Friday, March 20, 2009

Green: Green, Green Rocky Road

Dave Van Ronk: Green, Green Rocky Road


Dave Van Ronk had a voice like gravel. It’s not the sort of voice you would seek out. But Van Ronk knew how to put it to the best use. His voice was perfect for the blues and spirituals he loved and performed so well. And when he recorded folk songs, what came through was his personal warmth and good humor, as well as his love of the material. Green, Green Rocky Road is one of the songs I think of when I think of him.

The song itself is one of those strange folk songs that doesn’t seem to quite add up. What is it about? Is it possibly a love song? That doesn’t quite seem to work. This enigmatic quality may possibly account for the song’s popularity among folk artists. Many have performed and recorded it, and many still do.

It turns out that Green Green Rocky Road has its origins as a sung chant that went with a children’s game. The rules of the game are lost in the sands of time, but it appears to have been related to Duck Duck Goose, with possibly some elements of Red Light Green Light.

Announcement: Speaking of kid’s music, my review on Oliver di Place this week is the new album by Billy Jonas. Two of Jonas’ songs for grown-ups have appeared here previously, but he is best known as a kid’s artist, and the new album shows why.

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