Caught by the River

Jeb’s Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 24th February 2021

Jerry Williams

We’ve had the coldest days of the year. The pond is frozen, the fields are white, and the snow, in the morning, is covered with strange foot, claw, hoof and paw prints.  In the evening stillness we often sit and imagine that we’ve become untethered from normal life; that we’re the last two humans left on the planet. We are as a ship is, alone on a vast plain of otherness, floating above an unknowable world.  We are briefly the last of an unhealthy tribe.  

It’s not unpleasant, thinking that way. 

In the morning I reach into a pile of 45s and pull out one at random.  I’m surprised to see Shipwrecked, by Jerry Williams.  

You too? I ask it.  

Jerry Williams, who under the name Swamp Dog, has made some of the strangest and greatest records ever recorded, seems to be joining me in the Lost At Sea metaphor.

Shipwrecked, drowning in an ocean of tears
Shipwrecked, swimming in a world full of fears

Jerry Williams does that magical thing, that thing that music does so well, of singing in an upbeat way about heartbreak.  The song rolls along; jaunty, breezy, while all the time talking about heartbreak.  It’s a trick of which Williams is a master.  It’s the old game of the downtrodden: smile though your heart is breaking.

In ancient China there were public platforms onto which people suffering from grief or rage could climb and give free reign to their misery.  Records like Shipwrecked are our modern equivalent.


You can follow the Jeb’s Jukebox Spotify playlist here.