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He could preach too... But he was blind... and a woman leads him around... - James Truesdale on Blind Willie Johnson

Author Topic: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music  (Read 9519 times)

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Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2011, 01:10:00 PM »
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)

There's a lot of misinformation about this in the various Dylan biographies, but the truth is that Dylan stole the records from Jon Pankake (I hope he doesn't get mad at me for revealing this, because he enjoys all the misinformation). This was before Dylan went to New York to see Woody and record his first album. Jon lived in a rooming house and came home to find some records missing. He deduced who the culprit was from which records were missing. Jon is a fan of film noir, and he had a broken table leg he'd found somewhere. He got a cigar and the leg and went over to Dylan's place. He puffed on the cigar and threatened Dylan with the table leg. Dylan had already lent out the records, but promised to return them the next day, which he did. So he probably has the Anthology, but not the copy he stole.

Later, Dylan told Tony Glover that Jon had been unfair. "I needed those records more than he did," he said.

Lyle

Offline Stuart

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2011, 05:44:26 PM »
...Bascom Lamar Lunsford's version of "Dry Bones" is on "Volume II--Social Music".  Lunsford was an attorney, from Asheville, North Carolina, I believe...

There's a book on Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Here's the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Minstrel-Appalachians-Story-Bascom-Lunsford/dp/0813190274

Offline misterjones

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2011, 11:51:01 AM »
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)

There's a lot of misinformation about this in the various Dylan biographies, but the truth is that Dylan stole the records from Jon Pankake (I hope he doesn't get mad at me for revealing this, because he enjoys all the misinformation). This was before Dylan went to New York to see Woody and record his first album. Jon lived in a rooming house and came home to find some records missing. He deduced who the culprit was from which records were missing. Jon is a fan of film noir, and he had a broken table leg he'd found somewhere. He got a cigar and the leg and went over to Dylan's place. He puffed on the cigar and threatened Dylan with the table leg. Dylan had already lent out the records, but promised to return them the next day, which he did. So he probably has the Anthology, but not the copy he stole.

Later, Dylan told Tony Glover that Jon had been unfair. "I needed those records more than he did," he said.

Lyle

Next you'll be saying he wasn't booed at Newport . . . which. actually, he wasn't.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2011, 12:39:51 PM »
Hi all,
The Carter Family's rendition of "Engine 143" can be found on "Volume I--Ballads".  They do the song in a brisk waltz time, which is strongly felt in one, with the downbeat of each measure struck very soundly.  Maybelle plays the song out of C position in standard tuning, but she is sounding in A, to suit Sara's vocal range, so she is tuned a full minor third low of standard tuning.  Maybelle employed this means of adjusting her tuning to match up a favored playing position to the best vocal key for Sara to sing in as a matter of course.  Sara plays time strong on the autoharp on the number.

The song's phrasing illustrates so beautifully the little accommodations that the group made to bring out the best in the singing.  At various places in the singing, usually on held notes at the end of the first or third lines of the verses, Maybelle and Sara will insert an extra measure, or dwell, to accommodate the held note Sara is singing.  The way they do this is so seamless and natural-sounding that you might never notice it unless you were playing along with the recording.  Similarly, for the two verses that begin "The doctor", Sara and Maybelle insert an extra measure at the end of the last line of the previous verse to accommodate the vocal pick-up, "The".  The way I'm presenting the lyric transcription shows where the downbeat of each measure falls, and any line that has five beats has a dwell in it.  It ends up a little funny-looking, especially with the lines that include quotes, but it shows the way the vocal is accented.

   SOLO
      1       2           3      4     5
  A-Long came the F. F. V.-------, the
    1           2        3  4
   Swiftest on the line
    1            2         3         4        5
   Running o'er the C & O Road-------, just
    1          2               3   4
   Twenty minutes behind
    1           2    3        4
   Running into Seville,  head-
    1            2         3   4
   Quarters on the line,  re-
    1          2              3       4
   Ceiving their strict orders,  from a
    1          2       3     4
   Station just behind

    1             2          3           4      5     
   Georgie's mother came to him------with a
    1         2         3      4
   Bucket on her arm
    1                 2        3    4
   Saying, "My darling son,   be
    1          2           3    4
   Careful how you run.   For
   1          2            3          4       5
   Many a man has lost his life--------, in
   1             2             3     4
   Trying to make lost time.  And
   1           2            3         4        5
   If you'll run your engine right-------, you'll
   1              2         3      4
   Get there just on time."

   1          2            3       4
   Up the road she darted,  a-
    1              2              3         4
   Gainst the rocks she crushed
   1          2             3        4           5
   Upside down the engine turned------, and
   1             2             3         4
   Georgie's breast did smash.   His
    1               2              3         4       5
   Head was against the firebox door--------, the
   1                2       3      4
   Flames are rolling high.  "I'm
   1                2          3      4       5
   Glad I was born an engineer---------to
   1               2        3      4     5
   Die on the C & O Road.          The

   1         2         3          4
   Doctor said to Georgie, "My
   1          2          3   4
   Darling boy, be still.  Your
   1            2         3      4
   Life may yet be saved,  if it
   1            2         3     4
   Is God's blessed will."  "Oh
   1             2                   3          4      5
   No", said George, "that will not do-------, I
   1           2        3    4
   Want to die so free.  I
   1            2              3            4       5
   Want to die for the engine I love--------, one
   1                  2       3        4   5
   Hunderd and forty-three."       The

   1         2         3          4
   Doctor said to Georgie, "Your
   1           2        3        4
   Life can not be saved.
    1                2      3         4
   Murdered upon a railroad,  and
   1             2             3       4
   Laid in a lonesome grave."  His
    1            2          3           4         5
   Face was covered up with blood-------, his
   1             2             3   4
   Eyes you could not see.   And the
   1            2                3          4       5
   Very last words poor Georgie said------ was
     1               2         3         4
   "Nearer my God to Thee."

   OUTRO

Here is the Carter Family's performance:



All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 05:37:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2011, 02:08:43 PM »
I'm pushin' for John to write a book. I mean we here at weenie get treated to his formidable musical analysis and wisdom all the time, but frankly the printed page and not the computer screen is where I want to be reading work this dense and idea laden. I invite you all to join with me in pressuring John to get his collected musings out in PRINT! Here's to the John Miller Codex of Blues and associated musical forms!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline banjochris

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2011, 09:24:15 AM »
Awesome, John. That analysis needs to be used as an example whenever people ask "What's the difference between old-time and bluegrass?"
Chris

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #36 on: December 23, 2011, 11:45:25 AM »
Thanks very much for the good words, Phil and Chris.  I do really enjoy trying to figure out in a structural sense what it is that makes the music we respond to so special and distinctive.  It all translates into what we hear and how we respond to it.  I should try to organize some of the writing into a book.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #37 on: December 23, 2011, 12:34:10 PM »
Hi all,
Andrew and Jim Baxter's "Georgia Stomp" is on "Volume 2--Social Music".  The duo consisted of a black fiddler, Andrew and his nephew, Jim, who accompanied him on guitar.  They played so beautifully together, and this tune is no exception.  It kind of sneaks up on you--I remember listening to the set as a kid and realizing at a certain point that I was crazy about this tune and rejoiced every time it came on.  It's in F, and has a kind of drawling quality that draws you in.  I suppose it is possible to back a fiddler more musically than Jim Baxter did, but I've never heard it done.  F turns out to be a great key for both instruments on "Georgia Stomp".  The fiddle can slide to unisons with the open A and E strings from the next lower string, and as Luke Jordan, Leadbelly and other country blues guitarists demonstrated in their playing, F position is probably the very best for playing interesting bass runs.  Jim Baxter certainly doesn't let the listener down in this regard; he has an apparently inexhaustible supply of syncopated bass runs that he draws upon during the course of the rendition.
A little way into the performance, one of the duo starts doing some dance calls.  I've got them all but one, I think.  I'd appreciate any help with the bent bracketed passage.  It matches the phonetics of what's being said just about perfectly, but I'm not experienced enough in playing dances to know if it would make sense in the jargon of dance-calling.  The caller uses "you" and "your" in the collective sense sometimes.

   Now, this is the old Georgia Stomp
   Now, honor your object
   Also your partner
   Now, hands up eight and circle
   Now break a-loose and walk back
   Now take your time
   Swing your corners
   Now swing your partner
   Join your partners' right hands
   Now, rights and lefts, all the way through
   Turn your corners now

Edited 12/23 to pick up correction from uncle bud

All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 01:01:25 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #38 on: December 23, 2011, 12:51:25 PM »
Hi John - is it possibly "eight and CIRCLE"? As in do a figure eight then circle? Not that I know a damn thing about dance calls myself.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #39 on: December 23, 2011, 01:00:17 PM »
Good on you, uncle bud!  That is definitely what he is saying, and I'll make the change.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #40 on: December 23, 2011, 03:29:10 PM »
Hi all,
For the benefit of those of you who don't have the Anthology, I've gone back and added YouTube videos of the original performances under discussion where I could find them.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #41 on: December 23, 2011, 03:38:55 PM »
Yes, it is really great to have the youtube videos to play and follow along with - because you are right, I would have completely missed the "dwell"  - in fact I've not heard that term used like that.  Very cool Johnm.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #42 on: December 24, 2011, 10:58:32 AM »
John D.,
I first heard that term, "dwell", used in an interview with George Shuffler, a very fine Bluegrass guitarist and bass player and Gospel singer, who said that the thing that he found especially tricky when he took on the lead guitar role with the Stanley Brothers was getting used to their "dwells".
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #43 on: December 24, 2011, 11:19:45 AM »
Hi all,
Richard "Rabbit" Brown's version of "James Alley Blues" appears on "Volume III--Songs".  Brown was a street musician in New Orleans, and his recorded repertoire was wildly eclectic, including in addition to "James Alley Blues", "The Sinking of the Titanic", "Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice" and an Old-Time ballad operating in the realm of reportage, "The Mystery of the Dunbar Child".
Brown played "James Alley Blues" out of D position in standard tuning, and it represents an instrumental approach, with its flamenco-y strumming and thumb-popped bass notes, that is very rarely encountered; the only tune in the genre that I've heard that has a similar sound is Papa Charlie Jackson's "Take Me Back Blues, No. 2".  Brown sounds like he may have been an older man when he recorded, and the first line of the opening verse sounds particularly true, listening to his rendition today and thinking how different the world he grew up in was from that which we currently inhabit.  I've never been able to understand the front end of the tagline to his fifth verse, and would appreciate help with it.  I'm including a video of his recorded performance to the end of this post.  The late Jerry Ricks did a really nice version of this song in open C tuning.

   Oh, times ain't now nothing like they used to be
   Oh, times ain't now nothing like they used to be
   And I'm tellin' you all the truth, oh, take it for me

   I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these
   I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these
   I'd-a have a much better time, but these girls now is so hard to please

   'Cause I was born in the country, think I'm easy to rule
   'Cause I was born in the country, she thinks I'm easy to rule
   She try to hitch me to her wagon, she want to drive me like a mule

   You know I bought the groceries and I paid the rent
   Yeah, I buys the groceries and I pays the rent
   She try to make me wash her clothes, but I got good common sense

   I said, if you don't want me, why don't you tell me so?
   You know it, if you don't want me, why don't you tell me so?
   Because it ain't like a man that ain't got nowhere, go

   If you give me sugar for sugar, let you get salt for salt
   I'll give you sugar for sugar, let you get salt for salt
   And if you can't get 'long with me, it's your own fault

   Now, you want me to love you, and you treat me mean
   Now do you want me to love you?  You keep on treatin' me mean
   You my daily thought and my nightly dream

   Sometimes I think that you too sweet to die
   Sometimes I think that you too sweet to die
   And another time I think you ought to be buried alive

Edited 12/24 to pick up correction from Stuart




All best,
Johnm
   
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 01:54:37 PM by Johnm »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #44 on: December 24, 2011, 01:42:03 PM »
Hi John:

I've always heard the line as:

Because it ain't like I'm a man that ain't got nowhere to go,

The beginning of the line is sung fast and the words are contracted, but I'm pretty sure that's what he's singing.

BTW: David Johansen also does a cover of "James Alley Blues"