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Barry Drake

"Radio City Serenade"

written by Mark Knopfler


Growing up in the New York City area I was constantly aware that I was living in a nation of immigrants and refugees. It made my early years a vibrant, pulsating stew of great food, foreign accents, exotic religions, ethnic festivals and stories of far away places. As I began to travel around the country and the world, I was always welcomed back home with open arms. I am still inspired by my daily childhood view of the New York City skyline. "May you never change"!

Barry Drake

"Kindhearted Woman Blues"

written by Robert Johnson

I’ve been listening to Robert Johnson’s music since 1962, just after his historic compilation LP was released by Columbia Records in 1961. He recorded this song on Nov 23, 1936 in San Antonio, TX. I didn't consider myself a blues player, so back then I never seriously tried to learn any of his songs. I probably couldn’t have correctly figured them out anyway. But after watching a number of performers in Greenwich Village (John Hammond Jr., & Rory Block) doing his songs, I added a few of his licks and tricks to my repertoire. Since then, I’ve been all over Mississippi, visiting his presumed grave sites, walking in his footsteps and learning everything I could about him from his limited biographies. Here is my attempt at “Kindhearted Woman Blues”.

Barry Drake 

"I Won't Be Reconstructed"

written by Barry Drake

© 1970 Beechwood Music Corp / Sweet Swamp Music


Growing up in the Northeast, I never had any sympathy for the Confederate South or the racist, 100 years of Jim Crow Laws that followed The Civil War. On my first college tour of the south in 1970, I was surprised and amused by the animosity some people there still had for “Yankees”. Most comments I heard were good natured jokes but some still had the bite of anger in them. After a few days of research at The University Of South Carolina library I came up with this song. I approached it the way a novelist or filmmaker would try to get inside the head of an angry, defeated soldier returning home on the losing side a war.

Barry Drake

"Song For Ireland"

written by Phil & June Colclough


This song was written by Phil and June Colclough and has become a standard for many Irish Singers. I always find myself singing this song around St. Patrick's Day!

Barry Drake 

"Sea Chanty (A Mariner's Tale)"

written by Barry Drake

© 1970 Sweet Swamp Music


I wrote this song during the darkest days of The Vietnam War. My friends and I were struggling with college, our families, the draft, careers, love, restlessness, political oppression and the various highs and lows of the times. Some of us succeeded, some failed, some lived and some died in the process. As I sat down with my guitar, all those feelings and thoughts were weighing on my mind and they came pouring out in this contemporary Sea Chanty in Em.

Barry Drake 

"The Water Is Wide"

traditional arranged by Barry Drake

© 2015 Sweet Swamp Music


This song has been in my repertoire for over 50 years. I probably first heard it from Pete Seeger around 1960 and after that from every folksinger that made their way through Greenwich Village or onto a record during those years. It is of Scottish origin (ca. 1600) but as it made it’s way to Ireland and England, it picked up new lyrics and melody variations. I first learned it in the Key of C but settled in on this dropped D tuning capoed up three frets to put it in the key of F. I was delighted to discover the cross key (Bb) harmonica break which gave the song a Celtic bluesy soulfulness.

© 2022 by Barry Drake

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