Girl from the North Country

Girl from the North Country
"Girl from the North Country"
Song by Bob Dylan from the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Released May 27, 1963
Genre Folk
Length 3:22
Label Columbia Records
Writer Bob Dylan
Composer Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan track listing
  1. "Blowin' in the Wind"
  2. "Girl from the North Country"
  3. "Masters of War"
  4. "Down the Highway"
  5. "Bob Dylan's Blues"
  6. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall"
  7. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
  8. "Bob Dylan's Dream"
  9. "Oxford Town"
  10. "Talkin' World War III Blues"
  11. "Corrina, Corrina"
  12. "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance"
  13. "I Shall Be Free"

"Girl from the North Country" (occasionally 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. Dylan re-recorded the song as a duet with Johnny Cash in 1969. That recording became the first track on Nashville Skyline, Dylan's ninth studio album. Live performances by Dylan appear on the albums Real Live and The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration.


Origin of the song

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. It is debated as to whom this song is a tribute to, some claim former girlfriend, Echo Helstrom, and some Bonnie Beecher, both of whom Dylan knew before leaving for New York. However, it is suspected that this song could have been inspired by his then girlfriend, Suze Rotolo. Dylan left England for Italy to search for Suze, 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 aspects of 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". Musically, this song is nearly identical to his composition "Boots of Spanish Leather",[1] composed and recorded one year later for the album The Times They Are a-Changin'.

Notable versions

  • Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell performed a duet of the song on The Johnny Cash Show.[2]
  • Waylon Jennings performed a live cover version in the early 60s on his album The Restless Kid — Live at JD's.
  • The Blue Things recorded a version of the song on their 1966 album Listen & See.
  • Hugues Aufray adaptation "La fille du nord".
  • Tom Northcott's 1968 single charted in Canada.
  • Joe Cocker performed the song on his 1970 live album Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
  • Roy Harper recorded his version of the traditional song on his 1974 album Valentine.
  • Rod Stewart also covered this song on his 1974 album Smiler.
  • Pete Townshend's "North Country Girl," on his album All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, is another variant on the traditional song that Dylan based "Girl from the North Country" on, albeit in a more pop-oriented manner. He has also performed live versions of the song more similar to Dylan's original.
  • Howard Tate recorded a soul version of the song on Howard Tate (1972).
  • The Secret Machines recorded a version of the song, and it occasionally makes its way onto setlists during tours.
  • Tony Rice recorded a version on his album Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass
  • Sam Bush also recorded a version of this song which is on his live album, Peaks of the Telluride.
  • Eels perform a slowed down, live, acoustic version on Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall as well as The Myspace Transmissions Session 2009.
  • Altan performed this song on their album Another Sky
  • Railroad Earth performed a live version of this song September 29, 2007, at the Gothic Theater in Denver, Colorado.
  • Susan Herndon recorded the song with French lyrics on her 2007 album 1,000 Pies.
  • Link Wray & his Ray Men put out a version in 1965.
  • The Waterboys covered it as well, it can be found on the Hard Rain compilation, given away by Mojo magazine.
  • Walter Trout adds a blues guitar solo to this song on the live album No More Fish Jokes (1992)
  • Hamilton Camp covered the song on his 1964 album Paths of Victory.
  • Tom Northcott released a version in 1968.
  • Mojave 3 covers the song in the CD single of "Return to Sender" (4AD), 2000
  • Robert Plant has performed the song during several live performances.
  • John Gorka recorded the song on A Nod to Bob.
  • Rosanne Cash included the song on her 2009 album The List, which is based on a list of 100 country songs Johnny Cash recommended to her as "essential."
  • Dear Nora released a cover on their 2003 split single with Mates of State.
  • Dala recorded a live version on their 2010 Girls From the North Country album.
  • Thea Gilmore covered the song for BBC Radio 2's tribute re-recording of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"
  • Eddie Vedder has performed the song on his solo tours, with a performance documented in the 2011 concert film Water On The Road.
  • Gove Scrivenor recorded this song. Possibly the most energetic version ever on his "Shine On" album.

External links

  • Lyrics at Bob Dylan's official website



  1. ^ Sheehy, Colleen Josephine; Thomas Swiss (2009). Highway 61 revisited: Bob Dylan's road from Minnesota to the world. U of Minnesota Press. p. 85. ISBN 0816661006, 9780816661008. 
  2. ^ Live at the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, Tennessee - 7 October 1970, The ABC Show Series Vol. 6, Ryman Records

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