Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let It Shine on Me

there's little you have to say about leadbelly since most people know it all, but he lived what he sang, he was the real deal. born 1888, died 1949. got locked up a bunch, escaped a chain gang once, got a pardon from the governor by writing a song to him, went to prison another time for stabbing a guy, he had a crazy life. but he was incredible at playing music, knew the songs and sang em raw, crazy 12 string guitar playing, he did the rhythm and lead at the same time. this here is the third volume of lomax's library of congress recordings of him, called "let it shine on me." it's mainly religious songs, but it's sung by a guy who meant it. the first half has him singin, the second has him singing and playin guitar. it's real intense, there are five other volumes but this should at least get you started some.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Midnight Special

i give you the words to a great old song called "midnight special." i knew of it from leadbelly's singin it, pete seeger did too, but mostly people know of it by creedence clearwater revival's playin of it. incredible song, especially if it's sang by someone who personally knows what the song's sayin. it's a song about prison, i have no experience with anything they're sayin here but it's an incredible song, and maybe it means a little something more to one of you. if not, though, sing it and it'll at least mean something.

when you wake up in the morning
hear that big bell ring
go marchin to the table
you get the same damn thing
knife and fork are on the table
nothing in my pan
if you say somethin bout it
you got trouble with the man

let the midnight special
shine a light on me
let the midnight special
shine an everloving light on me

well jumpin little judy
was a mighty fine girl
she brought that jumpin
to the whole wide world
she brought it in the morning
just before the day
she brought me the news
that my wife was dead
and that started me a grievin
and a hollerin and cryin
it started me a thinkin
about my great long time

well yonder come my woman
tell me how do you know
i can tell her by her apron
and the dress she wore
an umbrella on her shoulder
piece of paper in her hand
marchin up to the captain
sayin "i want my man"

if you ever get to houston
boys, you better act right
you better not squabble
and you bettter not fight
or the police will arrest you
and they'll bring you down
if the jury finds you guilty
well you're prisonland bound

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Memphis Jug Band

i apologize for the lack of posts recently, but to make up for it i'm givin you somethin real good. it's a self-titled compilation by the memphis jug band. this is the reissue on yazoo, the original had 28 songs and since this one was cut down to 23 songs, the album artwork was altered by blacking in bits of the 8 to make it into a 3. pretty diy and all but it gets the job done. along with the carolina tar heels and the north carolina ramblers, the memphis jug band were one of the great main jug bands of the 20's-30's. along with the "official" instruments they had like guitars and singin voices, they also used jugs for bass, washboards for percussion, and kazoos for lead solo parts. jug bands were big into makeshift instruments, akin to bluegrass bands these days using washtub basses and the washboards and such, but this is nothing like bluegrass...more like the vaudeville music of the old days. basically just their way of playin old band/vaudeville music, and they handmade the gear since they couldn't afford real brass or acoustic instruments. this particular album also has some great artwork by robert crumb, and as such would be too rare to ever find on vinyl. but if you ever do find a copy, enjoy it as much as you can ya lucky bastard.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whoopie Ti-Yi-Yo

here's a great old cowboy song for you guys, called "whoopie ti-yi-yo". while i've never been a cowboy, it's still an incredible song you can dig without knowin a lot about the references they're makin. for those of you living out on the plains, though, i'd guess some of these things would still mean somethin to you, but as for me i've never had to tangle with jimson weed or prickly pear. i've heard woody guthrie and peter la farge sing this song, but i'm sure others have too. it's a great american tune, bein a cowboy out west and all of its joys...

when i was out walking one morning for leasure
i spied a young cowboy come riding along
his hat was tipped back and his spurs were a jinglin
as he was ridin a singin this song

whoopie ti-yi-yo, get along little doggies
it's your misfortune and none of my own
whoopie ti-yi-yo, get along little doggies
don't you know that wyoming will be your new home

it's early in the springtime we round up the doggies
we brand them ere mark them and bob off their tales
round up the cavie, load up the chuckwagon
and throw them doggies out on the trail

some boys they goes up the trails for a pleasure
but that's where they got it most awfully wrong
for they got no idea of the troubles they gives us
as we goes a drivin those doggies along

your mother was raised a way down in texas
where the jimson weed and the sand burs grow
will fill you up on that prickly pear and choya
and throw you on the trail down to mexico

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anthology of American Folk Music

well some of you might be wanting an anthology here instead of individual albums of these folksingers, so here's the anthology to get. pretty well known, it's harry smith's "anthology of american folk music," volumes 1-3. it's a good place to start if you want a general overview of some of the artists playin around the 30's, divided into 3 volumes, 2 discs each. the first volume's labeled "ballads," which is pretty much the same as the third volume labeled "songs." each are compilations of different songs from solo artists and groups, traditional folk songs played by the classic artists of the heyday, like buell kazee, clarence ashley, the carter family, dock boggs, and so on. the second volume, though, is labeled "social music," and is a bit different than the other two. it's a pack of dances, sing-a-longs, string band tunes, stomps and such. betraying the label at times, though, are some actual songs, ones by the carter family, blind willie johnson, bascam lamar lunsford and others. it's a great compilation, an extensive, yet casual way of listening to a lot of these older artists. a good place to start, once you play it to death you'll be wanting to dive into the individual artists, but until then, it will surely wet your appetites. the file below is all the volumes, six discs altogether.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clarence Ashley

here's an old one for you. clarence ashley, a guitar and banjo player from the 20's-30's. he lived into the 60's and played with doc watson in the folk revival, but this is a compilation of his older recordings called "greenback dollar. the versions on this comp of the songs "house carpenter" and "coo coo bird" were included on harry smith's "anthology of american folk music." he played old traditionals with some alternate lyrics that made em more graphic than the originals, like a man gettin overtook in jericho for blowin down his girl with a .44 in "little sadie" and john louise kickin, chokin and drownin naomi in "naomi wise." they were some desperate times back then and clarence ashley makes em sound that much more brutal. it's some gritty old folk and one of the classic artists from way back then.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Peter La Farge

this post here is incredibly important. in order to right the wrong that has befallen this world, i am posting two albums recorded by the late cowbody indian, peter la farge. as i have found over the recent years, this man has been all but forgotten...pete seeger honored la farge by playing one of his songs on rainbow quest and johnny cash played a few of his songs on his album "bitter tears," but that was the 60's. if la farge hadn't been included briefly in the "no direction home" dylan documentary, i don't know if anyone would still know of him. peter la farge was part of a dying indian tribe, and in the 60's he played native american protest songs and old cowboy songs in greenwich village. he didn't have an amazing voice which is probably why he's been forgotten, but what he said was what mattered. even though the songs seemed humorous, they're really brutal looks at the history of our relations with the native americans. download his music and spread it around if you dig it. it took me a year till i found and downloaded these albums...shops can't order his cds, the only place to get em is off the internet but it's repackaged as a double album and even that's hard to get. the link below is a folder that has both albums in it, "as long as the grass shall grow" and "on the warpath."