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Mel Green: Songs & Lyrics

The Water is Wide

(Mel Green)
Sunday, July 29
Traditional

Back in '65 we went into Gallo Studios, Johannesburg to record the third and last Mel, Mel & Julian LP. The folk-rock movement was going strong, and Judy Collins had recorded "In My Life", her baroque-folk album. Her influence as well as others, made us realize that we had carte-blanche to try new things on our choice of music. That LP was titled Miscellanea because of the wide variety of music we covered, and, there were two originals on it as well... our first attempt at song writing. 

I had wanted to include this wonderful old English folk song in our repertoire and I also insisted that I sing lead on it, which Mel Miller and Julian Laxton graciously allowed this primarily harmony singer to do. On the recording, Julian who had discovered the power of experimentation and innovation, added electric guitar, and I asked the resident arranger, the famous South African band leader, Dan Hill to add a string quartet. 

So, trusting in our newfound confidence and our collaborators in music, it was with much wonder and joy that I put the test pressing on my turntable, to discover the wonderful string sections! The players (unfortunately unnamed) were members of the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, and boy, can they play!

The water is wide, I cannot get oer 

Neither have I wings to fly 

Give me a boat that can carry two 

And both shall row, my love and I 

 

I leaned my back against an oak 

Thinking it was a trusty tree 

But first it bent and then it broke 

So did my love prove false to me 

 

Oh love is handsome and love is kind 

Gay as a jewel when first it is new 

But love grows old and waxes cold 

And fades away like the morning dew 

 

There is a ship and she sails the sea 

She's loaded deep as deep can be 

But not so deep as the love I'm in 

I know not if I sink or swim