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The North Star Grassman and the Ravens

[Sandy Denny]

The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, the eponymous track of Sandy Denny’s first solo album is the story of a sailor’s quest for himself. There are at least five recordings of this song:

  1. The studio version with Richard Thompson, acoustic guitar; Pat Donaldson, bass; Gerry Conway, drums; Ian Whiteman, piano and flute organ appeared in 1971 on The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, and later on her anthologies No More Sad Refrains and A Boxful of Treasures, and on the Island anthology Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal. The flute organ, together with background surf effects, makes this track very atmospheric.
  2. Sandy sang it on the BBC Radio 1 show “Sounds of the Seventies” hosted by Bob Harris recorded on 24 August 1971 and broadcast 6 September 1971. This recording was included in 2007 on the 3CD+DVD set Live at the BBC.
  3. This box also has on its DVD Sandy’s only remaining TV appearance, recorded 15 September 1971 for the BBC TV show “One in Ten: Sandy Denny”. This set included The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, Crazy Lady Blues, and Late November.
  4. A live version recorded at the Paris Theatre, London, on 16 March 1972 for BBC “Radio 1 in Concert” and broadcast on 25 March 1972 was released in 1997 on The BBC Sessions 1971-73 and in 2007 on Live at the BBC too.
  5. Another live recording is from Sandy’s last concert on 27 November 1977, appearing on The Attic Tracks Vol. 3 and Gold Dust - Live at the Royalty. On this version Sandy plays piano.

Cover Versions

  1. Ygdrassil on their album Easy Sunrise (2005)
  2. Ygdrassil on their DVD Live at the Folkwoods Festival 2006 (2008)
  3. Shione Yukawa on her album 灰色とわたし (2008)
  4. Joanna Newsom (harp, vocals) in a 2013 video shown on Vimeo and YouTube
  5. The Julie July Band on their CD Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (July 2018)


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