Song of the Day #3,936: ‘Crossing Muddy Waters’ – John Hiatt

John Hiatt’s 2000 album Crossing Muddy Waters is an entirely acoustic affair, recorded with two backing musicians and no drums. It was the first fully acoustic recording in the legendary singer-songwriter’s storied career.

Today’s random selection is the title track, one that (like many of Hiatt’s songs) has been performed by many others. I can’t imagine you’ll find a more effective version than this one, though.

This melody recalls a couple of the folk standards Bob Dylan performed on his covers albums in the early 90s. I can’t put my finger on which ones, exactly, but I think the similarity speaks to the folk tradition Hiatt is working in here. Gotta love this sound.

My baby’s gone and I don’t know why
She let out this morning
Like a rusty shot in a hollow sky
Left me without warning
Sooner than the dogs could bark
And faster than the sun rose
Down to the banks in an old mule car
She took a flatboat across the shallow

Left me in my tears to drown
She left a baby daughter
Now the water’s wide and deep and brown
She’s crossing muddy waters

Tobacco standing in the fields
Be rotten come November
And a bitter heart will not reveal
A spring that love remembers
When that sweet brown girl of mine
Her black eyes are ravens
We broke the bread and drank the wine
From a jug that she’d been saving

Left me in my tears to drown
She left a baby daughter
Now the water’s wide and deep and brown
She’s crossing muddy waters

Baby’s crying and the daylight’s gone
That big oak tree is groaning
In rush of wind and river of song
I can hear my sweetheart moaning
Crying for her baby child
Or crying for her husband
Crying for that river’s wild
To take her from her loved ones

Left me in my tears to drown
She left a baby daughter
Now the water’s wide and deep and brown
She’s crossing muddy waters

Left me in my tears to drown
She left a baby daughter
Now the water’s wide and deep and brown
She’s crossing muddy waters

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,936: ‘Crossing Muddy Waters’ – John Hiatt

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This is good stuff! I need to check out the rest of this album (and probably more from Hiatt generally)

  2. Rob says:

    I’ve been a Hiatt fan since the 80’s. You’ll find gems on every album. He is, in my opinion, one of the finest American songwriters … a true American treasure. “Crossing Muddy Waters” is a brilliant song. For those who are not familiar with his work, there are several solid greatest hits packages, and for those looking for his definitive album, “Bring The Family” would be my choice. He’s great to catch live as well. He used to come to Montreal often, but now he gets here every ten years or so.

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