22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Rompin' Through the Swamp,
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This review is from: The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir (Hardcover)
For the sake of good order let me explain that Van Ronk has always been one of my favorites. His deep rusty voice and superior song arrangements kept me listening for years. Now on to the book.
It is a wonderful insight to the NYC folk scene before, during, and after their golden ago. It tells stories from distant point-of-view that was there when it all occurred but has the separation in time and place to take the sharp emotions away. Sure Bobby Dylan took his arrangement of "House of the Rising Sum" (that was then copied by the Animals), sure with other management he might have been more famous, sure with a little more luck (and a better record company) he might have had a top ten song. But the book is from a later page in his life.
Once I started the book I could not put it down - each page was a new adventure. To read the words on the pages is the same as to have heard him talk between songs at one of his shows - minus the inflections.
Why four stars rather than five? For so much that was not there. Van Ronk died near the start of the project and his co-author did a wonderful job of keeping Van Ronk's voice and putting the pieces together. The fifth star is reserved for what might have been.