I grew up in the 1960s, but the music that filled my home was more Beatles and Johnny Cash and less folk music. The only folk music that I did hear was from the Smothers Brothers and a couple of songs from the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary. So all the songs on the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis were new to me. It was something of a surprised to find that they were all real songs, even the fairly silly Please Mr Kennedy, though they have all been altered in subtle and not so subtle ways.
So it’s not surprsing that I never heard of Inside Dave Van Ronk, the album that inspired the title to Inside Llewyn Davis. Dave Van Ronk also sings the song Hang Me Oh Hang Me.
The biggest difference bewteen the songs on Inside Llewyn Davis and the orginal versons of these songs, all of which can be found on YouTube and in some case dozens of versions, is that these are extremely slick productions. The Coen Brothers have given us an alternate universe where Phil Specter produced folk albums instead of rock alblums. Where the traditional songs are accompanied by a single insturment, often a banjo or in once case an autoharp, these songs are filled to the brim with background orchestration and the voices are clearly the product of being Autotuned to perfection.
There are changes here and there in the lyrics. She is swaped for he, a woman sings about not having a shirt on her back instead of a man, and Please Mr Kenndy was a very early protest song, not a song about NASA. It all seems good thoughh. It’s always the first verison of a song that you hear that sounds right. They did a great job of finding songs I had never heard of, so they were all new to me.
I really loved this album and would now like them to do covers of every other folk song ever recorded. I don’t need another movie to go with it though.