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Midweek Musical Memories - Bottle of Rum

All Aboard the Meme Express – Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Avast, ye landlubbers!

Wednesday is Midweek Musical Memories. Each Wednesday, the Meme Express features a hit song from the past, representing a variety of musical eras and genres. Please tune in often for musical memories and prompts.

On this date in 1805, British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson and the British Royal Navy defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar. Admiral Nelson had achieved renown for his victories at sea, even combating pirates of the Caribbean waters.

At the end of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson was killed by a musket ball. His crew placed Admiral Nelson’s body in a large cask of rum to preserve it until the ship returned to England.

When Nelson’s ship arrived in port, the cask was opened and found to be half-empty. His torso and head were significantly decomposed. Apparently, members of the crew had tapped the barrel and consumed a fair amount of the rum at sea.

Perhaps this is the historical origin of the traditional pirate drinking song, including this lyric: “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.”

Here’s the jolly Roger Wagner Chorale’s version of “Fifteen Men (Bottle of Rum)” – with subtitles, for those who want to sing along:



The Meme Express for today is fourfold:





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