10 beautiful, beguiling and bold folk albums from 1969

1969 was an amazing year for music, particularly for the album format.
Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell / Michael Putland/GettyImages
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7. My Side of Your Window – Ralph McTell

One of the most unheralded talents in British music from the 1960s and 1970s – and music in general – is that of gifted folk singer and guitarist Ralph McTell, who released two albums in 1969. This was the second of the two and features 11 wonderfully performed songs with keenly observed lyrics and dreamy, hypnotic guitar playing – especially on back-to-back early-album tracks “Clown” and “Girl on a Bicycle,” both of which feature moody minor-key melodies and chiming, mesmerizing guitar parts.

On side two, McTell delivers two beautiful, pastoral moments starting with an ode to one of London’s finest attractions, the enjoyable period piece “Kew Gardens,” as well as the stunning closing track “Silver Birch and Weeping Willow,” which hinted at some of the wistfully tender melodies that McTell would further explore on later albums.

6. Clouds – Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell’s second album served as a vast improvement over her first – especially in the production department (not David Crosby’s finest hour) – and this 1969 folk release is home to some of Mitchell’s most well-known early-career tracks, such as “Chelsea Morning,” “I Don’t Know Where I Stand,” and likely her most famous: “Both Sides, Now.”

This is a powerful document of the burgeoning growth of Mitchell as a songwriter, and it sees the gifted Canadian chanteuse in a purely folk vein – which allows her skyscraping vocal arrangements and spirited, well-observed lyrics to be placed on a pedestal, where they both surely deserve to be.