North Sea songs

person by Einar Henriksen
Born at Evje in the south Norwegian district of Setesdalen on 4 September 1921, Einar Henriksen signed on with Sørlandet at the age of 15, deserted and held countless other jobs. He ended up as a security guard with Phillips Petroleum Company Norway and published Ballad of the Roustabout and other songs of the North Sea in 1980.
— Sunset at Ekofisk. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

A Helicopter Fell

At the ticket counter I saw the woman stand
loss and torment showing in her eyes
bewildered children clinging frantic to her hand
do not get an answer to their why’s.
She is living in an undiluted Hell
without rhyme or reason a helicopter fell.

In a hand that’s slightly shaking
she holds a one way trip
one they now are making
‘cause someone made a slip.
“An accident is all,” that anyone can tell
without rhyme or reason a Helicopter fell.

When at first they came here
things were all so right
dreams and hopes so crystal clear
their future lovely bright.
Now bereft and lonely, her life an empty shell
without rhyme or reason a Helicopter fell.

The children lost their father
a woman lost her love
it seems as it was rather
a mistake from above.
The price of oil is tolling a very solemn bell
without rhyme or reason a Helicopter fell.

Sun on Ekofisk

Golden sunlight shining down
on rigs of hardened steel.
You find it hard believing
the picture is for real.

A bunch of seagulls soaring
so easy white and free.
The greatness of the universe
brings me serenity.

All my dark and heavy thought
are lifted far away.
I feel I owe a sacrifice
to oldtime sun god Ra.

It seems as if there never was
a storm a fight or risk.
Nothing else compares with
the sun on Ekofisk.

Ballads of the Roustabout

My father was Apache
my mother Cherokee
they had a little warrior
that warrior was me.

I was born in the Dust Bowl
on an Oklahoma farm
got no formal education
but a strong and willing arm.

I am a roaming roustabout
a traveller without roots
the owner of a hard hat
and a pair of safety boots.

I left my home at fifteen
looking for the stars
but all I found was oilmen
I met them in the bars.

They spoke of jobs and money
of fights and fun and girls
of many different countries
of pretty eastern pearls.

I got a job in Texas
and worked from field to field
from Canada to Panama
for what the earth would yield.

I Libya and Lebanon
in Persia and Kuwait
in Tripoli and Nigeria
we did our job all right.

My body is a scrapbook
of what I’ve done and seen
each scar an aching memory
form places I have been.

Age is slowly catching up
I hurt so bad at nights
from accidents on the job
and a hundred barroom fights.

This last one is a heavy task
the rough old Northern Sea
when this is finished I am done
–  I am retiring me.

So fill your glasses all my friends
and drink the liquor down
and skoal to you my little blond
from old Stavanger town.

I am a roaming roustabout
a traveller without roots
the owner of a hard hat
and a pair of safety boots.

Oil Workers

Far from the shores –
where the Northern Sea is chief,
is a gang that is working with oil.

They are working for money –
but sometimes just for grief
is the pay that they get for their toil.

Some of them make it –
but others get lost,
in the fight for the flowing black gold.

Incredible payment –
no, regular cost,
in a life where you have to be told.

They are not heroes –
honor medal stuff,
you won’t find them in who where and when.

They are individuals –
seasoned and tough,
they are what you have to call men.

The Morning Flight

The light of dawn is starting
to push away the night,
a bunch of guys are waiting
for the early morning flight.

They all are tired but happy
they worked out their turn,
so now they will be coming in
with cash and time to burn.

All are gaily talking
of what they want to do,
Jose from Argentina
and Renardo from Peru.

Luigi from Milano
thinks with love of Angelina,
that super cream of womanhood
his lovely signorina.

Pekka from Helsinki
is thinking about beer,
Hassan from Morocco
he dreams of Agadir.

Ole from Stavanger says
“I’ll see you all i kveld,
we meet at eight o’clock
in the bar in the hotel.”


The heavy sea is rolling
against the stationed rig –
not a man is worried,
the structure is so big.

On the great big platform
things were kind of slow –
some were eating supper,
some were at the show.

Then at once it shivered
there came a double boom –
chairs and tables tilted,
went crashing through the room.

The rig is listing heavily
and all the lights are out –
through the reigning chaos,
you can hear people shout.

There is but one decision
that anyone can make –
get up, get out, “abandon ship”,
your life is now at stake.

The sea is full of people
floating all about –
some of them did make it,
a lot did not get out.

The oldtime sailors had a name
they used for all the sea –
they called the waters “Rasmus”,
he always charged a fee.

Toiling for a living
we do some heavy tasks –
but “Rasmus” takes his sacrifice,
and never, never, asks.

The Guard’s Lament

She is standing here before me
a baby at her side.
The only thing that’s carrying her
the old Norwegian pride.

The big blue eyes are begging
for answers I can’t give.
It seems like she is asking
for a reason just to live.

“My husband, he was out there
on that rig that fell.
Is he among the saved, guard?
I have to know, please tell.”

My throat is tightly closing up
and I have trouble speaking.
What I mumble I don’t know
I see that she is breaking.

Her head is bent, she walks away
the tears are freely spurting.
I feel as if I cheated her
Oh, God, how that is hurting.


You cannot make a seaman of a Texan
who was born on the rangy Texas plains,
he was meant to ride a horse and be a cowhand
trying to rope a seagull gives me pains.

I went out here, the place’s disgusting
I am longing home with all my bleeding heart,
The sea the foam the wind is gusting
Up to fifty miles an hour for a start.

I was meant to ride the horses in a paddock
chasing calves around the wide and lonely fields,
not to fool with herring, cod and haddock
and other things the sea so kindly yields.

I long for tumbleweeds for horses and for cow smell
to where the deer and coyotes still are running free,
and here I am drilling for an oil well
in the damned and salty Northern Sea.



Published 4. July 2019   •   Updated 5. November 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
close Close