When I talked to Johnnemann Nordhagen about his game Where the Water Tastes Like Wine earlier this month, he discussed how important folk music was to his game, and how the ever-changing, fundamentally mysterious nature of songs and folk tales before audio recording existed influenced the game’s approach to storytelling. To deepen Where the Water’s connection to the premodern era it’s set in, composer Ryan Ike was tasked with writing songs and music that could credibly resemble a large variety of different regional musical idioms. And to further that sense of the adaptability of folkways, Ike recorded multiple different versions of the game’s most memorable number, “Vagrant Song,” with each one arranged in a traditional musical style from a different part of America. And that brings us to “Vagrant Song (Deep South),” which you can download for free exclusively at Paste.
”’Vagrant Song’ is a track that changes and shifts to reflect where you are on the world map,” Ike explains. “Featuring Joshua Du Chene on guitar and vocals, this is the version you’ll hear when exploring the South.”
“Vagrant Song” might be a little more slickly produced than the old country blues 78”s recorded at Asheville and Bristol in the 1920s, but its structure, melody and lyrics all recall that early era when timeless folk songs were first being codified through professional recording. With its fatalistic imagery and sense of resignation, this version of “Vagrant Song” sounds like the stoic moan of a man ready for death, or anything else. It’s probably the most memorable single track in the entire game, and for now you can download it for free above.
If you want to stream the rest of the soundtrack, or buy it on vinyl or as a download, head over to Ike’s Bandcamp page.