In my last post, I mentioned the fact that recently I have been listening to several of Bob Dylan’s contemporaries from Greenwich Village – started with people like Paul Clayton, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton and have moved outwards to some of the more recent excellent albums made by Eric Andersen.
In part, this was driven by a wish to see Bob from another perspective. Having been a Dylan fan for over 30 years, I was beginning to feel overloaded by all of the critical commentary, new books, etc. surrounding him. I thought that, by listening to Dylan’s contemporaries I might be able to begin to isolate what distinguished him from them and those qualities which made him a great artist.
This process began with a chance purchase of Paul Clayton’s great album of sea shanties. Soon afterwards, I bought what I think is his equally fine album of dulcimer songs and instrumentals. It struck that these albums of folk music (sifted as it were by time) stand up far better than do many of the singer-songwriter albums of the 1960s. Then went on to explore other Clayton albums and realised these constitute a huge untapped source of great songs. At times, perhaps, some of Clayton’s performances of them sound rather dated and inconsequential but the best material on them (like Clayton’s brilliant version of ‘The Two Sisters’ (link below) are truly superb.