Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Highwaymen

This is not the supergroup consisting of Wayon, Willie, Kris K, and Johnny Cash. No. These Highwaymen were what Wikipedia convincingly calls part of the “collegiate folk revival” of the early 60s. Taking their cue from The Kingston Trio, the group had 4 singles (5 songs) on the top 100 during 1961 and 1962, all hootenanny- friendly.

The Highwaymen:

Michael – A spiritual. It seems to me that the lyrics they use are a rather non-denominational subset, only hinting at the theological implications of the original. I do believe that this was done earlier by The Weavers; it seems that 90% of songs recorded by these groups were taken from The Weavers’ repertoire. This record reached #1 in the fall of 1961. 
Cotton Fields – Known to be by Leadbelly, but who knows for sure. Recorded and recorded and recorded again, the apotheosis of this song may be the version by CCR on their Willie And The Poor Boys LP. The Beach Boys also had a crack at this at the end of the decade. From the winter of 1962. 
Gypsy Rover – The B side of Cotton Fields, this one just missed the top 40 in its own right, in the winter of 1962. One of those minstrel-style songs about a roving vagabond who sang his way into the hearts of the ladies, and, you can be sure, lead them all astray.

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