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Percy's Song: History?

OH, THE WIND AND RAIN (The Two Sisters)
TWO SISTERS (Bonnie Broom)

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GUEST 18 Jun 01 - 11:18 AM
catspaw49 18 Jun 01 - 11:30 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 01 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Margaret V at work 18 Jun 01 - 12:06 PM
Big Tim 19 Jun 01 - 04:14 AM
GUEST 19 Jun 01 - 10:44 AM
Peter T. 19 Jun 01 - 10:49 AM
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Subject: Percy's Song: History?
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 11:18 AM

Thinking along the lines of Dylan's song about Reuben "Hurricane" Carter, was wondering if perhaps there was a historical precedent for "Percy's Song?" A Forum search and a web search didn't yield much info. Could someone light the way?

Thanks in advance....

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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 11:30 AM

Wondered often about this one myself. There is this info:

According to Dylan, the beautiful melody line of this song came from Paul Clayton. "Paul was just an incredible songwriter and singer," said Dylan in 1985. "He must have known a thousand songs. I learned 'Pay Day at Coal Creek' and a bunch of other songs from him. We played on the same circuit and I traveled with him part of the time. When you're listening to songs night after night, some of them rub off on you. 'Don't Think Twice' was a riff that Paul had. [See above.] And so was 'Percy's Song.' Something I might have written might have been a take off on 'Hiram Hubbard,' a civil war song he used to sing, but I don't know. A song like that would come to me because people were talking about the incident. A lot of folk songs are written from a character's point of view. 'House of the Rising Sun' is actually from a woman's point of view. A lot of Irish ballads would be the same thing. A song like Percy's Song, you'd just assume another character's point of view. I did a few like that."

As for the words, Dylan has clearly borrowed the structure from "The Wind and the Rain" (also known as "Two Sisters"), though the stories in the two songs are unrelated. The first verses of the two songs share a similar refrain:

Two loving sisters was a-walking side by side, Oh the wind and rain. One pushed the other off in the waters, waters deep. And she cried, "The dreadful wind and rain." (The Wind and the Rain)

Bad news, bad news come to me where I sleep, Turn, turn, turn again. Sayin' one of your friends is in trouble deep, Turn, turn to the rain and the wind. (Percy's Song)... while the final verses are even more closely related:

The only tune that my fiddle would play, Was, "Oh, the wind and the rain." The only tune that my fiddle would play, was Was, "The dreadful wind and rain." (The Wind and the Rain)

And I played my guitar through the night to the day, Turn, turn, turn again. And the only tune my guitar could play Was, "Oh the cruel rain and the wind." (Percy's Song)

That comes from THIS WEBSITE. Like you Guest, outside of it's relationship to two Trad songs, I can't find much regarding the lyrical history.


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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 12:04 PM

Thanking you, catspaw49...

Footnote: regarding the original post... not to say that the Forum search was fruitless, it just didn't yield the info looked for...

Footnote2: regarding the Blake quote at the bottom of the link catspaw49 graciously provided ... sounds like Picasso was 'inspired' by Blake when he quipped, "Good artists create. Great artists steal."

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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
From: GUEST,Margaret V at work
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 12:06 PM

The melody is certainly a variant of the "Wind and the Rain" (at least the version I know as done by Jody Stecher), so not only the word structure is related, the tune is too. Sorry I don't know anything about the history. Margaret

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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
From: Big Tim
Date: 19 Jun 01 - 04:14 AM

Interesting to note that Arlo Guthrie sings this song on stage.

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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
Date: 19 Jun 01 - 10:44 AM

...guess the best thing to do is go straight to the source....anybody got Dylan's e-mail address?

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Subject: RE: Percy's Song: History?
From: Peter T.
Date: 19 Jun 01 - 10:49 AM

The question I have about this song is who Percy was. There seems to be some historical referent. Or maybe it is made up. I heard it done live some weeks ago at a Dylan fest, and it was incredibly powerful. yours, Peter T.

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