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Thursday, March 1, 2012

A musicologist in love with the sea picks his favorite versions of some terrific songs on our playlists.


Secret Treasures

By Kit Staton

A musicologist in love with the sea picks his favorite versions of some terrific songs on our playlists.
The original article
 this online extra is a part of can be found here: The Boating Playlist
Here are the links to some songs that would be my preferred versions – songs selected for their purity of merit. Also, I urge you to explore YouTube to see some wonderful live performances of all the songs here, as well as on our master list; it will be an hour well spent, especially on a cold winter's night.

"The Lee Shore,"
 by Crosby & Nash, from "The David Crosby Box": iTunes(song title is #39 in album song list). Bonus: Check out this priceless YouTube video of a 1970 BBC performance:

"Barbados,"
 by Poco, from "Bareback At Big Sky": iTunes (song title is #5 in album song list).

"The Hills of Isle Au Haut,"
 by Jody Stecher (a Gordon Bok song), from "Going Up On The Mountain"; this version is wonderfully full on the choral parts:iTunes (song title is #12 in album song list).

"Shenandoah,"
 by Mustard's Retreat, from "The First Album Plus": iTunes(song title is #4 on album song list). An iconic performance of the same song was performed by Paul Robeson, from "Paul Robeson: The Complete EMI Sessions (19281939)": iTunes (song title is #88 on album song list).

"Fishing,"
 by Richard Shindell, from "Live at The Chandler Music Hall, Randolph, Vermont (11/11/06)": iTunes (song title is #5 on album song list).

"The Mary Ellen Carter,"
 by Stan Rogers, from "Between The Breaks… Live!": iTunes (song title #4 on album song list). Bonus: Here's another version, perhaps not as strong, of that song, but it's preceded by a not-to-be-missed video of a ship-disaster survivor talking about how "The Mary Ellen Carter" kept him going. Check this out:

"King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running,"
 by The Coastal Cohorts, from "King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast (Original Cast Recording)": Amazon MP3.

"Gulf Coast Blues,"
 by Erik Von Schmidt, from "The Bluesville Years, Vol. 7: Blues Blue…": Rhapsody. The link for this great old song is to Rhapsody, not iTunes or Amazon. To buy the song, you'll have to sign up for a free trial with Rhapsody. Or, you can just listen for free without signing up.

"Natchez Whistle"
 and 
"Let Him Go On, Mama"
 by John Hartford:

This is a YouTube video of the late, great John Hartford in a very interesting PBS interview that would pair nicely with "Natchez Whistle": iTunes (song title #3 on album song list); and "Let Him Go On, Mama": iTunes (song title #16 on album song list), both on Hartford's album "Me Oh My, How The Time Does Fly." And here are two YouTube performances of the Lady herself blowing her steam whistle:

(good for the distance visual);

(good for the close-up and the New Orleans vibe). Plus, there's a YouTube video for "Let Him Go On, Mama":

It's a wonderful video of a younger John doing an earlier live version of this song.

Lastly, my Irish editor at BoatUS Magazine has a favorite sea song that is magical and well worth adding here: Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy performing the Gordon Bok ballad, "Peter Kagan and the Wind." Here's their moving YouTube performance, which is in two parts:


Of course, the sound quality is usually not fabulous on many of these old YouTube performances. But seeing some of these special videos, and being able to watch the artists that made these songs so important, really does add something very special to the music experience.

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