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How Things Have Changed

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Jan 27, 2020 - 11:51:56 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22911 posts since 6/25/2005
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I was looking through my old copy of Best Loved American Folk Songs, aka Our Singing Country, compiled and written by John A. And Alan Lomax in the mid-1940s. My edition was likely printed in the mid-1950s. I’ve had it since about 1958 or 59.  Although a third of the songs in the book are of Afro-American origins, and many involve women, the cover features a  group of three men and a boy,  two playing guitars and one a harmonica.  There’s also a sleeping dog.  The humans are all white.  No banjos or fiddles are to be seen.  For several reasons that illustration would not cut it today on the front cover of a folk song book. 

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 01/28/2020 21:02:12

Jan 28, 2020 - 6:42:22 PM

Paul R

Canada

12193 posts since 1/28/2010

Good point.

It's interesting that one of the earliest instruction books to start a revolution in folk music was Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer Book, which had her on the cover. Around that time we see Joan Baez's song books coming out, too, so there was a bit of a shift. The Oak Publications' blues books added to that. Of course, there was a whole musical shift taking place at the time. It was bound to have an effect on attitudes and awareness (and vice-versa).

But things don't always change. The emphasis on white in the movie Songcatcher is a case in point.

Jan 28, 2020 - 7:43:17 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

46477 posts since 10/5/2013

I had a print of this painting on our living room wall for many years


 

Jan 29, 2020 - 1:56:05 PM
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3060 posts since 7/8/2010

Bill, a very thought provoking post. I have given a little time to respond because folk music has always been very intriguing to me since I picked up a guitar some sixty years ago. I did not know who wrote these songs for the most part. I just knew I was drawn to them. Freight Train was my first favorite. Going down the road (Bad road Blues) came along when I heard Doc Watson's rendition. Then Riannah Giddens introduced me to Shake Sugaree. Long story short; I play all these songs "hard" with thumb and index on my guitar. This is where folk music has taken me.

Jan 29, 2020 - 5:42:20 PM
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Paul R

Canada

12193 posts since 1/28/2010

Elizabeth Cotten wrote "Freight Train" when she was about twelve years old, before WWI.

She sang those other two songs, too.


Edited by - Paul R on 01/29/2020 17:43:32

Feb 3, 2020 - 12:46:33 PM
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2127 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

I had a print of this painting on our living room wall for many years


We had that same painting hanging in the dining room.

There was a small hardbound book of Music In Our Country that was sort of standard issue in the primary grades back in the forties & fifties. It contained hundreds of songs, many of which we learned in class, sitting on the floor, singing & keeping time with simple rhythm instruments, while the teacher played piano & sang. Years later I stumbled across a copy of that book  in a garage sale, for the princely sum of $0.25.   smiley

Edited by - monstertone on 02/03/2020 12:50:33

Feb 4, 2020 - 5:53:19 PM
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banjonz

New Zealand

10842 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

I had a print of this painting on our living room wall for many years


Me too. They are available here as prints

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