This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Swanee River ( #AtoZChallenge & #BOTB Results )

       Happy Earth Day!  It's a good day to celebrate rivers which are the circulatory system of our planet.  Sing a river song if you know one.  Or just read on to hear about some river songs or some rivers with other musical connections.  There is music in the rivers...



#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter S


Songs, Songs, Songs  (BOTB Results)



        Since we're on the subject of songs let's start right off with the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands.  The song picks were the similarly named "(Floating) Down by the River" by the group Beast from 1969 and "Down by the River" a 2014 release from German group Milky Chance.

         As for my preference I like both of these songs a great deal.  Either one fits my musical tastes, but the song by Beast definitely is the song and performance I like best.  Back in the early 70s after my friend Vernon Clouse picked up the Beast album on 8 track cartridge we listened many many times as we drove around the mountains (often along rivers).  My friend Marvin Lowe was able to find the LP version in a cut-out bin and he tells me that the album remains a favorite to this day.  I would agree with that assessment.  So many wonderful memories of younger days!

       It was a close race and my vote for Beast puts the contest at a tie!


Final Vote Tally

Beast                    6 votes

Milky Chance      6 votes


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More Songs, More Rivers


Jefferson County, West Virginia, State Route 9 bridge crossing the Shenandoah River.
                                                                   (Raymond Whitacre)


           A popular song by Stephen Foster is "Old Folks at Home" or more commonly called "Swanee River".   You probably at least know of the song if not able to sing most or all of it.  The song was a huge hit in its day (1850s) and remains the state song of Florida (with lyrics revised for modern sensibilities).  When the song first came to him Foster was stumped about which two syllable southern river name to use.  His brother first suggested the Yazoo or the Pee Dee but neither of those sounded right to Stephen.  Then, looking at a map, they found the Suwanee River in Florida. The spelling was changed for the song to reflect the way the name sounds when spoken.  Go ahead and say "Suwanee" three times quickly and you'll see what I mean.

           Over the years many other songs have used the Swanee River name in them.  It's a name with a lyrical sound that evokes memories of old times even though maybe those old times were a bit glamorized for music audiences.  Because of the songs this river has gained fame as a U.S. river even though most people probably couldn't even tell you where it is or point it out on a map.  When I was a kid living in San Diego far from the Florida river and having no idea where the river was, I used to often play "Old Folks at Home" on my harmonica or violin.  Undoubtedly you have heard this song or other Swanee songs many times in your own life since they have become so ingrained in popular culture.

           Another river that has been an inspiration for many songs is the Shenandoah River of Virginia and West Virginia.  The most widely known song is the beautiful "Oh, Shenadoah" which is an authentic American folk song with exact origins unknown.  This song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years.  There are many other lesser known songs that refer to the Shenandoah River or region. Even a popular country music group has called itself Shenandoah.  The Shenandoah River and the river valley area are stunningly beautiful places that are deserving of the music they have inspired.

           Across the continent in the wild west of  Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington one can find the Snake River which travels for over 1000 miles through some wild scenic territory.   There are a number of songs that mention the Snake River and some of those refer specifically to the crazy rocket cycle jump that daredevil Evel Knievel attempted over a deep portion of the river canyon.  He survived the stunt though he wasn't totally successful either.  The event became the stuff of  legend so that it inspired mention in a number of songs.

          There are probably at least a few songs that celebrate San Antonio River in the Texas city of the same name. In any event, if you are strolling the famed Riverwalk of San Antonio or riding on one of the boats that are available to visitors you will hear a lot of music playing in the many restaurants, bars, or other establishments situated along this renown river trail in the heart of downtown San Antonio.  This is a must see destination for anyone visiting the Texas city and well worth a leisurely stroll.  

           In the early 20th century composer Percy Grainger wrote a musical piece called "Spoon River" inspired by the popular poetry work Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.   The much beloved collection of poetry takes place in the fictional town of Spoon River sitting along the real waterway of Spoon River which runs 147 miles through west central Illinois. It's a river I've crossed over a number of times as I've toured the country.

         Near Havre de Grace Maryland traveling down I-95 crossing the  Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge  over the Susquehanna River which passes through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland I always marvel at the grand sight of this wide point in the river and the large bridge that crosses it.  It's a rather breathtaking view that I never tire seeing.  With such scenic beauty and a musical sounding name it would be no surprise to find some songs that mention this river.  I can't think of any extremely well known songs that mention the Susquehanna, but be assured that there are some.  Saying "Susquehanna" kind of sounds nice to me. The name is like a song in itself.

       Another river near where I live is San Gabriel River in California.  Like the other Los Angeles rivers near where I live much of it is lined with concrete and flood control devices.  Seemingly it wouldn't be much to inspire many artistic souls and yet looking on Google I find a few songs that refer to the San Gabriel River.  In fact there is even an EP called San Gabriel by the duo Joseph Bradshaw & Natalie Nicoles with songs about the San Gabriel River.  I guess I'll start looking at this river from a different perspective whenever I cross it.  And I cross this one a lot these days..

         Is there a river near where you live that you've never appreciated much?   What is your favorite river song?    Which river would you like to hear celebrated in song?

 






15 comments:

  1. Familiar songs, familiar rivers, a wonderful post Lee.
    Look forward to the next BOTB.
    Have a great day.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne, songs and rivers just keep on flowing.

      Lee

      Delete
  2. Great BOTBs! I used to live next to the Shenandoah and have camped by the Suwanee River.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, so much beauty along the Shenandoah! It seems like a nice place to live. Camping along the Suwanee sounds nice too.

      Lee

      Delete
  3. I don't exactly live near a river. Bombay city was always known as an island city and the one river that is now a river floods every year and creates havoc during the monsoons. For many years , we thought it was just a creek or perhaps an inlet for drainage till we figured it was a river.
    The only rier sons I know are the Swanee River one and the Banks of the Ohio and Red River Valley? I don't know if I've got the names right, but I remember singing them in my teens. It is strange though considering I only saw the Ohio as an adult and had no idea of the Swanee river or the Red River Valley. Still we were taught these songs in school ........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BB, some rivers seem rather powerless until flood season hits. If you went to school in India it does seem funny that you would sing those American songs. They are classics in the U.S. but I wouldn't have thought they'd be internationally appreciated.

      Lee

      Delete
  4. The river Ganges in India is supposed to be holy and empowered to wash away ones sins....Hence there are so many songs which compare immaculate or pure nature with the Ganga as we call it .... there is a Tamil movie song that compares rivers with women in a poetic and respectful fashion ...
    Pasting you tube link here ...you may not understand but it's a beautifully pictured song .... the singer says rivers and women change shape according to circumstances ( as in are accomodating) and both have the power to remove all stains ( in a poetic sense as in heal scars)


    https://youtu.be/wVFvZ9TUsuA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jay, the video is very nice--song and video images. I like the sentiments expressed.

      Lee

      Delete
  5. I live not that far from the Susquehanna River. It's been a part of my life, on and off, for over 30 years. I have memories my then young-son skipping stones. I go down and watch sunsets from a flood wall from time to time. Last winter, we saw a bald eagle occasionally. This spring, we've watched bank swallows feeding on insects right above the water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alana, what a wonderful river experience you've had! I love seeing the Susquehanna even if only from the highway in passing.

      Lee

      Delete
  6. LEE ~

    A tie is always the sign of a great Battle (if not an ultimately satisfying one).

    People of a certain age (particularly males) will never see or hear "Snake River" without immediately also thinking of Evel Knievel. I believe it's almost fair to say that Evel Knievel put Snake River "on the map".

    As I mentioned previously, I now live just a couple miles West of the Carson River in Carson City, Nevada. And I LOVE it here!!

    Below is a link to another picture I took of the Carson River a couple years ago. I love how the clouds above are almost like a kinda-sorta reverse image of the river below them. Is that called "Life Imitating... Life"?

    [Link> Water River Below, Cloud River Above

    I still feel that BEAST should have won this Battle handily but... the Peoples has spoken!

    See ya next time, Boidman.

    ~ D-FensDogG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STMcC, That's a beautiful river picture. That would be a nice river to live near.

      More voters might have turned the favor one way or another. Without my vote Milky Chance would have won by one.

      Lee

      Delete
  7. I'm familiar with both the Shenandoah, and the Snake river. My favorite river song is Moon River. I like Huckleberry friends ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diedre, I've always liked the song "Moon River". Yeah, Huckleberry friends is an intriguing term that stood out for me from the time I first heard the song over 50 years ago.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. Lee,

    The Tennessee River runs through downtown Knoxville which is about 15 minutes from our house. I wouldn't say I don't appreciate it but I don't think about it a lot. Rivers in Tennessee are quite important and TVA has built a number of dams in the area to use the waters as a power source. In fact, DH first job was at TVA and that's the reason we moved here. :) River songs, how about "Proud Mary".

    Speedy and Slowpoke Looney Tunes A-Z Art Sketch

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee