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Shark Week Serenade: Stereo Embers’ Favorite Songs About Sharks

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From “Romeo and Juliet” (“It is the east, and Juliet is the shark…”), to John Singleton Copley’s famous oil painting “Watson and the Shark,” for centuries, sharks have had a long history of making powerful metaphorical turns in literature and art.

Striking figures of mystery, menace and foreboding, sharks have been prowling through paintings, novels and poetry for centuries. Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman and James Dickey all explored the complexities and implications of man’s mortality by way of the shark and the results are nothing short of stirring. Although they are often unfairly portrayed as underwater assassins with an unslaked thirst for human blood, they are also viewed as majestic and poetic creatures, gliding enigmatically through the dark surf.

Sharks have also made countless appearances in music over the years, rearing their fins in three-minute pop songs and swimming thrillingly through compositions by everyone from Morphine to Incubus.

We thought it would be fun to compile our favorite songs about sharks. Although in many cases the songs on our list use the shark as a metaphorical device to dig into deeper philosophical truths, those truths, like the sharks themselves, never stop swimming in our heads.

Of course, Hemingway may have a quarrel with that.

“There isn’t any symbolism,” he once said, “The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”

In that case, there’s a lot to see here.

1. “Shark Attack”—Split Enz


2. “Shark Pretty”—Game Theory


3. “Ghost of A Shark”—Tom McCrae


4. “Season of the Shark”—Yo La Tengo


5. “Shark Fin Blues”—The Drones


6. “Sharks”—The Tragically Hip


7. “Shark Walk”—Shriekback


8. “Pool Shark”—Sublime


9. “Sharks”—Morphine


10. “Shark”–The Dwight Twilley Band


11. “Dead Shark”–Liz Phair


12. “Shark Attack”–Grouplove