I sure have been enjoying this discussion. I think it is fascinating how personal histories become a part of the larger historical context of an "age". My first sea chanty was "Rio Grande" which I somehow remember learning from my Grandpa, who was the son of Captain Franklin Pond, although my dear mother doesn't have any memories of her father singing anything. And then it was Burl Ives' "Down to Sea in Ships" and the little paperback songbook that had all of these songs in it. I dearly loved the Clancy Brothers' album of sea chanties. Paul Clayton's whaling songs were a real jewel for me. And when I finally did hear L&M I thought I had finally found "the real thing". Early childhood formation (i.e. prolonged adolescence) has a very lasting influence.
But I was trained professionally in "historical critical" techniques, and inevitably, my '60's love of folk music was going to collide with my historical critical sensitivities. And when it did, I discovered that like so much of the stuff of my life from the 1960's, not only did I have a very "romantic/romanticized" view of sea chanties, but a totally a-historical understanding of them. This discovery is now only about ten years old. And the learning curve of the past decade, whether it be with sea chanties or ballads or "folk songs" in general, has been steep, but worth every inch of the climb.
So I really appreciate the way you are bringing together these various perspectives and interests in this discussion (and in all of the work that you do). Yes, there is a huge difference between "the academic study of...." and "pure entertainment". When I turn on the tv I don't expect to learn much about history that is very reliable. But when the entertainment is well-grounded in some solid historical research, I enjoy it even more. And, we are all part of history and history-making, some of us more than others, so why shouldn't we be subjected to some serious study and analysis. Where did we come from and how did we get here and what have we brought along with us that is important. And who showed us the way. I think all of this is important. Keep up the good work.