#00549
The Story Of The I'm Alone (Wade Hemsworth) video

#1108: YouTube video by rrgomes ©2009
~ Used with permission ~

Remember? Yes, I remember well,
The most famous rum-runner of them all;
Remember? Yes, I remember well,
The most famous rum-runner of them all,
It was the schooner from Lunenberg, I'm Alone;
In the Gulf of Mexico she went down under fire,
From a Yankee cutter on the high seas outside treaty waters.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

It was in nineteen hundred and twenty-nine,
When the smuggling of liquor was a profitable pastime;
Many a Maritimer didn't see why
He shouldn't turn a penny; Uncle Sam was dry,
Many a family took on style;
Prohibition made it very worthwhile,
To be a good Samaritan to long-suffering thirsty Americans.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

And the schooner's captain was a wild Newfoundlander,
A hard-driving man name of John Thomas Randall;
A decorated veteran of the First World War,
And a sea-going gentleman adventurer;
And from Belize he would take the I'm Alone,
Towards the coast of Louisiana and anchor south of Trinity Shoal;
Where he would meet his man and discharge the cargo according to plan.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

It was all clear sailing for the I'm Alone,
With the profits of six or seven trips salted down;
The Coast Guard had bothered her a couple of times,
But Skipper John's seamanship had left them behind;
One March morning in the wind and the swell,
She was reaching along under jumbo jib and storm tri-sail,
When the cutter Dexter swept in on the I'm Alone's starboard quarter.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

The Dexter's captain was a very rough man,
He had sworn that he'd never lose the I'm Alone again;
He ran a string of signals, saying, "How do you do?
You know that I'll fire if you don't heave to."
Skipper John semaphored immediately,
"I'm on the high seas, you have no jurisdiction over me!"
The Dexter's captain sent several volleys through the I'm Alone's rigging.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

The bullets tore the booms, the sails, the lines,
Even tore a hole in the Red Ensign;
When Skipper John saw it he was fit to be tied,
At this disrespect shown to his national pride;
The crew said, "Sir, don't you trouble your mind,
We'll all go down together with the old Red Ensign a-flyin'!"
He signalled to the Dexter:
"Shoot and be damned to ya! I'll not surrender!"

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

So, the Dexter opened fire and it didn't take long,
When her guns had stitched a seam along the I'm Alone's waterline;
Skipper John ordered every man to the sea,
There was water on the bridge when he himself jumped free;
Stern in the air, the I'm Alone went down,
A heavy sea a-runnin', a wonder only one man was drowned;
The bo'sun was the one who was pulled aboard the cutter when his life was gone.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

And that's how it happened, there isn't much more,
The I'm Alone became an international affair;
Skipper John and his seamen were all released,
The U.S. Government couldn't make a case;
That kind of violence is bound to happen,
When a law like Prohibition sits up and begs to be broken;
And we still recall the story of the I'm Alone and Skipper John Randall.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

Oh, I'm Alone,
A long way from Lunenberg she went down;
Because Skipper John Randall wouldn't heave to,
On the I'm Alone.

####.... (Albert) Wade Hemsworth [1916-2002] ....####
Recorded by Wade Hemsworth (The Songs Of Wade Hemsworth, trk#5, 1995, Blackfly Music, produced by Penny Rose and edited by Simon Pressey for Good Noise).

See more songs by Wade Hemsworth.

The video above features a short clip from an episode of Adrienne Clarkson Presents (CBC, November 2, 1992) of Wade Hemsworth, with Kate and Anna McGarrigle, performing this song at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1992. Accompanying them are Peter Weldon, Dane Lanken, Joel Zifkin, Kit Johnson, and Danny Greenspoon.

Excerpts from MacLean's Magazine, January, 1954, and Downhomer Magazine, October, 2001 -

The sinking of the I'm Alone caused an international incident. An International Commission concluded the U.S. Coast Guard action was unlawful, even though the schooner's business was likewise unlawful. The District Attorney dropped the case against the captain and crew of the I'm Alone because they were wrongly arrested outside American waters. In addition, the United States government apologized to the Canadian government and awarded the owners of the rum-runner $25,000 and the captain and crew $25,000 as compensation. As he did so many times before, Captain Randell returned to sea following his experience with American justice. Due to ill health, the Port Rexton, Newfoundland captain retired in 1941 and died in 1944.

See more songs about NFLD shipwrecks.


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