Water Is Wide


Jon says, “I learnt to ‘fiddle-sing’ by learning half the arrangements off Be Your Own Man by the lime-light-shunning Barry Dransfield. You can see him performing this one on the Anthony Hopkins / Mel Gibson remake of Mutiny On The Bounty.” This threw me a bit when I heard the concertina start us off. Is it just me or is the concertina a fitting accompaniment to the nautical songs? I’m thinking for its ability to roll the notes like the waves rather than in any old-sea-dog sort of a way. I was also thinking this possibly had somewhat of a Scottish lilt to it and note the earliest version here according to a Mudcat postee. This thread, also on Mudcat is illuminating and the suggestion is that the verses are somewhat prone to float in and out, which sort of made sense to me also. There are certainly a few additions offered and even somebody who seems to be collecting them all. Still, the lurch from sea to meadow and back again didn’t quite make sense to me, much as  I like the images presented. A lovely tune none the less and not surprising to see a Psalm sharing it, as this, for me anyway, also has something of the church about it. With Pete Seeger and The Kingston trio known to have performed this it clearly has a life across the Atlantic as well.

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23 Responses to “Water Is Wide”

  1. SRD says:

    Wiki has a pretty extensive entry with one or two of their sources worth a follow up.

  2. Simon says:

    Thanks for that SRD.

  3. SRD says:

    I’ve just noticed the av, if us ordinary punters were allowed avs we could have a beard competition 🙂

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    I couldn’t….

  5. Simon says:

    You need to set up a wordpress account to get the picture (avatar) and then you can have any (within the bounds of decency, naturally) you please. Mine was somethinhg I lazily grabbed from the net, but you can have a genuine likeness or something you create for yourself. Go to wordpress and the avatar application appears top right once you have created your profile. I hope that helps as someone else asked how to do this ages ago and I simply forgot to respond. Mind you I did have to refer to techy Ben for reassurance!

  6. Nick Passmore says:

    I thought this song had been well and truly done to death in the past, but this made me listen again with fresh ears. Nice one! And great with the concertina…..

  7. Jan says:

    Oh yes, I like this very much, and absolutely agree with what Nick just said. The first verse makes me want to associate the song with other ‘crossing the water’ songs like The Water Of Tyne and Annan Water, although the rest of the song is more in the ‘jilted lover’ category. I like the floating verses too.

  8. muzza says:

    Aha……. so Simon of the long beard and the “Peace man” gesture is “Admin Simon”…took me a long time to crack that!..
    It was me that commented on the “How do we put in an Avatar?”…….
    I wonder how many of us will zip to wordpress and post a photo…………….in my case “frighten the horses” springs to mind!

  9. muzza says:

    OOOOer…….just been to wordpress……….far too techie for me and I don’t want to unleash a blog….so name only shall I remain…unless you go to Youtube NForest82!
    attention seeking…MOI!
    Back to the song………”The water is wide”……I love this one…….no matter what words you put to it…the melody is so soulful…..with all the songs…I tend to go to the links and pick the best bits of all the versions that are presented..and make that MY definitive version. You can see the complications with the next song..”Rigs of time”..the phrase “Bon Alas”..or “Bonny Lass”……where I think “Oh.alas” would fit the mood more completely……………

  10. John says:

    A lovely melody and Jon’s version of the song is excellent. I first heard this many years ago sung by the American singer Carolyn Hester.

  11. Val bagnall says:

    I think this is just lovely the way John sings it.

  12. rt says:

    you don’t mention in your blurb the song Carrickfergus which has the same chorus

  13. Jo Breeze says:

    More about Water is Wide from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
    There is 1 record of Water is Wide in the Library, from the singing of Almeda Riddle in Arkansas.
    We used the Roud number to cross reference against different titles for the song. When searched on Roud No. 87, there are 89 records, under titles including ‘Jamie Douglas’, ‘Waly Waly’ , with many versions collected from Scotland.
    If you wish to see more detail on each record, change the ‘output’ to ‘record’ and press ‘submit query’.
    There are 2 records of the song in the Take 6 collection, both under the title Waly Waly.
    We use the Roud index and the Take 6 online collections in the search for information on Jon’s selections.
    For more information, or to carry out your own search for songs, please visit http://www.efdss.org/front/access-the-library-online/access-the-library-online/115
    If you need any help accessing the library online or have any questions, please contact the VWML on 020 7485 2206 or library@efdss.org.

  14. […] of this link also draws similarities to O Waly Waly (Child ballad #92), which would link us back to Water Is Wide on 13th of September. In all cases it seems to be infidelity at the root, which manifests itself in […]

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  16. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Ref Admin Simon’s instructions to putting up an Avatar………I am tickled pink to see that the lovely Jane has cracked it and now we see her….not only that…but the site has uploaded her pic to all her comments back in the archives………
    You will never see,MIke Harding/the ‘Rochdale cowboy’ or Jane in a room at the same time!

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Only because that hat is too big to allow many in a room! It’s a good pic of me, if only it were a bit bigger so you could see me properly! However, it is the real me… I may be wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion Admin Skyman doesn’t really look like the pic he uploaded… hehehehe!

  18. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Jane….you say that’s not a true likeness of AdminSimon/skyman……..that’s akin to you telling me that there was no Santa!………
    oh – now I do remember a shot of the back of his l’il old close-cropped head when he put up that video of his interview with Jon B & John S.(and I complained that he was too shy and should have at least put in a “Nodding Head shot” of himself)…
    celebrities…I ask yer-what are they like!

  19. Simon says:

    AAh Muzza, Jane… The gravatar thing is quite easy, but posting a likeness of myself wasn’t really the point as my chosen representitive is more a fantasy me. I have the beard, fashioned into an over-ripe goatee, but the locks last flowed a couple of years shy of the millennial change over and are now simply too sketchy to bother with. As for the interview, modesty aside, we only had the one camera and I thought you’d rather see Jon & John than me.

  20. Diana says:

    A lovely song – really liked this one. Like most of them anyway.

  21. Linda says:

    Enjoy tomorrow!!!!!!

  22. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Oh…….Friday 13th but who cares with this lovely song and rendition

  23. Linda says:

    Ditto Muzza..

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