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Rare old "folk" recordings


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For those who like old commercial folk song recordings, here are two very rare ones about the murder of 13 year old Mary Phagan in the deep South in 1913.


This is an extremely controversial story, and you can learn more about it by doing a search of Mary’s name.  The tie-in with movies is that this is the incident on which the 1937 film “They Won’t Forget” is based. Note that the Vernon Dalhart version does not mention the name of the man convicted of the crime. He was lynched after his trial in 1915. In the movie, the convicted white man has a different name, and is referred to only as “a New Yorker”.



Moonshine Kate:





Vernon Dalhart, different version, he removed Leo Frank’s name:





The text, Ballad of Mary Phagan, by Franklyn Bliss Snyder



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Cool, Fred. I'd never heard that song before, or even of that story. Very eerie to hear and tap your foot to.


I don't know if these are folk songs or more modern ones, but I assume the term "folk" is used lightly, as it often is. I was really into early folk music a while ago and this was my favorite group. I especially like their harmonica player, Gwen Foster, he was pretty off the wall.


The Carolina Tar Heels,




And here's a solo by Mr. Foster,



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I don't know if these are folk songs or more modern ones, but I assume the term "folk" is used lightly, as it often is.




I put the word “FOLK” in quotes because most recordings that are available on YouTube are songs written in the early 20th Century, but they were written in the old folk music style of America and Europe of the 19th Century and earlier.


The Carter Family, for example, wrote new “folk” songs, but in the old Appalachian and bluegrass styles. The Carolina Tar Heels most likely heard very old folk music during their childhood, and that type was copied in the 19th Century from old European styles.


I was surprised to learn that Cajun music is not just old French, but a mix of 18th and 19th Century English, Irish, Scottish, and French from Canada and the US.


Here are some rare old recordings from THE HONKING DUCK:



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Nice thread Fred. Glad to know there are others here who listen to this stuff.

Carolina Tar Heels - Peg & Awl
A lament by a man who has lost his 'trade' to mass production at the start of the industrial revolution.

I think the situation is a little more serious and complicated today with more and more workers being replaced by computers and robots. The future looks a bit grim from where I'm standing.

And speaking of the Child Ballads Swithin; here's one sung by one of the great 'Scottish' interpreters of folk music. Beautiful.

Jean Redpath - Andrew Lammie (Mill O' Tifty's Annie)

Best wishes
Metairie Road
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Thanks for including the great Jean Redpath! I love her work, used to go to her concerts when she played in New York.  I'm not a big fan of the American/bluegrassy folk -- too much emphasis on the instrumental. Folk music after all is about the story. But I love the English stuff -- which is the granddaddy of the American. But I do like to see the English songs morph into American versions, e.g. "The Trooper Cut Down in His Prime" morphing into both the American "Streets of Laredo" and "St. James Infirmary."


Here's one of my English favorites, a fairly contemporary song set to "The Week Before Easter." It was written because people were making fun of the old ladies who were performing the May dance, because almost all the men in the villages had been killed in World War One.



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Beautiful Jean Redpath! I really love her singing, even though I tend to lose patience with the more lilting, lyrical folk styles. I'm guess I'm coming the other direction from Swithin on that one. But I never got bored with lovely Jean.


Has anyone here ever listened to beautiful Hedy West? In the folk revival on the 60s she was the most authentic Appalachian folk musician, so far as I could tell. She was a wonderful singer with a lot of soul, and tasteful minimal accompaniment on her own banjo. (One of my favorite tunes of hers was from a live show. I found it on YT but the uploader later made it private video, and I don't know if it would be an invasion of privacy to post it here, though I still have the link.)


These are from "Rainbow Quest,"






R.I.P, Pete Seeger, one of the heroes of my upbringing.


(Edit: P.S, someone uploaded the entire episode with Hedy and Mississippi John Hurt just recently. If you want to see it check it out before it's taken down!)

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This is a rare recording from the 1920s or 30s by Charlie Poole. The song is supposed to date to the Civil War era.


Charlie Poole, “Write a Letter to my Mother”:





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Here is a rare recording of “MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA”, written in 1865 and recorded 39 years later in 1904 on an Edison cylinder:







Now, this next one shows how old 19th Century tunes lasted for many decades and were later turned into newer songs with newer lyrics, that lasted into the early 20th Century recording era.


“JUST BEFORE THE BATTLE, MOTHER”, from 1863, recorded in 1911:




Note that this is the same tune that was used in Charlie Poole’s “Write a Letter to my Mother”.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's a century since the start of World War one. My grandfather was a soldier of the 'Great War'. He survived uninjured - except for a scar on his face. He died in the 1960's, when I was very young, so I never got to know him or listen to his stories.

This song always reminds me of him. It originated during the American Civil War and was popular during WWI. It is by no means a patriotic song.

The Civil War version

Elizabeth Foster - Weeping Sad and Lonely (When This Cruel War Is Over)

The Great War version

When This Lousy War is Over

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