For some time now, have been thinking of putting together a list of my ten favourite Paul Clayton tracks. One of the problems of doing so, however, is that for some of these – like his great version of ‘Jesse James’ on Wanted for Murder and his important early version of ‘Tom Dula’ on Bloody Ballads are not available as audio clips anywhere on the net – that I can find at least.
So this is a provisional list and, hopefully, some record company out there will take the obvious step and release the two albums mentioned above on a cheap re-issue.
Will start with two songs that Clayton taight to the young Bob Dylan.
1. Ornie Wise
Clayton’s version of this great ‘murder ballad’ is available as a download here:
http://archive.org/details/PaulClayton-01-05 (it is track four)
2. Pay Day at Coal Creek
A sample can be heard here at http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/window/media/page/0,,4764222-14833481,00.html
3. Gotta’ Travel On
A sample of Clayton’s own version of his greatest song can be heard here at http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/window/media/page/0,,4764222-14833485,00.html
4. The Twa Sisters
Magisterial version of a great song.
5. Shady Grove
Ditto – sample can be heard here:
6. Lass of Roch Royal
Shows Clayton’s masterly way with a melancholy song:
Sample can be heard here: http://www.folkways.si.edu/paul-clayton/folk-ballads-of-the-english-speaking-world/american-folk-celtic/music/album/smithsonian – (it is track 108)
7. The Seaman’s Grave
Sample of this track can be found here:
8. Polly Von
Sample can be heard here: ww.7digital.com/artist/various-artists/release/1-folk-album-ever (it is track 25)
9. Old Stormalong – from his great album of sea shanties
10. Go Down You Blood Red Roses – from the same album
This, of course, is only a sample from an extraordinarily rich, if brief, recording career.
To my mind, Clayton’s achievements first, as a collector of songs, second, as a singer and third, as a songwriter, mean that he deserves to be viewed as a kind of American Martin Cathy, rather than as a tragically doomed Dylan sidekick..