It was midnight on the sea,
Band playin’ “Nearer My God to Thee”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Titanic, fare the well,”
Titanic when it got its load,
Captail hollered, “All aboard,”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Titanic, fare the well” – Huddie Leadbetter (Lead Belly) 1912 Dallas, TX
In January of 1978, a 16 year old redheaded New Zealand girl stowed away on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker the Polar Star headed to Seattle, Washington. After making her way to San Francisco, she met the members of the rock band Dr. Hook’s Medicine Show and traveled with them to Texas.
Four months shy of my sixteenth birthday in 1983, Labor Day weekend, my family and friends headed to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for a cruise on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (pictured) formerly known as the RMS Empress of Canada.
In fact, several from the Def Leppard’s road crew were on the cruise. Kurt Cobain was there too. I didn’t see any of the members of the band, but I recall giving Rick Savage a t-shirt from the Bahamas.
For most of the cruise I kept to myself there really wasn’t much for a kid to do onboard, or maybe just a kid like me. Being fair-skinned I really do not care to lay out turning into a crispy critter, though I love to swim but as long as there is some shade to escape to.
(Some friends outside the “Showplace” on the ship. The other is me with some friends inside the Showplace, Mark and the real Rob Thomas pictured center.)
Before dinner I disappeared from my mom and friends just roaming the ship and went to the bow. I stood on the railing looking down at the water crashing against the sides. When I hopped down, turned around, and looked up toward the Bridge I saw a man in uniform running across. Later I learned they thought I was going to jump.
During the cruise I met the Italian First Mate Marco Nogara. (Marco Nogara with actress Mira Sorvino, years later after he became the Captain of his own ship called the Liberty. He became a regular fixtured hanging around with Ricky Martin and Robi “Draco” Rosa. I remember Michael Jackson telling Marco he would have him moved to the Disney Cruise Line. Marco also wears brown eye contacts sometime.)
Upon the return home I was able to finish a song I had started when I came up with the songs for Oingo Boingo’s Deadman’s Party with Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant. It was a gospel rock inspired song called “Home” later to be performed by Marc Broussard.
Hot damn you should have felt the groove
Like I was swimming in a sea of soul
The sun was rising and the day was hot
And we was all about to lose control
My daddy turned his face up towards the sky
And I knew that there was nothing to lose
I felt the crowd breathe in and I closed my eyes
And we disappeared into the groove
Said take me home
Said take me home
Take me home
Said take me home
The original lyrics for part of it was changed, but I wrote:
Stray from the water
Stray from the water children
You don’t know nothing about this
I had also started working on a song called “Oops…I Did It Again” and later someone requested I add to the lyrics a spoken verse:
Britney, before you go, there’s something I want you to have
Oh, it’s beautiful, but wait a minute, isn’t this…?
Yeah, yes it is
But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end
Well baby, I went down and got it for you
Oh, you shouldn’t have”
I actually started using references to the Titanic in songs, including Supermassive Black Hole performed by the band I named Muse.
A little background on Carnival Cruise Line. It was started by the late Ted Arison who was in business with Meshulam Riklis, actress Pia Zadora’s ex-husband, who’s business was based in Massachusetts where Billy Squier is from.
(This picture is of the cover of a photo taken onboard the ship which lists the names of the ships in Carnival’s fleet. The Carnival, Festivale, Mardi Gras, and Tropicale.)
It was soon after my cruise that Carnival started having a standing in the “entertainment business” and hired Cathy Lee Gifford to do their commercials.
Part of the blockbuster Titanic movie released in ’97 was based on things that happened to me on the cruise. Of course, from an artistic standpoint. They had also wanted to use ideas from Danielle Steel’s ’91 book “No Greater Love” which I tried to talk them out of. They also wanted to use ideas from the 1943 German movie based on Titanic.
Just for the record, I never saw director James Cameron as the script ideas were being developed who claims to have written it.
It would be years later that I came up with the idea for and named the annual Rock the Boat held onboard Carnival Cruise Line for the ’74 Hues Corporation song of the same name.