Alberto Manguel on The Wind in the Willows
The Secret Knowledge of Water

Tunes for a Monday Morning

Down to the water

Down by the river, down by the shore....

Above: "Rivermouth" by Rising Appalachia (sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith), who draw inspiration from the folk, bluegrass, and blues of their native Georgia and New Orleans. "We've been working with Mississippi River, Gulf, and Klamath water protectors for years," they say, "and have branched out to form alliance with Waterkeepers around the world working towards preserving drinkable, fishable, swimmable water everywhere. We hope this song and this collaboration with WaterKeeper Alliance will strengthen awareness of water protection efforts worldwide and encourage us all to speak for the wild inside and out."

Below: "The Mississippi Woman" by Maz O'Conner, a singer/songwriter with Irish roots who grew up in the wilds of the English Lake District. The song, a waterside creation story, appeared on O'Conner's early album This Willowed Light (2014).

Above: "Riverside" by Agnes Obel, a Danish singer/songwriter based in Berlin. It appeared on her first album, Philharmonics (2010).

Below: "Swimming the Longest River" by singer/songwriter Olivia Chaney, who was born in Italy and grew up in Oxfordshire. The song appeared on her EP of the same name (2015). Her most recent solo album is Shelter (2018), and it's a beauty.

Above: "Blackwaterside," a traditional song with complicated roots, containing elements from Irish traveller songs, the English ballad "The False Young Man," and 19th century broadside ballads, popularised in the 20th century folk revival by Bert Jansch and Anne Briggs. It's sung here by Irish musician Cara Dillon, who has loved the song since she was young.

Below: "Clyde Water" (Child Ballad #216) performed by American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell. This dark ballad originated in Scotland -- but it is part of the American folk tradition too, having been carried across the Atlantic by Scottish immigrants. The song appeared on Mitchell's fine album Child Ballads (2013), created with Jefferson Hammer. This performance was filmed for the Live From Here program in 2016.

Abobe: "Blue Heron" by American singer/songwriter and bluegrass musician Sarah Jarosz, performed on the Live from Here program in 2017. The song appeares on her new album The Blue Heron Suite (2021).

Below, to end with: "Rivers Run," an old favourite by Scottish singer/songwriter Karine Polwart, filmed in an improptu backstage performance with Steven Powart and Inge Thomson. The song appeared on her album This Earthly Spell (2008).

My Soul is an Enchanted Boat by Walter Crane

Painting above: "My Soul is an Enchanted Boat" by Walter Crane (1845-1915).