I sail my memories of home, like boats across the Seine

Making her grand debut in Seattle in 1939, her mother claimed that she was born singing. And while Judith Marjorie Collins’ mother ensured that her music lessons began at the age of four (indeed, she proved to be a piano prodigy) it was her father who was her greatest influence.

Blind since early childhood, but interminably optimistic about pursuing his goals, Charles Collins was a radio pioneer whose distinctive baritone voice was regularly heard over the Seattle airwaves. He was also a second generation Irish-American who maintained a love for all things from the Emerald Isle (so much so that he named his firstborn son, Michael Collins).  In fact many of his daughter’s first recordings were rich with Irish standards, drawn from the repertoire of ditties that he would sing around the house.

Long considered a premier folk and “art” song singer (Jacques Brel was alive and well with Judy Collins), she truly gained international acclaim after having hits with a series of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Deny songs.  But it took a a while longer to acquire the confidence needed to become a songwriter.  Featured on her eighth studio album, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” in 1968, this was only the third one that she ever wrote.

Partially autobiographical, she completed it in about 40 minutes, and knowing that her father was sick, she had planned to sing it to him after a three-week engagement in England. Sadly, Charles Collins died while she was away and never got to hear this song, dedicated to “My Father”.

 LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Tuesday 22 January

My Father

 My father always promised us

That we would live in France

We’d go boating on the Seine

And I would learn to dance

We lived in Ohio then

He worked in the mines

On his dreams like boats

We knew we would sail in time

All my sisters soon were gone

To Denver and Cheyenne

Marrying their grownup dreams

The lilacs and the man

 I stayed behind the youngest still

Only danced alone

The colors of my father’s dreams

Faded without a sound

 And I live in Paris now

My children dance and dream

Hearing the ways of a miner’s life

In words they’ve never seen

I sail my memories of home

Like boats across the Seine

And watch the Paris sun

Set in my father’s eyes again

 My father always promised us

That we would live in France

We’d go boating on the Seine

And I would learn to dance

 I sail my memories of home

Like boats across the Seine

And watch the Paris sun

Set in my father’s eyes again

How Sweet the Sound

In turning to yet another ethereal performance by the then-sixteen year old Hollie Smith (from her 1999 album, “Light From a Distant Shore”) it is fascinating to note that this, the most famous of all folk hymns, is performed around 10 million times a year.

With a tune that most likely finds its roots in the American south and is often recognized as an African American spiritual, the words to “Amazing Grace” are derived from a far, far different source.

Written by English poet and clergyman, John Newton, in 1773, the words of forgiveness and redemption were based on personal experience.  As a young Londoner with few religious convictions, Newton was known for his recalcitrance.  Pressed into the Royal Navy at the age of 18 he later drifted into the slave trade and would continue to be involved with it until later in life when he suddenly renounced slavery and became an abolitionist.

However, it was while in his mid-20s that Newton had a spiritual conversion, after calling out to God for mercy when the ship he was on encountered a storm so severe that it nearly sank.  By the time he made it back to England he had tuned to evangelical Christianity and eventually became ordained as a priest in the Church of England.

While serving as curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, he began to write hymns and “Amazing Grace” was written to elucidate a New Year’s Day sermon in 1773. It is not known if music accompanied the verses as it was then the custom of a congregation to chant without it, but it was published a few years later in Newton and William Cowper’s “Olney Hymns” after which, in England at least, it settled into obscurity.

But then came the Protestant Revival (aka the Great Awakening) of these United States where “Olney Hymns” had found their way.  First sung to various melodies it was assigned to the one we now recognize by William Walker in 1835.  Originally named “New Britain” the tune was well known throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, where many settlers were from Scotland, and is surmised to have been derived from a Scottish folk ballad.

Regardless (or perhaps because) of its meandering heritage, on this doubly commemorative day, in which we observe the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate the second inauguration of the President of the United States, it’s a song that is sure to be heard throughout the land.

 LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Monday 21 January

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Was blind, but now I see

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear

And Grace, my fears relieved

How precious did that Grace appear

The hour I first believe

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Was blind, but now I see

Was blind, but now I see

Additional Lyrics

Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come

‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far

and Grace will lead me home

The Lord has promised good to me

His word my hope secures

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail

And mortal life shall cease

I shall possess within the veil

A life of joy and peace

When we’ve been here ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’ve first begun

 

 

Spiritude

Just the other morning a friend and I stretched our legs for an early morning walk through the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge here in Concord. As I sometimes do (and as you see here) I took a picture.

Known as “Great Meadows” since the 17th Century, the wetlands conservation area has been managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service since 1944.  Not that I noticed much activity, human or otherwise, with the thermometer hovering around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Still it was the kind of outing that enables you to reach the conclusion that life is full of possibilities.

If I had been able to apply a theme song it could well have been this short melody by Ron Sexsmith who, as you may recall, was born on just such a January day as this one in 1964, in the Southern Ontario town of St. Catherine’s.  After garnering a reputation as “The One Man Jukebox” in his late teens he moved to Toronto, where he formed a band called The Uncool and began to write his own songs.

Although his first cassette, “Out of the Duff” was commercially released in 1985, the name Ron Sexsmith remains decidedly obscure here beneath the 49th Parallel, his chances of becoming an overnight sensation diminishing with ever year.  It remains our good fortune that he still labours on.

“Spriritude” is the first track from Sexsmith’s eleventh album (he has since released two others) in 2008, “Exit Strategy of the Soul”.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Sunday 20 January

I got a bird that whistles, I got a bird that sings

Loathe to admit it but I wasn’t much of a Dylan fan as a teenager.  It was only after I’d been in college for a few years, and begun to chum around with a friend who had just spent a year in Guatemala, that he began to click for me.

My buddy was renting a room at Charlesgate East, a Romanesque Revival survivor from the 19th Century.  In its day it was considered the most luxurious hotel on the eastern seaboard, before becoming a women’s seminary, then a Boston University dorm, then an Emerson College dorm and finally a rooming house with a sketchy reputation for disreputable activity and paranormal phenomena.

These days, of course, it houses fashionable condominiums but when my friend lived there it was a haven for struggling artists, recent immigrants and down-and-outers, all of which suited him to a tee. The reason he’d ended up in Guatemala was because he’d been working on an oil tanker and decided to jump ship there. Now he was pursuing a degree and living a rather Spartan existence with a limited wardrobe, a decent record collection and a first rate espresso machine.

No food, just coffee, and I fondly remember wandering down one of those grand tenement halls late, late one night with a hefty can of Medaglia D’Oro, knocking on people’s doors in search of a can opener. We ultimately found ourselves caffeinated enough for any endeavor save for sitting still and moved on to who knows where.  But before we did we intently listened to both sides of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” Dylan’s second studio album that will reach the half-century mark this May.

Featuring classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Girl from the North Country” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and (especially) “Don’t Think Twice it’s All Right,” Bob Dylan suddenly made perfect sense (I was certainly up for it) and I have been a great fan of his earlier records ever since.  Still, the track that most impressed me was “Corrina, Corrina” … and who knew it had such a history?

A song with various traditional roots it was first recorded as “Corrine, Corrina” by Bo Carter in 1928, then by the Mississippi Sheiks in 1930, and then significantly by Roy Newman and His Boys in 1935, on what is the first use of an electrically amplified guitar found on a recording. By the 1940s it had become a Blues standard and thanks to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys it became a Western Swing and Cajun standard as well.

It was Dylan who renamed it “Corrina, Corrina” and readapted it as an acoustic folk number by lifting the melody and some of the lyrics from a 1927 Robert Johnson song called “Stones in My Passway” and variations on this version have since been released by Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Eric Clapton….And now it’s time for another cup of coffee.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 19 January

Corrina, Corrina

 Corrina, Corrina

Gal, where you been so long?

Corrina, Corrina

Gal where you been so long?

I been worr’in’ about you, baby

Baby, please come home

 I got a bird that whistles

I got a bird that sings

I got a bird that whistles

I got a bird that sings

But I ain’t a-got Corrina

Life don’t mean a thing

Corrina, Corrina

Gal, you’re on my mind

Corrina, Corrina

Gal, you’re on my mind

I’m a-thinkin’ about you, baby

I just can’t keep from crying

 

Pardon me, haven’t we met?

A highly regarded jazz-guitarist, who happened to have backed Dylan on his 1965 acoustic-to-electric transition album “Bringing It All Back Home,” his five-decade musical career was one of those that flourished outside the box of categorization.

Some will remember him for his fine re-workings of Beatles classics (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” “I’ve Just Seen a Face” “Penny Lane” “With a Little Help From My Friends” are a few), and Paul McCartney famously requested that he perform his version of “Blackbird” at Lennon and McCartney’s induction ceremony into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

But Kenny Rankin, who was born in 1940 in Washington Heights, NY, was also a songwriter in his own right.  Citing Laura Nyro, whom he met in Greenwich Village in the early ‘60s as his most abiding influence, he was a pretty good one at that. Many of his songs were covered by the rarified likes of: Mel Torme, Stan Getz (who referred to him as “a horn with a heartbeat”), Carmen McRae, Georgie Fame and Peggy Lee.

By all accounts Rankin, whose musical tastes were incredibly eclectic, was an interesting man, and he also had some interesting friends, including Johnny Carson (Rankin appeared on the Tonight Show more than 20 times and Carson wrote the liner notes to his debut album), Helen Reddy (who scored a follow-up hit to “I am Woman” with his song, “Peaceful”) and comedian, George Carlin.

Rankin had opened for Carlin at a Broadway theater in 1972 and they quickly became pals, frequently touring together throughout the ‘70s and beyond. After Carlin died from heart failure in June 2008, Rankin sang at his memorial service. Sadly he himself died almost exactly a year later and just three weeks after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

This song comes from Kenny Rankin’s 1974 album, “Silver Morning” and was later covered by both Mel Torme and Carmen McRae.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 18 January 

Haven’t We Met?

I’ve ordered some rain for tomorrow

The sky will be sunny but wet

And out of nowhere, you’re suddenly there

And I say yeah,

Pardon me, haven’t we met?

 I’ve ordered some sunshine with showers

And I’ve got my scenery set

Right there with a thump our umbrellas gonna’ bump

And I say yeah,

Yeah, pardon me, haven’t we met?

 Accidents can happen

And into one I’m gonna slide

There’s a good chance to get my hands

On a little romance,

When two hearts collide

 And I know that’s just how it happened

When Romeo met Juliet

Somewhere I read that old Romeo said

Pardon me, haven’t we met?

 And I know that’s just how it happened

When Romeo met Juliet

Somewhere I read that old Romeo said

Pardon me,

Oh he said, pardon me

He said, pardon me, haven’t we met?

 

Don’t it make my brown eyes blue

The youngest of eight children, and the only member of her family to have been born in a hospital. Brenda Gail Webb first saw the light of day in Butcher Holler, Kentucky in 1951.  At the age of four the Webb family moved to Wabash, Indiana.

Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, even as a small child, she was encouraged to overcome an innate shyness by singing for household visitors.  Naturally there were times when she was in need of inspiration, which was when she looked to her eldest sister (by 16 years), who had already established herself as a country singer and was known to the world as…Loretta Lynn.

While still in high school, Brenda began to tour with Loretta during summer vacations, signing with her sister’s record label soon after graduation.  Seeing as it (Decca Records) was also Brenda Lee’s label, the producers requested a name change and it was Loretta who suggested the name ‘Crystal’ after noticing a sign for the Krystal hamburger chain.

So Brenda Gail Webb, with the beautiful voice, became Crystal Gayle, later voted one of the most beautiful people in the world and famous for her astonishingly lush, floor-length hair. And though she would accrue eight Number One country hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s it was this atypical jazz-flavored ballad that most of us remember her for.

Written with Shirley Bassey in mind, it was snapped up by producer, Allen Reynolds, after songwriter, Richard Leigh sang it during an impromptu sing-along. Reynolds then encouraged Gayle to give it a go, later remembering how…“It was just one of those charmed sessions. We presented the song to the musicians and after the third run-through we ran the tape. Everything on that recording is the original take as it went down, except the string section I added later.”

First featured as a track on her 1977 album, “We Must Believe in Magic”, the song quickly became the blue-eyed Gayle’s biggest hit, especially after it crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, where it reached Number 2.

Perhaps more significantly, “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” enabled Crystal Gayle to become the first female country artist in history to have a certified platinum album, guaranteeing her a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where her star shines brightly to this day…not far from big sister, Loretta’s.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 17 January 

Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Don’t know when I’ve been so blue

Don’t know what’s come over you

You’ve found someone new

And don’t it make my brown eyes blue

I’ll be fine when you’re gone

I’ll just cry all night long

Say it isn’t true

And don’t it make my brown eyes blue

Tell me no secrets, tell me some lies

Give me no reasons, give me alibis

Tell me you love me and don’t make me cry

Say anything but don’t say goodbye

I didn’t mean to treat you bad

Didn’t know just what I had

But, honey, now I do

And don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes blue

Don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes blue

Don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes

Don’t it make my brown eyes blue

Victoria was my Queen

Featured as the opening track on the Kinks’ 1969 concept album, “Arthur – Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire” (released the same year as the Who’s “Tommy”) “Victoria” wasn’t a major hit by traditional Kinks standards, charting at Number 62 in the US and Number 33 in the UK.

Yet it’s the kind of song that Raymond Douglas Davies will long be remembered for: a keenly satirical look at “preserving the old ways from being abused,” artfully combined with Chuck Berry-like guitar riffs and Elgar-like brass and string crescendos.

Brilliant, articulate, witty, innovative, decidedly quirky and … bipolar, the man even has a heroic streak, as was widely revealed when Davies was shot in the leg while chasing purse-snatching thieves in New Orleans’ French Quarter, less than a week after being named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her (current) Royal Majesty. God save the village green.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 16 January

Victoria

 Long ago life was clean

Sex was bad and obscene

And the rich were so mean

Stately homes for the lords

Croquet lawns, village greens

Victoria was my Queen

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria

 I was born, lucky me

In a land that I love

Though I am poor, I am free

When I grow I shall fight

For this land I shall die

Let her sun never set

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria

 Land of hope and gloria

Land of my Victoria

Land of hope and gloria

Land of my Victoria

Victoria, ‘toria

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria

Canada to India

Australia to Cornwall

Singapore to Hong Kong

From the west to the east

From the rich to the poor

Victoria loved them all

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria

Victoria, Victoria, Victoria

Putting on a show for you to see

Session musician, soloist, sideman extraordinaire, he’s a man I’d like to meet one day, just to say that I’m three degrees of separation from virtually every major popular music performer of the past 50 years…and then some.  Born Claude Russell Bridges in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1942 he learned piano at a very young age.  Because OK was then a dry state with no laws to prevent it, he was already a regular nightclub performer by the time he entered Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School

At the age of 17 he made his way to Los Angeles, where there were laws to prevent minors from entering nightclubs.  So the talented young pianist became accustomed to borrowing IDs and union cards and eventually adopted the name Leon Russell.

Soon he joined the incredibly versatile session group, the Wrecking Crew, and spent most of the ’60s learning how to adapt to virtually every type of popular music genre and in every recording style, including film scores, advertising jingles and theme songs while playing back-up for legions of artists, from top drawer (e.g. backing the Beach Boys on their seminal album, “Pet Sounds” and helping Phil Spector to create his “Wall of Sound”) to, well, lower shelf (backing the likes of Nancy Sinatra and the Partridge Family).

By decade’s end, Russell had branched out as a successful songwriter, arranger and premier sideman.  But he also suffered from stage fright and it wasn’t until the early ‘70s that he was able to make the leap to world-class live performer.  He did so by adopting a rather cosmic stage persona with pastel colored top hat and flowing hair and beard, whom he referred to as the “Master of Time and Space.”

Freaky?  Perhaps, but it worked in a huge way and his eponymous debut album included backup from a few wayward types from across the pond, including Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, two Beatles and three Stones.

Here’s the refreshingly unconventional opening track to Leon Russell’s third solo album, “Carney”  released as a single in 1972 and hitting Number 11 on the Billboard Charts. Although its B-Side (“This Masquerade”) has out-endured it, “Tight Rope” remains the Master of Space and Time’s biggest solo hit.

LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Tuesday 15 January

Tight Rope

 I’m up on the tight wire, one side’s ice and one is fire

It’s a circus game with you and me

I’m up on the tightrope, one side’s hate and one is hope

But the top hat on my head is all you see

 And the wire seems to be the only place for me

A comedy of errors and I’m falling

Like a rubberneck giraffe, you look into my past

Well, baby you’re just too blind to see

 I’m up in the spotlight, oh does it feel right

The altitude seems to get to me

I’m up on the tight wire linked by life and the funeral pyre

Putting on a show for you to see

 Like a rubberneck giraffe, you look into my past

Well, baby you’re just too blind to see

I’m up in the spotlight, oh does it feel right

The altitude really gets to me

 I’m up on the tight wire linked by life and the funeral pyre

Putting on a show for you to see…

What a tale your thoughts could tell

It’s certainly one of his most personal songs, about the breakup of his marriage, and he said it came to him one summer while languishing in his empty house in Toronto.  It has also become one of the most covered numbers in popular music history, including recordings by Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Don McLean, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, Kenny Rogers, Liza Minnelli, etc.…then there are the disco versions.

Born in Orillia, near Ontario’s Lake Simcoe in 1938 and long hailed as Canada’s greatest songwriter, Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. is a man who has remained true to his Canadian roots, residing there to this day.  In a career spanning over half a century, and despite nearly dying from an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2002 that left him in a coma for six weeks, he has released dozens of albums and still continues to perform.

Although many a young wanderer shivering “cold on the shoulder” in “the early morning rain” on a not-so “carefree highway,” has Gordon Lightfoot to thank for that abiding tune strumming through his or her head, this, his first recording to appear on the Billboard Charts, was very much a surprise hit.

First included on his 1970 album, “Sit Down Young Stranger” it reached Number 5 in the US, Number 30 in the UK and was his first Number 1 hit in Canada.  Recognizing an opportunity, the record label quickly made it the album’s cover song, and the LP was, of course, renamed to… “If You Could Read My Mind”

 LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Monday 14 January

If You Could Read My Mind

 If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

You know that ghost is me

And I will never be set free

As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see

 If I could read your mind, love

What a tale your thoughts could tell

Just like a paperback novel

The kind the drugstores sell

When you reach the part where the heartaches come

The hero would be me

But heroes often fail

And you won’t read that book again

Because the ending’s just too hard to take

I walk away like a movie star

Who gets burned in a three-way script

Enter number two:

A movie queen to play the scene

Of bringing all the good things out in me

But for now, love, let’s be real

I never thought I could act this way

And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it

I don’t know where we went wrong

But the feeling’s gone

And I just can’t get it back

 If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

But stories always end

And if you read between the lines

You’ll know that I’m just tryin’ to understand

The feelings that you lack

I never thought I could feel this way

And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it

I don’t know where we went wrong

But the feelings gone

And I just can’t get it back

 

Just see the Holy Ghost lookin’ for me

It was the Facebook “Timeline” (along with this blog) that led me to figure out my scanner and reclaim at least a portion of my considerable collection of old photographs, many obscured for years in a wall of crumbling photo albums.  Like this one for instance, taken of a piece of wall-art in the Boston University Student Union in 1983.

Long gone now, like many of its subjects, it was made up dozens of plaster cast faces of “BU people.” Living far from Boston at the time, I’d made a special trip to see it because one of those faces was that of my dear friend and mentor, Thelma Brown, a petite widow who was in her late 60s when I knew her in the late ‘70s…that’s her, front and center.

Five mornings a week, from 1977 – 1980, Thelma and I would prepare breakfast for over a thousand students at the BU West Campus complex. Institutional cooking is a far cry from culinary artisanship of course, and my skills remain limited, but she helped me to discover a sense of pride in my work that I still retain.

Although catering company contracts came and went, Thelma remained a part of that BU community for quite some time and she told me of another “coadjutant” she’d had back in the 1950s who was then working on his PhD in Theology.

“Martin was a good worker, but very quiet,” she said. “I had no idea he’d go so far, and as a speaker no less!”

His full name was Martin Luther King, Jr. and I am fully confident that he too learned a great deal from Thelma Brown. In my life there have been few finer role models.

And in honor of that theology student whose birthday is actually on Tuesday, here’s an African-American spiritual that relates to both the Old and New Testaments. The verses reflect the Israelites’ escape out of Egypt as found in Exodus 14 and the chorus refers to healing as in John 5:4.

It’s claimed that songs such as “Wade in the Water” contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and which route to take to make their way to freedom. As sung by Eva Cassidy, this song’s recommendation was to leave dry land and take to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one’s trail.  It was included on her “debut” studio album, released in 1997, a year after her untimely death from melanoma.

LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Sunday 13 January 

Wade in the Water

Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Who’s that young girl dressed in red?

God’s a-gonna trouble the water

Must be the children that Moses led

God’s a-gonna trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Who’s that young girl dressed in white?

Wade in the Water

Must be the Children of Israelites

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Who’s that young girl dressed in blue?

Wade in the water

Must be the Children that’s comin’ through

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed

Wade in the water

Just see the Holy Ghost lookin’ for me

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Alternative verses:

 Jordan’s water is chilly and cold

God’s gonna trouble the water

It chills the body, but not the soul

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

If you get there before I do

God’s gonna trouble the water

Tell all of my friends I’m coming too

God’s gonna’ trouble the water