black is the colour

I have a little obsession lately with the Appalachian folk song, “Black is the colour of my true love’s hair.”

The first version I ever heard was from Berio’s Folk Songs song cycle.  I found this nice video on youtube, which scrolls through the score as the piece goes along:

Not my favorite performance (I’m attached to this recording, with Christine Schadeberg), but good.

There are all these other great performances, though.  Nina Simone’s is just haunting.  There are several videos online of different performances of hers.  I quite like this one, for her piano playing as much as her singing.  I love the beginning in particular, while she effortlessly keeps playing while a “roadie” adjusts the piano bench underneath her. The second part of the video, with Emile Latimer singing and playing guitar (starting around 3:25), I love less.

Joan Baez does a nice version, probably closest to the folk ideal of the ones I’ve heard:

Then there’s the famous recording by the enigmatic, influential jazz singer Patty Waters, with a totally improvised accompaniment by Burton Greene. Completely brilliant and otherworldly:

posted on 12.04.10  |  category: i like, new music, notation

1 Comment »

  1. Comment by barry

    In A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall, Bob Dylan describes a dystopia where “black is the color and none is the number”. In typical Dylan fashion, he appropriates swatches of folk idiom and makes new dresses out of old cloth.

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