music clip of the day


Category: folk

Thursday, June 11th

In response to Monday’s post on Dylan covers, a reader commented:

Fairport Convention’s “Si tu dois partir” (a French-language version of “If You Gotta Go, Go Now”) comes to mind.

Fairport Convention, “Si tu dois partir” (B. Dylan), recording, 1969



random sights

Tuesday morning
Louisville, Kentucky

FullSizeRender (8)

Saturday, March 7th

On this date thirty-eight years ago my father died. When I was a child, he often took me to concerts. In the early sixties, at Chicago’s Arie Crown Theater, we saw two guys with short dark beards and a lady with long blond hair.

Peter, Paul and Mary, live (TV show), England, 1965*



reading table

To a chemist, nothing on earth is unclean.

—Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), letter to Maria Kiselyova, January 14, 1887 (trans. from Russian by Cathy Popkin [Anton Chekhov’s Selected Stories, Cathy Popkin, ed.])


*Set list (courtesy of YouTube):

1. When the Ship Comes In (Bob Dylan)
2. The First Time (Ewan MacColl)
3. San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller)
4. For Lovin’ Me (Gordon Lightfoot)
5. Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Traditional)
6. Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
7. Jane Jane (Traditional)/Children Go Where I Send Thee (Traditional) (new words & music by DeCormier/Stookey/Yarrow/Travers)
8. The Whole Wide World Around (Tom Glaser lyrics; J.S. Bach St. Matthew Passion melody)
9. Early in the Mornin’ (Paul Stookey)
10. The Times They Are A’Changing (Bob Dylan)
11. The Hangman (The Gallows Pole) (Traditional)
12. On a Desert Island With You in My Dreams (Paul Stookey & Dick Kniss)
13. Puff the Magic Dragon (Leonard Lipton & Peter Yarrow)
14. The Rising of the Moon (Traditional)
15. Come and Go With Me (Traditional)
16. Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan)
17. If I Had My Way (Rev. Gary Davis)

Thursday, May 15th

sounds of Surry County, North Carolina

Tommy Jarrell (fiddle, vocals), Chester McMillan (guitar), Frank Bodie (guitar), Ray Chatfield (banjo), “Let Me Fall,” live, Mt. Airy, North Carolina, 1983

Wednesday, January 29th


Pete Seeger, singer, songwriter, banjo player, May 3, 1919-January 27, 2014

“Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,” live, Australia (Melbourne), 1963


“Amazing Grace,” live, New York (90th birthday concert, Madison Square Garden), 5/3/09

Thursday, 5/31/12


Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, singer, guitar player, songwriter
March 3, 1923-May 29, 2012 

“Deep River Blues,” 1960s

Country musicians who love blues, blues musicians who love country (as I frequently encountered years ago working at Alligator Records): stories of race and music are often complex, resisting reduction to black and white.

Wednesday, 5/2/12

Nothing hits the spot, sometimes, like a homicidal love song.

The Handsome Family, “My Beautiful Bride”
Live, Australia (Sydney), 2010

More? Here.



art beat: Monday at the Art Institute of Chicago

Utagawe Hiroshige, Autumn Moon over Tama River (from the series Eight Views of the Environs of Edo), 1837-38

Wednesday, 1/4/12

Forget the weird press—she can sing.

Sinead O’Connor, “Paddy’s Lament” (trad.)
TV broadcast (Ireland), 12/19/11


How many other pop stars have made so many stunning contributions as a guest artist?

With Shane MacGowan, “Haunted”


With the Chieftains, “The Foggy Dew”


With Willie Nelson, “Don’t Give Up”

(Last three clips originally posted 3/3/10.)

Monday, 12/12/11

Maybe everything in your life would be better—or at least seem better—
if only you had more banjo.

Sam Amidon, “As I Roved Out” (trad.), live, Austin (SXSW), 2011

Friday, 4/29/11

When you’re young you can’t imagine that the things that make your life sing won’t always be there. Then you get older. And they aren’t.

Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers (Brewer Phillips, guitar; Ted Harvey, drums), “Sadie,” live, Ann Arbor Blues Festival, 1973

More? Here.




This arrived yesterday, in response to an email letting her know that she was featured here (with Hazel Dickens):

Thanks for letting me know about this.  We said goodbye to Hazel yesterday and singing was never more difficult.  She was my musical guide and my beloved friend.  Smart, funny, complicated, always real.   She’ll live in my music, and my life, forever.  “Fly away, Little Pretty Bird.”



Hazel Dickens, “Pretty Bird,” 1967

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thursday, 4/28/11

Yesterday we heard music of “nostalgia” and “homesickness,” of “loneliness” and “separation,” from Mali. Today it comes from West Virginia.

Hazel Dickens, singer, songwriter
June 1, 1925-April 22, 2011

Live, with Ginny Hawker, vocals, and Tracy Schwartz, fiddle

“West Virginia My Home” (H. Dickens), Kentucky (Morehead State University), 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.


I Love To Sing The Old Songs” (H. Dickens), 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.



Hazel Dickens, a clarion-voiced advocate for coal miners and working people and a pioneer among women in bluegrass music, died on Friday in Washington. She was 75.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Ken Irwin, her longtime friend and the founder of Rounder Records, her label for more than four decades.

Ms. Dickens’s initial impact came as a member of Hazel and Alice, a vocal and instrumental duo with Alice Gerrard, a classically trained singer with a passion for the American vernacular music on which Ms. Dickens was raised. Featuring Ms. Dickens on upright bass and Ms. Gerrard on acoustic guitar, Hazel and Alice toured widely on the folk and bluegrass circuits during the 1960s and ’70s, captivating audiences with their bold, forceful harmonies and their empathetic approach to songs of struggle and heartbreak.


The influence of the staunchly traditional duo extended beyond bluegrass to commercial country music. Hazel and Alice’s arrangement of the Carter Family’s “Hello Stranger” became the blueprint for Emmylou Harris’s version of the song, and their adaption of “The Sweetest Gift (A Mother’s Smile)” inspired Naomi Judd, then a single mother in rural Kentucky, to start singing with her daughter Wynonna.


Hazel Jane Dickens was born June 1, 1935, in Mercer County, W.Va. One of 11 children, she grew up in a family whose survival depended on the coal industry. Her father, a Primitive Baptist preacher and a forceful singer, hauled timber to feed the household. Her brothers were miners and one of her sisters cleaned house for a supervisor at the mines. The music they sang in church and heard on the radio, particularly the music of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, offered one of their few diversions.

She moved to Baltimore in the early 1950s and worked in factories there. City living was hardly more prosperous than the life she’d known in the coal fields of Mercer County, but it did afford her exposure to the larger social and political world. She met and started playing music with the singer and folklorist Mike Seeger, who eventually introduced her to Ms. Gerrard.


A reluctant feminist role model, Ms. Dickens said she was originally scared to write about issues like sexism and the oppression of women.

“I can remember the first time I sang ‘Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Here There,’ ” she said in her 1999 No Depression interview. “I was at a party standing in the middle of all these men. It was here in Washington. Bob Siggins was playing banjo, and when I got done, everyone just looked at each other, and Bob said, ‘That’s a nice song, but I won’t be able to sing it.’ And I said, ‘Of course you can.’ ”

“We were writing about our own experience,” she explained. “They were things we needed to say.”

—Bill Frisksics-Warren, New York Times, 4/23/11

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