Anthology of American Folk Music

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Anthology of American Folk Music

Postby LazyLightnin » Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:32 pm

-- Fifty years ago, Folkways Records released a six-album set of recordings that had a profound influence on the folk music revival just beginning in America. The Anthology of American Folk Music was drawn from the collection of Harry Smith, a 29-year-old music lover, poet and filmmaker living in New York City.

"Certain musicians got a hold of this record and became a sort of cult following... they just took it to heart. It was the thing for them," Jeff Place, an archivist at the Smithsonian Institution, tells Morning Edition host Bob Edwards.

Smith had purchased thousands of 78 rpm recordings prior to World War II. Young folk singers such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and the New Lost City Ramblers would later include many of the songs in their performances. The songs were later adopted by numerous rock musicians, including Dylan and the Grateful Dead.

The buzz about the 1952 collection built up slowly at first, says Place, who worked on the 1997 CD reissue of Smith's Anthology. Initially, musicians and folk enthusiasts realized that the set offered them a raw version, instead of the stylized folk offerings by mainstream artists like Burl Ives.

"A lot of the songs on this record -- 'The Butcher Boy', 'Wagoner's Lad', 'House Carpenter'... -- they were in the repertoire of all these folk groups during the great popularity of folk music," Place says.

Place says he's amazed at the reverence in which the artists featured in collection were held by contemporary musicians and audiences. The 84 tracks on the set were recorded between 1926 and 1934. "Recordings from 1934 are less than 20 years old at this point, and these people are treating these songs like they were something from another century..." Place says.

Fans of the anthology -- musicians and folklorists alike -- started going down South to see if they could locate the artists. Place says that when organizers of the Newport Folk Festival and other venues brought Mississippi John Hurt and Dock Boggs to perform, the audiences thought, "These are people from the Anthology. My gosh, they're still alive!"

Place notes that Smith purposely left out specific biographical information about the artists in the original package, details which Place added for the re-issue. Smith "wanted the music to stand on its own," Place says. "He didn't want anybody to have prejudice or to think of these people in certain categories. The song is really what it was about more than the person to Harry."

In his album notes, Smith did provide humorous newspaper-like headlines that summarized most of the songs. Some examples, complete with spellings of the day:

• "Drunkard's Special" by Coley Jones: "Wife's Logic Fails to Explain Strange Bedfellow to Drunkard"

• "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" by Chubby Parker: "Zoologic Miscegeny Achieved Mouse Frog Nuptuals, Relatives Approve"

• "Stackalee" by Frank Hutchison: "Theft of Stetson Hat Causes Deadly Dispute, Victim Identifies Self as Family Man"

• "Got the Farm Land Blues" by the Carolina Tar Heels: "Discouraging Acts of God and Man Convince Farmer of Positive Benefits in Urban Life"




so anyway has anyone ever seen this for sale? ive been lookin for these tunes on limewire(garbage) and bearshare(kinda ok). I'd Really love to hear these songs, i love old time recordings, the Archive has a bunch of old jazz and blues stuff thats really cool.
none of the local record shops seem to have a firm grip on reality, everyones caught a case of EMOphilia, i mean my gawd these dudes must have a closet full of empty aquanet bottles.

and plz no comments or opinions on "file sharing" id just like to know if anyones listened to this 8)
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Postby hotasaPistol » Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:55 pm

Dude,
check your private mail and get in touch with me...
I have a copy on cd's I got from a tree....It is very interesting music...very old timey ala some of Garcia Grismans really old fashioned songs...If I find them I will spread them some how
take care
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Postby Benthegoodbum » Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:09 pm

It's on Amazon.com ...just type in the title under music. I'm quite interested in that.
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Postby cuznt » Mon Jun 04, 2007 12:20 am

Benthegoodbum wrote:It's on Amazon.com ...just type in the title under music. I'm quite interested in that.

http://www.amazon.com/Anthology-America ... B000001DJU

Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith) [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED] [ENHANCED]
Various Artists - Blues - Traditional, Various Artists - Folk
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Postby BuddhaG » Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:04 am

i recently read Dylan's autobiography and he speaks of this collection and how enthralled he was to find music like that. it is definitley worth having. apparently Paige listend to a lot of this stuff as well, which is where Zeppelin ripped a lot of their blues/folk/traditional songs from.

its an expensive collection of music, but worth it considering it spans a very vast catalogue. last week i bought a compilation from Smithsonian Folkways called "Classic Folk Music" and i am thoroughly enjoying it. i would recommend anytning from folkways, i find it amazing that people put so much effort into recording and storing this stuff, gotta love americana, it deserves to be in the national museum.
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it's out there!

Postby willmusic » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:12 pm

it was reissued years ago in a cd set and i've owned it for maybe five years. it's chock full of gems that need to be heard and shared. i can say that as a "self-proclaimed musical expeditionary", i'm grateful to have found it. it really sends you back in time. like dock boggs, dave macon, and gus cannon are right there layin it down for ya. anyone interested the roots of american music needs to own it.
Last edited by willmusic on Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Robey » Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:58 am

Without question, a monumental set. I actually think Columbia's out of print Roots N Blues to be a better listen. But that's really just being picky and subjective. I agree that the Classic Old Time disc is killer. That's such a great one discer. For another possibly even better one disc set, check out Joe Bussard's Down In The Basement. They no longer include the really long and great booklet with that particular cd, but the music is still there and is amazing. The recent two disc set from Yazoo called The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of is also great, but to me not as solid as some of the others mentioned above.
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Postby confusions_prince » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:17 am

Thanks for bringing this up, Lazy. Going to have to check it out.
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Anthology of American Folk Music

Postby VagabondJohn » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:46 pm

This set is indispensable. It's kinda like the Rosetta Stone of great music.. But it's not just the music that makes it so great, the whole package is a must have. Without the books that accompany it, you miss out on so very much...

Save up the cash, buy the set, and be prepared to spend many hours listening to the amazing stuff on this collection...

later...
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Postby shakedown_04092 » Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:00 am

Just ordered it from my local music store, let you know what I think after I've had a chance to listen to it. :smile:
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Postby Shaggy » Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:04 am

This was an important collection in Jerry's early learning of folk music. He was too poor to buy the set but a friend had it and I believe he was over at his house eating all this stuff up, learning and learning it all.

Is there a similar collection covering the Blues? Something done by or through Charles Seeger perhaps?
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Anthology of American Folk Music

Postby VagabondJohn » Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:23 am

One of the things that blew me away when I first got the collection was how many of these songs were referred to by other songwriters on down the line... For example, Bob Dylan directly quotes "James Alley Blues" in his song Down In The Flood. The "rather be in some dark hollow" line shows up on another song in the collection as well... Then there's Furry Lewis' incredible performance of "Kassie Jones" retelling the tale we all know so well... Wild stuff...

Don't let the "Folk Music" part of the title fool ya, there's plenty of great blues (from Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton and others) on this collection (also some pretty weird stuff that I can't even begin to describe)....

As far as a collection that focuses on the blues, there's nothing quite like the Anthology out there, although the Roots 'n' Blues series that Columbia records put out in the late 80's/early 90's has some really good compilations (one of my favorites is called "White Country Blues" and its a great double-disc set of music by white bluesmen from the 20's and 30's that features some performers who are also on the Anthology of American Folk Music)

Shaggy wrote:This was an important collection in Jerry's early learning of folk music. He was too poor to buy the set but a friend had it and I believe he was over at his house eating all this stuff up, learning and learning it all.

Is there a similar collection covering the Blues? Something done by or through Charles Seeger perhaps?
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