One Track Mind: Tom Waits and Keith Richards, “Shenandoah” from Son of Rogues Gallery (2013)

The team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean series has once again turned its attention to pirate ballads, chanteys and sea songs on a forthcoming release. Who better to convey that boozy sense of cock-eyed adventure than these two?

“Shenandoah,” the lead track from Son of Rogue’s Gallery (due February 19, 2013 from Anti-), finds Tom Waits and Keith Richards in a shared vocal that sounds like the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir in the midst of a barrel roll down a steep gravel incline. Waits, with his meat-grinding way with a lyric, almost makes Richards’ stripped-gear whine sound polished.

Together, something interesting happens, though: They give this early-19th century American folk song (also known as “Across the Wide Missouri”) a howlingly ragged sense of reverence, even before Richards begins making a few weirdly gnarled figures on his guitar. It’s brilliantly off beat, completely strange, and just as transfixing.

There’s more to come: Son of Rogue’s Gallery, curated by Pirates star Johnny Depp, director Hal Willner and producer Gore Verbinski, also features odd collaborations between Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, and Depp with Patti Smith. Elsewhere, the follow up to 2006′s Rogue’s Gallery includes songs from Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and Sean Lennon, among others.


Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at