Monday, January 09, 2006

7 Drinks of Mankind: Water

The Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water.
Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina, Águas De Março (Waters Of March).
Tommy Johnson, Cool Drink of Water Blues.
Burl Ives, Cool Water.
The Cats and the Fiddle, I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water.
Francis Lemarque, D'Amour et d'Eau Fraiche.
Frankie Laine, Cool Water.
Grant McLennan, Hot Water.
DeFord Bailey, Ice Water Blues.
Marty Robbins, Cool Water.
The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Jesus Gave Me Water.
Bob Dylan and the Band, Cool Water.

And I will stroll the merry way and jump the hedges first,
And I will drink clear, clean water for to quench my thirst.

Van Morrison, "Sweet Thing."

Yes: in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown.
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know.

Matthew Arnold, To Marguerite.

How still,
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way.

Langston Hughes, Sea Calm.

The way of the dark water is to ponder
The way the light sings as of something waning.
The far-off water fall can sound asunder

Stillness of distances, as if in blunder,
Tumbling over the rim of all explaining.
Water proves nothing, but can only maunder...

John Hollander, Variations on a Fragment by Trumbull Stickney.

These were happy moments. Still more delightful were the moments where they reached the stream where the rows ended, and the old man rubbed his scythe with the wet, thick grass, rinsed its blade in the fresh water of the stream, ladled out a little in a tin dipper, and offered Levin a drink.

‘What do you say to my home-brew, eh? Good, eh?’ said he, winking.

And truly Levin had never drunk any liqueur so good as this warm water with green bits floating in it, and a taste of rust from the tin dipper.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.

And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord.

1 Chronicles, 18.

The sea all water, yet receives rain still
And in abundance addeth to his store

Shakespeare, Sonnet CXXXV.

Things That Give a Clean Feeling

An earthen cup. A new metal bowl.
A rush mat.
The play of the light on water as one pours it into a vessel.

Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book.

A serious moment for the water is
when it boils
And though one usually regards it
merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
for the water—maybe a saint...

Kenneth Koch, The Boiling Water.

A growing number of rural and suburban water systems are owned by a handful of publicly traded utilities, like Aqua levels that might seem more appropriate for commodities like precious metals or petroleum....investors who are bullish on the industry say it it about to undergo a historic change--moving oceans of municipal water into the hands of for-profit companies.

NY Times (30 Oct 2005).

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

Lao-tse, Tao te Ching, 8.

And it was said, 'O earth! swallow down your water!' and, 'O heaven! hold! 'and the water abated; and the affair was decided, and it settled on al-Judi, and it was said, 'Away with the people who are evildoers!'

The Qu'ran, Sura 11.

The entire house will drown!
Everywhere I look, I see
water, water, running down.

Goethe, The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

The continued heating of the atmosphere had begun to melt the polar ice-caps...tens of thousands of glaciers poured themselves into the sea, millions of acres of permafrost liquefied into gigantic rivers...the new seas completely altered the shape and countours of the continents. The Middle West of the United States, filled by the Mississippi as it drained the Rocky Mountains, became an enormous gulf opening to the Hudson Bay...Europe became a system of giant lagoons, centred on the principal low-lying cities, inundated by the silt carried southwards by the expanding rivers...

J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World.

Shelley never flourished far from water. When compelled to take up his quarters in a town, he every morning, with the instinct that guides the water-birds, fled to the nearest lake, river, or sea-shore, and only returned to roost at night. If debarred from this, he sought out the most solitary places.

Edward Trelawny, Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

No wind disturbs our coloured sails.
The radio is silent, so are we.
Julie's head is on her arm;
Her fingers brush the surface of the sea
Now I wonder if we'll be seen here
Or if time has left us all alone.
The still sea is darker than before...

Brian Eno, "Julie With..."

My spirit wails for water, water now!
My tongue is aching dry, my throat is hot
For water, fresh rain shaken from a bough,
Or dawn dews heavy in some leafy spot.

Claude McKay, Thirst.

I asked for water
and she gave me gasoline.

Tommy Johnson, "Cool Drink of Water Blues."

'But do you really sustain your bodies on water?'

'Supposing you could find nothing else to live on, Maskull--would you eat other men?'

'I would not.'

'Neither will we eat plants and animals, which are our fellow creatures. So nothing is left to us but water, and as one can really live on anything, water does very well.'

David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs- commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

And yet sometimes
The wheel turns of its own weight, the rusty
Pump pumps over your sweating face the clear
Water, cold, so cold! you cup your hands
And gulp from them the dailiness of life.

Randall Jarrell, Well Water.

Water Music

Five takes on Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," which he wrote in 1936; it soon became as much a Wild West legend as Wyatt Earp. Nolan's Sons of the Pioneers first recorded it in 1941, with haunting harmonies (find here); Burl Ives' take is on 1961's Songs of the West--it's an odd version, with Ives wringing every effect he can from the verses' rhymes while hobbled by a cheesy "clop clop" rhythm; Marty Robbins' fairly spare take is on 1959's Gunfighter Ballads; Frankie Laine's Technicolor performance became a huge hit in 1955--find here. The Dylan/Band version is part of the cache of Basement Tapes recordings which have not been officially released. One day, maybe.

"Waters of March", from 1974, is on Elis and Tom.

Johnson's epochal "Cool Drink of Water Blues" and Bailey's "Ice Water Blues", both from 1928, are found here and here.

Grant McLennan's "Hot Water" is from 1994's Horsebreaker Star, one of the records of the 1990s I was confident would be established as a classic. Naturally, it's now out of print (but easy to find).

Lemarque's ode to love and fresh water is from 1951--find it here. Cats and Fiddle's "Muddy Water", from 1939, is on When the Sun Goes Down 4. The Five Blind Boys' "Jesus Gave Me Water", from 1950, was featured on this site way back last year. Here's an encore performance. On All Time Gospel Greats.

End Credits

Thanks especially to:
Tom Standage.
Rev. Frost.
Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Radio CRMW.
Bibb Edwards and Ed from the Old Blue Bus.

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