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Song Parodies -> "The Wreck of RMS Lusitania"

Original Song Title:

"Thr Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Original Performer:

Gordon Lightfoot

Parody Song Title:

"The Wreck of RMS Lusitania"

Parody Written by:

Susanna Viljanen

The Lyrics

The legend lives on of the ship that went down
at the big sea they call the Atlantic
She was queen of the sea, 25 knots top speed
and her size was about the same as Titanic
She had eight hundred crew and two-thousand two
hundred passengers on crossing the oceans
She was Cunard line pride, and oh, how did she glide
through the waves on four turbine locomotion

Now the storms of the war also oceans did soar
and the U-boat was new, scary weapon
Torpedoes, deck guns, many ships were undone
and it looked like like marine Armageddon
But Lusitania was fast, she'd outrun and outlast
all the lurking submarines of the Kaiser
She had well-seasoned crew and her master, firm, true
captain "Bowler Bill" William Turner

For the beautiful ship was two hundredth-first trip
she was leaving for England at New York
On April Seventeen, year nineteen-fifteen
Telegram came from Berlin and it was dark
It said U-boats would sink all the ships they could think
that were sailing and flying Red Ensign
Unrestricted warfare with submarines would soon see
deaths of women and children, to mention

Lusitania sailed away to east on first May
She'd be arriving Liverpool one week later
But at the Western Approach lurked German U-Boat
and her skipper was named Walther Schweiger
Now the weather was fine, and the people would dine
and drink and spend time on big liner
Lusitania plowed sea twenty two knots her speed
Seemed their voyage just couldn't be finer

Came the seventh of May, and the seamen did say
she was reaching the Fastnet Rock, Ireland
Same day afternoon, she'd arrive Liverpool
But there came an incindent unplanned
Captain Schweiger did spy a large ship passing by
and he ordered torpedo room ready
It was four-funnel ship, and he'd cut short her trip
and torpedo was launched with course steady

The tin fish did hit at the starboard midships
and it functioned and made an explosion
It was followed very soon another very big "BOOM"
as the powdered coal blew up with notion
Captain Turned saw soon that her proud ship was doomed
and he ordered ship evacuated
Now the crew launched lifeboats and all the stuff that did float
But twelve hundred souls, they were ill-fated

Everyone do agree that the last one to leave
was William Turner, ship's master
He grabbed the charts and logbook, and he was saved by ship's cook
they were needed for court of disaster
U-20 sailed away, celebrating that day
they had sunk RMS Lusitania
But anger did rise, as it was bit unwise
create tension on US and Germania

Hundred-forty who drowned had called US their home
and amongst them many rich men and famous
And the Yanks saw no fun that the devious Hun
had sent their loved ones in the grayness
Bill Turner was sued, but the court found him true
to his trade and not guilty for sinking
But Germans, they made medal commemorate
I just wonder what they had been thinking?

The legend lives on of the ship that went down
Lusitania was sunk with no warning
It was infamous act and the Yanks, they did act
and the Germans got blame and the scorning
We know Titanic and the Gustloff, indeed
And Edmund Fitzgerald is iconic
But Lusitania was lost with twelve hundred souls cost -
Who'd remember that day at Atlantic?

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Callmelennie - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
Actually, Susannah, very few people in the West know about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gusloff by a Soviet submarine, because it occurred in one of the bloodiest 12-month periods in history. Moreover, this event which wasn't publicized to the world at the the time was completely overshadowed by the discovery of the concentration camps ..... For the record, the Wilhelm Gusloff was a German ship jam packed with as any as 10,000 German civilian refugees fleeing vengeance of the Red Army which was torpedoed in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine. This caused the death of about 9000 people -- well over twice as many as died on the Arizona, Titanic, and Lusitania combined
Rob Arndt - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
555 for the parody, but am disappointed at the warped history again. The Germans went out of their way to warn US liners to stay out of the zones of conflict and published warnings in US newspapers. The Lusitania as civil liner already was breaking Federal Law by carrying munitions and that is why there was a second BOOM after U-20s torp hit. There are no innocents here as they knew what they were getting into. By free will they chose to sail into a war zone armed with military cargo and the Germans were right to sink her. Using civil liners as commerce raiders was alright, but pretending to be a mere passenger liner was the old equivalent of using the passengers as human shields in war. Fact. There was also a plan to arm Lusitania with hidden deck guns, but that never happened. @CML, MS Gustloff was indeed a horrible tragedy as she was part of Kriegsmarine coordination efforts to rescue civilians and military wounded from E Prussia. Again, the sinking was justified by the Soviets due to military and paramilitary forces aboard. Sad though that the poor BDM girls in the drained inner pool were blown to bits when the torps hit and thousands died. The Kriegsmarine in 1945 moved 2.3 million from E Prussia, making Dunkirk look like a small scale operation (saving 330,000) by comparison... perhaps the surface fleet's best role in WW2
Suanna Viljanen - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
Actually the second explosion was indeed due to coal dust. There _were_ indeed munitions onboard, but they were found to be intact still inside the crates. To pick the nits, Lusitania was indeed a legitimate target, but it would have been an enormous propaganda victory to take Lusitania as a prize instead of sinking her. A shot with deck gun over the bows is the international signal to demand surrender.
Anon - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
Excerpted from Wikipedia:
Included in Lusitania's cargo were 4,200,000 rounds of Remington .303 rifle cartridges, 1250 cases of empty 3-inch (76 mm) fragmentation shell casings, and eighteen cases of non-explosive fuses, all of which were listed on the ship's two-page manifest, filed with U.S. Customs after she departed New York on 1 May. However, these munitions were classed as small arms ammunition, were non-explosive in bulk, and were clearly marked as such. It was perfectly legal under American shipping regulations for the liner to carry these; experts agreed they were not to blame for the second explosion. Allegations the ship was carrying more controversial cargo, such as fine aluminium powder, concealed as cheese on her cargo manifests, or guncotton (pyroxylene) disguised as casks of beef, have never been proven. Recent expeditions to the wreck have shown that her cargo holds remain intact and show no evidence of internal explosion.
In 1993, Dr. Robert Ballard, the famous explorer who discovered Titanic and Bismarck, conducted an in-depth exploration of the wreck of Lusitania. To explain the second explosion, Ballard advanced the theory of a coal-dust explosion. He believed dust in the bunkers would have been thrown into the air by the vibration from the explosion; the resulting cloud would have been ignited by a spark, causing the second explosion. In the years since he first advanced this theory, it has been argued that this is nearly impossible. Critics of the theory say coal dust would have been too damp to have been stirred into the air by the torpedo impact in explosive concentrations; additionally, the coal bunker where the torpedo struck would have been flooded almost immediately by seawater flowing through the damaged hull plates.
It is known the forward boiler room filled with steam, and steam pressure feeding the turbines dropped dramatically following the second explosion. These point toward a failure, of one sort or another, in the ship's steam-generating plant. It is possible the failure came, not directly from one of the boilers in boiler room no. 1, but rather in the high-pressure steam lines to the turbines. Most researchers and historians agree that a steam explosion is a far more likely cause than clandestine high explosives for the second explosion.
Rob Arndt - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
Beg to differ but U-20's Torpedo hit starboard bow under the wheelhouse. Cargo was in bow and gun powder was there along with rifle cartridges...
Patrick - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
The first example of the German commemorative medal had the wrong date for the sinking, which gave the British the chance to declare that the ship had been stalked and its sinking planned in advance. The Brits went on to distribute far more examples of the medal than the Germans did. Lusitania passengers were warned by the German Embassy not to travel on a belligerent ship into a war zone. A US flagged ship leaving a day later arrived intact. Still, sinking a liner full of women and children is not a good move, especially in an age that still paid lip service to the idea that an inherently unlawful thing such as war can be governed by "rules". The US did not declare war for another two years, which indicates to me that the government recognized that citizens traveling into another country's war did so at their own risk. In 1915 a German submarine, "Deutschland" came to Baltimore to load supplies for their war effort. In 1916, an explosion in New York harbor was attributed to German saboteurs. I'm sure you have seen the famous "ENLIST" poster depicting a woman in a nightgown holding a baby as she sinks into the water. One of the most haunting images of the war. You have made excellent use of the Gordon Lightfoot tune to tell a similar tale of maritime tragedy. Just as Airfarcewon did last week with his excellent railroad disaster "Wreck of the Old 97". Too bad he didn't allow comments, It was an excellent piece. I'd like to challenge Rob to find a similar melody, or perhaps WOTEF to enlighten us all on the Wilhelm Gustloff story. There were at least two more German liners, even less well-known, whose destruction by Soviet submarines during this same time frame, resulted in loss of life far exceeding Lusitania and Titanic combined. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in significant loss of life, but the fact that the raid occurred on a Sunday morning meant that most of the sailors were ashore. The ships sank in shallow water, so many could be refloated. Admiral Nagumo feared that his fleet had been spotted and called off a third attack. This left the oil tanks intact, giving the Pacific Fleet the fuel it would need to go into action just a few months later.
Susanna Viljanen - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
To quote Sun Tzu:

There are some roads not to be followed; some troops not to be attacked; some cities not to assault; and some ground which should not be contested. (Art of War, chapter VIII

RMS Lusitania was one of those.
Rob Arndt - May 13, 2014 - Report this comment
The other two lost in the Baltic to Red subs were Goya and Steuben (7000 and 3000 respectively)!
Susanna Viljanen - May 14, 2014 - Report this comment
The Gustloff catastrophe is well known in all countries around the Baltic sea; she was again "one of those targets who should not have been attacked" (Sun Tzu). Unfortunately, it is fairly unknown elsewhere. I made some years ago a spoof on this tune on Gustloff: see http://www.amiright.com/parody/70s/gordonlightfoot129.shtml

Incidentally, the German cruisers - Admiral Hipper, Prinz Eugen, L├╝tzow, Admiral Scheer - held a complete naval supremacy at Baltic, and their supporting fire was crucial on successful evacuation of the Curonian pocket. They shot more heavy shells on the advancing Soviet troops than they ever had shot at sea.

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