Saturday, May 29, 2010

Public Domain: Star Maker Tradition Edition

It is the custom, here on Star Maker, to end the week with a multi-song post. In a week that has emphasized traditional music, I could hardly do otherwise. So here are songs from three albums I wanted to get to this week, and somehow never did.

Bill Morrissey and Greg Brown: He Was a Friend of Mine


It would have been enough to have a track from either Bill Morrissey or Greg Brown. These two are among the finest artists in acoustic music today. But here they are together.

I first heard He Was a Friend of Mine in the version by the Byrds. The lyrics don’t quite fit, but the song always felt like a tribute to John F Kennedy, and I think the Byrds may have had that in mind. So I was surprised to find that this is a traditional song.

John Wesley Harding: Little Musgrave


As far as I know, John Wesley Harding was only a folk singer for one album, but it is a fine one. Little Musgrave tells the story of a man of low rank who beds a lord’s wife. These stories always end badly. It is not surprising that a lord’s wife would stray, given that she was in an arranged marriage where love was not part of the deal. But the songs where the lord is the one who strays have very different endings. Completely unfair!

The New St George: The Mermaid


I seem to be stuck on songs of the sea this week. But fear not, if we ever do a week of sea songs, I have plenty of material left. I wanted to make sure I included a tale of a sailor’s encounter with the supernatural this week, and this is one of the most beautiful examples I know. For the story of the New St George, go here.

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