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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 – Bringing It All Back Home

I remember Bob singing to me when he arrived for a tour one time. He came over to the house and just picked up a guitar and sang ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’. He would often sing his latest songs to me when he came over, so I must have been one of the first people in England to hear that. It’s a fabulous album, but that song has a special meaning for me. He would always come down with us to The Troubadour and sing three songs, and I remember when he sat down and played ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’. The Troubadour was a tiny place, but it used to get packed, and when Bob was coming down there were all sorts of people who never came at any other time poking their nose around the door. When he started singing that song, the room became totally absorbed, hanging on every word, because he had started writing in a way that nobody had ever heard. When he got to the end it was one of those moments where, again, the song finishes, and there’s a moment of complete silence as the audience take a very deep breath, and then they just exploded into applause. No version I’ve ever heard has come anywhere near as wonderful as that.

Whenever I went visiting him, he would aways be writing. Always. He seemed to write all the time. And you sort of sat there and were a visitor. Occasionally he would come out of writing mode and he'd be chatty just a bit, and then another idea would strike him so he would just go back to the writing. If he heard songs he liked he would go back and write what he remembered of them. It led to this ridiculous notion that he would people the audience with people instructed to write down songs for him, but no, he just had a fabulous memory.