When I was about 5-years-old, I liked to visit my great-uncle. He had a large record collection, mainly folk and Scottish traditional music. I loved it and asked for an LP record for Christmas – my first ever record! When I unpacked it, I played it, probably non-stop for months. Until recently, I had presumed the band were a ‘cover’ band, who’d made one of those ultra-cheap records popular in the seventies – not really a ‘band’ at all, but a bunch of session musicians playing songs for people who weren’t bothered about having the hits by the original artists.
However, I’ve found out that my assumption was wrong. The album was ‘Blowing in the Wind’ (1969) by The Travellers (just compare that album cover to the professional slickness everyone expects today!), who were very much a real band. They were Canadian and (according to various Internet sites) well known in Canada. One site calls them a ‘Canadian institution’. Their cover of ‘This Land is Your Land’ was a hit and they had others in Canada from the fifties through the early seventies. How and where my great uncle picked up their record is a mystery to me.
I can still remember several of the LP songs – the title track, of course (I wouldn’t have heard of Dylan, but I knew every word to ‘Blowing in the Wind’ at the age of 5), the two songs at the link, 'Early Morning Rain', 'If I Had a Hammer' etc. I suppose that’s why the death of Mary Travers last week meant something more to me than many other deaths of famous people I don’t know – from an early age, I knew and loved a number of the songs Peter, Paul and Mary played, through this Travellers record. It was only much later that I heard the Peter, Paul and Mary versions.
It was great to find those two tracks at the link. One of them, ‘Freight Train’, was my joint favourite song on the album, along with 'If I Had a Hammer'.