Karla Bonoff (with James Taylor): The Water Is Wide
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Tim O'Brien, Darol Anger, David Grisman, Michael Manring, Bela Fleck, John Jennings: The Water Is Wide
Indigo Girls, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan: The Water Is Wide
From the Wikipedia entry:
"The Water Is Wide" (also called "O Waly, Waly") is thought to be an English or Scottish folk song that has been sung since the 1600s and has seen considerable popularity through to the 21st century... Cecil Sharp collected this song during his journey to America in World War I.
The inherent challenges of love are made apparent in the narrator's imagery: "Love is handsome, love is kind" during the novel honeymoon phase of any relationship. However, as time progresses, "love grows old, and waxes cold". Even true love, the narrator admits, can "fade away like morning dew"...
This post came in a roundabout way, in that my first song choice for this theme was Shenandoah, and I remembered the Heritage CD I had, which contained a version by the lovely Jane Siberry - however, when I listened, it was over 7 minutes long and a child's voice chimed in and... it just didn't resonate... so I used only Laura Love's interpretation...
However, also on the Heritage CD (an amazing project produced by fiddler Darol Anger, with a terrific array of guest stars) was a gorgeous rendition sung by Tim O'Brien, joined by other brilliant musicians... which in turn made me remember the Lilith Fair collaboration (with Indigo Girls, Jewel and then Sarah McLachlan taking turns on the verses)... which brought to mind an old favorite a few years post-college by Karla Bonoff, joined by James Taylor who lends his distinctive guitar and voice....
All are different and all are goosebump-inducing - as Darol says in his liner notes:
"In my life between the cracks as an art/folk musician, I've always dealt with the metaphor of traditional music as a river connecting the present with our parents, grandparents and on back It's a good metaphor because you can just about tease it to death. In that spirit, I've been moved to try to bring some old songs a ways downriver... They've been alternately worn smooth and built up again and again, polished to mirrors, so we see ourselves in them. They are truly emissaries from upriver, reminding us of who we are and where we come from. Point us in a direction. Are you going upriver or down?"
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