This song is so old no­body knows where it came from. It was doc­u­ment­ed as an At­lantic sea shan­ty in 1876, and there are sug­ges­tions it grew out of an old Afro-American spir­i­tu­al. So you can bawl it out in a rum-flavored roar, or you can take a twangy camp­fire twist, or you can do some­thing dif­fer­en­t, as with the soft, con­tem­pla­tive ver­sion I’m rec­om­mend­ing by Kei­th Jar­rett.

There’s an­oth­er sto­ry of the song: A lyric goes “Oh, Shenan­doah, I loved your daughter”, and the fa­ther so ad­dressed is ap­par­ent­ly a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure. Wikipedia calls him Ske­nen­doa, an elect­ed chief of the Onei­da, a tall com­mand­ing man with a long col­or­ful life  —  he out­lived the cen­tu­ry of his birth. He fought on the Amer­i­can side in their Revo­lu­tion­ary war and be­came a Chris­tian.

The Melody At Night, With You

There’s a sto­ry too about The Melody At Night, With You, the Kei­th Jar­rett al­bum on which Shenan­doah ap­pears. Jar­rett was pret­ty well im­mo­bi­lized with Chron­ic Fa­tigue Syn­drome in 1998. He says “I have my stu­dio right next to the house, so if I woke up and had a half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few min­utes. I was too fa­tiqued to do more.” The treat­ment has no pace nor in­deed much en­er­gy, but a thou­sand tiny lit­tle sweet touch­es.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. Or, well, maybe you want some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­en­t? Tom Waits and Kei­th Richards go some­where com­plete­ly dif­fer­en­t, on iTunes, Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon.


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From: Wayne Citrin (May 30 2018, at 09:06)

For a bawling rum-flavored roar, try the version by Tom Waits and Keith Richards on Son of Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys:


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