Roger McGuinn

b. 1942

Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds’ records. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with The Byrds.

From Roger McGuinn’s “The Folk Den Project” page:

In November of 1995 I began a project for the preservation of the music I love, Folk Music. Each month I would record a song, print the lyrics and chords, add a personal note and put it on my web site, I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to learn the songs and to be able to sing them with their families and friends, so downloads were offered free of charge.

The lyrics, chords, and notes on each song can be found at the Folk Den Project website.

In 2005, Roger McGuinn released a 4xCD to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the FOLK DEN. The compilation contains 100 favorites re-recorded in 24-bit 44.1 KHz Stereo, and comes with detailed liner notes. The compilation is available at The Folk Den Project.

Folk Den Songs by Roger McGuinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Based on a work at


Nancy Whisky

Auld Lang Syne

Henry Martin

The singer writes:

I remember seeing Joan Baez sing Henry Martin at Club 47 in Cambridge MA in 1960.

This ballad is sometimes confused with Andrew Barton, because they are similar both in story and sometimes in tune. According to Sharp Henry Martin is probably the older ballad and was recomposed during the reign of James I. However, some scholars feel it is the other way around. Whichever is the case, Henry Martin dates to at least the 1700s.

In the many versions the hero is variously Henry Martin (Martyn), Robin Hood, Sir Andrew Barton, Andrew Bodee, Andrew Bartin, Henry Burin and Roberton. Sharp feels Henry Martin is probably a corruption of the name Andrew Barton.

The ballad is based on a family that lived during the reign of Henry VIII. A Scottish officer, Sir Andrew Barton, was attacked by the Portuguese. Letters of marque were then issued to two of his sons. The brothers, not finding sufficient Portuguese ships, began harassing English merchants. King Henry VIII commissioned the Earl of Surrey to end their piracy. He was given two vessels which he put under the command of his sons, Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard. They attacked Barton’s ships, The Lion and the Union, and captured them. They returned triumphant on August 2, 1511.

Great Silkie

The singer writes:

…one of numerous tales of the Silkies, or seafolk, known to the inhabitants of the Orkney
Islands and the Hebrides. These enchanted creatures dwell in the depth of the sea, occasionally doffing their seal skins to pass on land as mortal men. Legend has it that they then accept human partners, and some families on the islands actually trace their ancestry to such marriages. In more complete versions of the ballad, the Silkie’s forecast of the death of himself and his son eventually come to pass.

A Rovin

The singer writes:

… is a poem, written by (George Gordon) Lord Byron (1788-1824), and included in a letter to Thomas Moore on February 28, 1817. Moore published the poem in 1830 as part of Letters and Journals of Lord Byron.

It evocatively describes the fatigue of age conquering the restlessness of youth. Byron wrote the poem at the age of twenty-nine.

In the letter to Thomas Moore, the poem is preceded by an account of its genesis. “At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival-that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o’ nights-had knocked me up a little. But it is over-and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music… Though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find “the sword wearing out the scabbard,” though I have but just turned the corner of twenty nine.”

The poem seems to have been suggested in part by the refrain of a Scottish song known as “The Jolly Beggar.” The Jolly Beggar was published in Herd’s “Scots Songs” in 1776, 41 years before Byron’s letter.