1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

The Water Is Wide – Mel, Mel & Julian

Ethnic Shmethnic - Mel, Mel & Julian

Ethnic Shmethnic – Mel, Mel & Julian

If you wrote a song called ‘O Waly Waly’ would you expect it to be a hit nearly 400 hundred years later? Probably not, especially if you wrote it in the 1600s and you did not know what a ‘hit’ was back then. Anyway, whoever wrote ‘O Waly Waly’ ended up having (with a lyric change) the song sung by some of the modern world’s music luminaries including Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Joan Baez. These modern troubadours (I’m calling them that so that the dude from the 1600’s knows what I’m talking about) sang the song as ‘The Water Is Wide’.

And in South Africa (which hadn’t really been invented back in the 1600s), we bestowed the honour of recording this song onto the very accomplished trio of Mel, Mel And Julian and they did a jolly good job of it. What has always impressed me about Double Mel and Jules is the crystal clearness of the singing and with this folk classic they don’t disappoint. Aside from the beautiful voice of Mel (not sure which one), there is the wonderfully plucked guitar of Julian and a cello (if I’ve got my instruments correct) and the three of these elements weave a magical 2 minutes and 46 seconds that are as moving as the the flowing of the wide water.

Where to find it
Ethnic Shmethnic – Mel, Mel & Julian (2002), Mlg Limited


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2 thoughts on “The Water Is Wide – Mel, Mel & Julian

  1. Thanks John & Brian… Now for the facts! The Water is Wide was included because usually, Big Mel Miller would sing lead, with Little Mel Green usually singing harmonies, in the fashion of the Everly Brothers, Peter and Gordon, Ian & Sylvia and other duos they so much admired.
    After Little Mel had pestered the group to add the song to their repertoire he was granted the lead and solo vocal task with this beautiful classic, to give Big Mel a rest during their long gigs at The Edward Hotel in Durban.
    Because he pulled it off so well, the song was included from then on and the band also recorded this gem for their third LP “Miscellanea” with just Little Mel and fingerpicking his 6-string acoustic Levin guitar. Julian then overdubbed his electric guitar with his Gretsch Jet. When they had wrapped the session before returning to The Edward for another long residency, Dan Hill was asked to overdub a string quartet (A few ringers from the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra) who added violins and cello to the track). The first tike the group ever heard the entire track with strings was when they received their copies of the vinyl LP!
    Another super track with the same string quartet was big Mel’s “Fare The Well Kirsten” also on the same LP!
    FYIU: All of Mel, Mel & Julian’s recordings were remastered to digital and are now available on CD at http://www.melmelandjulian.com & http://www.melgreensings.com

  2. As of 2020, the Mel, Mel & Julian website has been de-activated. Although some information and links to their discography can be found on Mel Green’s website http://www.melgreensings.com

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