Frequent visitors to the Way Back Studios know that every now and then we like to take a closer look at the different types of music that have influenced the Deep Tracks library. We’ve done sets of blues rock, country rock, jazz rock, progressive rock, and others. But recently it dawned on me that we haven’t yet considered folk rock. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl hardly addresses that issue. Why? Well before there was folk rock, there was just folk. But what exactly IS a folk song? Broadly speaking, it’s traditional music of a specific group, by unknown composers, typically handed down by mouth, and performed on acoustic instruments. The songs told stories of the culture’s past, their wars, and their heroes. In contemporary folk, the songs were more topical, frequently, but not always, about political protest. In the 1930s and 40s guys like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seger were collecting and writing folk songs. And the guys from that generation influenced the generation that followed. In the early 60s, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton and others picked up the ball and ran with it. Then in 1965, somebody came along and electrified the form, giving birth to folk rock. And that somebody was The Byrds. And at the very end of today’s set, we’ll hear one from Roger McGuinn and the boys. But before we get to the folk rock, we’re going to wade into some plain old folk. In November of ’92, Bob Dylan released an album consisting entirely of traditional folk songs and covers. We’ll hear Bob’s renditions of an old Australian folk song and, later in the set, a Canadian-English folk song. And be sure to listen to the guitar. It’s one of the best recorded acoustics I’ve ever heard. We’ve also got a cover of a Pete Seger / Lee Hays classic from Peter, Paul, and Mary. Elsewhere we’ve got James Taylor, Jim Croce and Joan Baez doing some contemporary folk songs. And we’ve got a couple of instrumentals too. Taj Mahal doing something traditional from his album Oh So Good and Blues, and then there’s this one, simply titled, “Instrumental.”
|Bob Dylan||Jim Jones|
|Taj Mahal||Buck Dancer’s Choice|
|James Taylor||One Morning in May|
|Jim Croce||Railroad Song|
|Joan Baez||Outside the Nashville City Limits|
|Peter, Paul & Mary||If I Had a Hammer|
That, my friends, is Roger McGuinn’s attempt to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity, or so he said. That’s “5D” the title track from the Byrds album 5th Dimension. Now, if you joined us somewhere in the middle of that little folk festival, you might have thought you’d tuned into The Village up on channel 62. But as your display says, this is the Deep Tracks and we’ve just finished exploring the folk out of the library. Before The Byrds, Peter, Paul, and Mary covering the Pete Seger / Lee Hays classic “If I Had a Hammer.” Now, I got the idea of a folk set while listening to Bob Dylan’s album Good As I Been To You from which we heard the old Australian folk song “Jim Jones,” and the old English-Canadian folk song “Canadee-I-O.” We also heard two from James Taylor. The first was an instrumental called “Instrumental” (one of two on One Man Dog) and the second was “One Morning in May” both written by Taylor but with a distinctly English folk feel to them. The other instrumental in the set was “Buck Dancer’s Choice” a traditional covered here by Taj Mahal. In the middle of the set, some contemporary folk tracks. Jim Croce’s “Railroad Song” from early in his career followed by Joan Baez “Outside the City Limits of Nashville.” That’s from her 1971 two record set Blessed Are, produced by the great Norbert Putnam. That album came with a bonus 7” single (which you played at 33 1/3) and featured the Woody Guthrie song “Deportee.” That was the only way to do bonus tracks back in the day of vinyl. Well it’s only because of our limited time and record collection that we couldn’t get across the pond for some of the English folkies like Steelye Span, Fairport Convention, or Pentangle. Maybe anon. In the meanwhile, as always, you’re invited to drop by the Way Back Studio Facebook page or my website, billfitzhugh.com where you’ll find the set lists, commentaries, and the details of my other life. I’m Bill Fitzhugh thanks for listening. I’ll be back with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl sooner or later and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.