A structure as consequential as the Gavins Point Dam deserves its own song.
After all, it is the final gatekeeper of the Missouri River. And, as we saw in 2011, it wields a lot of influence over all those who live along the river below it.
Perhaps those powerful images of water raging through the dam during that Missouri River flood of a couple years ago are what inspired Omaha Americana/country artist Matt Cox to write a song called “Gavin’s Point Dam.” (Geek note: I know from many years of writing about it that Gavins Point Dam has no apostrophe in its name. I’m not sure if Cox included one for artistic reasons, but I get an involuntary tic to hit the “delete” button when I attempt to follow suit.)
Instead of sticking to history, Cox seems to imagine a world wherein the dam didn’t hold and unleashed the power of the Missouri River across the heartland.
It’s a thoughtful and well-composed song, and a must-listen for those of us who know and respect the Gavins Point Dam.
HearNebraska debuted the recorded version of the song this week and writer Chance Solem-Pfeifer stated:
“Gavin’s Point Dam” doesn’t start small — a deluge of muddy water wipes out a dam.
But it does grow. After Matt Cox’s song chronicles the soaking of Midwestern flood-planes, it presses beyond just water into various social onslaughts. The song sees social security failing, politicians floundering. The breaking of Gavins Point Dam was, perhaps, the proverbial last straw for humanity.
The song will appear on Cox’s album “Nishnabotna,” which will be released Aug. 8. Curious what Nishnabotna refers to? I was unaware that the Nishnabotna River is a tributary of the Missouri River in southwestern Iowa, northwestern Missouri and southeastern Nebraska. According to Wikipedia, Nishnabotna is an Otoe (Chiwere) word meaning “canoe-making river.”
Here are a couple of Cox’s live performances of “Gavin’s Point Dam”: