I was going to do an anti-Trump post about how Republicans are trying to sell 3.3 million acres of public land, but screw it: let’s have some music. There’s plenty of malfeasance to come, and I don’t want to devote too many posts to what you can read in the newspapers.
“Oh Shenandoah”, an old American folk song, is said to have come from the fur traders on the Missouri River; as Wikipedia notes:
The canoe-going fur-trading voyageurs were great singers, and songs were an important part of their culture. Also in the early 19th century, flatboatmen who plied the Missouri River were known for their shanties, including “Oh Shenandoah”. Sailors heading down the Mississippi River picked up the song and made it a capstan shanty that they sang while hauling in the anchor. This boatmen’s song found its way down the Mississippi River to American clipper ships, and thus around the world.
I find it ineffably beautiful in almost all versions, but here are three great ones. The oldest version is first, by the wonderful Paul Robeson, one of the greatest bass singers I’ve ever heard, and of course a political activist and polymath. He recorded “Oh Shenandoah” several times.
This version, by Van Morrison accompanied by The Chieftains, is very different but sends a chill up my spine. This version was recorded in 1998, and I have a hard time saying it’s not my favorite.
Let’s not forget Tennessee Ernie Ford, often seen as a cornpone singer, but that’s unfair. Here’s his version from 1959: