“Kentucky Mountains Songs” by Jean Ritchie - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1954Album Chart of the Decade: 1950s

TJR says

Another enchanting set from the talented Jean Ritchie, steeped in the ancient ballads of the British Isles and mainland Europe. Album highlight “Nottamun Town” is an English folk song which possibly dates from the late medieval period, possibly brought to America from England. On hearing Jean’s excellent version, Bob Dylan borrowed the melody for his 1963 song “Masters of War”, found on his LP “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. The song is fairly popular in the English Midlands, particularly in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Southern Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, which lends credence to the theory that the Nottamun in the song is a corruption of Nottingham. Theories abound as to the meaning of the song, but two are generally accepted as probable: 1. That it derives from the Feast of Fools or Mummers’ Plays and their absurd topsy-turvy worlds. 2. That it refers to the English Civil War. In this war, Charles I of England raised his first army around Nottingham and it may be a corruption of that city’s name that gives the song its title. On “The Hangman Song”, Mum and Dad turn up to see their son hang. They bring no gold much to the son’s dismay. True love turns up, pays the hangman in gold. Son’s price to pay? He must marry. There’s always a price to pay son… Jean’s a Capella reading of the several centuries-old ballad “False Sir John” is another highlight – he’s a dastardly character that one – beware pretty fair maids.

n.b. I had tried to digitally assemble this old album from the 2004 compilation CD “Mountain, Hearth And Home” which had claimed to include all the necessary material. Alas, it was a cruel trick, not as low down as False Sir John granted, but, still, pretty annoying all the same. Turns out 2 tracks are missing – “The Girl I Left Behind” and “Lonesome Dove”. Rating is therefore limited to 12 tracks in the meantime, and the album runtime remains unknown. Help!!!

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [01:19] 6.4.png Jean Ritchie - Cedar Swamp (Traditional) Folk
A2 [02:31] 8.7.png Jean Ritchie - Nottamun Town [album version ’54] (Traditional) Folk
A3 [01:41] 7.2.png Jean Ritchie - The Hangman Song (Traditional) Folk
A4 [01:08] 5.7.png Jean Ritchie - O Sister Phoebe (Traditional) Folk
A5 [04:02] 6.7.png Jean Ritchie - False Sir John (Traditional) Folk
A6 [01:47] 5.9.png Jean Ritchie - Dulcimer Pieces: Shady Grove / Old King Cole / Skip To My Lou (Traditional) Folk
B1 [01:14] 6.6.png Jean Ritchie - Bachelor’s Hall (Traditional) Folk
B2 [00:00] 0.0000.png Jean Ritchie - The Girl I Left Behind (Traditional) Folk
B3 [00:59] 6.0.png Jean Ritchie - Jemmy Taylor-O (Traditional) Folk
B4 [01:04] 5.5.png Jean Ritchie - Killy Kranky (Traditional) Folk
B5 [00:00] 0.0000.png Jean Ritchie - Lonesome Dove (Traditional) Folk
B6 [02:09] 6.5.png Jean Ritchie - Old Woman And Pig (Traditional) Folk
B7 [02:28] 5.1.png Jean Ritchie - The Little Sparrow (Traditional) Folk
B8 [01:35] 6.1.png Jean Ritchie - Goin’ To Boston (Traditional) Folk
© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved