Thursday, December 23, 2010

Soundtrack Songs (Holiday Edition): When The River Meets The Sea

Emmet & Alice Otter: When The River Meets The Sea

[purchase on DVD]

Rose Polenzani w/ Session Americana: When The River Meets The Sea


As I wrote on my "other" blog two years ago as part of a feature on this week's topic, "if this Paul Williams-penned tune wasn’t familiar from two of Jim Henson’s most magical Christmas specials ever*, it would fit perfectly in the gospelfolk canon." And though it makes but slight allusion to the Christmas story itself, it makes a good hymn, too - as my wife and I discovered performing it for church last year around this time, with naught but the appalachian dulcimer to accompany us.

But though Emmet's story is a beloved childhood memory, it took singer-songwriter Rose Polenzani's 2008 release of the same name to truly bring the beauty of this song home to me. Piano, strings, and sweet harmonies come courtesy of fellow Bostonians Session Americana, who specialize in intimate and occasionally raucous pubfolk, but the voice and arrangement are all Rose, showing why I'm such a fan of the diminutive folk artist. For her sparser live version - equally potent, in its own way - head over to Cover Lay Down, where you'll find it part of this year's set of Secular Songs and Nondenominational Carols.

*The version from Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas is the original, of course, predating the John Denver and the Muppets version by a couple of years - I would have posted the latter, too, which presents the song as a sweet and mild duet between Denver and Kermit's nephew Robin the Frog, but it's been stuck in our car's CD player for a couple of weeks now.

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