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Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual

Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual album cover
Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual album cover.
Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual album cover
Alternate Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual album cover.

"Not infrequently I am taken to task for the manner in which I approach my material," folk singer and guitar player Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) wrote in the liner notes to Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual. A white New Yorker singing traditional Southern black songs, he distinguished himself from others who adopted this repertoire by imitating the way he heard black musicians perform. "Although I can appreciate the ‘white approach’ to Negro folksongs and enjoy the work of many of its adherents, I still reserve the right to sing these songs in the style to which I am accustomed, partly because of habit, and partly, I confess, because I feel that my way is the ‘right way'."

This 1959 release was Van Ronk’s first record. It contains the tracks "If You Leave Me Pretty Momma," "Backwater Blues," "K.C. Moan," "How Long," and "John Henry," which were not featured on the Van Ronk collection The Folkways Years, 1959-1961.

Liner notes include photos, lyrics, song histories, and an introduction by Van Ronk.

Track Listing

Duncan and Brady Dave Van Ronk 3:02
Black Mountain Blues Dave Van Ronk 4:02
In the Pines Dave Van Ronk 3:08
My Baby's So Sweet Dave Van Ronk 2:35
Oh, What a Beautiful City (Twelve Gates to the City) Dave Van Ronk 3:15
Winin' Boy Dave Van Ronk 2:38
If You Leave Me Pretty Momma Dave Van Ronk 3:09
Backwater Blues Dave Van Ronk 3:04
Careless Love Dave Van Ronk 2:59
Betty and Dupree Dave Van Ronk 3:37
K.C. Moan Dave Van Ronk 3:04
Gambler's Blues Dave Van Ronk 2:30
John Henry Dave Van Ronk 2:28
How Long Dave Van Ronk 3:56