On Frank Black’s 2006 Nashville album Fast Man Raider Man, a hidden gem features singer-songwriter Marty Brown joining Black on Ewan MacColl‘s classic “Dirty Old Town.” The duet combines two singers known for different types of music. But the rock sound of the former front man of the Pixies blends well with the Kentucky twang of Marty Brown on the English song.
MacColl originally wrote “Dirty Old Town” for a 1949 play Landscape with Chimneys. Yet, the song about Salford, Greater Manchester, England, has become something of a standard in its own right. In addition to MacColl’s own recording, the song has been covered by such folks as the Dubliners, the Pogues, Rod Stewart, and Townes Van Zandt.
The gritty recording of “Dirty Old Town” by Frank Black and Marty Brown makes me wish they had done more work together. Brown contributed in other ways to Black’s album Fast Man Raider Man, where Brown also played bass and provided backing vocals. They could have named their band “Black & Brown.”
Ewan MacColl, the folk singer and songwriter behind “Dirty Old Town,” wrote a number of songs including “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.” He passed away in October 1989. But the song about his dirty old home town lives on.
What is your favorite version of “Dirty Old Town”? Leave your two cents in the comments.
Singer-songwriter Marty Brown was recently profiled on “Kentucky Life” on television channel KET. In the video profile, Brown discusses what inspires his music while his wife Shellie Brown discusses his groundbreaking performance on America’s Got Talent.
Country singer-songwriter Marty Brown launched a major comeback on America’s Got Talent when he stood on the stage and sang Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Now, Brown has made an official recording of the song, which is available for download starting February 5.
The new single was produced in Nashville by Keith Stegall. As we have previously noted on Chimesfreedom, “Make You Feel My Love” is one of Dylan’s great late-career classics, and Brown reminds us of that with his wonderful rendition of the song. His performance of the song on America’s Got Talent continues to win new fans for the singer, who had his first taste of success in the early 1990s. So, it is fitting that he is now releasing an official version of his cover of the Dylan classic.
To help promote the release of “Make You Feel My Love,” Brown created a short video announcing the release and playing us a sample. Check it out.
Brown was recently featured in PBS station KET’s story “Kentucky Life.” The segment on Brown tells about his run on America’s Got Talent and also shows him in the studio in Nashville recording “King of Music Row.”
Although we are always especially excited about Marty Brown’s original songs, the new recording seems a perfect fit for Brown’s story and his voice. The song speaks in the voice of a songwriter, singing about “what needs to be written just right.”
The first verse of “King of Music Row” tells of slipping into The Bluebird Cafe, the famed Nashville songwriters’ hangout. So it seems appropriate that Brown has performed “King of Music Row” at that venue. Check it out.
Photo via YouTube. Leave your two cents in the comments.