Bob Dylan, Paul Clayton

by elmergantry

Listening to ‘Another Self Portrait’, it also struck me that Paul Clayton’s shadow is one of those that hangs most heavily over it. While many commentators have mentioned Dylan’s cover versions of songs by Greenwich Village contemporaries like Tom Paxton and Eric Andersen, few have noticed this fact…

On a quick count, at least four songs on it have Clayton connections. These are
1. ‘Little Sadie’ which Clayton recorded on his album, Wanted For Murder: Songs of Outlaws and Desperados
2. ‘Spanish is the Loving Tongue’, which is on the album Folk Singer
3. ‘Railroad Bill’, which is on Clayton’s early album, Folksongs and Ballads of Virginia
4. ‘House Carpenter’, which is on Cumberland Mountain Folksongs.

On the extended version, there is also, of course, a version of ‘Gotta Travel On’.

For completion’s sake, here is a later (1992) Dylan version of ‘Polly Vaughan’ – a version which lyrically at least, stays close to the Clayton version, Polly Von, which appeared on Bay state Ballads (and is one of my favourite Clayton performances):

When saying that Another Self Portrait was not an essential purchase in my last post, I meant this in comparison to earlier volumes in the Bootleg series, which included songs of the quality of ‘Blind Willie McTell’, ‘Series of dreams’, etc. and what will presumably emerge from those covering the ‘Blood on the tracks’ period. It is well worth buying but ultimately does not substantially enhance Dylan’s stature in the way earlier releases in the series have done…

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