March 20, 2013

Jeff Beck - Greensleeves (1968)

Born June 24, 1944 in Surrey, England, Jeff Beck is one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music. As a child, he sang in the church choir and was influenced by the blues. As a teenager, he was introduced to Jimmy Page by his sister. His first appearance on a record came in 1964 when he played guitar as a session musician on “I’m Not Running Away”/ “So Sweet” by a group called The Fitz and the Startz. In March 1965, Beck joined The Yardbirds as Eric Clapton’s replacement at the suggestion of Jimmy Page, who had turned down the band’s first offer. After being fired from The Yardbirds for his irritable temper and unreliability some time later, Beck recorded a single song with Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Nicky Hopkins (heard here) before forming The Jeff Beck Group in early 1967 with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. Around the same time, Pink Floyd had lost their front man Syd Barrett and considered asking Beck to join their band. Nobody ever asked Beck, however, as none of them “had the nerve,” according to Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason. About two years later, just after Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones had passed away, the remaining members of The Rolling Stones talked with Beck about joining their band, but, that too never panned out as they had different interests at the time. Just before the Woodstock festival in August 1969, The Jeff Beck Group folded and had to cancel their scheduled performance at the festival.

While no author is officially known, this traditional English folk song was first registered in September of the year 1580 by “Richard Jones.” Jones registered the song under the title “A Newe Northern Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves,” while six other songs similar to it were being registered by other people throughout the next twelve months. Although an instrumental version is heard below, the song actually contains lyrics which are often disputed amongst historians. It has been covered countless times.

This cover released in August 1968 was put out by Jeff Beck on the side on a solo album while he was still working with The Jeff Beck Group. It was released on his first solo album, Truth. Featured on the album were numerous cover songs written by other musicians as well as multiple tracks credited to “Jeffrey Rod,” a writing credit given to the combined work of Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. The track heard below was the opening track to the second side of the album.

album art

Jeff Beck - Greensleeves (1968)

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