Track Review: Tom Waits and Keith Richards Cover “Shenandoah”

Videos by American Songwriter

You’ve got to love it when artists unearth tracks from the deep and resuscitate them for our enjoyment.

Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys is a compilation album of that nature, featuring contributions from the likes of Johnny Depp, Sean Lennon, Patti Smith, Beth Orton, and Iggy Pop. The list goes on for quite some time really.

For their part, dark poets Tom Waits and Keith Richards deliver a gritty version of “Shenandoah,” a 19th century folk ballad and a favorite for sailors at sea. Accompanied by violin and sparse guitar phrasings, Waits and Richards lead what sounds like a church choir of drunk pirates through a tune fraught with longing and farewells. Waits delivers a nice call and response between himself and his crewmen, and Richards’ guitar section grants a brief reprieve from the somber mood that prevails over the tune.

“Shenandoah” – along with many other tracks off of Rogues – is worth the listen for anyone who is the least bit interested in the nautical life of ages past. For further consideration, if you would like to hear more versions of “Shenandoah,” Bob Dylan does a poignant recording of it on his album Down In The Groove.

 Son of Rogues Gallery is due 2/19 on Anti-. Listen to “Shenandoah” here.


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