‘Wash Me In The Water . . .”

Originally posted September 27, 2007

I called “Goin’ Down Slow” a sturdy song when I posted Duane Allman’s version of it two days ago. Another such tune that I happened to think of this morning is “Take Me To The River,” penned by the team of Al Green and Teenie Hodges.

Though not quite as pervasive as “Goin’ Down Slow” with its more-than-300 listings at All-Music Guide, “Take Me To The River” is pretty well covered, with AMG having 133 listings for it. And the roster of performers who have covered it is pretty extensive, too. A quick glance finds the late Eva Cassidy, Canned Heat, the film band the Commitments, someone named Bronco Bob, Exile, Foghat (!), Grand Wazoo, Levon Helm (who does one of my favorite versions), Syl Johnson, Tom Jones, Annie Lennox, Delbert McClinton, Ellen McIlwaine, Shalamar, Jabbo Smith (?), the Talking Heads, of course, and the marvelously named Trailer Park Casanovas. One performer not listed who does a creditable job with the tune is Etta James, who sang it as a guest of the Memphis Horns on a 1999 recording.

But, as is the case with more songs than not, there’s nothing quite like the original. So here’s Al Green doing a lengthy version of the tune on a 1975 or so episode of the television show Soul Train. (The video was evidently used somehow on a Japanese television show, as you’ll see, what with the Japanese subtitle while host Don Cornelius closes the show and the last shot, which shows two Japanese gentlemen watching their own TV. Odd, but as long they don’t mess with the music . . .)

Video deleted.

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