What About the Water

What About the Water (2014)


55:56 total playing time

What About the Water
Tiny Fish for Japan
Contemplation / Activation
John Kanaka
Diana of the Dunelands
We’re Going to Pump out Lake Erie
Under Night’s Wing
Kilkelly
Upon the Wind
Wild Mountain Thyme
Free and Easy
We Shall Always Remember
After the Storm

This recording is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency

What About the Water
What About the Water
Price: $15.00

Lyrics and Liner Notes

What About the Water

What About the Water
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

This song was inspired by Rob Saunders who lives on Chesapeake Bay. His story is about his grandfather Allan Reppenhagen, who ran a marina in Silver Creek, New York on Lake Erie. Every year the marina sponsored a swim meet on the lake with the finish line being the marina. On July 3rd, 1963, the evening before the meet, the village decided to clear the sewage lines out into Lake Erie. This fouled the water to the extent that the race had to be cancelled that year. Rob’s grandfather was so upset that he called an old friend from the prohibition era, asking what he should do. His friend told him to call his son, Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General of the United States. A law suit was filed against the village of Silver Creek, the first of its kind. Although it cost Mr. Reppenhagen over a million dollars of his own money in legal fees, his suit helped set the political stage for legislation that later became the “Clean Water Act”.

When I was just a young boy, about twelve years of age, or so
I’d go down to Lake Erie’s shore, watch the freighters come and go.
I would swim out in that water just to see what I could find.
A pure act of adventure, leaving all cares behind.
It was later on that summer when the lakeshore changed for worse.
Bitter pools of pollution and raw sewage was dispersed.
It flowed out in that water, not a place could I find,
To swim out for adventure and leave my cares behind.

I asked, “What about the water? What about the lake?
What about the people whose future is at stake?
Think about the children who’ve yet to pass this way.
Should we sacrifice tomorrow for convenience here today?
Think about the water.
It’s about the water.”

Our village was to blame for what occurred that day.
For years industry used the lake to wash their waste away.
They said it didn’t matter, they said they didn’t care
Until someone stood before them and a lawsuit was prepared.
Grandpa Allen was that man who stood up to the town.
Said he knew old Joe Kennedy from the bootleg underground.
He had lake water in his blood, and he would not step aside
When that lakeshore was in peril. This was not an act of pride.

He said, ”What about the water? What about the lake?
What about the people whose future is at stake?
Think about the children who’ve yet to pass this way.
Should we sacrifice tomorrow for convenience here today?
Think about the water.
It’s about the water.

Now my Grandpa was a great man and on him you could depend.
He worked Lake Erie’s shoreline his whole life until the end.
He cared about that water and he cared about the lake.
He sacrificed his fortune all for our futures sake.

So tell them, “Think about the water. Think about the lake.
Think about the people whose future is at stake.
What about the children who’ve yet to pass this way?
Should we sacrifice tomorrow for convenience here today?
“Think about the water.
Think about the lake.

Think about the people whose future is at stake.
What about the children who’ve yet to pass this way?
Should we sacrifice tomorrow for convenience here today?
Think about the water.
It’s about the water.
What about the water?

Lee – 12-string guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar & harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – acoustic guitar & harmony vocal
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Greg Smith – percussion

Tiny Fish For Japan

Tiny fish for Japan
(© 1983 by Stan Rogers, SOCAN )

Stan Rogers was well known for doing much research on the subjects he was writing about. This song came about from his hand over hand experience on fish tugs out of Port Dover, Ontario. His ability to capture the perspective and frustration of the average fisherman in this song still rings true more than thirty years after he wrote it.

Where Patterson Creek’s muddy water runs down
Past the penny arcade by the harbor downtown,
All the old turtlebacks rust in the rain
Like they never will leave there again.
But leave there they will in the hour before dawn,
Slip out in the darkness without word or song.
For a few more years yet they will work while they can
To catch tiny fish for Japan.

No white fish or trout, we leave them alone.
The inspectors raise hell, if we take any home.
What kind of fisherman can’t eat his catch
Or call what he’s taken his own?

The plant works three shifts now, there’s plenty of pay.
We ship seventeen tons of this garbage each day.
And if we want to eat fish then we’ll open a can
And catch tiny fish for Japan.

At the Norfolk Hotel over far to much beer.
The old guys remember when the water ran clear,
No poisons with names that you can’t understand,
And no tiny fish for Japan.

The days run together, each one is the same,
And it’s good that the smelt have no lovelier name.
For it’s all just a job now, we’ll work while we can
And catch tiny fish for Japan.
Yes it’s all just a job now, we’ll work while we can
And catch tiny fish for Japan.

Lee – 12-string guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar
Joe Filisko- harmonica
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – dobro

John Kanaka

John Kanaka
(traditional)

I first heard this song at the Summerfolk Festival in Owen Sound, Ontario many years ago, sung by Friends of Fiddler’s Green. It has been a favorite ever since. “Kanaka” refers to someone of Hawiian heritage. Therefore, this Johnny was a sailor from the islands. My apologies for the additional verses.

I thought I heard the old man say
John Kanakanaka to-lai-ay
Today, today is a holiday
John Kanakanaka to-lai-ay.

Tu-lai-ay oh, tu-lai-ay.
John Kanakanaka to-lai-ay.

We’ll work tomorrow, no work today.
We’ll work tomorrow, no work today.

We’re bound away from ‘Frisco Bay
We’re bound away at the break of day.

We’re bound away around Cape Horn
You’ll wish to Christ you’re never been born.

We’re bound away for Rio Grande
Where the river flows down golden sand.

We’re bound away for New York town
The Bowery girls to dance around.

We’re bound away up to the Lakes
Where sailors live on prime beefsteaks.

We finally reached Old Chicago town
It’s there our ship went hard a-ground.

Oh, haul, oh, haul, oh haul away
Oh haul away and make your pay.

Lee – lead vocal
Vocal chorus – Mike Bradburn, Steve Lindenmeyer, Bill Pufahl, Richard Shields, & Joel Simpson

Contemplation / Activation

Contemplation / Activation
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

Composed in the summer of 2012, this tune has two parts, a planning stage and an action section. It seems like a good idea to approach most endeavors in that way. Sometimes I actually do.

Lee – acoustic guitar
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar
Joel Simpson – mandolin
Greg Smith – percussion

Diana of the Dunelands

Diana of the Dunelands
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

I came upon this story a number of years ago in a book titled Hoosier Folk Legends, by Roger L. Baker. It is the story of an educated lady, Alice Grey by name, who fell in love with the sand dunes in Northwest Indiana on Lake Michigan. She lived out there in a shack along the shore year ‘round. As the story goes, she wrote under a pseudonym of Diana of the Dunes, named after the Greek goddess of hunting. One day she and her husband, Paul Wilson, got caught up in a prohibition era murder, she fractured her skull, and never recovered. Some say her ghost still haunts the Dunelands, searching for the murderer. This is an invitation for her to look my way.

Seagulls and plovers circle in the air,
They swirl and dip in the dancing waves like they haven’t got a care.
They call out to her on the rising breeze
That flows along the pounding surf and through the rustling trees.

The ending of the day is now in store,
Indigo and starlit black descend upon the shore.
Her presence can be felt within the wind,
Her history imprinted on every grain of sand.

Diana of the Dunelands,
Diana of the Dunelands,
Diana of the Dunelands,
come to me.

Diana came to live here years ago,
A refugee from society in the town of Chicago.
They say she was just following a dream
To dwell amid the drifting dunes, a simple life supreme.

Diana of the Dunelands,
Diana of the Dunelands
Diana of the Dunelands,
come to me.

Some say they found her on the beach alone.
Others say they never found a trace, not a single bone.
Still she walks these dunes each and every night,
See her in the shifting sands lit by the pale moonlight.

Diana of the Dunelands,

Diana of the Dunelands,
Diana of the Dunelands,
come to me.

Lee – acoustic guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar & harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – dobro& harmony vocal
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Greg Smith – percussion

We're Going to Pump Out Lake Erie

We’re Going to Pump out Lake Erie
(Traditional, attributed to Captain Pearl Nye)

This song was sung by Captain Pearl Nye of Akron, Ohio to a number of folklorists, John Lomax and Ivan Walton to name just a couple. Having worked the Ohio and Erie canal for many years, he was a treasure trove of song, stories and anecdotes from the canal era. These canals needed portage lakes to supply water for navigation to keep water levels up. After most of these canals closed operations, these lakes became vacation destinations for the growing middle class of the early twentieth century and remain so to this day.

The season is dry, old timer. And water don’t run up hill.
So let’s do our best and forget the rest and keep our levels full.

We’re going to pump out Lake Erie.
We’re going to begin next June.
And when we get done, you can tell by the sun
There’ll be whiskers on the moon.

Our portage lakes sometimes fail us, and often are much too low
Oh, and then for rain we’d have to wait for loaded we cannot go.

We’re going to pump out Lake Erie.
We’re going to begin next June.
And when we get done, you can tell by the sun
There’ll be whiskers on the moon.

We will watch our gates and paddles, Yes, the tumbles and wasteways, too.
They will help us along with their merry song and we’ll see that we get through.

We’re going to pump out Lake Erie.
We’re going to begin next June.
And when we get done you can tell by the sun
There’ll be whiskers on the moon.

For the canal needs the water to keep things a-float
And I never will put wheels on my old canal boat,
For I love the old towpath and anything afloat.
So you cannot make a wagon of my grand old boat.

Lee – 12-string guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – upright bass & harmony vocal
Joe Filisko – harmonica
Joel Simpson – tenor banjo & harmony vocal
Vocal Chorus – Steve Lindenmeyer, Richard Shields & Bill Pufahl

Under Night's Wing

Under Night’s Wing
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

This is a very simple tune about my favorite time of day.

Lee – acoustic guitar
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar
Joel Simpson – classical guitar & piano

Kilkelly

Kilkelly
(© 1983 by Peter and Stephen Jones, BMI)

It seems that every generation finds the need to find their roots, their family history. Today it is much easier to do this with access to many census and cemetery documents at our fingertips through the internet. Previous generations had to visit the courthouses and cemeteries of their ancestors to find this information. They, also, relied on family correspondence to flesh out the lives of their forbearers. In these letters, their distant relatives came alive, with all the hubris, fears and emotions. And that is where they still reside.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 1860, my dear and loving son John,
Your good friend, the schoolmaster Pat McNamara’s so good as to write these words down .
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England, The house is so empty and sad,
and the crop of potatoes is sorely infected, a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister, Brigid and Patrick O’Donnell are going to be married in June.
And your Mother says not to work on the railroad and to be coming home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 1870, my dear loving son John,
Hello to the Missus and to your four children May they grow healthy and strong.
Our Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble I’m guessing he never will learn
And because of the dampness, there’s no turf to speak of, and now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy you named a child for her And now she’s got six of her own.
You say you found work, but you don’t say what kind Or when you will be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 1880, dear Michael and John, my sons,
I’m sorry to tell you the very sad news that your Dear old Mother is gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly Your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don’t have to worry, she died very quickly. Remember her in your prayers.
And it’s so good to hear that Michael’s returning. With money he’s sure to buy land,
For the crops are so poor, that the people are selling for any price that they can.

Klkelly, Ireland, 1890, my dear and loving son John,
I guess that I’m getting close onto eighty It’s thirty years since you’ve gone.
Because of all the money you sent me I’m still living out on my own.
And Michael has built himself a fine house and Brigid’s daughters have grown.
And thank you for sending your family picture, They’re lovely young women and men
And you say you might even come to visit, What joy to see you again.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 1892, my dear brother John,
I’m sorry that I did not write to you sooner To tell you that Father passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she said he was cheerful And healthy right down to the end.
Oh you should have seen him play with the grandchildren Of Pat McNamara, your friend.
Oh, we buried him alongside of Mother, down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man considering his life was so hard.

And it’s funny the way he kept talking about you.
He called for you in the end.
Now why don’t you think about coming to visit,
We’d sure love to see you again.

Lee – acoustic guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar & harmony vocal
Joe Filisko – harmonica
Joel Simpson – mandolin, tenor banjo, & harmony vocal
Greg Smith – percussion

Upon the Wind

Upon the Wind
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

This perspective on the Civil War came from an eyewitness named John Clark Ely of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Found in an author’s proof of a book titled Sultana by Alan Huffman, John wrote numerous letters to his wife, Julia, back home. Like many soldiers throughout the ages, he also kept a journal. Many of the lyrics in this song came from his pen, while at the front, in the prison at Andersonville, or on his way home. Unlike in my song, John was among those who perished in the Sultana disaster. Many of his comrades who did survive, though, were very much changed when they returned home. This is still very prevalent today for our veterans, a hidden casualty of modern warfare.

It seemed so long ago, when I marched off to war
With the bugles blaring and the banners streaming.
The glory of the day soon wore itself away
From endless marching and the constant waiting,
That was marked by rolling thunder of the distant cannon roar
That surrounded all with fear left unrestraining,
Then followed by an eerie calm before the storm
With the battle’s bitter flood ever approaching.

Deep and dark is the human mind, it’s red and splattered, too
And very black are many of its pages.
At the closing of that day the smoke it cleared away
Leaving death and the destruction that war wages.
I was found face down behind the rebel lines
With a minie-ball lodged deep into my shoulder.
Then loaded on a wagon bounding down a rutted road
That took me south and far away from battle.

So, here I am without you by my side
But I feel you’re with me every single day.
No matter how these events and days collide
With every single breath I hope and pray
And I send my love for you upon the wind.

Floating between pain and fitful sleep for days
We arrived where other prisoners had been gathered.
In that simple stockade is where many hopes would fade
Like the autumn leaves. The days grew ever colder.
With very little food and shelter from the storms
Our uniforms and discipline in tatters.
Each day, we counted those that died the night before
As the luckiest of souls in all that mattered.

Yet, here I am without you by my side
But I feel you’re with me every single day.
No matter how these events and days collide
With every single breath I hope and pray
And I send my love for you upon the wind.

The end of war it came like a gentle spring rain,
We marched and hobbled westward onto Vicksburg.
They loaded us like cattle for transportation home
Aboard a river steamboat named Sultana.
With Mississippi river waters raging in a flood
And every foot on deck covered with soldiers
The night sky exploded with a burning bitter wind

That blew everything before its bursting boilers.

I drifted the next day amid debris and decay
‘till I washed upon the shore near Memphis city.
Though I was badly burned, I felt my luck had turned
As I lay there convalescing, no self-pity.
And now I stand looking over the valley and the home
Holding everything I thought was dear to me.
But I know now this day that I’ll never be the same
Young man that you once thought that I would be .

But, here I am now with you by my side
And I shall be with you every single day.
No matter where I dreams might coincide
With every single breath I hope and pray
To send my love for you upon the wind.

Lee – acoustic guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar
Joe Filisko – harmonica
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – dobro
Greg Smith – percussion

Wild Mountain Thyme

Wild Mountain Thyme
(Traditional)

I first heard this song at a gathering of musicians and college students in Wisconsin back in 1980. Robbie Clemente sang the opening phrases of this song and then everyone joined in on the chorus. It was grand! Later, Rob Williams gave me these words he learned in Somerset, England when he was young. I understand from fans who have just recently returned from visiting Ireland, that its popularity there has not waned at all.

Oh, the summertime is coming
And the leaves are sweetly blooming
And the wild mountain thyme
All around us is perfuming.

Will you go, lassie, go
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go, lassie, go.

I will build my love a bower
In yon clear and crystal fountain
And On it I shall pile
All the flowers o’er the mountain.

Will you go, lassie, go
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go, lassie, go.

And if my love will not come
Then I’ll surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go, lassie, go.

Lee – lead vocal
Vocal chorus – Mike Bradburn, Steve Lindenmeyer, Bill Pufahl, Richard Shields & Joel Simpson

Free and Easy

Free and Easy
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

This tune is neither free (you bought the recording) nor easy (the thumb on my right hand is usually numb midway through playing it). I composed it during the summer of 2011 in a fit of pop music delirium.

Lee – acoustic & hi-strung guitars
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar
Joel Simpson – mandolin
Greg Smith – percussion

We Shall Always Remember

We Shall Always Remember
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

The loss of a ship is always tragic. In November of 1913, the loss was magnified when thirteen vessels were lost with all hands in a storm referred to as a white hurricane. Dozens of other vessels were damaged as well. In Dana Thomas Bowen’s book Lore of the Lakes, he chronicles these shipwrecks very eloquently, remembering many of their commanding officers, home ports, and destinations. The story hits home to me when I remember HMS Bounty, lost off of Cape Hatteras, October 29, 2012 in Hurricane Sandy with two of her crew. Though I never sailed on her, I knew those who did and I walked her deck many times during Tall Ship events up on the Lakes. Her last few minutes afloat were captured by Coast Guard cameras and was a heartbreak to watch at the time. It still is, and so to her memory and those ships and crewmen lost a hundred years ago, this song is dedicated.

.
We shall always remember when the storms rage o’er the Lakes
The strength of heart and purpose that each sailor always takes,
And those ashore and waiting for their loved ones fond return
As they search the seething shoreline, while at home the fires burn.
Think on Argus then of Cleveland, Captain Gutch and his whole crew.

And of the James Carruthers That was lost without a clue.
And the Hydrus sank in Huron, she would never sail again.
We shall always remember,
Always remember that great loss in ships and men.

The was the Leafield, built in Scotland, lost off Superior’s north shore,
And the big John A. McGean, Captain Ney and twenty two more.
Charles S. Price turned turtle and Regina fought the storm
Both crews faced death together, tossed as flotsam on the waves borne.

And the Isaac M. Scott hauling coal for the port of Milwaukee
In those towering waves of Huron she sailed for eternity
And Henry B. Smith, she went missing off of Marquette, Michigan
We shall always remember,
Always remember that great cost in ships and men.

There were sailors from the Wexford washed up lifeless on the shore
Near Port Huron the only proof then of her sinking, nothing more.
Erie took its toll in Buffalo, Lightship 82 at last
“Goodbye Nellie,” wrote her captain. “Ship is breaking up fast.”

And there were many more ships confounded in that huge November gale.
Some were written off as wrecks, while others again would sail.
And the strength of heart and purpose that each sailor always takes
We shall always remember,
Always remember that great storm that savaged shipping o’er the Lakes.

Lee – acoustic &12-string guitars, lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – upright bass
Joe Filisko – harmonica
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – piano & classical guitar

After the Storm

After the Storm
(© 2014 by Lee Murdock, BMI)

I finish this album with a call to action. Are you tired of gridlock in Washington, the shouting heads on television and radio, the hidden money trying to influence covertly all of our lives? There is a solution. Step back and think about the United States as US. Not those other people or some influence peddler, but mothers and fathers with their children, your neighbor down the street, your friends from high school or college, your coworker at your job. That is America at its best, where we remember the Golden Rule. Consensus, not confrontation. It is a place to start.

A sailboat surfs on a cresting wave running ‘fore the wind in a raging gale.
Plunges down the surging trough and shakes green water off her tail.
A steady hand and a steady mind on the tiller and at the sail
Will have to do as she travels through
This nighttime tempest hard on her rail.

After the storm, when the clouds clear out
And the waves lie down on a shining sea,
Listen to the song in the rigging and wind
Of a promising voyage to be.

A crested songbird holds on tight to the bough beneath in a raging gale,
Fluffs up to the freezing wind and shakes the snowflakes off her tail.
A steady heart and a steady call on the wing and in her breast
Will have to do as she waits through
This nighttime blizzard where she’s at rest.

After the storm, when the clouds clear out
And the wind dies down on a snowy field,
Listen for her song carried on the wind
Of the promise that Springtime will yield.

So here we’re riding on the waves of information in the digital age
We plunge on through opinion, too, propped up as facts on every page.
A steady heart and a steady mind, a steady voice and a helping hand
Will have to do as we pass through the prime time nightmare over this land.

After the storm, when the shouting dies down
And our words flow, our ideas run free,
Listen for the song carried on the wind promising community.
After the storm when we gather again
To share our thoughts to make freedom ring,
Let us sing a song that carries on the wind
That our promising future will bring.
What a promising future we’ll bring.

Lee – acoustic guitar & lead vocal
Mike Bradburn – bass guitar & harmony vocal
Joel Simpson – mandolin & harmony vocal
Danielle Larson – harmony vocal
Greg Smith – percussion