Showing posts with label Harry Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harry Smith. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Old, Weird America - The much expanded Harry Smith anthology

I found this blog thanks to The Celestial Monochord.

The blog is called The Old, Weird America: My Exploration of Harry Smith's Anthology. The writer, who seems to be anonymous, has set him/herself the task of examining all the songs in the Harry Smith Anthology and providing:

1. commentary on each song
2. for each performer on the anthology, files of other songs he/she/they recorded
3. files of other variations of the song being discussed
4. other things

As there are something like 84 tracks on the anthology, this is quite a task. Still, the first 18 songs have been discussed already - pretty good going, as the project only came online in November 2008.

The most recent post is all about "Gonna Die with a Hammer in My Hand" (aka "John Henry") by The Williamson Brothers & Curry. Our ambitious blogger discusses the performers, offers the few recordings they made, gives links to other sites that discuss the song, offers 100 variations on "John Henry," and even posts some video.

This is really important stuff. Congratulations to The Old Weird America!

Addendum: I have just found out that the author of the blog The Old, Weird America is a fellow called Gadaya. He is actually quite active on the web, including this Youtube Channel in which you can watch/hear him perform a ton of songs like "Casey Jones," "Worried Man Blues," "Barbara Allen" and so on. All of these he does very well indeed, accompanying himself on guitar, banjo ukelele . . . Gadaya lives in France. And while one would think that his involvement in American roots music is large enough a bite for any one man, his blog "The World's Jukebox" shows him casting his net about as wide as anyone can.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Harry Smith Anthology as a Google Map by The Celestial Monochord

The Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music is one of the most influential collections of songs on the planet. Originally released in 1952 on 6 LP records, it is now available on a 6 CD set. Dave Van Ronk wrote that "without the Harry Smith Anthology we could not have existed, because there was no other way for us to get hold of that material."

The songs on this anthology were all recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. You can easily hear an example of musical borrowing by playing The Bentley Boys 1929 "Down on Penny's Farm" next to Bob Dylan's very early (1961) "Hard Times in New York Town." Anyway, this map is an attempt to show "the geographical origin of each cut on Harry Smith's 1952 Anthology." It appears on the site of The Celestial Monochord - Journal of the Institute for Astrophysics and the Hillbilly Blues.
Inquiries into the early years of SJI