Sunday, June 8, 2014

West Virginia: Shadows in the Moonlight

Now that I am back in West Virginia, I have planned to feature songs that have a reference to the state as our Second Week Feature. I did the same thing last May for my return to Kentucky after 32 years in West Virginia. Today’s selection is Tommy Shaw’s “Shadows in the Moonlight.”

It has a little bit of everything as I transition back to West Virginia, as the male protagonist is from West Virginia, the female protagonist is from Kentucky, and the song speaks of crossing the Big Sandy River. I crossed both the Big and Little Sandy Rivers for the last time (for a while) ten days ago.

You may recognize Tommy Shaw’s name from the band Styx where he served as the lead guitarist. Shaw was actually the first rock star that I had the opportunity to meet backstage at a Styx show in Charleston, WV in 1981. “Shadows in the Moonlight” comes from Shaw’s 2011 bluegrass CD “The Great Divide.”

The author, Ron Hill, Tommy Shaw, & Gary "Music" Miller

Written by Shaw and former Pure Prairie League member Gary Burr, the outcome of “Shadows in the Moonlight” is unresolved. What happened when the pistol was discharged? Who was shot? While it isn’t clear, it sounds as though the father was the one who was shot in the altercation as the hope of forgiveness is desired in the days to come.

Besides lead vocals, Shaw contributes mandolin and resonator guitar. Sam Bush is also on mandolin and I think his leads are the first ones on the cut while Shaw probably has the single note lead later in the song. One of my favorite Dobro® players, Rob Ickes, is prominently featured as well as Stuart Duncan on fiddle. Rounding out the track are Brad Davis on guitar, Chris Brown on drums, and Byron House on bass.

You may notice that during the next seven days there will be an absence of several of the better known songs about West Virginia. This is because I’ve already featured these in the past.

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