Have you ever heard a song that just pulls at your soul. That cries out to you, that really sings to your heart? Deep River, an old Negro Spiritual, is one of those songs for me. Arranged by Roy Ringwald, it is an absolutely beautiful piece.
A simple binary binary piece that toys between F major and D minor. The A section is subdued, the words telling of the deep river jordan. There are many subtle dynamic changes that help accent the melody and lyrics. The B section is much more forceful, enlightening the listener about a better life in the promised land. The biggest and loudest portion of the song comes tied to the words, "promised land," properly emphasizing their importance to the singer and listener. Again, there is a recapituation of the A section. Quiet and insistant, we hear about Deep River again, this time concluding the piece on a F major chord into nothingness. Although the melody is exteremely beautiful and dynamic, what makes this arrangement so cool is the amazing harmonies created by Ringwald. A big fan of barbershop, and jazz a cappella, one should listen to the last two measures. Definately what we would consider a short barbershop tag. Cool, very cool.
The lyrics are very somber, pleading to God. When singing this song, one can imagine the struggle of the slaves. The words illustrate a better place, one with feasts, peace, and a promised land. Honestly, I'm not one to care much about lyrics, I never really have. This song is different. The words are very significant to how the music should be performed, and are filled with emotion. This is an extremely powerful piece, I enjoy it quite a bit.