Inside Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk
The Mayor of MacDougal Street, in His Prime
These songs—blues laments, haunting spirituals such as "Motherless Child," and enduring ballads like "Poor Lazarus"—were frequently part of Dave Van Ronk's performances in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. And as a result, they seeped into the consciousness of several generations of aspiring folk musicians and pop singer-songwriters. On the scene at the exact moment the folk revival gained traction, Van Ronk (1936–2002) was heard regularly at places like the Gaslight and Gerde's Folk City. His shows became magnets for such fresh-off-the-bus musicians as Bob Dylan.
Van Ronk was one of the few white performers who credibly sang the blues. A big man, his severe, husky voice was well suited to the style, as was his elemental, never flashy guitar accompaniment. While others wrote originals based on traditional forms, Van Ronk stuck to the source material, reinterpreting allegorical songs like "Samson and Delilah" in rousing, often surprising ways.
The two stellar albums repackaged on this disc, Folksinger and Inside Dave Van Ronk, were both recorded in April 1962. The first features just his voice and guitar, the second adds dulcimer, autoharp, and twelve-string guitar. They stand not just as a high point of his art, but among the most important artifacts of the folk revival: Where some of his peers were writing brainy and somewhat detached odes, Van Ronk was digging deep into the songbook of the American experience, and creating music that resonates in still-wrenching ways.
Released: 1962, Fantasy (Reissued 1969)
Key Tracks: "Samson and Delilah," "Cocaine Blues," "Long John," "He Was a Friend of Mine," "Poor Lazarus," "Motherless Child," "Stackerlee"
Catalog Choice: Black Mountain Blues.
Next Stop: Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
Book Page: 800
#1 from Owyn - 06/15/2009 7:43
The perfect balancing album to this is “...And the Tin Pan Bended and the Story Ended… [LIVE]”. Van Ronk’s last concert recorded shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer.
#2 from Jason Leary, central florida - 10/30/2009 12:46
David Van Ronk was a folk genius .
‘River She Come Down ’ can make one see rivers inide the mind if one listens carefully . The songs lend themselves to a very deep synesthesia .
He was better than Dylan by far .
Wish I could have met him .