The Lakes Of Pontchatrain


Jon credits Planxty as his source of this one saying, “This is possibly the first song I ever learnt, probably aged about 14, although I think I was mostly attracted by the alligator line at the time. You’ll find this sung a lot at Irish sessions.”

Tellingly Mainly Norfolk reveals Mike Waterson as Christy Moore’s source, albeit from the notes to a later solo album, rather than Cold Blow And The Rainy Night, the Planxty album that includes the song and of course features Christy. I note too the sentiment that it has entered the National Irish repertoire, which confirms Jon’s comment. Another of Planxty’s alumni, Paul Brady, has made this a bit of a signature tune and I’m sure I’ve seen a cracking version performed on The Transatlantic Sessions. Martin Simpson is another, who does a great version and Wiki names a few others, who I really can’t comment on except for the most unlikely version being by Tangerine Dream!!! Wiki also does its best to date this and suggests the American civil war era, with a number of compelling clues. The essential story may be a little older getting a bit of a makeover as it seems a vaguely familiar sort of a plot. The tune is robust enough to escape the obvious embellishments that those I have chosen to highlight above can inevitably deliver and Jon brings out the essential sadness at the core of this. Broke, drifting with the prospect of sleeping rough, things take a turn for the better with the hospitality of a beautiful, young woman. Regrettably  her heart is taken by another, so it’s time to move on again. Sigh!


22 Responses to “The Lakes Of Pontchatrain”

  1. Simon says:

    Sorry folks if you,ve just witnessed me having problems with this post as it missed its schedule again and didn’t go live, so in attempting to fix it we temporarily had two versions of it up. I trust you are now seeing what I’m seeing and the gremlins are back in the naughty box.

  2. Tim says:

    A friend of mine who lives in the area says that the geography of this song vis a vis the real Lake Pontchartrain is all wrong. Makes one wonder a bit about the origin.

  3. Joy Toole says:

    Very lovely thanks Jon

  4. Joy Toole says:

    Have to say that my favourite line was ‘ if it weren’t for the alligators I ‘d sleep out in the wood

  5. Neil says:

    Lovely version of this on the Be Good Tanyas album ‘Blue Train’.

  6. John Biggs says:

    A fine song, very well sung, but is it the right choice for today ? March 1st, St David’s Day, I have listened to it twice and I cannot find the Welsh connection.

  7. helen pengelly says:

    Funnily enough Paul Brady did this on the recent Transatlantic sessions before Christmas.It is one of my very favourite songs ever & Liam O’Maonlie did a brilliant version.This is pretty damn good too!

  8. Priscilla Jensen says:

    Heavens, my first week with you is off to a fine start . . though I will listen to some Calon Lan per the date . .

  9. Priscilla Jensen says:

    PS: NB the use of the tune for the (I believe later, don’t kill me, scholars) “The Lily of the West” . .

  10. mike says:

    John Biggs, you need to listen very caerphilly to hear the Welsh link.

  11. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Mike, I think you need to get your coat.

    It strikes me as a difficult song to bring something fresh to, when there are so many fine versions around but I reckon Jon manages this beautifully.

  12. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    I’m missing the ‘train’ backing track already!..
    and this is Ponchatrain…..a song I would choo, choo, choose to listen to if I was in melancholy mood..
    If I could sing it as well as Jon…I would be chuffed!

  13. Diana says:

    A lovely song telling of the kindness of strangers. Nicely done as usual by Jon.

    Muzza did you get up with larks this morning? You are certainly on form – very witty.

  14. Diana says:

    Ah Muzza – how right you are, it’s the perfect song if one is like me at present – melancholy. I appear to have upset someone – quite unintentionally.

  15. Linda says:

    @Diana circle.
    Seems a very melancholy song for a fourteen year old to learn ,Jon or did you learn it to a slightly more up beat tune such as the Martin Simpson band use on the link ?

  16. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    I seem to be chatting to meself here the last couple of days….but…
    how the song is changed by the ommission of the verse before the last
    (it is in the Martin Version but not Jon’s)…….
    with the verse IN…it suggests some rumpy pumpy was attempted but denied…whereas without the verse……the fellows lust was held in check and they just had a cup of tea and a chat.

  17. Diana says:

    Like this song very much.

    Muzza I am catching up, have commented on several previous to this one and have noted your comments dear.

  18. Diana says:

    Lovely song.

    Pinch, punch, first day of the motnh. Eh Muzza.

  19. Old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Wow Diana….how the MOTNHs fly by!..vest & socks to you me dear.

  20. Diana says:

    Well me deaio I could have written moths and they do fly by. Vest and socks back at you.

  21. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey.UK) says:

    Damn , Drat and throw Diana’s dad on the fire……..I didn’t account for the 29 day Feb & leap year

  22. Peter F says:

    Paul Brady tells a lovely story about Dylan asking Paul to teach him his guitar tuning and part.

Your Reply

Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /customers/a/0/f/ on line 121