A contemporary song for the turning of the year. It was written by Dave Goulder (whose birthday is January 1st) in 1969.
I’m very sceptical of the idea that anything we write today – or anything that anyone has written since the coming of the radio and the Victrola – can be considered a “folk song”. Show me a “Fiddler’s Green” or a “Rolling Home” (or a “S_____s of L_____”) and I’ll show you a song that works well for the kind of person who goes to the kind of places where folk songs are sung. Which isn’t the same thing at all, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.
But a song like this gives my scepticism a forceful nudge. It’s a song that genuinely feels as if it’s been around forever. Quiet and plain-spoken, carefully worded (“he sees the Spring”/”looks through the snow”), with lines that are resonant and enduringly strange (what is “the man inside the man”?), it shares many of the qualities of the old songs. Forty-odd years on, it’s still being sung, and I think it deserves to be sung for many Januarys yet.