♫ Black Water ♫ (Redux)

While I was working on my ‘snarky snippets’ post last night, for no known reason this song popped unbidden into my head.  I thought … AHAH!  There’s one I’ve never posted before, and I kept humming the tune, even though I could not remember the title.  Well, a few words came to mind, so a quick Google search gave me the title, and I was all set to write a … wait a minute … better check and make sure I’ve never played this one bef … oopsie!  Yep, played it just over a year ago!  Drat.  Oh well, it’s a good song and I’m in the mood to redux it!  The second version, the ‘pandemic version’ is so much fun!  I hope you guys enjoy it, even if it is a repeat!


Last week I reduxed a song by the Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music, and our friend Clive mentioned two others that were his favourites by the band:  China Grove and Black Water.  Well, China Grove was one that I had never heard before, and when I listened it didn’t exactly make me want to jump up and dance.  But Black Water was another story altogether … I recognized it immediately, and what’s more … I like it!  And so …

Patrick Simmons, who is the group’s guitarist, wrote this song and sang lead. It has the Louisiana swamp rock feel of earlier Doobie Brothers songs like Toulouse Street and Black Eyed Cajun Woman.  The song is about the Mississippi River, with lyrics likely inspired by Mark Twain’s books Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, which tell stories about rafting down the river.

A personal aside … while I have heard this song many, many times and always liked it, I must admit that I always thought they were singing, “Hold that water …”  Ah, the joys of being hearing-impaired!

Black Water wasn’t seen as having hit potential, so it was relegated to the B-side of Another Park, Another Sunday in March 1974. Black Water wasn’t issued as an A-side until November, and it didn’t reach #1 until March 15, 1975.

In discussing how the song became an unlikely hit, says Tom Johnston, the Doobie Brothers frontman …

“That’s a story that could have happened back then, but never would ever ever happen now: Roanoke, Virginia picked that tune up and started playing it in heavy rotation, and somebody in Minneapolis who I guess knew somebody in Roanoke heard the song and decided to follow suit, and it ended up becoming our first #1 single. That was Pat’s first single. And oddly enough, it was never looked at as a single by the record company.

I remember when I first heard it was #1, we were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and we were just getting ready to go on stage, and then I guess Bruce [their manager Bruce Cohn] must have told us. I think we were already aware of the fact that it was getting airplay, but nobody was really paying a lot of attention. And then all of a sudden it became #1 and we were paying attention. I remember I went in and congratulated Pat backstage, and we’ve been playing it ever since.”

Lead singer Tom Johnston became severely ill on the eve of a major tour beginning in Memphis, Tennessee in 1975, which led to the group replacing him with Michael McDonald, who became the lead singer of the band. Johnston was restored to fitness in 1976 and briefly back in the band, although he was sidelined once again in the fall due to exhaustion.  Michael McDonald remained with the band until their split in 1982 (they reunited in 1987, with Johnston).

Released in 1974, this hit #1 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, but did not chart in the UK.  Still, since our friend Clive knows of it and likes it, I must assume it did receive airtime in the UK.

Tonight, I have what I hope will be a treat for you.  I’m playing the original, official version and also one made within the past year, a ‘pandemic’ version where the members of the band all tuned in virtually and played their parts!  Needless to say, they are a bit older now, and of course the quality doesn’t match the original, but I thought it was fun anyway.

Black Water
The Doobie Brothers

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same

Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?

Yeah, keep on shinin’ your light
Gonna make everything
Pretty mama, gonna make everything all right
And I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I ain’t in no hurry at all

Well, if it rains, I don’t care
Don’t make no difference to me
Just take that streetcar that’s goin’ uptown
Yeah, I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland and dance a honky-tonk
And I’ll be buyin’ ev’rybody drinks all ‘roun’

Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?

Keep on shinin’ your light
Gonna make everything, everything
Gonna make everything all right
And I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I ain’t in no hurry at all

I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
(By the hand) hand (take me by the hand) pretty mama
Gonna dance with your daddy all night long
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with your daddy night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Patrick Simmons
Black Water lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

27 thoughts on “♫ Black Water ♫ (Redux)

  1. Pingback: ♫ China Grove ♫ | Filosofa's Word

  2. Hello Jill. I have heard that song on the radio and I loved the music, the sound of it, even though I never did understand most of the words. As you said it is one of those songs where the bits of the tune are hauntingly in your mind. I was amazed in the video of the instrument the one guy was playing at about 1:19 / 1:20 minute mark. I have never seen it before and don’t know what it is called but I love the sound it makes. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmmm … I went back and looked, but I am puzzled too! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that instrument before. Daughter Chris is in bed for the night, but when she gets home from work tomorrow, I’ll show it to her and ask her what it is … she’s the musical expert in this house! Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Saw the Doobies in the late seventies at the Reading Rock Festival in the UK.
    Thin Lizzy headlined.
    Rained much of the weekend,but was a gig to remember!
    When the first few chords of China grove rang out the crowd went bananas.
    Still have a few old photos.

    Liked by 3 people

          • I remember when he passed. I read the headline in the Daily Mirror. I was almost in tears and numb for a week. My folks couldn’t understand.
            Ah, when we wos young!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes … the good ol’ days, eh? Funny … our parents didn’t understand, mine called my music “just so much noise”, but then when I became a parent and my kids were teens listening to the likes of Def Leppard, KISS, Guns ‘n Roses, etc., I likely echoed the sentiments of my own parents from decades before! Some music is timeless, but I think most is generational.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for playing this one again – so much better than the two I feared when you mentioned ‘Mississippi!’ The reason I knew of this was that, as a hip young uni student I was well aware of the band and had several of their albums, including the one this was on. It was their first chart album here, though they’d had a couple of hit singles prior to that. You really should go for China Grove, too – those twin guitars are fantastic!

    Liked by 3 people

    • HAH!!! You should know me well enough by now to know that you ain’t gonna see Boy George here, unless he’s with something aka “We Are The World”, as I believe he was! My daughter was once a HUGE Boy George/Culture Club fan, but somehow I just never quite learned to like it.

      I did listen to China Grove last time you mentioned it, but I don’t remember whether I liked it or not, so I’ll give it another go … tomorrow. Tonight it is after 2:30 a.m. and I’ve had a stressful day, so I hear my bed calling! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes he was, in the Band Aid single that gave your lot the idea. I wasn’t a fan either, but my ex-wife had their big hit album and played it a lot.

        Hope you managed to get some rest, with the delight of China Grove to awaken to in the morning 😊

        Liked by 2 people

        • He was also on the one … “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas?” that I’ve played a couple of times, wasn’t he? Ahhhhhh … that would explain why she’s your ex!

          I did get some rest, though not without a few nightmares. Still haven’t yet listened to China Grove … soon, though!

          Liked by 1 person

          • That IS the Band Aid single I mentioned!

            There were other reasons than her terrible taste in music 🤣

            Glad you managed some rest but the nightmares don’t sound good. Hope today is going well for you.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: ♫ Black Water ♫ (Redux) — Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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