Dave Van Ronk To My Friends In Far Flung Places

One of the major problems of the current songwriting renaissance is the dearth of discrimnating interpreters. Except for writers whose material is C & W compatible, it is next to impossible to get someone, anyone, to sing a song he or she didn't personally compose. To make matters worse, the prevailing climate among acoustical performers is very discouraging for interpreters. Not long ago, a singer-songwriter acquaintance of mine remarked of a contemporary (who is, by the way, a fine singer), "Oh, she only does 'covers'*" (I had a sudden prophetic vision of a CD which will appear in the near future - "Pavarotti 'Covers' Puccini.") Record companies and the people who book clubs and concerts share this prejudice, and indeed the situation has become so grotesquely unbalanced that I suspect the pendulum is about to swing back the other way. Let's hope it doesn't swoop over to the opposite extreme where songwriters feel it necessary to fob off their tunes as "Folk Songs," as did John Jacob Niles and others in the '30s and '40s.

The flip side of this state of affairs is the vast pool of first-rate songs available to any singer with open ears - untouched material (except by its authors) just begging for an intelligent and appreciative reading. Selecting the pieces for this album has been one of the most difficult and frustrating chores I have undertaken since I gave up ballet. Finally, I hit on the notion of only doing songs by people I know. This narrowed the A-list down to a mere 120 songs (no kidding), as well as automatically selecting for me Jane Voss' lovely song for the title song and theme.

Let me hasten to add - not every author represented here is a close personal friend. A few of them I have only met briefly and casually, but it comforted me to think that if I got stuck I could, at least in theory, get on the horn and ask the songwriter, "What the

hell is this line supposed to mean?" Only later did it occur to me that conversely the songwriter could just as easily get on the horn and ask, "What have you done to my song, schmuck?" Which just goes to show that if we really thought through the consequences of our actions, we'd probably never do anything.

So at last, with the help of my kindly producer, Sam Charters, ("Yeah, it's a great song, but you can't sing it."), I managed to pare the program down to a mere 27 songs. If time and the budget had allowed, it could just as easily been double that, but at least I hope it gives some idea of how much great stuff is out there.

Before taking my leave, I would like to especially thank Frank Christian, guitarist and songwriter of the first chop; Keith Ingham, a pianist and arranger of almost unbelievable versatility, Dakota Dave Hull, arranger extraordinare, and man of a thousand guitars, and the aforementioned Sam Charters, who got me into this thing in the first place.

My thanks also to Andrea Vuocolo (my wife), whose idea for the Friendship Quilt cover helped pull the whole concept together.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this album to my boon companion Tom Intondi, whose songwriting, always good, kept getting better and better until his untimely death last May, a great loss to all of us.

Dave Van Ronk

THE MUSICIANS -

Dave Van Ronk does the singing and plays the guitar on tracks 5, 10, 11,

and 12 on Disc 1, and tracks 4, 6, 8, and 13 on Disc 2.

Frank Christian is the electric guitarist, and plays acoustic on tracks 3, 6

(including the solo), 7, 9 on Disc 1, tracks 2, 5, 7, 9, and 13 on Disc 2.

Keith Ingham is the pianist and also did many of the arrangements. He

is the organist on THINGS.

Dakota Dave Hull plays acoustic guitars on tracks 4 (both guitars), 6, and

10 (rhythm and solo) on Disc 1, tracks 4, 6 and 13 on Disc 2, and helped

set the arrangements. The guitarist on SOON MY WORK is Erik Frandsen.

Murray Wall plays the acoustic bass, David Conrad, electric bass. Drums,

Arnie Kinsella, harmonica, Bill Ferns, accordion, Anne De Marinis, jug

and washboard, Sam Charters.

Special thanks to Paul Qeremia, for his half of the guitar duet on his STONE SOBER BLUES, Tom Paxton, for singing the harmony on his RAMBLIN' BOY, and Christine Lavin, for her scat chorus on her AMOEBA HOP. (Thanks to Andrea Vuocolo for "For them it's a monster song.")

The voices on WRAP THE WORLD and TO ALL MY FRIENDS IN FAR FLUNG PLACES are Brttt Savage (single harmony voice on ALL MY FRIENDS), Ada Dyer, and Shelly Thompson, vocal arrangements by Sam Charters. The voices on THINGS are Christine Lavin and Eve Silber, vocal arrangement by Dave Van Ronk and Andrea Vuocolo.

Our thanks to the singers on SOON MY WORK, and THE SAILOR'S PRAYER: Heather Wood, Christine Lavin, Peri Lyons, Frank Christian, Chris Lowe, Eric Frandsen, Dave Massengill, and Sam Charters. For THE DRINKING SONG they are joined by Andrea Vuocolo, Mallay Charters, and Jenny Schuessler.

The music was recorded between June, 1993 and August 1994 in New York City at The Magic Shop, Steve Rosenthal, engineer, and Kampo Studio, Arthur Steuer, engineer, Jovan Djorjevic, assistant. Studio photographs by Nora Charters and Sam Charters, album design by Andrea Vuocolo.

THE SONGS

DISC1

1. SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES - Bob Dylan

(Warner Brothers, Inc)

2. WHERE WERE YOU LAST NIGHT - Frank Christian (Frank Christian Music)

3. SIMON SMITH and the AMAZING DANCING BEAR - Randy Newman (January Music Corporation)

4. RAMBLIN' BOY - Tom Paxton (Cherry Lane Music/ASCAP)

5. MY NAME JOE - David Massengill

(AGF Music Ltd/David Massengill Music/ASCAP)

6. OUTSIDE OF A SMALL CIRCLE OF FRIENDS - Phil Ochs (Barricade Music Inc)

7. ENTERING MARION - John Forster (Limousine Music/ASCAP)

8. THE DRINKING SONG ~ Jack Hardy (John S. Hardy Music/ASCAP)

9. AMOEBA HOP - Christine Lavin (Blendingwell Music/ASCAP)

10. THINGS - Mitch Greenhill (Folklore Music/ASCAP)

11. STONE SOBER BLUES - Paul Geremia (Hambone Music/ASCAP)

12. JOSHUA GONE BARBADOS - Eric Von Schmidt (Minglewood)

13. SOON MY WORK WILL ALL BE DONE - Reverend Gary Davis (Chandos Music)

14. TO ALL MY FRIENDS IN FAR FLUNG PLACES - Jane Voss (Obscure Origins Music/BMI)

DISC 2

1. WRAP THE WORLD AROUND YOUR FINGER - Judy Mayhan

(East Casper Music/BMI)

2. JERSEY GIRL - Tom Waits (Fifth Floor Music)

3. PUNKY'S DILEMMA - Paul Simon (Paul Simon/BMI)

4. I'M HIP - Dave Frishberg, text; Bob Dorough, music (Aral Music/ASCAP, Swiftwater Music/ASCAP)

5. HARBOUR OF LOVE - Erik Frandsen, Michael Garin, Robert Hipkens, Paula Lockhart- (Song of Singapore Music)

6. AWFUL KIND OF BLUES - Gary White, text; John F. Hammond, music (Mahkinda Music/John F. Hammond Music)

7. WHY THE BLUES DON'T WORRY ME - Steve James (Copyright Control)

8. A SAILOR'S PRAYER - Rod MacDonald (Blue Flute Music/ASCAP)

9. MANY A MILE -Patrick Sky (Stoney Clove Music)

10. FOUR STRONG WINDS - Ian Tyson

(M. Witmark ASCAP, Warner Bros ASCAP)

11. THE SIMPLE THINGS WE SAID (Les Choses Les Plus Simple) -Gabriel Yacoub (English Translation: Ellen Hinsey, Nikki Matheson, Gabriel Yacoub)- (Kevin Organisation/SACEM, ASCAP, BMI)

12. SONG TO A SEAGULL - Joni Mitchell (Siquomb Music)

13. HEART ON THE RUN - Tom Intondi, Frank Rossini (City Dancer Music)

14. TO ALL MY FRIENDS IN FAR FLUNG PLACES (Reprise) - Jane Voss

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