AbaOblongata's current selection is:
Black Water
by The Doobie Brothers
Patrick Simmons, who is the group's guitarist, wrote this song and sang lead. It continued the Louisiana swamp rock feel of earlier Doobie Brothers songs like "Toulouse Street" and "Black Eyed Cajun Woman."

The song is about the Mississippi River, with lyrics likely inspired by Mark Twain's books Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, which depicted life on the "Black Water."

"Black Water" wasn't seen as having hit potential, so it was relegated to the B-side of "Another Park, Another Sunday." In our interview with Tom Johnston, the Doobie Brothers frontman explained how the song became an unlikely hit. Said Johnston: "That's a story that could have happened back then, but never would ever ever happen now: Roanoke, Virginia picked that tune up and started playing it in heavy rotation, and somebody in Minneapolis who I guess knew somebody in Roanoke heard the song and decided to follow suit, and it ended up becoming our first #1 single. That was Pat's first single. And oddly enough, it was never looked at as a single by the record company.

I remember when I first heard it was #1, we were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and we were just getting ready to go on stage, and then I guess Bruce [their manager Bruce Cohn] must have told us. I think we were already aware of the fact that it was getting airplay, but nobody was really paying a lot of attention. And then all of a sudden it became #1 and we were paying attention. I remember I went in and congratulated Pat backstage, and we've been playing it ever since."

The Doobie Brothers performed this in a 1978 episode of the TV show What's Happening!!, where they teach the characters on the show about the dark side of bootlegging.

—Songfacts contributors, Black Water by The Doobie Brothers

1974 - Warner Bros. - United States
Posted: 5th December 2019
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