I’ve been looking for it for years and have only found versions by everybody else. The first verse was (my comments in parentheses):
Well if (kinda drawn out) the river was whiskey and I was a duck,
I’d fly (I’m pretty sure he said “fly,” not “dive”) to the bottom and I’d never come up.
Oh, baby how long do I have to wait?
Can I get you now, or must I hesitate?
It used to be played on ABC’s FM “underground” programming around 1969, generally hosted by a guy calling himself “Brother John.”
Could it be the Holy Modal Rounders? They recorded “Hesitation Blues” on their first, amazing, eponymous album. Released about 1964. Back then, I bought a Ravi Shankar album at one of Houston’s best record stores; but it was defective. There were no other copies in the store, so I picked the Rounders’ LP on a whim. Glad I did.
Their rendition of the old blues tune is famous for the first recorded use of “psychedelic.”
The Rounders supposedly supplied the musical talent for the first Fugs’ recordings. And would be considered “underground.” Although their albums didn’t get really weird until a bit later…
It’s likely the Hot Tuna version (not Jorma Kaukonen solo). It’s from their debut Lp, which came out circa 1970. Is it a live recording that sounds as if it’s performed in a small club venue? Is there a sound of a drinking glass breaking at the very beginning of the song? Then it’s the Hot Tuna version.
…and one of those band names I could never abide by, regardless of the quality of the music. “Hot Tuna” - ew.
Sorry, nothing more to add - seems like the other posters fought ignorance before I arrived. Oh - one other hijack: picker, did you ever read Clapton’s Guitar? I can’t remember if you ad from previous posts and it seems like it would be right up your alley…
Um, yeah, since those are some of the lyrics they’ll probably be in common with MOST versions. And the verse (the first two lines) as well as the other verses gets a heavy workout in a multitude of other blues songs from the 20s and 30s.
I thought I’d eliminated the Holy Modal Rounders but I’ll check again.