Song of the Day #562: ‘Girl From the North Country’ – Bob Dylan

There are many potential ways to go about these Dylan weekends. I could present the songs randomly, thematically, chronologically, alphabetically… you name it. In order to lend some organization to the process, I’ve decided to highlight, in pairs, tracks from my favorite Dylan albums according to order of release.

I won’t cover every one of his albums — his work from the mid-70s to the mid-80s is better left forgotten — and I’ll restrict myself to the studio albums, leaving the bootleg records (worthy of a series all their own) aside for the time being. But that still gives me close to 20 albums to work with, encompassing one of the most extraordinary careers in the business.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in 1963, was Dylan’s first album of original material and remains one of his best. This is one of six Dylan albums I consider his pinnacle achievements. It’s funny that I can’t narrow that list down to fewer than six, but there you have it.

‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ is certainly the best-known track from Freewheelin’ but ‘Girl From the North Country’ is a close second. As he would throughout his career, Dylan drew inspiration from an old folk song, incorporating the “remember me to one who lives there” line from ‘Scarborough Fair.’

The thing that strikes me about a song like this, so world-weary and lovelorn, is that Dylan wrote it when he was 22 years old. Was he that much of an old soul at so early an age, or just that good at pretending?

Well, 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.

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see she has a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin’ winds.

Please see if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That’s the way I remember her best.

I’m a-wonderin’ if she remembers me at all.
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.

So 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.

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #562: ‘Girl From the North Country’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana says:

    Not to quibble to0 much here, but, arguably, after the legendary “Blowin’ In the Wind,” “It’s A Hard Rain a Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” are probably better known to the casual Dylan fan than today’s SOTD. In fact, I would argue that even “Masters of War” is better known than this song.

    As to Dylan’s worldly writing beyond his years, i think it is easily explained when you consider the kind of musical genius he clearly was (and is), aided by the times in which he lived (which I think forced many young kids to grow up too soon) and travel abroad (he wrote this song and much of the album after spending time in London), If Mozart in his day could write incredible compositions before he hit puberty, we should not be too surprised that Dylan could put out this incredible album at 22.

  2. Amy says:

    This song floored me the moment the first notes played. I was tearing up less than a minute into it. I’ve heard it before, of course, but not for a long time.

    Get a load of this:

    Is it any wonder why it’s so easy to love musicians? Or YouTube, for that matter? To get a chance to have a front row seat at a concert like this is rather amazing. Also renews my desire to move to Portland, Maine. Of course, I’m losing focus 🙂
    Dylan = the master; nuff said.

  3. Clay says:

    Great performance. Who is that guy? Trying to cause me more cold sweats, huh? 🙂

  4. Clay says:

    I see that! But how do you know of this fellow?

    He has a very nice web site. It’s amazing how many big stars have lame sites.

  5. Amy says:

    Well, he’s a “big star” in New England, which is where he first came on my radar.

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