Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Streamline Train”: Folk Deco

Interesting to see the original 1936 recording of “Streamline Train” by Red Nelson recast in the UK as a skiffle tune in 1957, as the folk movement began to gain momentum in the US:

Streamline Train

The Vipers Skiffle Group (1957)

Check out these striking images of streamlined locomotives that accompany

Red Nelson‘s original version of “Streamline Train”

Bob Dylan, in his February 6, 2015 acceptance speech as the recipient of MusiCares‘ “Person of the YearAward, would have some illuminating observations to make about folk music that, at the same time, go a long way toward demystifying Dylan’s own songwriting process:

I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs.  And I played them, and I met other people that played them, back when nobody was doing it.  Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that’s fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.  For three or four years, all I listened to were folk standards.  I went to sleep singing folk songs.  I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals.  And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other.  I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I’d heard it just once.

If you sang “John Henry” as many times as me – “John Henry was a steel-driving man / Died with a hammer in his hand / John Henry said a man ain’t nothin’ but a man / Before I let that steam drill drive me down / I’ll die with that hammer in my hand.”  If you had sung that song as many times as I did, you’d have written “How many roads must a man walk down?” too

I sang a lot of “come all you” songs.  There’s plenty of them.  There’s way too many to be counted.  “Come along boys and listen to my tale / Tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail.”  Or, “Come all ye good people, listen while I tell / the fate of Floyd Collins, a lad we all know well…

If you sung all these ‘come all ye’ songs all the time like I did, you’d be writing, “Come gather ’round people where ever you roam, admit that the waters around you have grown / Accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth saving / And you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / The times they are a-changing.”

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