Cover story

Breaking cover. Cover Story (39) looks back at Birmingham Sunday: Rhiannon Giddens, Farina or Baez

Rhiannon Giddens - 1
Image: by Appalachian Encounters (Rhiannon Giddens) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Why has Salut! Live been silent? It is a long story but can be told briefly. I was pleased with the way things were going here but the number of visits to the site (ie its readership) simply did not seem commensurate with the time and effort devoted to it.

To be listed at, as two other sites of mine are, would have made a difference. Newsnow collects and categorises headlines at websites and blogs. It has a large readership so, for example, Salut! Sunderland's hits are massively enhanced because its articles are shown there in headline form. I value and appreciate that help. Salut!, the parent site, is more difficult to categorise but still benefits significantly from appearances at newsnow.

I was naive enough to feel we were doing more than enough at Salut! Live to justify acceptance by newsnow. It was not to be. The reasons for rejection were certainly debatable but that's not a debate for here. I do wish to keep the site alive and I do believe it has lots to offer lovers of folk and folk-related music, with a strong archive of material and endless scope for discussion.

For now, I will just allow a great friend Ian Evans, first met on holiday in Peru but a kindred spirit on so many levels, to revive the popular Cover Story series. Here, Ian compares versions of Richard Farina's powerful song about one of America's many shaming incidents, the bombing by Ku Klux Klan lowlife of a Baptist Church that killed four girls ...

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Cover Story: (37) Heart Like a Wheel. Mary Black, the McGarrigles or Linda Ronstadt

Author: Colin Randall

Frank Gallagher - 1

For once, I really have no strong opinion.

I love Mary Black's singing and I love the McGarrigles (Anna and the sadly departed Kate). Linda Ronstadt has a great voice. It's just that I have no special love for the song Heart Like a Wheel; it's pleasant enough but doesn't do for me for what it clearly does for so many others. That's the nature of individual musical tastes.

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Cover Story (36): Rave On. Buddy Holly or Steeleye Span

Author: Colin Randall

Buddy - 1

Cover Story - same songs, different versions - has been running for a while now. This is a slightly unusual addition to the series ...

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

My paper round days started after Don McLean's. But I suspect I would have felt a little the same had the papers in my bag in the mid-1960s carried front-page news of Buddy Holly's death in an air crash.

Holly's music was difficult to dislike for young lads and lasses growing up during his tragically short career and for a few years afterwards. It was simple but irresistibly catchy; the lyrics expressed everyday emotions - ones we had or aspired to - and the tunes were memorable.

Rave On was among his best songs or rather one of the best songs he recorded since he didn't write it. I find no fault with it but - for the purposes of this, the 36th and latest edition of Cover Story - I do know of a version I like even more.

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Cover Story (35): Jack Haggerty - Touchstone, Tony Furtado or Celtic Mayhem

Author: Colin Randall

Just for fun and also because I never tire of hearing Jack Haggerty, I thought I'd combine nostalgia (Dipping into the Past via Salut! Live's extensive archive) and our regular look at different treatments of the same songs (Cover Story). Jack Haggerty, also known as Jack Hackety, is the first-person lament of a heartbroken raftsman on the Flat Rover in Michigan over the loss of the life of his life, the blacksmith's daughter Anna.


She cruelly announces she is to marry another ("to her mother, Jane Tucker, I lay all the blame," wails our hero. "For she caused her to leave me and slandered my name..." ).

The song dates form the 1860s and was written by one Dan McGinnis whose trades did include working the rafts. There are a number of versions out there and any competent singer or band should be able to give the song a decent shot. More of that later; one, for me, stands head and shoulders above all others. And that is where the nostalgia comes into the tale. What follows is based on what first appeared in one of the Salut! Live "Song of the Day" variants. *****

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Cover Story (34): Blues Run the Game. Jackson C Frank, Bert Jansch or Martin Simpson

Jackson C Frank

Salut! Live wishes its scores of readers, sometimes hundreds (OK 100+) as it is creeping up if slowly, a happy and healthy 2018. Cover Story, our look at the same songs by different singers, reaches its 34th instalment today.

It's a series that people seem to think has some merit and you can check the archive at this link. As ever, guest contributors are warmly welcome. And Andrew Curry, a fellow enthusiast of folk music and also a fellow, suffering Sunderland AFC supporter, has come up with a gem of an entry in the series.

Why didn't I think of Blues Run the Game as an obvious contender for the series? I love this song. I remember it being sung by my friend Phil Steele at the folk clubs we frequented or ran in the North East (or at least I think I do; the memory may be playing tricks). I remember Jackson C Frank's original and, in particular, I remember learning about Frank's tragic life. Andrew captures all the elements of a classic of contemporary folk and discusses other versions, too ...

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Cover Story: (33) Streets of London. Ralph McTell, or McTell with Annie Lennox for Crisis (homeless charity)


For two special editions of Cover Story, Salut! Live's series on different versions of the same songs, I am in the hands of a good friend Frank Gallagher, an exceptional musician and musical producer I first met through his work with Mary Black.

Frank does not know, unless he read the relevant piece, how I massacred Streets of London in my first taste of public performance in decades in the south of France earlier this year.

But now he tells me he is the producer of one exceptional new version, with the song's composer Ralph McTell joined by the redoubtable Annie Lennox with massive help from the choir of the charity Crisis, which works to combat homelessness and help its victims.

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