Today we have an an early Bob Dylan classic – Girl From The North Country. I like nearly every version I’ve heard from him of this song and believe me there are many! He wrote it about his then sweetheart Suze Rotolo (but there is debate about this) who appears on the famous record cover The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (pictured left). This actual street called Jones Street in New York was not far from Rotolo and Dylan’s apartment, and the image has become iconic featured in artwork and imitated in movies. I especially like how it’s brought to screen in Vanilla Sky by Cameron Crowe. One day I would like to do a pilgrimage of Dylan America which of course would include this street.
If you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine
If you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please, see if she has a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin’ winds
Dylan wrote Girl From The North Country following his first trip to England in ’62. Dylan then left England for Italy to search for Suze, whose continuation of studies there had caused a serious rift in their relationship. 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“. One such person was Martin Carthy who introduced him to his arrangement of “Scarborough Fair” which of course later Simon and Garfunkel made famous. Dylan drew upon aspects of the melody and lyrics including the line from the refrain “Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine“
Later in Dylan’s career we would see the old English folk songs appear on his Good as I Been To You and other records. Dylan performed the song 569 times live between 1963 and 2019. Apart from the original his version to close his 30th Anniversary soundtrack was something else where I thought he’d break the strings off the guitar.
Below are presented two versions, an alternative early version and later his Sydney tour with Tom Petty in ’86, both which feature Spanish subtitles.
Girl From the North Country – Wikpedia