Santiano is a French song inspired by a seamen song of English origin.
The English version is listed as number 207 in the n° 207 in the Roud Folk Song Index. It was sung by English seamen that sympathized with Mexicans during the Mexican-American War.
The French lyrics were written by Jacques Plante. The song talks about the famous three-mast schooner, Bel Espoir II. The song was sung for the first time by Hugues Aufray, who recorded it on November 17, 1961, and released it on December 2. It immediately hit the top of all the charts. The song was adopted by most camp and vigil song writers.
The original English song (entitle Santiana, Santy Ano), makes allusion to the Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna (Santianna), as attested by its first verses:
O Santianna fought for fame Away Santianna ! And Santianna gained a name All in the plains of Mexico
Stan Hugill, The last working shantyman, believed instead that this song originally referred to Saint Anne, the patron saint of Brittany and Breton seamen.
In English, the chant is a capstan (slow energetic) marching song. Hugues Aufray performed it with a faster and livelier rhythm.
The version on this page is that of Hugues Aufray.