Santianna - Songs of the Seas Explained

April 21, 2021

An explanation of the sea shanty 'Santianna'

The song 'Santianna' is one of the most popular sea shanties. This song could also be referred to by different variations of 'Santianna', such as 'Santy Ana', 'Santiana', etc, and also may be referred to by the name 'Plains of Mexico' due to the chorus. The song dates back around the 1850's and is thought to be inspired by conflicts between Mexico and the United States of America, specifically in regards to the Mexican-American war and Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna who led the Mexican armies against the American armies led by Zachary Taylor.

Like many shanties, many different variations of the song exist. This is attributed to different shipping lines and shantymen developing their own versions. The actual text of most variations are not historically accurate, the song seems to mention general Santa Ana or Taylor at various battles, or favor the Mexican army at various battles that were not actually successful for Mexican forces. Some examples of battles it notes are the Battle of Monterrey and the Battle of Molino del Rey.

The best resources I could find for more details on this shanty are here:

  1. google info page
  2. wikipedia page

and the best resources I found for variations of the song I found here at 'SecondHandSongs'