14 May 2015
I first “discovered” this song a week ago, bumping into it serendipitously while listening to a 2006 Jimmy Webb album, Cottonwood Farm, where Jimmy had his grandfather, with a charmingly rustic (and rusty) voice, sing it. I suspected it was a classic old standard and found covers of it going back to the 1930s — then saw that the Beatles did it also, which can be heard (and seen) in a YouTube video of a performance at “the Cave”.
I don’t care for the Beatles version, though it’s an interesting idea for them to speed it up and turn it into a rock song (a vehicle for Paul’s voice). All the other versions I’ve heard (including by the Platters) treat it as a slow ballad.
My favorite versions are the German song, “Ein Schiff fährt nach Shanghai” (“A ship goes to Shanghai”), written maybe in the 1930s, which apparently formed the basis for the English version; and among those, I like the one done by the Dutch-Indonesian duo of the 50s & 60s, Die Blue Diamonds (known as the “Dutch Everly Brothers”).
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart,
a coffee dessert, yes you know it's good news...