Girl from the North Country
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|"Girl from the North Country"|
|Song by Bob Dylan from the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan|
|Released||May 27, 1963|
|The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan track listing|
"Girl from the North Country" (occasionally known as "Girl of the North Country") is a song written by Bob Dylan. It was recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City in April 1963, and released the following month as the second track on Dylan's second studio album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Dylan re-recorded the song as a duet with Johnny Cash in February 1969. That recording became the first track on Nashville Skyline, Dylan's ninth studio album.
Live performances by Dylan appear on the albums Real Live (1984) and The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993). A February 1964 performance for Canadian television was included on the DVD release of Martin Scorsese's PBS television documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home in 2005.
Origin of the song
The song was written following his first trip to England in December, 1962, upon what he thought to be the completion of his second album. It is debated as to whom this song is a tribute; some claim former girlfriend, Echo Helstrom, and some Bonnie Beecher, both of whom Dylan knew before leaving for New York. However, it is suspected that this song could have been inspired by his then girlfriend, Suze Rotolo. Dylan left England for Italy to search for Suze, whose continuation of studies there had caused a serious rift in their relationship. Unbeknownst to Dylan, Rotolo had already returned to the United States, leaving about the same time that Dylan arrived in Italy. It was here that he finished the song, ostensibly inspired by the apparent end of his relationship with Rotolo. Upon his return to New York in mid-January, he convinced Rotolo to get back together, and to move back into his apartment on 4th Street. Suze Rotolo is the woman featured on the album cover, walking arm in arm with Dylan down Jones Street, not far from their apartment.
While in London, Dylan met several figures in the local folk scene, including English folksinger Martin Carthy. "I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs," Dylan recalled in 1984. "Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin." Carthy exposed Dylan to a repertoire of traditional English ballads, including Carthy's own arrangement of "Scarborough Fair," which Dylan drew upon for aspects of the melody and lyrics of "Girl from the North Country," including the line from the refrain "Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine". Musically, this song is nearly identical to his composition "Boots of Spanish Leather", composed and recorded one year later for the album The Times They Are a-Changin'.
- Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell performed a duet of the song on The Johnny Cash Show.
- Cash also recorded a duet with Dylan himself during their February, 1969 recording session while Dylan was in Nashville for Nashville Skyline. This version appears in the 2012 film Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
- Waylon Jennings performed a live cover version in the early '60s on his album The Restless Kid — Live at JD's.
- The Blue Things recorded a version of the song on their 1966 album Listen & See.
- Hugues Aufray recorded a French adaptation as "La fille du nord" on his 1997 album "Aufray chante Dylan."
- Tom Northcott's 1968 single charted in Canada.
- Joe Cocker and Leon Russell performed the song on the 1970 live album Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
- Leon Russell performed the song on his 1970 live album at the Fillmore East.
- Roy Harper recorded his version of the traditional song on his 1974 album Valentine.
- Rod Stewart also covered this song on his 1974 album Smiler.
- Pete Townshend's "North Country Girl," on his album All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, is another variant on the traditional song that Dylan based "Girl from the North Country" on, albeit in a more pop-oriented manner. Since the 1990s, he has based his live performances of the song on Roy Harper's 1974 recording.
- Howard Tate recorded a soul version of the song on Howard Tate (1972).
- The Secret Machines recorded a version of the song, and it occasionally makes its way onto setlists during tours.
- Tony Rice recorded a version on his album Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass
- Chloe Webb covered the song during first season China Beach episode "Waiting for Beckett."
- Sam Bush also recorded a version of this song which is on his live album, Peaks of the Telluride.
- Eels perform a slowed down, live, acoustic version on Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall as well as The Myspace Transmissions Session 2009.
- Altan performed this song on their album Another Sky
- Railroad Earth performed a live version of this song September 29, 2007, at the Gothic Theater in Denver, Colorado.
- Susan Herndon recorded the song with French lyrics on her 2007 album 1,000 Pies.
- Link Wray & his Ray Men put out a version in 1965.
- The Waterboys covered it as well, it can be found on the Hard Rain compilation, given away by Mojo magazine.
- Walter Trout adds a blues guitar solo to this song on the live album No More Fish Jokes (1992)
- Hamilton Camp covered the song on his 1964 album Paths of Victory.
- Tom Northcott released a version in 1968.
- The Black Crowes have performed this song live numerous times.
- Mojave 3 covers the song in the CD single of "Return to Sender" (4AD), 2000
- Robert Plant has performed the song during several live performances.
- John Gorka recorded the song on A Nod to Bob.
- Rosanne Cash included the song on her 2009 album The List, which is based on a list of 100 country songs Johnny Cash recommended to her as "essential."
- Dear Nora released a cover on their 2003 split single with Mates of State.
- Dala recorded a live version on their 2010 Girls From the North Country album.
- Thea Gilmore covered the song for BBC Radio 2's tribute re-recording of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
- Eddie Vedder has performed the song on his solo tours, with a performance documented in the 2011 concert film Water On The Road.
- Gove Scrivenor recorded this song in possibly the most energetic version ever on his Shine On album.
- Bruce Hornsby's recording of this song is featured on the NPR Mountain Stage Best of Mountain Stage, Volume 6 album.
- The Country Gentlemen featuring John Duffey recorded a fine cover of this song, bluegrass style. It can be found on the album The Rebel Years: 1962-1977.
- Sting covered the song for Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
- The Lions version of the song was featured in the opening episode of season 2 of Sons of Anarchy.
- As Tall As Lions covered the song.
- Counting Crows released a live version as an iTunes Store bonus track on their 2012 album of covers, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation).
- Crosby, Stills & Nash released a live cover version of this on their video and CD release, CSN 2012.
- Neil Young released a cover of this song on his 2014 album A Letter Home.
- Heather Masse of The Wailin' Jennys, Richard Kriehn of The Guys All-Star Shoe Band, and Aoife O’Donovan covered the song on "A Prairie Home Companion" on April 11, 2015.
- Sheehy, Colleen Josephine; Thomas Swiss (2009). Highway 61 revisited: Bob Dylan's road from Minnesota to the world. U of Minnesota Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780816661008.
- Live at the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, Tennessee - 7 October 1970, The ABC Show Series Vol. 6, Ryman Records
- Greene, Andy (18 April 2014). "Neil Young's New Covers Album Available Right Now: Surprise!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Music performed on A Prairie Home Companion, April 11, 2015, The Town Hall, New York City, NY".
- Lyrics at Bob Dylan's official website