She always loved to swim away


At the age of 18 he was the youngest person to play on the main stage at Woodstock. Born in Brooklyn in 1951, Henry Gross had already performed summers in the Catskills when he became a founding member of Sha-Na-Na, while at Brooklyn College.

With a name derived from part of the doo-wop chorus of the Silhouettes 1957 single, “Get a Job” the Columbia-based a-capella group initially called themselves the Kingsmen and featured a broad repertoire.  But after it became clear that their send-ups of classic ‘50s songs were a hit they changed their name, began to wear leather jackets, gold lame suits and boots, and slicked-back D.A.s, and hailed themselves as being “from the streets of New York.”

Sha-Na-Na’s local popularity soon led to an engagements at Steve Paul’s Scene and Fillmore East, which then led to their big break when (“…We’ve got just one thing to say to you fucking hippies, and that is that rock and roll is here to stay!”) they preceded Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and memorably appeared (for 90 seconds) in the Woodstock film.  None of which is what Henry Gross, who sang and played guitar, is most remembered for…

After leaving Sha-Na-Na (which still tours to this day) in 1970, Gross set out on a solo career and with a few albums under his belt, toured with the Beach Boys in 1975/76.  Having befriended Carl Wilson he mentioned his beloved Irish Setter, Shannon and was surprised to learn that Wilson had also had a beloved Irish Setter named Shannon (probably not an uncommon name for that particular breed) who had recently been hit and killed by a car.

Upon returning to his New York apartment Gross began to work on songs for his next album and as he later noted, had put on a natural sounds record called “The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore” to drown out a neighbor’s blaring stereo.  While glancing at Shannon he thought of Wilson’s loss and… “The song seemed to write itself, taking no more than ten minutes and with almost no cross outs on the paper.”

Charting at Number 6 in the US and Number 32 in the UK, the decisively named single was featured on the “veteran” doo-wopper’s 1976 album, “Release”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 12 January

Shannon

Another day is at end

Mama says she’s tired again

No one can even begin to tell her

I hardly know what to say

But maybe it’s better that way

If Papa were here I’m sure he’d tell her

Shannon is gone, I heard

She’s drifting out to sea

She always loved to swim away

Maybe she’ll find an island

With a shady tree

Just like the one in our backyard

Mama tries hard to pretend

That things will get better again

Somehow she’s keepin’ it all inside her

But finally the tears fill our eyes

And I know that somewhere tonight

She knows how much we really miss her

Shannon is gone, I heard

She’s drifting out to sea

She always loved to swim away

Maybe she’ll find an island

With a shady tree

Just like the one in our back yard

Ah, just like the one in our back yard

Ah….
Just like the one in our back yard

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