> Louis Killen > Songs > The Last Leviathan

The Last of the Great Whales / The Last Leviathan

[Andy Barnes]

Andy Barnes from Milton Keynes wrote The Last of the Great Whales in the early 1980s. I don't know of a recording by him but according to the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: The Last Leviathan he is wont to perform it at the Towersey festival.

There are about 30 recordings of this song (which most of them call The Last Leviathan) but I only have a few:

Sheena Wellington sang The Last Leviathan on her 1986 album Kerelaw and this track was included as The Last of the Great Whales on the 1997 Agit-Prop album The Sporting Life.

Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers sang The Last Leviathan in 1988 on their LP Off the Map.

Louis Killen sang The Last Leviathan unaccompanied on his 1989 cassette The Rose in June and in 2002 on The Revels' CD Homeward Bound. He commented in the first album's liner notes:

I am indebted to Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone for this powerful and chilling song from their recording Angels in Daring. It is a condemnation of man's blindness to the effect of his greed upon this planet's life.

Danny Spooner sang The Last of the Great Whales on his 2002 CD Launch Out on the Deep and on his 2006 CD of songs of the whaling industry, The Great Leviathan. He commented in the first album's notes:

Having spent a short time in the whaling trade and a long time working towards the abolition of this carnage, I'm deeply moved by Andy Barnes' song. Written in 1986 it forces us to confront, not only the potential extinction of this wondrous creature, but the other damage being perpetrated on this small and beautiful planet by monstrous greed. I must thank Martin Carthy for this gem.

Maz O'Connor sang The Last of the Great Whales in 2007 with Last Orders on their eponymous Fellside CD Last Orders.

Jon Boden sang The Last Leviathan as the January 20, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Lyrics

Andy Barnes' original version of The Last of the Great Whales

Chorus:
My soul has been torn from me and I am bleeding
My heart it has been rent and I am crying
For the beauty around me pales and I am screaming
I am the last of the Great Whales and I am dying.

Last night I heard the cry of my last companion
The roar of the harpoon gun, then I was alone
I reflected on days gone by when we were thousands
For I know I soon must die the last leviathan.

This morning the sun did rise crimson in the north sky
The ice was the colour of blood and the wind did sigh
I rose to take a breath it was my last one
From the gun came the roar of death and now I am gone

And e'er since time began we have been haunted
Through the oceans that were our home we have been hunted
From Eskimos in canoes to mighty whalers
Still you ignored our plea none came to save us

Now that we're no more, there's no more hunting
The big feller is now gone there's no use lamenting
What race is next in line all for the slaughter?
The elephant or the seal or your sons and daughters?

Words and music Andy Barnes, August 1983
© 1986 Friendly Overtures Ltd.

Louis Killen sings The Last Leviathan

My soul has been torn from me and I am bleeding.
My heart it has been rent and I am crying.
As the beauty around me fades and I am screaming.
I am the last of the Great Whales and I am dying.

Last night I heard the song of my last companion,
The blast from the harpoon gun and I swam alone.
I reflect on the days gone by when we were thousands.
I know why I soon must die the last leviathan.

This morning the sun arose in a crimson North sky.
The ice was the colour of blood and the heard the wind sigh.
I rose to take a breath, it was my last one.
From a gun came the roar of death and now I'm all done.

(repeat first verse)

And now we are all gone, there'll be no more hunting.
The big fellow is no more and there is no use lamenting.
What race will be next in line all for the slaughter?
The elephant or the seals or your sons and daughters?

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: The Last Leviathan.