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Baker's Dozen

There's Always A Story: Martin Carthy's Favourite Music
Patrick Clarke , November 8th, 2023 10:32

Martin Carthy speaks to Patrick Clarke about his 13 favourite records, his love for the new wave of traditional musicians, encounters with Bob Dylan and The Beatles and more


Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

I was at the Festival Hall in 1964 when he sang ‘The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll’. “Bury the rag deep in your face for now’s the time for your tears…” The place was silent when it finished, and then just exploded into applause. The fucking roof nearly came off. That was the second time he came over, and it was hilarious because a lot of the ushers were saying ‘Who is this man? No one’s ever heard of him!’ But oh yes, they had. It was filled to capacity. When he used to do these solo gigs, he could be hilariously funny too. He was such a good performer. There was a film [about folk music] out at the time called Hootenanny Hoot – because ‘hootenanny’ was the word of the moment and of course Hollywood had jumped on the bandwagon. Bob was talking about how they had cast muscle men and ladies with not an awful lot of clothes on to brighten the music up, and the place was falling about with laughter. It was all improvised, it was like listening to Lord Buckley.

The very special thing about that concert was that he had been hilarious all the way through, then quite romantic, then dismissive, but then he produced this song out of the hat, ‘The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll’. It had a fabulous effect on me, it gave me an understanding of just what a song could do. The last verse is about how William Zamzinger got six months in jail, six fucking months in jail, for killing this woman. The rage that was felt by that audience, you could feel it in that silence at the end, then the explosion into this applause. Utterly wonderful.