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

Category: Uncategorized

Video of Paul Clayton

Extraordinary video footage of the great Paul Clayton. Up to when this appeared, it was believed that none existed. And, to make it even better,  he is singing ‘Jesse James’ – one of his finest interpretations of a folk song:

Footage was posted by the team around the new Paul Clayton play now running in New York.

A great day for us small but happy band of Claytonites…

“I Followed the River and I Got to the Sea”: 11 Songs with Either Word in their Title

A brief return to the ‘theme time’ format.

Will begin with Creedence

1. ‘Green River’:

2. Woody Guthrie ‘Red River Valley’:

3. Eric Andersen, ‘Blue River’:

4. Johnny Cash, ‘Sea of Heartbreak”

5. ‘Joni Mitchell, ‘River”

6. The Pogues, ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon”;

7. Paul Robeson, ‘Shenandoah’:

8. Paul Clayton, ‘Saturday night at Sea’:

9. Al Green, ‘Take Me To the River”:

10. Screaming Trees, “Ocean of Confusion”:

11. Mark Lanegan, ‘The River Rise’:

Ten Books That Have Stayed with Me

Drew up this list in response to a post on the excellent The Bookshelf of Emily J. blog.

Apparently this has been going around Facebook and the idea is to ‘list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard—they don’t have to be the ‘right’ or ‘great’ works, just the ones that have touched you.’

Anyway, for what its worth, here is my list:

1. Bleak House – Dickens
2. Middlemarch – Eliot
3. Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
4. Dubliners – Joyce
5. Lord Kilgobbin – Charles Lever
6. Where I’m Calling From – Raymond Carver
7. Collected Stories – John Cheever
8. The Complete short Stories – Ernest Hemingway
9. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
10. Collected Poems – Michael Hartnett

If I was including my favourite books as a child, these would include Edward Lear’s Complete Nonsense, Alan Garner’s, The Moon of Gomrath and The Owl Service, and, as a teenager, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

Professionally it would have to be books like E.P. Thompson’s, The Making of the English Working Class, Hobsbawm’s Labouring Men and Worlds of Labour, Carlo Ginzburg’s, The Cheese and the Worms, Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, Michael Foot’s life of Nye Bevan, and Robert Blake’s books on Disraeli and the UK Conservative Party.

Dylan-Joni Mitchell feud – Revisited

A quick update to my previous post in which I referred to Joni Mitchell’s claim that she had had a conversation with Bob where he had said that many of his more recent songs had been written by “the box”. She then said to him “What do you mean ‘the box’?” and he replied “I write down things from movies and things I’ve heard people say and I throw them in the box.”

Did not know at the time that Larry Charles, who collaborated with Dylan on Masked and Anonymous, had actually seen ‘the box”. Here is his description of it:

“The first thing he did, and this gives an illustration of how his mind works, he had this box on the table. He opened it and dumped out the box. It was all these little scraps of paper, stationery from all around the world. And on each scrap of paper was an aphorism or a line or a name of somebody. He dumped it out and said, ‘I don’t know what to do with all this.’

“I started looking and I said, ‘This can be a line of dialog. And this could be the person’s name who says the dialog.’ He was like, ‘You can do that?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And I realized that’s how he writes songs. He has all these fragments and he weaves the fragments until they become poetry. It’s kind of automatic writing or the cut-up technique William Burroughs used. That’s how we started to write that script actually. It was a very organic, very stream of consciousness process.

The full interview from which this quote comes can be found here:

Dylan Sings while Rachaninov Swings

Further to my recent post, it seems that the Sinatra song, Full Moon and Empty Arms’, is based on a theme from the third movement of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto.

It can be heard here from about 2.14 onwards:

A theme from its second movement also formed the basis for Eric Carmen’s dreadful ‘All By Myself’, but we won’t hold Sergei responsible for that.

Bob’s fine and quietly dignified version of ‘Restless Farwell’ at Sinatra’s eightieth birthday ‘do’ can be seen here:


Jason Isbell Travelling Alone

Discovered this song through the excellent bestmusicyouhaveneverheard blog.

Was very impressed, indeed – reminds me of Robert Earl Keen which, in my book, is very much a compliment :

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…

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…

Pete Seeger – tributes

A few good tributes to Pete Seeger here – one recent one written by Tom Paxton:


And the other an old piece by Dave Van Ronk, which, given that it was written before Seeger’s death, is, perhaps, even more telling:


It is also worth checking out the liner notes to The Essential Pete Seeger by Eric Andersen – which shows something of the respect which the Greenwich Village songwriters of the early 1960s had for Pete Seeger.

Seeger was very important to me personally as my interest in folk music really stems from a documentary that I saw about him as a young boy of about eleven.

He sang ‘Where have all the Flowers Gone’ on it and it was a revelatory moment for me. I was also impressed by what the programme showed about Seeger’s environmental work, at a time when such concerns did not receive anything like the same publicity that they do today…

Soon afterwards, I pestered my father to get me the album, The Best of Pete Seeger, which I proceeded to play to death for a number of years. Indeed, unlike most people of my generation (those born in the early 1960s) I first discovered Dylan through my interest in Pere Seeger and not vice versa…

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’”: