Love At The Five And Dime


I wasn’t quite ready for this arrangement, but Jon says, “Henry Timms introduced me to Nanci Griffiths at university. We shared a flat and a stereo system – he hated folk music but loved country music, I reciprocated the reverse. We had a sort of 3 year war of attrition forcing each other to listen to music. In the end I won him round with Peter Bellamy and Kate Rusby (strange but true) and he won me round with Nanci Griffiths (solo – not with band!) and Lyle Lovett.” Strange(or not?) that Jon should be drawn to two Texans. Before we get into an “it’s not folk music,” blind alley, Nanci did pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the last BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which makes her and this song folk enough. I rather like this slowed down version as it brings out the lingering sadness at the heart, with the concertina adding a subtle but telling flourish to the choruses. Lovely.



38 Responses to “Love At The Five And Dime”

  1. Nick Passmore says:

    Outstanding version of a great FOLK song. Now I’ll just get out of the way while the “This isn’t a folk song!” crew weigh in ……..
    Lovely, Jon: more like this, please..

  2. Nick Passmore says:

    Incidentally that should be Nanci GRIFFITH….

  3. Neil says:

    I’m going to go on a limb here and say that the ‘non trad’ songs have been the high points of AFSAD here. This is simply lovely.

  4. Neil says:

    Personally speaking I’d LOVE to hear what Jon could do with a Springsteen song like ‘Thunder Road’, ‘The River’ or ‘Racing In The Streets’.

  5. Phil says:

    All I’ve got to say is that there are lots and lots and lots of places to hear songs by singer-songwriters (like this one), from the X Factor to the average folk club. There are very very few places to hear folk songs – and one of the great things about this site is that it’s one more.

    But I’ve said that at least once already, so I’ll shut up.

  6. muzza says:

    Simon…the above “posts” indicate that not everybody reads your notes!
    As you is a blind alley and as Jon and yourself have taken the initiative to run this site it is your choice as to what you put on it…..I am very happy with the gems that I have gleaned from it….and I like this performance. One small thing…in your notes..could you split it into”Jon says” & “Simon Says”……..I sometimes get a bit lost…my fault not yours!

  7. Andrew Smith says:

    Yes I get a bit confused as well! I know who John is, and Fay, but who is this Simon? What is his involvement? Is he an editor, moderator, expert, best mate? A word of introduction, perhaps on the home page, would help.
    But thanks for the great achievement of this website. It’s the first page I look at when I switch the computer on each morning. Sets me up for the day.

  8. Reinhard says:

    Andrew: Simon Holland from Proper Distribution is the moderator of this blog. Early in the project he admitted that he is not a folk music expert (yet!) and has a steep learning curve but I think he does an outstanding job.

    muzza, it seems quite obvious to me that everything in the blog is written by Simon except when he explicitely quotes Jon (or someone else).

    Thank you, Jon, for expanding our horizon with this fine piece. If Nancy Griffith’s other songs are as poignant as this one, she’s well worth digging into.

  9. Reinhard says:

    sorry, it should have been Nanci in the last post…

  10. Shelley says:

    Another new one to me. Beautiful!

  11. Gerald says:

    I guess you could open the debate about what is or isn’t a ‘folk song’. Personally I don’t care – if I hear music and I like it I could care less what pigeon hole people want to ascribe to it. I think this is a great song and I like very much this version by Jon.

  12. Clare says:

    I love this song – so wonderful to hear this version which adds to the original. Not a big fan of country music on the whole but do love Nanci Griffith – she’s a great songwriter

  13. StephenH says:

    In defence of comments Phil has made, and that I’ve danced around, it should be pointed out that the original mandate of the site was this: “Every day for one year Jon is posting a traditional song online to promote the art of ‘social’ (or communal) singing….Jon Boden will also be providing a unique, traditional folk song resource for those looking for inspiration; social singing made possible by contemporary technology.” So, while songs such as “Love at the Five and Dime”. “His Name is Andrew”, and “Jersey Girl” are great songs, and Jon’s performances are equal to the material, they don’t really provide raw material for ‘social singing’ – although they may provide inspiration to sing, per se. I don’t think anyone who has posted to this site has ever suggested that Jon or Fay, or Eliza Carthy or Jackie Oates or whomever you wish to name, should expunge all this sort of material from their repertoires, or cease calling themselves ‘folksingers” – the richness of their music lies in the willingness to push all sorts of boundaries. Anyway, having said my piece on this, I will henceforth only comment on songs that I particularly like, and hasten to add that I very much appreciate the existence of AFSAD and the efforts of Jon, Simon, et al to keep it going.

  14. Nick Passmore says:

    Agree with you 100%, Gerald. And is there any reason why the songs you cite CAN’T be sung socially, StephenH? Lots of people know them, so they wouldn’t have any problem joining in….

  15. Neil says:

    I don’t know about you Stephen, but I’d be quite happy having a crack at something like, say, Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Poncho and Lefty’ as a social singing exercise.

    From where I’m sitting, if you can sing it, you can use it.

  16. Phil says:

    From where I’m sitting, if you can sing it, you can use it.

    Absolutely true – and has nothing to do with whether it’s a folk song or not. The lines Stephen quoted even used the dreaded T-word:

    “Every day for one year Jon is posting a traditional song online to promote the art of ‘social’ (or communal) singing….Jon Boden will also be providing a unique, traditional folk song resource for those looking for inspiration; social singing made possible by contemporary technology.”

    (Which, to be fair, is what Jon’s doing most of the time – and more power to him.)

  17. Nick Passmore says:

    As I understand it, etymologically speaking, “traditional” means something that has been handed down from one person to another, sometimes over a number of generations. It would be pretty silly to imagine that traditional folk songs didn’t originally have authors or composers, though their identities have usually been lost in the mists of time. The late Fred Jordan was considered a traditional folk songer, but that didn’t prevent him from singinging whatever he liked. I rest my case….

  18. Phil says:

    Just noticed that even Jon doesn’t describe this song as “folk”, making it a bit pointless to argue over the definition! Let’s just call it A Folk Song (Mostly) A Day and leave it at that.

  19. Amanda says:

    I don’t care what the genre is; I love this song, and have done for many a year. I like Jon’s version, but I have to say that I miss Nanci’s guitar ‘pings’ (standing in for the Woolworths’ lift).

    Isn’t Country music just an American variant on Folk, anyhow? [ducks]

    Having said that, though, my opinion on Country is that there’s an awful lot of schlocky dross therein, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some gems as well. Nanci Griffith is one such shining example – anyone who doesn’t know her work is missing a treat (I’d recommend Once In A Very Blue Moon, or The Last of The True Believers (from whence this song comes) – of course, there’s also a plethora of compilations, mainly drawing on the MCA years. If you check out the covers album Other Voices, Other Rooms, you’ll find a traditional song or two). She is one of those artists who works in the margins of Country music and whose music often appeals outside of the genre.

  20. Nick says:

    @StephenH and @Phil…

    Interestingly, in his own, opening blog post on this site, Jon does not use the word “Traditional” at all. He seldom mentions the word “folk” in that post either; using it only once right at the very end in the context of “folk songs”. He has not made any classification or genrification of this work except to say that these are “songs that I have learnt because I wanted to be able to sing them in the pub.”

    I feel that a few things are being overlooked in many of the posts made on this board. First of all, it is Jon’s site, Jon’s project, Jon’s voice and Jon’s effort being put into the venture. This is not an academic exercise, it is a personal endeavour. I think he owns the right to decide what songs he wants to sing.

    Second, this is an enormous project! Jon is attempting to record for us 365 songs in one year … Three Hundred and Sixty Five Songs! For a small sense of perspective that is about 20% more songs than the Beatles recorded in the 8 prolific years of their peak. In Jon’s own words “My current repertoire is something like 240 songs, so to complete the whole year I will have to learn half as many again. This is a tall order”.

    Jon is 137 songs into this project, 228 still to go. There is plenty of opportunity for him to put forward songs that we know and songs that will surprise us. I hope for both and look forward to all of it; this project is a rare treat.



  21. Phil says:


    All I’m saying is that some of these songs aren’t folk songs, & I’d prefer it if AFSAD consisted (almost) entirely of folk songs. (And the point of saying it is precisely that there are 228 songs still to go – you could get a lot of Coppersongs and Child ballads in there… or a lot of Springsteen and Tom Waits.)

    I’m not slagging off Jon or this extraordinary project – I don’t think you’ll find any commenter who’s made more positive & constructive comments than I have, or been more consistently appreciative of the songs. (Even on “My name is Andrew”, I said how much I like the song & Jon’s rendition of it.)

    But I have said the same thing a few times now – sometimes in response to people who were just waiting for someone to say it so that they could “wind up the traddies” – and I’m starting to bore myself, let alone the rest of you. I’ll try and shut up about it now.

  22. StephenH says:

    Well, once more into the breach, then. Nowhere in my posts will you find a suggestion that Jon should tailor the selection of songs to my taste or definitions. I have offered opinions on whether or not a certain song fulfills the stated mandate of encouraging social singing. (which I realise makes me vulnerable when I applaud songs that others might find do not encourage them to sing- for instance, I have had lots of fun singing “Poncho and Lefty” in a group.) I have also stated my appreciation for this site and the tremendous effort it takes to maintain it. I think you’ll find this true of Phil’s posts as well.
    I have a pretty good idea of what I think constitutes a ‘folk’ song but I think trying to nail down a definition acceptable to all is like nailing the proverbial jelly to the wall.
    So, as I’ve said, I’ll just enjoy the site in future and not say anything about songs that I feel are more performance songs than group songs.

  23. John Phipps says:

    H Timms? Sounds like someone from Larkrise.

  24. muzza says:

    Simon’s notes did try to avoid the inevitable, “we’ve discussed it all before ad infinitum” exchanges that appear above. I have left it three days in case a final shot came across the bows. I suggest we all call a truce for the remaining song selections and ignore any newcomers comments ref the difference of opinion.
    With 24 comments …this song will be in the “Hits for November list!

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    25 comments now!

    Sorry, just catching up after 6 days with no internet access. That was the right arm cut off, and no AFSAD was the left one gone too! Like something out of Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Typing quite well, now they’re both sown back on again!

    And I’m with thee, Muzza. Let’s just enjoy it all. And I did enjoy this one, Jon.

  26. Glyn says:

    This is one of John’s best yet.

    I do agree with Neil, I’d love to hear a Springsteen song (Thunder Road, My Hometown or The River (etc)). Amy McDonald does a great folk version of Dancing in the Dark.

    But then again maybe Neil and I are missing the point…?

  27. Fiach says:

    Anybody who gives us this many songs deserves to make their own call as to what they record for our delight, and we should be grateful for, if not in in awe of, the quality, variety, and genuine talent put in to it all.
    Folk or not folk?
    Who gives a folk?

    Thanks Jon and Simon!

  28. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    Oh Goodness, here we go again! As I have said before, I only joined this ship last January, so I still have nearly two months of the voyage to go. I have deliberately not checked the archive so have no idea what is coming between now and Christmas, but what I would say is that one of the delights of this site is that the choice of material is so unpredictable. I would imagine that those critics of a year ago would now agree that overall the choice has been largely weighted towards the traditional, with the exceptions adding some extra spice to the mix.
    If not they are free to set up their own site called Traditional Words And Traditional Songs only, but I doubt it would have the appeal of this site. The abbreviation would not roll as well as A.F.S.A.D. either.

  29. Simon says:

    John, that’s brought a smile to my face, just as the song brings a tear to my eye. Well done for not dipping back into the archive too. I’m not sure I could stand the suspence. At some point I must reappraise my highlights of the project. This is a contender and reminds me of a need to reaquaint myself with Nanci, as she has a new album due next year. There was a period when I was mildly obsessed by her, but I love the way the Jon brings out both the sad and the tender in this song.

  30. Diana says:

    I enjoy listening to the song chosen each day but I equally enjoy all the comments made by the other commentators. A whole wealth oif knowledge lies within.

  31. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ John B: Abbreviation for Traditional Words And Traditional Songs – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Though to be fair to Phil for one, he’s remained positive despite preferring traditional AND he’s doing his own 52 Songs.

    Now I’ve been waiting for ‘Five and Dimers’ to mention a band local to me, seen recently at Otley Folk Club as the not-Les-Barker-gig I thought I wasn’t going to, if you see what I mean!

    And furthering the trad or not debate, Otley Folk Club are very wide in their tastes, as evidenced by The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band. For more information and sample songs, go to their Reverb website here:!

    This 6 piece folk, roots and rock ‘n’ roll combo play Jon’s own songs (like the recently-penned and for my money Raise Yer Banners end child slavery ‘Gang Master’) and carefully selected covers, like some songs of Richard Thompson.

    Pity Jon hasn’t got his ‘Vampire Lover’ up on the site yet, but oh, lookee here! It’s the hidden song 7 at this link to his electronic guise of The Big Fat Kill:

    Leeds Music Scene says “Whether fronting a band and singing about a northern town’s pubs or the southern sands, or performing solo and diversifying into vampire lovers or the realisation of no happy ending, Jon Palmer enthuses with such passion, and charisma throughout his performances, it leaves the listener spell-bound and desperate for more.”

    Anyone local and not folk purist, I guarantee you’ll have a smile on your face throughout one of his gigs. (I note this Jon’s doing Raise Your Banners in Bradford on 27th Nov – sorry, I’m seeing t’other John, John Tams – but also Topic Folk Club at the Bradford Irish Club on 8th March. Yeh!)

  32. Jonathan says:

    The whole ‘Is it a folk song or not’ thing annoys me a bit. I agree that its not a traditional song, but all folk songs had to have been written by someone. In the end, I think that’s more about the style of the song than the actual origins. As an example, Bellamy (for his most popular stuff) didn’t play traditional songs; he played Kipling’s poems set to music, but Bellamy is definatly a folk musician.

  33. Diana says:

    Still enjoying my daily pick-me-up and this is such a different song from usual and enjoyed it once again.

    @Muzza: If you should suddenly appear refer to my comment on the 6th please.

  34. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:


  35. Linda says:

    Know Jon has just done a cover version of I Want to Dance With Somebody , this seems to have that same melancholy feeling ….

  36. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    very easy to listen to

  37. Peter F. says:

    AFSAD, for me, is just a fine source of SONGS! Anyone who still pontificates about what is and isn’t a ‘folk’ song, is welcome to exercise their minds and voices on the subject. I’m too busy being almost overwhelmed, daily, by the continual flow of beautiful music that’s now so easily accessible. Aside from that, if my friends and I can sit in a pub in Sussex and sing about being hatless on a Yorkshire moor, why would it be odd to sing about dancing in Texas?

  38. OldMuzza(N.W.Surrey UK) says:

    Cor Blimey Guvnor………no more arguing….just glad to have the site back.

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