Saturday, October 24, 2009

*Once More Into The Time Capsule- The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s

Click On Title To Link To YouTube' Film Clip Of Woody Guthrie Performing "Hard Travelin'".

CD Review

A number of the more important or famous performers on these CDs will get a reprieve here by having separate entries under this same headline

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001

Okay, let’s go through the geography of this seemingly endless review of folk revival of the 1960’s tour that I have been conducting over the past year or so. I have gone down the byways and back alleys of Bleeker Street. I have tipped my hat to McDougall Street and its “mayor” (the late Dave Van Ronk). I have been positively 4th Street more times that I can shake a stick at (Bob Dylan’s old haunts). So now to round out this tour of a few square blocks of lower Manhattan that made some musical history in the early 1960’s that I am reviewing, make that proudly reviewing, I am, hopefully, finishing up with this compilation entitled “Washington Square Memoirs”. And this is an apt place to wind up the tour because, in a sense, this is the place where it all got hashed out before it got to the coffeehouses, other venues and those hard sought after recording contracts. If you couldn’t make it as a musician in the park (an, at times, not very high bar to get over) then you had better take your act elsewhere. Like, maybe, East Orange, New Jersey.

I mentioned in a recent review of “Friends Of Old Time Music”, a CD featuring mountain music, another separate strand of the folk revival that ran through New York City in the early 1960’s, the following:

“This three disc compilation (including an incredibly informative booklet giving a mother lode of material, including photographs, about the how, when and why of bringing the mainly Southern, mainly rural talents to New York City in the early 1960s) will give the new generation and mainly older aficionados, in one place, a primer of great value. If you want to know the details of this part of the folk revival puzzle you certainly have to start here. For the beginner or the aficionado this is a worthwhile addition to the store of our common musical heritage.”

Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD. Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc One; Woody Guthrie on “Hard Travelin’”, Big Bill Broonzy on “Black , Brown And White”, Jean Ritchie on “Nottamun Town”, Josh White on “One Meat Ball”, Malvina Reynolds on “Little Boxes”, Cisco Houston on “Midnight Special”, The Weavers on “Wasn’t That A Time”, Glenn Yarborough on “Spanish Is A Loving Tongue”, Odetta on “I’ve Been Driving On Bald Mountain”, The New Lost City Ramblers on “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”, Bob Gibson and Bob Camp on “Betty And Dupree”, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on “San Francisco Bay Blues”, Peggy Seeger on “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, Hoyt Axton on “Greenback Dollar” and Carolyn Hester on “Turn And Swing Jubilee”.

Disc Two: Dave Van Ronk on “He Was A Friend Of Mine” and You’se A Viper”, The Chad Mitchell Trio on “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”, Hedy West on “500 Miles”, Ian &Sylvia on “Four Strong Winds”, Tom Paxton on “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound”, Peter, Paul And Mary on “Blowin’ In The Wind”, Bob Dylan on “Boots Of Spanish Leather”, Jesse Colin Young on “Four In The Morning”, Joan Baez on “There But For Fortune”, Judy Roderick on “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”, Bonnie Dobson on “Morning Dew”, Buffy Sainte-Marie on “Cod’ine” and Eric Von Schmidt on “ Joshua Gone Barbados”.

Disc Three: Phil Ochs on “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, Richard &Mimi Farina on “Pack Up Your Sorrows”, John Hammond on “Drop Down Mama”, Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band on “Rag Mama”, John Denver on “Bells Of Rhymney”, Gordon Lightfoot on "Early Morning Rain”, Eric Andersen on “Thirsty Boots”, Tim Hardin on “Reason To Believe”, Richie Havens on “Just Like A Woman”, Judy Collins on “Suzanne”, Tim Buckley on “Once I Was”, Tom Rush on “The Circle Game”, Taj Mahal on “Candy Man”, Loudon Wainwright III on “School Days” and Arlo Guthrie on “The Motorcycle Song”

"Hard Travelin'" -Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston

I've been havin' some hard travelin', I thought you knowed
I've been havin' some hard travelin', way down the road
I've been havin' some hard travelin', hard ramblin', hard gamblin'
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been ridin' them fast rattlers, I thought you knowed
I've been ridin' them flat wheelers, way down the road
I've been ridin' them blind passengers, dead-enders, kickin' up cinders
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard-rock minin', I thought you knowed
I've been leanin' on a pressure drill, way down the road
Hammer flyin', air-hole suckin', six foot of mud and I shore been a muckin'
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard harvestin', I thought you knowed
North Dakota to Kansas City, way down the road
Cuttin' that wheat, stackin' that hay, and I'm tryin' make about a dollar a day
And I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been working that Pittsburgh steel, I thought you knowed
I've been a dumpin' that red-hot slag, way down the road
I've been a blasting, I've been a firin', I've been a pourin' red-hot iron
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been layin' in a hard-rock jail, I thought you knowed
I've been a laying out 90 days, way down the road
Damned old judge, he said to me, "It's 90 days for vagrancy."
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been walking that Lincoln highway, I thought you knowed,
I've been hittin' that 66, way down the road
Heavy load and a worried mind, lookin' for a woman that's hard to find,
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord


  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    it's BLEECKER STREET not bleeker street.

  2. Thanks for typo correction. Of course it is Bleecker Street not Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. This acknowldgement will stand as correction for all the thrity-some sections that have it spelled incorrectly. Markin.