Posted by: Corri van de Stege | March 18, 2015

A Song for Wednesday – Stranger on the Shore


Over at Ronovan’s blog, he suggests to post an uplifting story on Wednesdays, for example about a song. What a lovely thought, and how inspirational. Immediately I thought of a song that I find extremely uplifting for various reasons, just right for an #BeWoW Blogshare Wednesday.

Acker Bilk Acker Bilk’s  Stranger on the Shore is one of the most inspiring tunes I know, one that I have cherished my whole life. When Acker Bilk died last year I decided to act on one of my long-standing resolutions: to learn to play a musical instrument and in particular that this should be the clarinet, and that I would learn to play this song. Of course, the fact that my granddaughter also chose the clarinet as her music instrument at school, helped this decision.

Having given up the day job partly in order to be able to write I’m also fulfilling this pledge: I’ve bought a clarinet, subscribed to an online course with Clarinet Companion (which, by the way, is a brilliant way of learning to play the clarinet when you want to practice in your own time) and  I’m already busy practising the pieces for the Grade 1 exam.

Now something more about the song: Stranger on the Shore. Why this song? Why this tune in particular, why the clarinet? Ever since I heard it for the first time, as a teenager when we were all into the Beatles and pop, this tune was different and inspired a longing, a desire to know what else there was in the world, a kind of promise that somewhere on a stranger shore there would be adventures. At the same time the searching optimism embedded in this tune somehow convinced me that promises would be fulfilled if only I tried hard enough.

At the time I didn’t actually know the words to the tune, for me it was a melody full of melancholic promises and wish fulfilment. I learned the words much later, which were a bit sentimental really, about lost love, but at the same time they do have that sentiment of finding oneself in this world with a longing for whatever else there is beyond the horizon:

Here I stand
Watching the tide go out
So all alone and blue
Just dreaming dreams of you

I watched your ship
As it sailed out to sea
Taking all my dreams
And taking all of me

The sighing of the waves
The wailing of the wind
The tears in my eyes burn
Pleading, “My love, return”

Why, oh, why must I go on like this?
Shall I just be a lonely stranger on the shore?

Why, oh, why must I go on like this?
Shall I just be a lonely stranger on the shore

(See:  Andy Williams – Stranger On The Shore Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

Half the World eCoverEven though it’s late in life  and after I have travelled a lot of stranger shores, have written a memoir (Half the World) about the experiences of living somewhere that life took me, in a country that created havoc with the rest of my life, I have written a novel about what it is like to follow your dreams and land the hard way (Notes on Anna), I am still hitched to this tune about being a stranger on the corri bookshore and the sound of the clarinet can still fill me with wonder.

And as far as playing Stranger on the Shore is concerned, I can do one octave, but haven’t learned yet to do the higher notes. I will though. 



  1. I come from a musical family but one that discouraged my being involved with music by my mother. Well, she and my biological father parted ways and since he was a singer and drummer she sort of had a hate for the idea of my getting involved. In my late 30’s I was put in a situation where I had to be the lead singer for a band of late teens-early 20’s, just to keep them moving forward. It was a lot of fun but scary at the same time. This story reminded me of that. For someone with amnesia to be reminded of something is a great gift. Thank you.
    Much Respect

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: