Folk music is the name of the game today, and none of the Mumford & Sons revival, where a few acoustic instruments and stomping passes for the genre. 1930s or it didn’t happen.
The version of the classic ballad “Froggie Went A-Courtin'” I’ve chosen betrays that maxim of course, as it is by Bob Dylan, who was a shockingly fresh folk revivalist at one point himself. It is also from a an album of late-period Dylan, the all-acoustic, thoroughly folkie Good As I Been To You, released in 1992. Despite Dylan’s songwriting reputation, not one song is by him- they are all traditionals arranged for acoustic guitar. Today’s selection is a favorite, because I am beside myself to hear him sing about mice, frogs and rats as if a fable of Aesop.
The song “Froggie Went a-Courtin'” is old. Really old. The earliest written version may date from 1611. It’s also been recorded many times in the 20th century, including versions by Doc Watson, Woody Guthrie, and Chubby Parker’s contribution to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, titled “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O.”
Fans of Harry Smith’s Anthology, or of folk generally, should check out an unbelievable blog documenting each song of the anthology titled The Old, Weird America (itself a Dylan reference). Or, if you really want to look up all 170 verses of “Froggie”, be my guest.