Friday, September 12, 2008

The Drifters

The Drifters, a novel by James Michener, is the story of six teenagers in the turbulent 1960s. They end up traveling together, each in search of escape or meaning for their lifes.

One of the characters is Gretchen, a sometime singer and guitar player from Boston, MA. Most of the songs Gretchen sings she learned from Francis J. Child's The English and Scottish Popular Songs (1882-1898) (Child Ballads). The songs were old narrative ballads that often "struck much to closely" to the experiences of those who heard Gretchen sing them.

Carl Peterson recorded these songs on an album called "Drifting with Michener", presented as Gretchen may have sung them, with minimal instrumentation.

When researching the songs, Carl often it found it difficult to find the correct lyrics based on the lines in the book. In the Child Ballads there are often dozen of sets of lyrics for any particular song. Carl took the context of the lyrics in the novel into consideration when choosing the lyrics for his album.

Carl's album includes 14 Songs from the Child Ballads, plus two Scottish ballads that also appear in the novel. You can hear samples and buy this album of beautiful story songs here: The Drifters.

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