let individuals do what they do best… be individuals.