Song Of The Day 12/7/2015: John Greenway – “Talking Butcher”

Song Of The Day Outtakes 2015 – This was cut from Talkin' Talkin' Blues Blues Week. It's kind of an unfortunate omission on my part since John Greenway's Talking Blues album from 1958 was probably as direct an influence on Bob Dylan's talking blues works as he could get. Greenway was a folk scholar from Liverpool, England who emigrated to the U.S. to foster a fruitful career delving into American folk song traditions. (He went to Australia as well.) Greenway was primarily concerned with working-class material -- protest songs, union anthems, industrial ballads -- and dipped a little into the transient and migratory cultures as well. He wrote a ton of books and recorded three albums of his own, including Talking Blues. "Talking Butcher" is much lighter on the jokes than the monologues Dylan or Woody Guthrie produced. Not much of a plot: man makes a move on the butcher's wife, butcher interrupts them, being a butcher he's got sort of a ready-made strategy for vengeance, would-be adulterer spends the rest of the song escaping, remarking about the butcher's inflamed eyes and how he "wants to cut." Some characters external to the original situation get lightly involved and a hornet's nest gets defiled, but in the end it's just some easily-arrived-at observations about the butcher. Sort of a morally equivocal resolution, really. Nobody gets cut. And it was too simple a time for anyone to have considered salmonella outbreaks. Well, then. Here are the building blocks of American song, ladies and germs. Knock yourselves out.

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