This is one of the first folk-songs I remember hearing Sr. Ellen Flynn sing at our folk-group at Medway St. hostel in the mid seventies. Will I ever forget it indeed! It always made me cry so much. She had such a beautiful voice and sung it with so much fervour, just as Mary does here indeed. In fact listening to it being sung here by (the late) Mary Travers of the Peter, Paul & Mary folk-group fame has just caused me to go all lachrymose and to spill buckets of tears. I’m saddened also to discover that Mary T. passed away in 2009. Condolences (belated) to Mary’s [R.I.P.] extended family. Songs of this nature help release so much anguish and sadness – it does me, anyway. Music, per se, has always been a therapeutic force throughout my life. I’ve occasionally sat all alone on a beach somewhere in Hastings, St. Leonard’s-on-Sea, Bexhill-on Sea, East Sussex, England, or Curracloe, Co. Wexford, Ireland with the guitar for company and found myself strumming and singing away all the pain I was feeling at these times, and simply getting lost in these moments in the playing and singing, as people similarly do when they go to the flicks. Excepting though, that I was the creator of my own mood change as opposed to an external factor changing it, say… for example, when one watches a film. etc. It always wiped away the fear, anger and pain and loss that was otherwise locked tightly inside for a long length of time thereafter.
I usually place guitar chords with the music for my own benefit. The Water Is Wide has an interesting morphed history attached to it that’s well worth reading.
This post is specifically about Mary Travers, however I would like to put The Seekers version here. The instrumentals and males singers have such lovely voices. Steeleye Span also have such a brilliant intro instrumental version. It’ll definitely be going into my iTunes library. Eva Cassidy, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger Liam Clancy, Mary Black have all done their own kind of professional take on this wonderful folk-song. Maura O’Connell has also does a pretty similar version to MT. Orla of Celtic Woman, who has a brilliant soft voice does it justice. The list of singers who’ve done it goes on ad infinitum. But Mary’s simplistic rendition of it is so utterly touching. I thought it was even more down to earth the way the guitar was gently put on its side on the ground by her co-singer. The props too are so natural as well as Mary’s voice. I see that she had to stoop a little as the microphone had to obviously pick up the guitar and the flautist.