I’m hoping to set down a few words about every great Bob Dylan song as I make my way through this Long and Wasted Year. “Girl From the North Country”, the second song on Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, is certainly one of those. A truly heartbreaking song, it has genuine emotional power. Not for nothing did they use it as the emotional centrepiece of Silver Linings Playbook (although they used the Nashville Skyline version – more on that in about six weeks when I’m allowed to listen to it).
It’s a simple song, and a beautiful one. Based on “Scarborough Fair”, which he learned in London at the end of 1962, it has been covered by just about everyone from Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings to The Waterboys and Eddie Vedder. Rosanne Cash covered it on her album The List, on which she did only songs that her father had recommended to her as essential. Here she is talking about it and singing it:
Searching for a good early Dylan version of it on YouTube I ran across this curiosity. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t from 1963, so it’s out of place here, but I’m posting it anyway, because it is awesome:
This is one of the Dylan songs where I don’t think he ever did a bad version of it.
(Sorry to post three things right in a row – long day prevented me from getting things that I’d written up earlier. I’m going to bed to listen to the Carnegie Hall concert again)