In just a few short minutes, I am headed to Nantucket Island, which was considered the whaling capital of the world in the 19th century .The term "Nantucket Sleighride" was coined by some old salts to explain the most immensely dangerous part of the whaling process process. The first strike of the harpoon was not intended to kill the whale but only to attach it to the whale boat. The whale would take off pulling the whale boat along at speeds of up to 23 mph (37 kmh). Once the whale had finally tired itself out, the leading officer would deliver the fatal blow with a penetrating lance and begin the arduous process of finding their way back to dry land.
The song "Nantucket Sleighride" is dedicated to Owen Coffin, a cabin boy aboard the whaling ship Essex, which was destroyed by a sperm whale in 1819. Owen ended up in the lifeboat with Captain Pollard, his uncle. Two other lifeboats also put out. During the next 3 - 4 months, the lifeboats separated. One was never seen again, but a certain few were destined to be part of the most memorable sea stories of all time.
During those long months at sea (and on desert islands), many of the men died. The survivors eventually had to resort to cannibalism to live. After those who died naturally were consumed, the men determined to draw lots to see who would sacrifice his life for the others. Owen Coffin "won" the lottery. The Captain tried to take Owen's place, but the youth insisted on his "right". The executioner was also drawn by lot. That "winner", another young man named Charles Ramsdell, also tried vainly to swap places with Owen. Again he refused. Owen's body kept the others alive for ten days, although Captain Pollard refused to eat his nephew. Another man died, and his body kept Pollard and Ramsdell alive a few more days until they were rescued.
The story of Owen Coffin still resonates on Nantucket Island and certainly caught the attention of a young New York Jew named Leslie West. He and his band of Long Island Vagrants would eventually play Woodstock under the moniker Mountain and record an amazing album named after this an album that would bear the name, Nantucket Sleighride.
Little known fact: There are three types of people on this entire planet. Those who love electric pianos, those who are in denial of their love for electric pianos, and those who have never heard an electric piano but would totally love them. The title of Supertramp's 1974 album, Crime of the Century, is arguably a reference to their confession of not having enough electric piano on the album.
Supertramp is an exemplary binge band. One day, you're all like, fuck, I could really use some music to clean my apartment and drink white wine to! And that's where Crime of the Century comes in, with a dense overload of orchestral pop production over a bed of coke rock and a spot o' prog that leaves you feeling super British for forty minutes.
A few days pass. You catch yourself listening to it on the way to work. It's playing on your tiny speaker while you shower. Your friends are exposed to it when they come over. It's a problem. You're thinking about back-to-back binging with Steely Dan. But all this shit has got to stop, your apartment is clean. You're not surfing down that mountain of coke anymore in the British countryside, into a spacious recording studio where the battered grand piano guides you through the halls of excess. No, you put the scratchy LP down and crawl back to some retro soul or noisy indie pop. Still, you ponder taking on Nilsson for next month's apartment cleaning, that time when you blast any damn record you want with a Sauvignon Blanc and a vacuum cleaner.