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

Category: Paul Clayton

Another Place, Another Time

Great picture of Dave Van Ronk and Paul Clayton – not sure where it was taken:


Paul Clayton Newport 1963

Good picture of Clayton performing at the Newport Festival in July 1963. He might even be singing the version of ‘The Two Sisters’ that Bob Dylan based ‘Percy’s song’ on:

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?

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:

Goodbye to 2013 – almost

Will start this post with some good advice for 2014 from Edwyn Collins:
Edwyn Collins, “Low Expectations”:

So, we are nearly at the end of this strange year, a year which I, for one, will be glad to see the back of.

Lost a few great ones this year, although perhaps the most nauseating spectacle I have seen in the past twelve months was the self-regarding and preening behaviour of the collection of political mediocrities who attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Not one of them had an ounce of Mandela’s courage, adherence to principle or dignity…

Among those we lost were Lou Reed:

And George Jones:

And Seamus Heaney:

We also came closing to losing Randy Travis, whose album ‘Influences, Vol. 1: The Man I Am’ showed an artist at the peak of his powers and a singer who came closest to being the true successor to George Jones as the best ‘pure’ country singer:

To round off, would like to thank those who read this blog this year & to hope that 2014 is a good year for you.

To quote, Johnny Rotten, ‘May the Road rise with You”;

And here’s my suggestion for a ‘new’ New Year song to replace the cliched ‘Auld Lang Syne” – Paul Clayton’s great version of ‘Around the Ingals Blazing’:
[Sample Here, its No. 207, for some strange reason} –


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

I know I said the last one was the ‘final’ themed post, but due to widespread popular apathy, have decided to add another.

1. Will start with The Blasters< 'Marie, Marie":

2. Dave Alvin, 'Gary Indiana 1959":

3. Orange Juice, 'Felicity":

Living in Australia, had to include a few Sheila's
4. Eric Andersen, 'Shelia':

5. The Smiths, 'Sheila, Take a Bow':

6. Kevin Coyne, "Marlene":

7. Elton John, 'Daniel': Can take or leave a lot of Elton John's music, but have always liked this:

8. Gilbert O'Sullivan, 'Claire": Classic pop from the best Paul McCartney wannabe:

9. The Beatles, 'Julia":

10. Bob Dylan, 'To Ramona":

11. Paul Clayton, 'Geordie'
Sample here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geordie-Georgie/dp/B001HCL5ZE

12. Chuck Berry, 'Memphis, Tennessee':

13. Johnny Duhan, 'Molly':
Sample here: .amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_srch_drd_B0012E4AIQ?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Johnny Duhan&index=digital-music&search-type=ss

14. Ralph McTell, 'From Clare to Here':

15. Sean Keane, 'From Galway to Graceland":

16, Randy Newman, 'Marie':

17. Randy Newman, 'Baltimore":

‘On the Road…again’: a Theme-Time 30 minutes

‘On the Road…again’: a Theme-Time 30 minutes
by elmergantry

Would like to dedicate this post to the ‘mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars’.

Also for the purposes of this post, ‘Road’ is taken to extend to highways, freeways, railroads, bóithríni and so on…,

Have to start with this one:

1. Willie Nelson, ‘On the road Again’:

Will follow it up with this typically raucous ditty from Kraftwerk

2. Kraftwerk, ‘Autobahn’:

To change the mood slightly, this great song from Nick Drake’s final masterpiece, “Pink Moon’:

3. Nick Drake, ‘Road’:

4. Bert would have been 70 on the 3 November – perhaps the greatest British acoustic guitarist:

5. Woody Guthrie, ‘Goin’ Down the Road feelin’ bad’:

Steve Earle has written at least fine three songs with ‘road’ in the title – this one is my favourite, by a whisker…

6. Steve Earle, ‘Telephone Road”

Not only a great singer, but a great man as well…

7. Paul Robeson, ‘Lonesome Road’

8. Merle Haggard ‘On the Jericho Road”;

As ever, a beautifully understated song from a master…

9. Guy Clark, ‘LA Freeway’:

10. Paul Clayton, ‘Green Rocky Road: There is a sample of this song here:


Although it doesn’t have the word in the title, this must be among the greatest road songs ever written

11. Chuck Berry, ‘Promised Land’:

‘Home Before Dark’: A Theme Time 15 Minutes – Part Two

Should add that I named the original post after one of my favourite books of all time, Susan Cheever’s great memoir about her father, John Cheever. In my opinion, Cheever is, perhaps – along with Raymond Carver and Richard Ford – the best American short story writer.

Have been thinking about songs with ‘Home’ in the title or as a theme and have come up with these additions to the list:

1. Rory Gallagher ‘Philby’ – Rory’s great song about not having a home:

2. Robert Johnson, ‘Sweet Home Chicago’:

3. These are, I think, alternative versions of the same original song (the ‘folk process’, as it were), but they show clearly the differences between these two fine artists:
Paul Clayton, ‘Home, Dearie, Home’:

There is a sample of this song here:

Luke Kelly, ‘Home, Boys, Home’:

4. John Martyn, ‘Baby Please Come Home; – from his greatest album…

5. Mary Gauthier, ‘Can’t Find the Way’ – a great, great song about homelessness:

6. Eric Andersen, ‘Feel like Coming Home”
There is a sample of this song here (it is track 12):

7. Bert Jansch, Running from Home’:

8. Bob Dylan.’I was young when I left Home’: Dylan’s great re-working of ’99 Miles”

9. Eric Bibb, ‘New Home’:

Bob Dylan, Paul Clayton

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…

Clancy Clayton and the Singing Leprechauns

Speaking of Paul Clayton, it is good to say that Justin Timberlake takes a ‘method’ approach to acting, intensively researching every facet of the life of the character he is playing.

This comes throughly strongly in a recent interview:

‘Joel and Ethan [Coen] and I talked about a look for [my character] Jim. We found this picture of Paul Clayton who was an Irish folk singer…’


Of course, Clayton was a hugly important American folk Singer & collector, who was born in New Bedford, Mass. Not sure if he was ever in Ireland in his life.


Well, Clancy/Clayton…close enough, so who cares?