Tuesday, May 3, 2016

36. Thresher - SSN 593 (a song)

In about 40 minutes, I will be watching Shovels and Rope play in Mexico. The below post has been saved as a draft since about October 2014 or some such......so it may be out of date. Regardless, I am hoping to hear this song live for the first time tonight. I am not holding my breath, but you never know.


I have recently come across a talented musical duo, known as Shovels and Rope. I purchased their new album "Swimmin' Time" and listened through it several times. On probably the 3rd or 4th listen-through, I caught the lyric "SSN-593" in the final song and immediately thought to myself "SSN, that is the numbering for a nuclear submarine. I should Google 'SSN-593' sometime." I didn't get around to doing a search, and during one of the next listens as I was driving home from a football game, I finally remembered "Oh yeah, the Thresher was the name of a U.S. Navy submarine that was lost."

After that epiphany and once I was safely home, I did some research. Sure enough, the SSN-593 was the Thresher, and there is much that has been learned as a result of the tragic fate of April 9, 1963 (more than 20 years before my birth). This modern song tells the story of the Thresher, in eerily beautiful fashion.

Here is the only video with the song that I could readily find so far on YouTube.

The loss of 129 men (100+ men, in the song) was certainly a great tragedy, but there are many interesting aspects of the Thresher's story. It was the first submarine in its class, which meant that that brand new class of submarines was to be known as the Thresher class (until the Thresher went onto Eternal Patrol).

I heard the names John Wesley Harvey and Jimmy when listening to the song, but I didn't think anything of them the first several times through. After some actual research, however, I discovered that John Wesley Harvey was the ship's commander. Further, I read the story about how

I came across this interesting article discussing John Wesley Harvey's life and found the interesting fact that he played football alongside Chuck Bednarik at the University of Pennsylvania and actually changed positions because Bednarik had the center spot locked down. The Chuck Bednarik Award is given annually to the College Defensive Player of the Year.


In researching for this post, I also came across this song, written in the same era as the loss of the Thresher. Musically, I certainly prefer the song from Shovels and Rope.

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