North Country Blues
"North Country Blues" is a song by Bob Dylan, released on his third studio album THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' in 1964. He also performed it at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
Its apparently simple format (ten verses of ABCB rhyme scheme), accompanied by only two chords (Cm & Bb) and subject matter (the perils of life in a mining community and its ultimate demise) appears to have been influenced by Woody Guthrie.
The specific location of the town is never stated. Daniel Epstein recalled hearing Dylan introduce the song, in a performance in Washington D.C. in 1963, with the note that it was about the mining towns of Virginia. However, the title and references to "iron ore", "red iron", and "red iron pits" strongly suggests the location is on the Mesabi Range, a portion of the Iron Range where open-pit mining has predominated, and where Dylan's childhood residence in Hibbing, Minnesota is situated. Virginia, Minnesota is a town near Hibbing, that, along with Hibbing, has shared boom and bust cycles due to changes in the mining industry, and may be the town that Dylan was talking about in the Washington concert.
Below: USA, M. Witmark & Sons, New York
1965. Part of the Bob Dylan Collector's Series.