Sunday, July 17, 2016


A friend called and asked if I knew the song The River Is Wide;  I said that I did.  She said that she'd heard the same tune in the opening sequence of the Meryl Streep movie The River Wild but it had different lyrics.  She said that she'd also heard a high school rendition as Psalm 42, As The Deer Longs with the same tune.

Now, I was confused because I know Psalm 42, and had never heard it set to music.

With my interest piqued, I had to go to YouTube and then I realized that I do NOT know a song called The River Is Wide.  When she had asked the question, I had thought of the lyric:  The water is wide, I can't cross over......" and mistakenly assumed THAT was the song!

I called my friend immediately and exclaimed, "It's Carrickfergus!"  I told her that I had loved that folk song for years .

She wondered how all those different songs had the same tune.  I told her that the tune was probably in the public domain and anybody could use it, just like many folk songs having the same tune.

Listen to Carrickfergus;  this is my favorite rendition of the song, performed by Joan Baez:

Here are the sad, haunting lyrics:

I wish I was in Carrickfergus
Only for nights in Ballygrand.
I would swim over the deepest ocean
The deepest ocean for my love to find.

But the sea is wide and I can't swim over
Neither have I wings to fly
If I could find me a handsome boatman
To ferry me over to my love and die.

My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy times spent so long ago
My childhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now like the melting snow.

I'll spend my days in endless roaming
Soft is the grass and my bed is free
Ah, to be back again in Carrickfergus
On that long road down to the sea.

Now in Killkenny it is reported
On marble stone there is black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her
But I'll be singing no more til I get a drink.

Cause I'm drunk today and I'm seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Ah, but I'm sick now and my days are numbered
Come all you young men and lay me down.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved that version on BOardwalk Empire. Do you know who did it? ML