Music from The Swamp – the ‘Richard Shindell’ edition

Richard Shindell is one of my all-time favourite folk singers.[1] He hails from the United States but has been living in Argentina for many years. The very first song I ever heard Shindell sing was Cold Missouri Waters originally written by James Keelaghan. He partnered with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky[2] forming Cry Cry Cry and they covered mostly each other’s songs. This song compeletly blew me away the first time I heard it over 10 years ago.

It was very difficult to find Shindell’s music in the early part of 2000. Record stores didn’t carry him and the ease of music purchasing online was still in its infancy. Music sharing sites like Napster didn’t have any of his music then. I can remember ordering the original Cry Cry Cry cd from my local record store then. The first cd I was able to purchase was The Courier. This is a live cd and really cemented my love affair with Shindell’s music. There are several standouts for me on this album.


This is one of two songs about the US Civil War on Courier. Shindell really shines when he tells stories. This song is about a young kid who joined the Confederate army. I couldn’t find the album version. Here is a different live version.


This song is about an American immigration agent trying to get information about the ‘campesionos’ from one of their own. He does this by threating his wife. In the song he weaves a very interesting story while the tension continues to build in the song. I couldn’t find the Courier edition of this song either.


In Transit, Shindell tells the story of a nun who leads a choir at a prison. The story is about the difficulties she encounters getting there. This song, like many of his songs, is quietly political; offering commentary about the issues of the day. Interestingly, he will change some of the lyrics when he performs it live. Unfortunately this is not a great recording.

A Summer Wind a Cotton Dress

Another story, this time about a relationship that cannot be consummated because both people are married.

Are you Happy Now?

Are you Happy Now is seriously the best break up song ever!

All of Richard Shindell’s music is available on iTunes.

[1] This will be the first of several posts covering Shindell’s music by album.

[2] Lucy Kaplansky often toured with Shindell providing back up vocals.