♫ Black Water ♫

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

♫ Listen To The Music ♫

It’s funny how that old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” comes back to haunt me from time to time.  As I looking back at another of my Bryan Adams songs, I noticed in the comments that this one had been requested … that was two years ago!  I thought I hadn’t ever gotten around to playing it, so I decided to do so tonight, but … turns out I DID play it … two years ago!  Who can remember what they did two years ago, for Pete’s sake???  But, on reading through this one, I’ve decided that it’s well worthy of a re-dux, for I love Tom Johnston’s take on it.  And, as it happens, I was exhausted and had a dark cloud over my head then, just as I have tonight, after learning of yet another mass shooting here in the U.S. — this one seriously injured 4, killed one, and among the seriously injured is a 3-month-old baby.  😢  Anyway, I do hope you enjoy the music!


There are hundreds, if not thousands of songs in the world of ♫♪♫ that I love, and yet some nights I find myself at a loss for one that I haven’t already played since I began posting music last July (at the suggestion of one of my first blogging buddies, Mr. Militant Negro) last July.  Exhaustion, coupled with the dark cloud over my head these days, I suppose, keeps me from immediately being able to think of another favourite of yore.  So, when somebody mentions or requests a song that I do like, I jump on it!  Tonight’s song came about just so.  David, who wasn’t all that thrilled with Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ a few nights ago, mentioned that he likes Listen to the Music by the Doobie Brothers.  And so, when I was feeling really down tonight, considering just skipping the music post altogether as I sometimes do, I found this tune floating around in my head.  So, here we are …

The song, released in 1972,  was written by the band’s lead vocalist Tom Johnston, who also played guitar on the track. This was the Doobie Brothers’ first big hit  According to Johnston …

“It was all based around this somewhat Utopian view of the world. The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and hear music – such as the type I was playing – would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about. Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. And of course I’ve since kind of realized it doesn’t work that way.”

As to how he came up with it …

“I was sitting in my bedroom in San Jose. I was doing what I always do, I had been up playing guitar for hours. It was like 2 or 3 in the morning. I had the opening riff to it, and I think I figured out all of the chord changes as well. I called Teddy (producer Ted Templeman), woke him up, and played it for him over the phone, and he was less than enthusiastic. I think it was because I woke him up. But he said, ‘Well, yeah, it might be pretty good. Needs a couple of changes.’ But we didn’t ever change anything. It stayed the way it was, the way I had it. The chord changes and everything we made are the same. In the studio, the bass part was added by Tiran (Porter), drums were added by Mike (Hossack), and Pat (Simmons) came up with a couple of parts and put in that banjo at the end. And it was the second time anybody had ever used something like phasing on a record. First time was ‘The Big Hurt’ by Toni Fisher. But things like ‘Long Train Runnin’,’ I said, ‘You’re nuts. It’ll never be a single.’ And it was.”

Without further ado … this is for you, David …

Listen to the Music
The Doobie Brothers

Don’t you feel it growing, day by day
People getting ready for the news
Some are happy, some are sad
Woah, gotta let the music play

Mhm
What the people need is a way to make them smile
It ain’t so hard to do if you know how
Gotta get a message, get it on through
Oh now momma don’t you ask me why

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

When I know you know baby, everything I say
Meet me in the country for a day
We’ll be happy and we’ll dance
Oh, we’re gonna dance our blues away

And if I’m feeling good to you and you’re feeling good to me
There ain’t nothing we can’t do or say
Feeling good, feeling fine
Oh, baby, let the music play

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Like a lazy flowing river
Surrounding castles in the sky
And the crowd is growing bigger
Listening for the happy sounds
And I got to let them fly

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music

All the timeSongwriters: Tom Johnston
Listen to the Music lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

♫ Listen To The Music ♫

There are hundreds, if not thousands of songs in the world of ♫♪♫ that I love, and yet some nights I find myself at a loss for one that I haven’t already played since I began posting music last July (at the suggestion of one of my first blogging buddies, Mr. Militant Negro) last July.  Exhaustion, coupled with the dark cloud over my head these days, I suppose, keeps me from immediately being able to think of another favourite of yore.  So, when somebody mentions or requests a song that I do like, I jump on it!  Tonight’s song came about just so.  David, who wasn’t all that thrilled with Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ a few nights ago, mentioned that he likes Listen to the Music by the Doobie Brothers.  And so, when I was feeling really down tonight, considering just skipping the music post altogether as I sometimes do, I found this tune floating around in my head.  So, here we are …

The song, released in 1972,  was written by the band’s lead vocalist Tom Johnston, who also played guitar on the track. This was the Doobie Brothers’ first big hit  According to Johnston …

“It was all based around this somewhat Utopian view of the world. The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and hear music – such as the type I was playing – would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about. Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. And of course I’ve since kind of realized it doesn’t work that way.”

As to how he came up with it …

“I was sitting in my bedroom in San Jose. I was doing what I always do, I had been up playing guitar for hours. It was like 2 or 3 in the morning. I had the opening riff to it, and I think I figured out all of the chord changes as well. I called Teddy (producer Ted Templeman), woke him up, and played it for him over the phone, and he was less than enthusiastic. I think it was because I woke him up. But he said, ‘Well, yeah, it might be pretty good. Needs a couple of changes.’ But we didn’t ever change anything. It stayed the way it was, the way I had it. The chord changes and everything we made are the same. In the studio, the bass part was added by Tiran (Porter), drums were added by Mike (Hossack), and Pat (Simmons) came up with a couple of parts and put in that banjo at the end. And it was the second time anybody had ever used something like phasing on a record. First time was ‘The Big Hurt’ by Toni Fisher. But things like ‘Long Train Runnin’,’ I said, ‘You’re nuts. It’ll never be a single.’ And it was.”

Without further ado … this is for you, David …

Listen to the Music
The Doobie Brothers

Don’t you feel it growing, day by day
People getting ready for the news
Some are happy, some are sad
Woah, gotta let the music play

Mhm
What the people need is a way to make them smile
It ain’t so hard to do if you know how
Gotta get a message, get it on through
Oh now momma don’t you ask me why

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

When I know you know baby, everything I say
Meet me in the country for a day
We’ll be happy and we’ll dance
Oh, we’re gonna dance our blues away

And if I’m feeling good to you and you’re feeling good to me
There ain’t nothing we can’t do or say
Feeling good, feeling fine
Oh, baby, let the music play

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Like a lazy flowing river
Surrounding castles in the sky
And the crowd is growing bigger
Listening for the happy sounds
And I got to let them fly

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
All the time

Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music
Woah, oh listen to the music

All the timeSongwriters: Tom Johnston
Listen to the Music lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.