Frank’s Faves on Fridays – The Folk Edition

February 4, 2011

Gale Garnett – “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine (1964)

I’ve never heard of the artist or the song before. (But I have heard of The Kingston Trio and The New Christy Minstrels. Can I call myself a Folk expert now?) The only other person named “Gale” spelled that way that I know of was the actor Gale Gordon from The Lucy Show. But on to the song… Wow. That is so pleasant. (That’s a compliment.) Wow again: it’s just dawned on me – I know this song! I don’t know if it was this version (is this the only one?), but I know this song. I remember hearing it years and years ago. (Maybe this is the version I heard.) I just adore how relaxed the backing instrumentation is. I think it’s perfect for the song. I’m trying really hard to come up with something more to say about “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine”, but I can’t think of anything. It’s just so enjoyable. By the way, the cover I found to put in the MP3 features a young (and possibly winsome) Gale Garnett, and I reckon she looks a bit like Liv Tyler in that photo. See what you think:

The Kingston Trio – “A Worried Man” (1959)

Excellent – banjos. I’ve heard of The Kingston Trio but have never gotten around to hearing any of their gazillion albums. (They released a lot of albums – for example, from 1960 to 1963 they released three albums a year.) I’m enjoying this track, but nowhere near as much as “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” (it’s going to take a pretty special song to top that this week). I don’t know how disturbing you find this, but when the chorus began at the start of the song I thought I was listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary. I know that The Kingston Trio comprises three manly men, but the voice in the right channel sounds definitely female to me. Apart from that, I just noticed that the opening tune played by the banjo reminds me of that old spiritual “This Little Light Of Mine” (which, coincidentally, The Kingston Trio also recorded). Listening to “A Worried Man” properly (i.e., actually paying attention to it), I think that I like the lyrics more than the music. My favourite line in the song: “I’m a worried man, but I won’t be worried long.” That’s reassuring. And now it’s trivia time. I heard something in this song that I never thought I’d ever hear in a Folk song – I heard a mistake. Someone (in the right channel) misses the first word of a line in one of the choruses. It occurs at 1:54. I’m gobsmacked. (But the song’s nice.)

The New Christy Minstrels – “Green, Green” (1963)

Excellent – a twelve-string acoustic guitar. That’s some raunchy solo singing from the male person in the band. He really does give the impression that “there ain’t nobody in this whole wide world a-gonna tell me how to spend my time”. He’s a rugged individualist. In a band. Despite the incongruity of a rugged individualist in a band, I like “Green, Green” more than “A Worried Man”, but not because of the lyrical content. (I wouldn’t be terribly keen to tell people: “Oh, yeah – I really like a worried man.” I don’t think that people would automatically put capital letters on A Worried Man and assume that I’m talking about a song, but instead they’d probably think that I like seeing people miserable. So I guess I won’t say out loud that “I like a worried man.”) Where was I? “Green, Green”. OK. Pluses: 1) the backing vocals – love ’em; 2) that twelve-string acoustic guitar – marvellous; 3) the rugged individualist singer – great stuff. Now on to the minuses: Er, I can’t think of any.

The Springfields – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (1962)

I’m glad you chose this. I must admit that I’m not overly familiar with this particular version (I’ve probably heard it once or twice way back in the mists of time). I’m much more used to the Linda Ronstadt version (courtesy of my teenage infatuation with Ms Ronstadt). But regardless of who’s version it is, I’ve always thought that this song is lovely. And I think that this song is probably impervious to bad cover versions (overall I’ve heard about four so far, and I think they’re all good). But I must say something about the MP3 that you sent me. It sounds weird. And on headphones, it sounds very weird. I have a horrid feeling that this is one of those ghastly fake stereo things (i.e., a mono song that’s been phase-shifted or something). But back to the song itself. I’d never noticed it before, but there’s a line in the chorus where Dusty (she of The Springfields) sings “…while you play your cheatin’ game.” That reminds me of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” – what a song that is. (Note to self: get back to talking about “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”.) Okey dokey. The song. For a Folk song (or maybe it’s a Country song), it sure does swing. That drummer sounds like he or she is having a whale of a time. (Where on Earth did the phrase “whale of a time” come from? It doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. I think that when I’ve finished this email I’m going to pester the Internet for some information about time and whales.) To conclude this rambling commentary, I’ll say that I like The Springfields’ version of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” – but I like Linda Ronstadt’s version much, much more.

Update: If you can’t bear to hear that fake stereo version of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” (and I’ll understand completely if you can’t), here’s a freshly minted (translation: I just found it) mono version – the way it was supposed to be heard in the first place:

The Springfields – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles (1962) (mono – yay!)


Bonus Folk instrumental:

The Village Stompers – “Washington Square (1963)

Hey, I know this piece of music! It didn’t look familiar at all (The Village Stompers? – never heard of ’em; “Washington Square”? – no idea), but as soon as it started I recognised that banjo tune (and I started humming along with it, too). I don’t know where or when I first heard “Washington Square”, but I know it very well. Maybe it’s one of those songs that was played on the radio when I was a wee bairn. (Let’s see: it was released in 1963, and probably played on Australian radio in 1964. I was born in 1961, so that would have made me three years old when I first heard it.) Ah, the music you remember when you’re a kiddy! I have nothing but praise for this track. (It’s a part of my childhood. And because I had a very enjoyable childhood, I won’t be knocking this song one bit.) Oh, no – as I was typing this paragraph, the track finished. I’m going to have to play it again. Hang on… Yep, I’m playing it again. I love that discordant introduction on the banjo before it plays the proper tune. I also love whoever is playing the spoons in the left channel. And I love that you suggested this track. There’s a lotta love here, Frank! Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Pointless postscript: When I’d finished checking the dates for this week’s songs (I like to keep MP3s nice ‘n’ tagged), I noticed how they were all recorded in and around the early 1960s. It looks like the early ’60s was a good time for Folk.