Song of the Day, March 3: John the Gun by Sandy Denny

DennyNorthJohnGunToday’s song is a standout on a complicated solo debut. After finding fame as a member of Fairport Convention and a brief attempt as a bandleader with Fotheringay, Sandy Denny finally struck out on her own in 1971. The North Star Grassman and the Ravens is a fascinating debut, a mixture of strong originals, a perfect traditional folk selection, and some odd experiments. Denny brought in many of her musical pals, notably Richard Thompson, and many former Fairport and Fotheringay members. Sometimes the gathered talent collided rather than collaborated.

An exception is John the Gun, one of Denny’s best-known songs. It’s an eerie original, a compelling epic with a strong trad-folk feel. Denny had been working on it for a couple of years, intending it for the shelved second Fotheringay album. With a searing Thompson lead guitar, solid backing from Fotheringay pals, and a great fiddle line from Barry Dransfield, this time the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Enjoy this stirring epic today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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