Baseball Related Songs: “Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys

In today’s episode of Baseball Related Songs, we pay attention to the somewhat rougher genre in music: The Celtic Punk group Dropkick Murphys with “Shipping up to Boston.”

In a previous episode, the Dutch Baseball Hangout already paid attention to another song of the Dropkick Murphys: “Tessie”. In contrast to “Tessie,” “Shipping up to Boston is a very short song” that lasts only 2:44.

I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Live Single by Dropkick Murphys on TIDAL

The song is about a sailor who has lost his leg during a bizarre rigging accident, and now he’s shipping off to Boston to find his wooden leg. The song itself was written by Woody Guthrie, who was a very prolific writer, and many of his songs were never recorded.

In an interview with songfacts.com, Matt Kelly of the Dropkick Murphys explained how they got to this song:

“We were bestowed the honor by his daughter of being able to go through his lyrical archives and pick out a song or two of unpublished lyrics that we thought would be kind of cool. I mean, we had no business even being able to look at those lyrics – there have been some big names that have been after those lyrics for decades. I know Springsteen’s been after ’em, and then Elvis Costello.

It’s just so amazing that we were approached to look at them, never mind have the approval of the estate to use them. And the reason why we used that was because it said ‘Boston’ in it. (laughs) There’s not a hell of a lot to the lyrics of that song, it’s four lines of the verse, and then ‘shipping up to Boston.’ So it was pretty bare bones. And we’d had an instrumental that we started working on in Madrid, Spain in I think 2002. We recorded an older version of it, we just kind of did a demo of it, and it ended up on a Warped Tour sampler or something like that. And it sounds like a high school band, it’s not very good. So we’ve been playing it live here and there, and so, like, what the heck, let’s re-record this. The song grew a bit after recording it. And not many people knew it or had the recorded version, so I’m thinking what the heck, let’s give it the real treatment and spend some time on it.”

But what makes this song baseball related? That is pretty simple. No matter which explanation you look at, it all has to do with the Boston Red Sox. Jonathan Papelbon used the song as his entrance music when he was the Red Sox closer. But the Red Sox play the song quite often at Fenway Park. Back in 2013, the Dropkick Murphys played the song to “pump up the crowd” before Boston Red Sox playoff games during the 2013 season. It was performed on the field by the Dropkick Murphys before game 6 of the 2013 American League Championship Series and game 6 of the 2013 World Series. In both cases, the band also performed the National Anthem. Yours truly is really curious how that must have sounded.

Here is a short clip that shows Fenway Park while the song “Shipping up to Boston” is played.

The lyrics of “Shipping up to Boston” are as follows:

I’m a sailor peg
And I lost my leg
Climbing up the topsails
I lost my leg!

I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping off… to find my wooden leg

I’m a sailor peg
And I lost my leg
Climbing up the top sails
I lost my leg!

I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping up to Boston whoa
I’m shipping off… to find my wooden leg

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