' I've lost the power I had to distinguish between what to ignite and what to extinguish' – Rowland S. Howard

Month: January, 2014

Kevin Hewick & Johnny Duhan

Two tracks from fine new album by these two fine, but unduly, neglected songwriters.

The first is the song ‘Winter’ from Duhan’s new album of the same name:

The second is ‘A Young Man’s Dream of Revolution” from Hewick’s new cd ‘The Heat of Molten Diamonds’”:

Pete Seeger

A small tribute to the late great Pete Seeger. As well being a superb musician, a fine singer and songwriter and a great populariser of all kinds of songs, he was also a brave, decent and conscientious man.

He was also a direct link to the great Woody Guthrie and a mentor to a whole generation of younger musicians.

I first heard his music on a TV documentary in the early 1970s and was hooked by it then – thankfully, still am…

Edwyn Collins


Went to see the great Edwyn Collins here in Sydney at the weekend. Despite all the trials he has been through in recent years, this was one of the most life-affirming and enjoyable gigs I have been at in a long time…

Collin’s lack of pretension, his good-humoured and witty banter, and his obvious enthusiasm for music-making and for the excellent playing of his fine backing musicians (James Walbourne and Carwyn Ellis) were enough to win over even a jaded cynic like me.

And to top it all, he even played ‘Felicity’ – one of the greatest pop songs of the 1980s:


Don’t Think Twice Revisited – Again

Have been looking further into the origins of Paul Clayton’s ‘Who’s gonna buy your Ribbons’ and have come up with a few new ‘leads’, as it were.

Especially after the contributions here from Jaan Kolk on ‘Gotta Travel On’, I have come to the conclusion that Clayton’s original songs were usually based on a range of sources -in effect, having a patchwork quality, which, ironically enough, is similar to the way in which Bob Dylan writes songs today…

Bearing this in mind, it seems that the formulation ‘sit and sigh’ was a pretty common one in folksongs – in a quick search, I found it used in “Lady Margaret” –
‘My hounds will eat o’ the bread of wheat
and ye of the bread o’bran
And then yo’will sit and sigh
That e’er ye loved a man’

It is also used in the song, the ‘Faerie’s Love Song’:
‘Why should I sit and sigh?
Pullin’ bracken, pullin’ bracken
Why should I sit and sigh,
On a hillside weary?’

The lines about the ‘long lonesome road’ and being forced to ‘travel on’ in Clayton’s song may also owe something to this song, ‘The Lonesome Road’, which was recorded by Gene Austin in 1927. In an ironic twist, Bob Dylan was to use part of the lytic of that song in his ‘Sugar Baby’.

Here is Gene Austin’s version of the song:

and this is Bing Crosby’s, recorded in 1938:

Clayton also recorded his own version of ‘Lonesome Road’ on his classic album of dulcimer songs and solos. He claimed to have learned this version – which he suggested was the original that was followed by the other more commercial versions – from ‘Negro sources in Bedford County, Virginia”.

This version can be heard here:

Surnames and Placenames: More Songs about Cities, Towns & People – 3

1. Velvet Underground, ‘Sweet Jane”;

2. Jimmie Rogers, ‘California Blues”;

3. Norma Waterson, ‘Song for Thirza”:
Sample here – http://www.last.fm/music/Norma+Waterson/_/Song+for+Thirza

4. Joni Mitchell, ‘Amelia’:

5. Elliott Smith, ‘Amity”:

6. Mark Lanegan, ‘Hit the City”:

7. Tim Hardin, ‘Shiloh Town”;

8. Gordon Lightfoot, ‘Alberta Bound”:

9. Stan Rogers, ‘Northwest passage’:

10. Howlin’ Wolf, ‘Louise”:

11. John Lee Hooker, ‘Maudie’:

12. Blossom Dearie, ‘I’ll take Manhattan’ (one of the great Lorenz Hart’s finest lyrics):

13. Will cheat here with two fine versions of the same song:
Leo Kottke, ‘Sonora Death Row”:

Robert Earl Keen, “Sonora Death Row’:

14. Paul Robeson, “Shenandoah”:

‘‘Time’s Revenges and Revenge’s Time’: A Theme Time 45 Minutes (or thereabouts)’ – Part 2

1. Randy Travis, “Its just a matter of Time”;

2. Morrissey, ‘Used to be a Sweet Boy”:

3. Marvin Gaye, ‘Time to get it Together”:

4. Al Green, ‘Old Time Lovin’:

5. George Jones, “Time changes everything:

6. Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”:

7. The Dubliners, ‘Will you come to the Bower?’:

8. Eric Andersen, ‘Time Runs like a Freight Train”:

9. Smog, ‘Cold Blooded old Times’:

10. Eric Bibb, ‘The Needed Time”;

11. Lucy Kaplansky, ‘Today’s the Day’:

Will finish with two ‘Closing Times’:

12. Leonard Cohen, “Closing Time”:

And my favourite of the two…

13. Lyle Lovett, ‘Closing Time”;