BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “By The Rivers Of Babylon”


Two things that have concerned me about the Battles I have chosen for Battle of the Bands: one, I’ve had several situations where one contestant runs away with the battle, as with last week’s “The Loco-Motion” battle (I really thought that more than one of you would prefer Kylie Minogue’s version of the song over Grand Funk. Shows what I know); and two, I always seem to be getting at least one comment saying that I “stole” their idea. My solution was to look for something fairly obscure. Problem was, I had no ideas.

Fortunately, my brother Kip (a big reggae fan) was able to recommend something that I had never heard, and it’s likely more than a few of you are unfamiliar with.

“The Rivers of Babylon,” according to Wikipedia (which has replaced the World Book Encyclopedia as the go-to resource for things like this), is a rastafarian song written by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the reggae group The Melodians in 1970. Based on Psalms 137 and 19, the melody sounds a bit like “How Dry I Am.” Babylon, in the Rastafarian faith, is used “for any governmental system which is either oppressive or unjust.” Here is the original by The Melodians, which is not one of today’s contestants.

Now, here are your choices for today’s battle:

CONTESTANT #1: Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor did her version of the song on her 2007 album Theology.

CONTESTANT #2: Jorma Kaukonen

Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen also recorded his version in 2007, on his album Stars in my Crown.

Now, it’s time to vote…

Which version of “The Rivers of Babylon” did you prefer? Sinead O’Connor’s spare version, just her voice and guitar? Or Jorma Kaukonen’s Hot Tuna-like rendition? Whichever the case, please vote in the comments below, and tell me why you chose that version.

Then, visit some (or all) of the other Battles taking place today:

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
This Belle Rocks
Book Lover
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Angels Bark
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Women: We Shall Overcome
Cherdo on the Flipside
Holli’s Hoots ‘n’ Hollers
J. A. Scott
Quiet Laughter

Since it seemed that almost everyone voted by the end of the week the last time, I’ll be announcing the winner of this battle on Monday, September 21, the next-to-last day of summer. It’s been beautiful here, by the way… Fall seems to have arrived a week or so early in the South.

Vote early, vote often!


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

14 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “By The Rivers Of Babylon””

  1. While they are both nice versions, I have to go with Sinead O’Connor for reminding me that we all used to think she was talented, because she is. Crazy, but talented. Kaukonen’s cajun style and musicianship is great, too.

    My all time favorite version is a brief snippet done by Linda Ronstadt, with its tight harmonies and her beautiful voice.


  2. Yeah, this song was new to me. Good choice.

    This could be another overwhelming win. Sinead is not my favorite artist and this was like Joan Baez on qualudes.

    Yay, Jorma. I like the style and the tempo. Great playing on this version.

    It’s Jorma for me!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out


  3. I liked Jorma’s version better because it was more interesting with all the instruments and the tempo was nice and lively. Sinead was nice but in comparison with the two I enjoyed Jorma’s version much better.
    Michele at Angels Bark


  4. Hi John.
    I was tempted to go with Jorma because his version sounds upbeat but that’s not the case if I regard the lyrics – the bitterness of Sinead O’Connor’s version – the struggle to sing at all, because a Babylon (government) is forcing it. To sing happily while knowing you’re destined to suffer.

    I wonder if her video purposely closes at the 2:35 mark or is that the way she chose to end it. Both seem appropriate. Either way, log my vote with Sinead O’Connor! Great, enjoyable battle.

    I’ve posted one up too, if you have time (smile).

    DC @


  5. Gosh this is tough because both are so different in style. Sinead does have a beautiful voice and really lends a true sadness to it whereas Jorma has the music more upbeat. I have to go with Jorma because I love the musical style more. The way he delivers the song just appealed to me more


  6. I actually know this song well, but a different version altogether:

    As for the choices here, I’m not a big fan of Sinead and thought her version was just too draggy and slow; dare I say boring?
    Jorma captured the spirit of the song well and was a lot more interesting. Please put me down for Jorma.


  7. So, not only did I cast the only vote last week, I commented about you stealing my tune. LOL No worries.
    As for this weeks battle, no you have not stolen the song from my list.
    Of the two, I think I am going to go with the Jorma Kaukonen version. I liked it more. Seemed more interesting and energetic. O’Connor’s vocals and guitar are great, but didn’t work for me on this song.


  8. Good afternoon, John! I’m running a bit late this week. Thanks for the introduction of a new song. O’Connor sounded nasally, which is a bit irritating and her cover sounded almost depressing whereas Jorma’s vocals were nicely received and the beat a bit uplifting to my spirit. Give my vote to Jorma please!


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