GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY
    “Girl from the North Country” (also known as “Girl of the North Country” is a song
    written by Bob Dylan. It was first released in 1963 as the second track on Dylan’s second
    studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. The song was written following his first
    trip to England in December, 1962, upon what he thought to be the completion of his
    second album. The song is a tribute to a former girlfriend, Echo Helstrom who Dylan
    knew before leaving for New York. Dylan left England for Italy to search for his then-
    girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, whose continuation of studies there had caused a serious rift in
    their relationship. Unbeknownst to Dylan, Rotolo had already returned to the United
    States, leaving about the same time that Dylan arrived in Italy. It was here that he finished
    the song, ostensibly inspired by the apparent end of his relationship with Rotolo. Upon
    his return to New York in mid-January, he convinced Rotolo to get back together, and to
    move back into his apartment on 4th Street. Suze Rotolo is the woman featured on the
    album cover, walking arm in arm with Dylan down Jones Street, not far from their
    apartment.
    While in London, Dylan met several figures in the local folk scene, including English
    folksinger Martin Carthy. “I ran into some people in England who really knew those
    [traditional English] songs,” Dylan recalled in 1984. “Martin Carthy, another guy named
    [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy’s incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin.” Carthy
    exposed Dylan to a repertoire of traditional English ballads, including Carthy’s own
    arrangement of Scarborough Fair,” which Dylan drew upon for the melody and lyrics of
    “Girl from the North Country,” including the line from the refrain “Remember me to one
    who lives there, she once was a true love of mine”. It is of note that musically this song is
    nearly identical to his composition Boots of Spanish Leather, composed and recorded one
    year later for the The Times They Are AChangin’ album.
    If you’re traveling in the north country fair
    Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
    Remember me to one who lives there
    She once was the true love of mine.
    If you go when the snowflakes storm
    When the rivers freeze and summer ends
    Please see if she’s a coat so warm
    To keep her from the howlin’ winds.
    Please see if her hair hangs long
    If it rolls and flows all down her breast
    Please see from me if her hair hangs long
    That’s the way I remember her best.
    I’m a-wonderin’ if she remember me at all
    Many times I’ve often prayed
    In the darkness of my night
    In the brightness of my day.
    So if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
    Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
    Remember me to one who lives there
    She once was a true love of mine.