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DAVE VAN RONK - Down In Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

With track-by-track liner notes and selections spanning his entire career (from early live recordings made in 1958 through to his final studio recordings in 2001), Down In Washington Square is a fitting and thorough summation of a key figure in (and mentor to) the Greenwich Village folk/blues revival of the late '50s/early '60s, and the inspiration for the title character of the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis (the T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack for which is set to be released next week). On a related note, Van Ronk's autobiography/memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a recommended read for anyone looking to learn more about this grizzled growler and fine fingerpicker. 

"[His] large personality is what made Van Ronk a central figure in the '60s Greenwich Village scene and folk song revival, and that influence found its way to fellow folkies like Phil Ochs, Suzanne Vega and Bob Dylan. There's an anecdote in the Dylan documentary No Direction Home that's repeated in the booklet here about how the emerging singer learned his version of 'House of the Rising Son' from Van Ronk, and how Dylan asked Van Ronk if he could record it. Van Ronk said that he'd rather Dylan didn't since he had his own plans to record it soon. The problem was Dylan had already recorded it.

Van Ronk said he had to stop performing it live because people thought he was ripping off Dylan, but eventually they both had to stop after people thought they were ripping off The Animals. 'Rising Sun' is included here, along with a host of other songs that have appeared and reappeared in one version or another in various places by other singers." - American Songwriter

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