Thursday, March 11, 2010

Original Song Project: "West Virginia Side", Jeff O'Connor

(c2010 Jeffrey O'Connor)

Several years ago I went on a canoe trip with five friends on the upper Potomac river. The first morning was particularly beautiful. It was springtime, unseasonably warm, and just as peaceful and tranquil as you can imagine. After paddling for a while, my friend in one of the other canoes said, "Hey, let's paddle over to the West Virginia side." It caught me off guard, because, until that moment, I hadn't even realized that the far bank WAS West Virginia...I had just assumed that the other side of the Potomac where we put in was Virginia. Even though I am an experienced canoeist, I was not involved in the trip planning outside of renting the canoes, and in the rush to get ready and get out of DC, I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't even looked at a map! So, of course, I looked like a total idiot, and we all had a good laugh at my expense as we headed over to the West Virginia side.

The next day it gently rained all morning and we kept paddling on anyway. I loved it. At one point though, the skies really opened up and it began to absolutely pour. However, right at that moment, we were lucky enough to come upon a small bridge, under which we could take cover. So, we parked there, under that old bridge, and waited out the cloudburst while enjoying our fine lunch of Clif bars and Budweiser in cans as the rain pounded onto the river just ten feet away.

That pretty much sums up what this song is about. It originally had lyrics, but I hated them, so into the river they went.

(c2010 Jeffrey O'Connor)


  1. Very nice recording Jeff. The acoustic is well recorded and the harmonica is very tastefully done. The sparse Ry Cooder style slide guitar is a nice touch that really gives a good feeling of being on the West Virginia Side.

    A couple of questions:
    Straight Harp?
    Open Tuning?
    Labrador Retreiver at the end?

  2. Thanks...

    The main guitar is in standard tuning; the steel is in open G. The harp is straight (though we we had our doubts for a while).

    The dog at the end is the hound from over yonder.

  3. I like her too. The way the music comes in on the right channel, and slowly to the left channel, suggests either a sunrise or, in this case, a canoe slowly drifting into focus. With Morgan's observation with respect to the slide guitar, the song can be seen as literal crossing to the other side.

    Are you saying you tried using cross harp, or that you are unsure of the harp player's orientation? Straight harp always seems to fit in with the outdoors and open space and for this reasons seems a nice fit.

    What are the guitars? Still playing that Triolian?

    Thanks for the music Jeff

  4. Very nice Jeff. Really evokes that canoe feeling. It doesn't seem to me that it needs any lyrics.

  5. This song just came back up on my play list. Very nice. Thanks again for the contribution.

    Here is my pretort.