The Last Leviathan


Now then, as Jon admits, “Again sung at the Colpitts, this time by Ian McCulloch. This is sort of penance for being carried along by the sentiment of Ballina Whalers, a great song but pretty traumatic. Lou Killen also recorded this.”

It fair brings a lump to the throat, but I’ve said my bit… Written by Andy Barnes and well done Andy. He seems curiously elusive, however, so if you know more please share it. Mainly Norfolk has Lou Killen’s version covered.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores.


27 Responses to “The Last Leviathan”

  1. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    As has been said before…a very powerful and chilling song.

  2. Piers Cawley says:

    Andy’s a lovely chap. Keeps a pet food shop in Combe Martin and writes cracking songs, though those two facts are probably not related. He used to be a regular in the Barn at Towersey and in various sings at Sidmouth festival but pretty much stuck around Combe Martin while his son was growing up.
    I miss seeing and hearing him. He has a nice line in creative harmonies, a great repertoire of chorus songs and a lovely voice.
    If Jon hasn’t sung Andy’s “Turn, Turn, Ye Seasons” by the end of this project, it’ll be a shame.

  3. Mike New says:

    Jon at his best yet again. A very poignant and moving rendition. Great story.

  4. Simon says:

    Piers, thanks for that. If you happen to be shopping for pet food, please pass on our regards.

  5. Jan says:

    I learned this from the Dubliners version, and I notice some slight variations in Jon’s tune from the way I sing it, so I’d really like to know exactly how Andy Barnes wrote it if anyone can point me in the right direction?

  6. John Burton says:

    There are a few variations I noticed too, I learnt it from the “Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone” version credited by Louis Killen on the Mainly Norfolk page as his source. Although I did not know of the writer Andy Barnes and the fact that he is of UK origin.
    Mudcat thread is here:

  7. John Wilson says:

    I was curious to see how Jon sang the line ‘I am the last of the great whales’, usually sung with emphasis on ‘the’ which I guess was not intended by Andy Barnes nor do I know if Andy intended that verse as a chorus as is so often performed. I can’t remember if Ian McCulloch did it as a chorus but likely at the Colpitts as we were beggars for choruses.
    Delighted then and not surprised at all to hear how Jon sings it. No chorus and better still not even a final reprieve of the first verse. Far more poignant ending as it does.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    Weeping into my pot of slosh here! That was wonderful! A great song, both warmly & chillingly sung at the same time. Well done, Jon. I’ve no whale anecdotes to cheer this one up, as it’s not the one that got away.

  9. Phill Moxley says:

    I had the best bit of fortune in having heard this performed by Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends at Glastonbury last summer, having stopped in the acoustic tent to get our of the sun. I’m not ashamed to say that I was weeping absolute buckets at their version, which is well worth a listen if you get the chance.

  10. Jim Parham says:

    We see Andy at the Shammick folk club in Coomb Martin, which operates twice a month come and meet him and of course also look at the in Minehead. May 1 sees the Hobby Horse in the town

  11. Jim Parham says:

    Forgot to say come and see him at the acorn folk club on Saturday December 3rd 2011 when he is our featured artist

  12. wullie fg says:

    i heard about the great whale song(last levianth) when i was a kid, and it it always stuck with me. so sad to see crap happen to these animals for profitierng businesses. if i can assist, only to happy to help

  13. Diana says:

    Another heart-rendering tale.

    It appears thay Japan, Norway and Iceland still continue with this barbaric undertaking, a few other countries to a lesser dregree, with Japan and Norway being responsible for the killing of about 2500 whales a year. Japan purports to kill for “scientific research” but I have my doubts. Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission but it still continues with many of the poor whales dying in agony.

  14. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    I totally agree Diana. By enlightened times I was referring to the ban on commercial whaling. I understand that within the few renegade countries who persist in whaling, public opposition continues to grow, and at the end of the day, it is public opinion that will win the day. (Despite all the fine words of politicians, I am convinced that it was world wide public opposition that finally brought about the end of apartheid in S.Africa.) In the meantime , the work of Greenpeace and similar organisations continues, and songs like this help to spread public awareness and opposition. I do hope I am right, for the sake of all our grandchildren.

  15. Diana says:

    John I agree completely with your remarks, but I believe that the voices of all the people who deplore whale hunting will win the day. I fear however, it will take some time though, and whilst pharmaceutical companies and others utilise parts of the whales it will continue for monetary rewards.

  16. Tedd O'Ramsden says:

    I love this song and its message. I am now weeping into my pot of slosh yet again! Because, if there is one thing I have learnt in this vale of tears, it is that every long, hard-won victory of virtue in life can so easily be overturned and slide back to whatever horror it previously was… another mean old scene. So, battles may be won, but wars still have to be waged. The watchwords are ‘constant vigilence’. Never give up, ‘cos there’s always some mercenary swine out to make a buck!

    Andy Barnes does indeed seem to be very elusive. No CDs, no YouTube (so no ‘Turn, Turn, Ye Seasons,’ as recommended by Piers above) and seemingly not even a pet shop! But this may be the man himself, if he has moved into web development:

    And you can see where he may be coming from, following The Diamond Way of A.L Almaas:

    An all-round good song from an all-round good egg. Well chosen and sung out, Jon!

  17. Linda says:

    re Phill 2011. Have also heard Fisherman’Friends sing this on The Platt at Port Issac on a very chilly night last June. Very moving espescially in those surroundings. Would like to see Jon sing this live.

  18. Diana says:

    Hi Linda, it has been some time since you have posted, and not usually in the afternoon. Did you enjoy the DVDs over Christmas? How is Colin and his thumb now?
    I watch “Doc Martin” and Port Isaac looks lovely.

  19. Daina says:

    @ Tedd: Have just been counting all my errors on the Ja/Jo/Di front. I was so incensed at whale hunting above that my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain. Rendering instead of rending – can you imagine the difference. Then thay instead of that and finally degree was spelt wrong. Oh dear I shall have to sharpen my pencil but not much good when typing.

  20. Pewter says:

    If Maria’s Gone was my January favourite, this must be the close runner up! Huge lump in my throat, Skyman. Superb…

  21. Linda says:

    beautiful. and so haunting

  22. may queen says:

    The Fishermans friends version of this is now doubly harrowing as it is sung by Trevor Grills ( RIP) who was tragically killed in February along with FF tour manager at a gig in Guilford. This song came on their CD whilst i was driving the other day and i had to pull over smartish due to blubbing freely 🙁 .great tune tho. and like this version x

  23. Linda says:

    Special memories……still love this song feel very privileged to have heard Trevor sing this on The Platt at Port Issac..

  24. Linda says:

    After Trevor’s death I donated to a charity called the Brandon Trust which Jon Cleeve (from Fishermens Friends) is an ambassador for still dropping them the odd donation if you have a few coins to spare well worth a look…. Still love this Jon..

  25. Linda says:

    Hope Jon won’t mind a small ad but for anybody going to a Fishermens Friend concert where there is a Brandon Trust bucket be sure to make a donation even if it is only a small one it all helps. Still loving this song….

  26. Linda says:

    The miserable weather today damp and wet really suits this song beautifully sung Jon….

  27. Linda says:

    such a haunting song beautifully sung

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