Anthology of American Folk Music

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July 21, 2012


Lyle Lofgren

For the sake of your story, I hope it's not a song about a bad call by a referee at a Duquesne basketball game.


John Gibbens

Your grandfather came from Austria to Duquesne. And the statue on the front of "Tempest" is IN AUSTRIA. It's obvious Bob's still sending you messages - the question is, who did he employ to find out about you?

The Celestial Monochord

Hey Bob, I've been looking all over for that Lands End gift card my mother-in-law gave me last Christmas. Have you seen it? Thanks a bunch, The Celestial Monochord


behold, the first two verses of the song:

Duquesne called it depression
All that’s left for us to do right now is pray
Tempest rising from the East, opression
Knocking on the door, can’t get away

Well, they promised me to pull away the harness
But now it’s pretty clear to me that there’s no way
They’re ever gonna keep their promise
They said I lack the sense of freedom anyway
Well, to live outside the law you must be honest
So I guess I’ll have to stick around and play


well ryan, where do you got that info from? would be nice to know how reliable this is...


obviously from my promo copy

Jerry Clark

I am, as always (and maybe even more than usual), looking forward to the new disc, meantime driving myself to distraction trying to infer what I can from the titles. It's safe to say that Dylan may be running low on them. Gillian Welch recorded "Scarlet Town" (from "Barbara Allen" obviously) on her most recent release, and "Tin Angel" is the name of an early Joni Mitchell song -- perhaps Dylan's ironic vengeance on her for calling him a "plagiarist" awhile ago.

I'll give him a pass on "Tempest." Dylan points out that this one lacks the Bard's definite article (i.e., "The Tempest"). He says he based the narrative and melody loosely on the Carter Family's "The Titanic" -- whatever that means.

The Carters recorded two versions of it, one by the original trio, recognizable as the familiar "It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down." The other, more interesting "Titanic" was cut in April 1952 by a reconstituted "Carter Family," here defined as A. P., Sara, and children Joe and Janette. In terms of both lyric and melody, it's hard to beat the neo-Carter song, which is lovely and scary to boot.

Like the Carters, Dylan is now on to recording two entirely separate songs with the same title. Early in his career he was singing a version of the traditional "Roll on, John" and now has his own original, which rumor alleges is about John Lennon.

Well, we'll see. I am counting the days.


Clear your calendar: this year's Harry Smith Fest is Nov. 4 and features the Wiyos. See you in Millheim!


NPR posted a link to Duquesne Whistle stream on Facebook today (8/27).. haven't had a chance to listen, but figured if you hadn't yet seen /heard you , you could remedy that.

Jerry Clark

I am presuming that at least some readers have seen the "Duquesne Whistle" video released today. It's a terrific song, with plenty of echoes of old-time train songs (e.g., "K.C. Moan"), but we learn incidentally that Ryan (above) was funnin' us.

The Celestial Monochord

Or maybe Ryan got funned ... Great to hear from you Jerry! I haven't heard the song and haven't seen the video. I'm one of those people who want to save it up for when I can go to Ye Olde Recorde Shoppe and buy it all at once. I dunno, maybe I'll buy it in London. Back on 11 September 2001, I intended to do the same with Love and Theft - currently my favorite Dylan album, and possibly my favorite album of anybody's - but didn't get the chance, due to the mayhem. So, I feel like I have a kind of score to settle, or something. Glad you're liking what you hear, tho!


The song might be about Du Quoin, Illinois. Dylan may have changed the town name just enough to fit his musical needs. Du Quoin is near Carbondale, Illinois and there is a Carbondale mentioned in the lyrics. Furry Lewis lost his leg between Du Quoin and Carbondale while riding a freight train. An Amtrak passenger route (the Saluki, named for a local college mascot) still runs from Du Quoin to Carbondale.

Jerry Clark,0,6880760.story

This article answers the question I raised in an earlier posting on this thread.

Dylan's "Tempest" is indeed based on the 1952 Carter Family version of "The Titanic." It quotes the lyrics, prominently but not exclusively the opening line "The pale moon rose in its glory" (not unique to the Carters, by the way), and the words composed by Dylan can be sung to the older melody. "The watchman" also figures in the original, and other lyrics borrow or parody the Carters's. That may be plagiarism to Joni Mitchell, but to the rest of us, it's Dylan's continuing, brilliantly employed use of the folk process.

The LA Times writer evidently missed all of this, but at least he has some marginal awareness of Titanic ballads -- albeit, it seems, not this Carter gem -- in American traditional music.

Kees de Graaf

I think that there are convincing reasons to believe that Du Quoin (IL) is meant here, mainly because Carbondale is just north of it.
For more details on this please check out on my analysis which you may find under the following link:

Jerry Clark

For anyone who may be interested, my review of
Tempest was posted here a few weeks ago:

It examines the album's roots in traditional music, everything from Child ballads to Sleepy John Estes and the Mississippi Sheiks. And I believe I am the only reviewer to catch the Gordon Lightfoot quote.

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