Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Under The Covers with Jackson C. Frank

"Living is a gamble, baby/Loving's much the same/
Wherever I have played/The blues have run the game"

I don’t think any one song has been covered by more of my favorite artists than “Blues Run The Game.” It’s the perfect song to cover – it has a simple, haunting melody, timeless lyrics, and plenty of room for interpretation.

The first 4 tracks are by Frank and 3 of his supposed one-time flat-mates. If these guys actually did live together it would make an incredible movie. All of them ended up as iconic musicians but in such different ways. Watch the video of Paul Simon playing Connie Hawkins in basketball on the 2nd episode of SNL and tell me you wouldn’t kill to see what it was like for him to share a room with Nick Drake.

Also, the version by The Decemberists was the first time I ever heard them. This fact alone makes me forever indebted to the song.

Jackson C. Frank – Blues Run The Game
Nick Drake – Blues Run The Game
Simon and Garfunkle – Blues Run The Game
Sandy Denny – Blues Run The Game
Bert Jansch – Blues Run The Game
Counting Crows – Blues Run The Game
The Decemberists – Blues Run The Game

If you haven’t heard of Jackson Frank, you’re not alone. Read this short bio to familiarize yourself with his incredibly interesting and tragic life.



David said...

Powerful collection. I played with a guy in the sixties who did that song. He came up through the early sixties folk scene in England. I didn't know anything about the song although it used to affect me deeply.
I had not heard of Jackson C.Frank until I read your posting, and then I read a bio on a site about him. Heavy stuff.
Thanks for the education.

David said...

Oops, just noticed that you linked to the same bio I read elsewhere.

David said...

Hi again. Just sent this page to my friend who responded thusly:

"Ar yass, I remember Jackson C. Frank (I allus used to erroneously call him Franks) showin' up at the Swindon Ballad & Blues Club with Paul Simon one weekend in '65. He got up and did a few tunes, including Blues Run the Game. Must've sunk in; 'course I wuz young and impressionable. Odd dude - a lot of his face was burn-scarred - kind of gave a subliminal effect of a reincarnated WWII fighter pilot who'd been caught in a hot one. Picked up on the song - it had a ring of authenticity or some such, and a riff that was kinda nice to play. Heard his name around London now and then, but don't think I saw him again. Wotta a life!
Thanks for sending the lynx."

danny said...

thanks for the comments. can your friend shed any light on the urban legend about the 4 eventual superstar roommates? its great to hear a first hand account of his music

David said...

Sorry, don't want to cross into people's personal lives. Thanks again for the illumination.

Benjy said...

My life just got 5x more bizarre.