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

Month: March, 2014

The Gold Ring (An Fáinne Ór)

Two versions of the great Irish pipe tune – one by the great Irish singer and uilleann piper, Seamus Ennis:

The other by the brilliant but wayward guitarist, Davey Graham:

Both magnificent versions by enormously talented musicians…

‘Will You Come to The Bower?’

For the day that is in it, The Dubliners great version of my favourite rebel song (it is also where Shane McGowan found the title of ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’):

Rock Criticism

The kind of Rock criticism I dislike:
‘Albert Johnson’s thudding bass lines rocked the stadium while the shimmering lead of Theophilius McGonagall soared like an eagle into the hot Nevada sky’

The kind of rock criticism I like
Anything by Michael Gray (apart, maybe, from the entries on Pete Seeger and Frank Sinatra in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia) or by Peter Guralnick. Also people like Colin Harper, Bob Coltman and Martin Duberman (in his great biography of Paul Robeson), who show a good understanding of the historical conditions in which the artists they talk about worked…

Another Time and Place

A beautiful song and performance by the late great Dave Van Ronk:

a more fitting tribute to this great artist than the travesty that is ‘Inside Llewyn Davis‘ – its seems the Coen brothers can only look at other generations through their own tawdry lenses…




Who gwine to bring you chickens, honey,?

Returning to this song, it seems clear that it is derived (or is, perhaps, a parody) of a long line of songs in this vein which goes back far into the past. An example would be songs such as ‘Who’s gonna shoe your pretty little feet’ which was recorded by Woody Guthrie among others. His version is below:



Here is the Everly’s Brothers version (as a belated tribute to the late great Don Everly who died in January):



Clayton himself (who incidentally would have been 83 on Monday) had also recorded a number of songs in this vein. Perhaps the best of them is his classic version of the Child ballad, ‘Lass of Roch Royal” from his album, ‘Folk Ballads of the English Speaking World’, with its lines:


“Oh who will lace my shoes so small?

And who will glove my hand

And who will lace my middle so jimp [slender]

With my new-made linen band?


“Who will comb my yellow hair?

With my new silver comb

And who will father my young son

Till Lord Gregory comes home?