Tom Joad: Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie’s song version of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as sung by Brooklyn’s favorite cowboy, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Phil Ochs fans might recognize the melody as the same that Phil used for his own song “Joe Hill,” but Phil was just following tradition since Woody had already stolen the tune from an even earlier song called “John Hardy.”

Thanks to YouTuber mrgildons

It Won’t Be Long

Monday morning, going to the window to hear those kids and birds singing. A great haunting cover of The Train Song by Kelly, Josh and Carson, performing a once obscure song by Vashti Bunyan. Vashti Bunyan’s musical journey is an interesting one in itself: this song was originally recorded in 1966, and released on an album in 1970; the album flopped and Vashti left the music world. Thirty years later, her music is rediscovered, she gains a measure of fame, and now she is playing music dates again.

Kelly’s and Carson’s harmonies are exquisite.

More at Josh Turner Guitar

Whatshername

The other day on the street, I could swear I heard someone call out “Jimmy McGregor,” and so I immediately thought of this song, which I hadn’t heard in years. One of the most interesting songs lyrically and musically on a Peter, Paul, and Mary album; it’s sung and written by “Paul,” that is, Noel Stookey.

In glorious vinyl, complete with comforting scratches at regular intervals.

Thanks to YouTuber R.O.K DuKane TV

The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness

With a song title like that, you know the rest of the song just has to be great.

John Prine, with accompaniment by Nanci Griffith who unfortunately died this month.

Thanks to YouTuber derek868

You Can Come To My House: Mike & Ruthy and the Mammals

Mike and Ruthy closing the 2019 Summer Hoot in Ashokan, New York. They’ll be back at it again August 27-29th.

More at The Mammals

“Summer’s End” Again

I recently posted John Prine singing his song “Summer’s End.” I ran across this cover done by Brandi Carlile who has performed with Prine in the past, and I’ve been playing it non-stop all week, so I thought I’d share it with you. The purity of her voice makes a nice contrast to John Prine’s growl.

Thanks to YouTuber Tu Mouton

“From Sullen Earth Sings Hymns At Heavens Gate”

You’ll never hear a Shakespearean sonnet again in the same way. Folk singer Steve Earle makes a good case for Shakespeare being the Bob Dylan of his era—or vice versa.

Thanks to YouTuber PublicTheaterNY

Whose Garden Was This?: Tom Paxton

Dave Van Ronk claimed that it was really Tom Paxton of the NYC folk scene who first claimed the mantel of singer/songwriter among folkies, daring to sing mainly his own songs in the cafés, which led the way to Dylan and Ochs. Here’s a great Paxton song from fifty years ago that could have been written yesterday.

Monday morning, for all that’s been lost.

More at Tom Paxton – Topic

At Seventeen: Janis Ian

Monday morning, a song for misfits.

At the time, 1975, the song was a  highly unlikely candidate for a pop hit. It may have been the first pop song for young women of high school age that wasn’t for the cheerleaders. It might be hard to recall now, in the age of Glee, but songs examining the inner lives of high school students who saw themselves as social outcasts were not, at the time, the common fare. Millions of young women saw themselves in the lyrics of the song, and suddenly the singer/songwriter, Janis Ian, who at age 14 had had a qualified (and often censored) hit with her song of interracial love, “Society’s Child,” was overnight an international star.

The clip above seems so raw, true, and natural that you might think it was just an amateur effort turned lucky. But Ian by that time had already had seven albums of music released and was an accomplished songwriter. It was the one time, though, she said, that she had penned a song and told her manager that she had just written a hit.

Thanks to YouTuber LittleMonster13100