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North Country/Scarborough Fair


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Brian Till 03 Jul 97 - 01:06 PM
dick greenhaus 03 Jul 97 - 01:32 PM
Susan of DT 03 Jul 97 - 08:26 PM
LaMarca 07 Jul 97 - 12:25 PM
Brian T 08 Jul 97 - 11:38 PM
Wolfgang Hell 09 Jul 97 - 06:50 AM
GUEST 21 May 07 - 03:28 PM
Peace 21 May 07 - 03:42 PM
The Sandman 22 May 07 - 04:30 AM
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Subject: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: Brian Till
Date: 03 Jul 97 - 01:06 PM

OK, this is more of a true folk question-

These 2 songs, by Dylan and S & G, of course, have similar lines, but are credited as written by their respective performers. I think the similarities are too alike.

Is there a root to these two songs?


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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Jul 97 - 01:32 PM

Try a search for [Oak and the Ash]; you'll find several progenitors.

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: Susan of DT
Date: 03 Jul 97 - 08:26 PM

Scarboro Fair is Child #2, so if you search for "#2", you will find five versions. Also, I started using "@spice" for those songs with a collection of spices, ie parsley, sage..., but started it late, so only 8 songs are so labeled. a search for "thyme" yields 18 songs.

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: LaMarca
Date: 07 Jul 97 - 12:25 PM

Brian, I don't know Dylan's "North Country"; is it a variation of the trad. song "The North Country Maid?" S&G's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" developed after Paul Simon hung out in England with a bunch of England's folk revivalists in the 60's. He took Martin Carthy's guitar arrangement of a traditional British ballad and blended it with his own lyrics (the "Canticle" part) and copyrighted the whole thing - without giving Carthy any credit for the guitar part, of course. Dylan has done much the same thing on a fairly regular basis. "Singout!" magazine mentioned in a review of his recent acoustic album that Dylan ripped off Nic Jones' arrangement of "Canaday-I-O" among others. A lot of commercial musicians seem to think that if the song is trad. or public domain, it's fair game, even though an instrumental arrangement was worked up by a particular modern artist. This is one reason why so many "folk/rock" performers started copyrighting their arrangements of traditional songs as "Trad./arr. by", although even bands like Steeleye Span are none too careful about crediting their sources (ask Louis Killen about "Blackleg Miner" sometime...) The American collector/folksinger, John Jacob Niles, numbered AND copyrighted in his own name all the ballads he collected from various original singers.

Anyway, a lot of traditional songs contain similar lines or verses, sometimes called "zipper" verses, that drifted from song to song while they were passed around through the oral tradition. Then a contemporary songwriter gets a hold of it and confuses the issue even more!

So, take "copyright" claims on variations of traditional songs with a grain of salt...frequently all the copyright performer has done is taken a trad. song, changed a couple lines or done a particular instrumental setting, then claimed "authorship" of the whole shebang.

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: Brian T
Date: 08 Jul 97 - 11:38 PM

La Marca

Thank you for the explanation. My desire to learn about folk stems from my homage of Dylan. It's fasinating to hear different versions or interpretations of classic songs. I'm starting to see these types of "zipper" verses in his music, from Doc Watson and so on.

But I have to stand up for The Bob a bit. True, he has on his last 2 albums (World Gone Wrong & good as I Been To You) done folk songs handed down, he has only considered himself the arranger. But it's some fans on the Web and even the Highway 61 CD-Rom who print out lyrics from these albums that consider him the lyricist, which is obviously wrong!!!

What can I say, the man is infallible!!!


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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 09 Jul 97 - 06:50 AM

If you ever have the chance to listen to "Rosemary Fair" by Frank Harte you'll hear a quite different variant (both in lyrics and tune) of "Scarborough fair". I like to play it to non-folkie friends. They all say that's faintly familiar (Simon's Scarb. Fair is well known in Germany) but hardly ever find out why it sounds familiar. Wolfgang

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
Date: 21 May 07 - 03:28 PM

A lot of them do that, but not all of them. Some may arrange the
music, and re-write the entire lyrics, and just take ownership for
the lyrics, if they've re-written them in whole, and if they only
add in a verse, and re-arrange the rest of the verses, they indicate
that they arranged and adapted the tune, but not take credit for the
whole thing.
Though most of them do claim authorship, there are artists who are

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: Peace
Date: 21 May 07 - 03:42 PM

"Girl from the North Country is a song written by Bob Dylan in January, 1963 and released as the second track on his second studio album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

The song was written following his first trip to England in December, 1962, upon what he thought to be the completion of his second album. While in London, Dylan met several figures in the local folk scene, including British folksinger Martin Carthy. "I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs," Dylan recalled in 1984. "Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin." Carthy exposed Dylan to a repertoire of traditional English ballads, including Carthy's own arrangement of Scarborough Fair, which Dylan drew upon for the melody and lyrics of Girl from the North Country, including the line from the refrain "Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine".

Dylan left England for Italy to search for his then-girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, whose continuation of studies there had caused a serious rift in their relationship. Unbeknownst to Dylan, Rotolo had already returned to the United States, leaving about the same time that Dylan arrived in Italy. It was here that he finished the song, ostensibly inspired by the apparent end of his relationship with Rotolo. Upon his return to New York in mid-January, he convinced Rotolo to get back together, and to move back into his apartment on 4th Street. Suze Rotolo is the woman featured on the album cover, walking arm in arm with Dylan down Jones Street, not far from their apartment.

In the summer of 1965, Paul Simon met Martin Carthy in London. Simon was certainly aware of Dylan's lyrics to Girl From the North Country, having covered many of Dylan's songs, and learning from Carthy the origins of the melody and lyrics, contained in Carthy's arrangement of Scarborough Fair. Simon adapted Carthy's arrangement by setting it in counterpoint with Canticle, an adaptation of Simon's 1963 song, The Side of a Hill. Scarborough Fair/Canticle was released as the title track of Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Simon and Garfunkel were credited as the sole authors of the song, which caused a rift with Carthy, who felt that they ought to have credited the song's traditional folkloric origins.

Dylan re-recorded Girl from the North Country with Johnny Cash in 1969. That recording became the first track for Nashville Skyline, Dylan's ninth studio album.

The Secret Machines recorded a version of the song, which occasionally makes its way onto setlists during tours."


That is from Wikipedia.

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Subject: RE: North Country/Scarborough Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 07 - 04:30 AM

not quite right,as my memory serves me,Martin objected to his arrangement being taken by Paul Simon,after all the song may be traditional,but it was Carthys arrangement[which Ithink is fair enough].wikipedia is not always 100 percent correct.

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