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Robeson, Paul

Posted 11 Jan 04 on by Chris Rollason

A Paul Robeson compilation called 'Spirituals: Original Recordings 1925-1936',
released by Naxos in 2003 (8.1206.38), includes a number of tracks of Dylan interest.
Robeson's versions of 'Old Man River' and 'Lonesome Road' are, as is known, of interest
for 'Watching the River Flow' (especially live) and 'Sugar Baby' respectively,
but here we have some surprising illumination of other aspects of Dylan's

One track is called 'I Stood On The Ribber - Peter, Go Ring Dem
Bells' (recorded London Feb 1930; credited to Henry Burleigh (1886-1949),
whom the sleevenotes, by Peter Dempsey, describe as a
'Pennsylvania-born Negro baritone recitalist'.

Other titles include:
'Ezekiel Saw De Wheel' (of interest for 'This Wheel's On Fire'),
'I Got a Home in Dat Rock' (cf. 'Solid Rock'), and 'Nearer, My God To Thee'
(title quoted by Dylan in 'Caribbean Wind' and in his cover
of 'Frankie and Albert').

Robeson may indeed a connection worth exploring in more
detail for the complex process of 'love and theft' that marks the
genesis of Dylan's work.

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