I have been collecting folk recordings, mostly by artists from the United States and the British Isles, for about 40 years. This blog is intended to share a few of these recordings (all believed to be Public Domain under EU law where this blog originates) and make them available online for research and scholarship in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107. Also included are links to other interesting blogs, websites, and freely available folk audio and video.
It sure sounded "Country" (with the canned applause and everything) and
must have given GDR citizens a similar feeling as when watching Marlboro
commercials on West German TV -- even though hardly anyone could
understand the lyrics and despite the fact that in 1985 none of the
musicians were likely to "ever play in Texas" and that it was next to impossible in the GDR to be "a thousand miles away from home waitin' for a train"....
I'm told (from a reliable source at WikiLeaks) that a take of "Don't Fence Me In" was
attempted, but aborted by the Stasi "observer" in the studio....
Back in 1996, while going through my non-Dylan records, I came across an
album, I hadn't listened to for quite a while (maybe because on first
listening I had deemed it too "scholarly" and too far removed from the
poignancy of Woody's and/or Dylan's talking blues).
I honestly believe that (besides Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music",
also on Folkways) this is one of the major single sources of Dylan's
early repertoire and that some of the Guthrie talking blues were learned
"second-hand" from this album.
The album contains a total of 15 talking blues, of which 6 are by Guthrie or at least Guthrie-related ("Talking Union" is the old Almanac Singers song and Pete Seeger might have contributed to this one along with others in the group besides Woody):
Even the sequence of
the songs on Dylan's tape is exactly the same as on the Greenway album.
Between "Talking Sailor" and "Talking Inflation Blues", we find Dylan's
earliest self-penned attempt in this genre, "Talking Hugh Brown."
Other songs from Greenway's album contain lines paraphrased in early Dylan talking blues:
"eatin' hog eye. Love chittlins." (Greenway, "Original Talking Blues") "He's eatin' pizza. He's eatin' chitlins'..." (Dylan, "I Shall Be Free") "There ain't no use of me workin' so much, I got a gal that brings me the mush..." "There ain't no use of me workin' so hard, I got a gal in the white folks' yard..." (Greenway, "New Talking Blues") "Oh, there ain't no use in me workin' so heavy, I got a woman who works on the levee...." (Dylan, "I Shall Be Free")
"Women screamin'. Babies yellin'. Me a-hidin'." (Greenway, "Talking Butcher")
What really gives this album away as an almost certain source for some of Bob Dylan's early repertoire is "Talking Subway"
Of the eleven stanzas, according to the liner notes,
first four may be found in a small collection of Guthrie's songs, issued
("American Folksong," edited by Moses Asch).
BUT: "The last seven stanzas were obtained by Dr. Greenway from Guthrie at a
later date and have never been published or recorded before."
The striking similarities between "Talking Subway" and Bob's "Talkin' New York" are too numerous to list here.
Therefore, I just want to concentrate on images found in the last
seven (never before published) stanzas, which crop up in similar form in
"Well, I got me a job in this man's town..."(5th stanza) "Talkin' New York:"
"Well, I got a harmonica job..."(5th stanza)
"...I finally got a job in New York Town."(6th stanza)
"Well, I joined the union to win my rights..."(7th stanza)
"You got to join the union, got to pay your dues..."(11th stanza) "Talkin' New York:"
"Even joined the union and paid m' dues."(6th stanza)
In addition to these rather blatant "borrowings" from "Talking Subway", "Talkin' New York" even contains imagery derived from other songs on Greenway's album.
"But they got a lot of forks 'n' knives, and they gotta cut somethin',"
echoes lines from "Talking Butcher":
"'Cause he wants to cut me with that butcher knife. He got fire in his eyes. Boy! He wants to cut."
album even seems to have influenced Dylan as late as 1965:
these lines from "New Talking Blues" (originally recorded by Chris Bouchillon in 1928) to
the well-known chorus of Dylan's "Tombstone Blues:"
"Mama's in the pantry fixin' up the yeast, Sister's in the kitchen preparin' for the feast..."
Frankly, I consider itrather "sloppy" research by Todd Harvey, who cites my 1996 article (on p. 103 of hisThe Formative Dylan), but fails to correctly identify Tom Glazer's "Talking Inflation Blues", referring to it by its rather common (albeit wrong) title in Dylan collectors' circles as "Talking Lobbyist" and "origin unknown" -- all it would have taken him to come up with the CORRECT TITLE would have been consulting the liner notes to the Greenway album (which were quoted by me).
In the light of "scholarship of such magnitude", I am certainly not offended, when Todd Harvey (farther down on the same page) dismissesmy 1996 findings, seemingly altogether, by claiming:
"In order for Greenway to be the basis of 'Talkin' New York', however, we must agree that Dylan was influenced by one or more of the seven 'lost' verses...." (ibid.).
I truly think that I have proven JUST THAT (with several examples) - additionally, the paraphrasing of imagery from "Talking Butcher" for another line of "Talkin' New York", the exact sequence of three songs from Greenway's album in one of Dylan's earliest recorded performances, and the obviously persisting influence of songs from this album up to 1965, makes Todd Harvey's dismissal of my findings rather absurd and illogical -- he obviously did not even consult the source (liner notes) I quoted, but feels compelled to come up with a rather vague "theory" of his own (in order to not having to commit himself one way or another) :
"Many contemporary folk revivalists such as Pete Seeger regularly performed talking blues..." (p. 104)
And furthermore, I cannot understand how his highly pretentious (but frequently sloppily researched) book became "2002 ARSC Finalist, Best Research in Recorded Folk"....
Some recordings by "The Talking Comedian of the South" Chris Bouchillon (arranged chronologically by date of release, NOT by date of recording):
JOHN GREENWAY - "TALKING BLUES" (1958) - excerpts only (to illustrate this post)
Please support Smithsonian Folkways by purchasing the album or considerably higher quality downloads.
ROBERT A. ZIMMERMAN - four "talking blues" (Minnesota Party Tape, 1960) These recordings were done with the artist's permission and prior to his recording contract.
Any (possibly still) copyrighted items are posted here for "nonprofit educational purposes" (one of the criteria of "fair
use", Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107). Original content (c) Manfred Helfert 1996 & 2010.
I was just alerted that the 1992 "Bobfest" (Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert) is online as streams from NL.Given the fact that Dylan content is "closed down" left and right all over the net, this might be your last chance to watch this extraordinary tribute concert. The third segment includes footage from the rehearsals for that event.
I have embedded links to the streams -- none of the material is hosted on this site!
Chicago, IL, July 25, 1928 (22 MB zipped MONO mp3):
01 Uncle Dave Macon - From Earth to Heaven
02 Uncle Dave Macon - The Coon That Had the Razor
03 Uncle Dave Macon & Sam McGee - Buddy Won't You Roll Down the Line
04 Uncle Dave Macon - Worthy of Estimation
05 Uncle Dave Macon & Sam McGee - I'm the Child to Fight
06 Uncle Dave Macon - Over the Road I'm Bound to Go
07 Sam McGee - Easy Rider
08 Sam McGee - Chevrolet Car
09 Sam McGee - As Willie And Mary Strolled By The Seashore
10 Sam McGee - The Ship Without A Sail
11 Uncle Dave Macon - The New Ford Car
Chicago, IL, July 26, 1928 (5.93 zipped MONO mp3):
01 Uncle Dave Macon - The Gal That Got Stuck on Eberything She Said
02 Uncle Dave Macon & Sam McGee - Comin' Round the Mountain
03 Uncle Dave Macon - Governor Al Smith
Jackson, MS, December 17, 1930 (12 MB zipped MONO mp3):
01 Uncle Dave Macon - Tennessee Red Fox Chase
02 Uncle Dave Macon - The Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train3
03 Uncle Dave Macon - Oh Baby, You Done Me Wrong
04 Uncle Dave Macon - She's Got the Money Too 05 Uncle Dave Macon - Oh Lovin' Babe - OMITTED
06 Uncle Dave Macon - Mysteries of the World 07 Uncle Dave Macon - Come on Buddie, Don't You Want to Go - OMITTED 08 Uncle Dave Macon - Go On, Nora Lee - OMITTED
09 Uncle Dave Macon - Was You There When They Took My Lord Away
Richmond, IN, August 14, 1934 (6.42 MB zipped MONO mp3):
01 Uncle Dave Macon & McGee Brothers - Thank God for Everything
02 Uncle Dave Macon & McGee Brothers - When the Train Comes Along
03 McGee Brothers - Brown's Ferry Blues
Richmond, IN, August 15, 1934 (6.16 zipped MONO mp3):
01 Sam McGee - Railroad Blues Uncle Dave Macon - Texas Tornado - OMITTED
02 Uncle Dave Macon & McGee Brothers - Don't Get Weary Children
03 Uncle Dave Macon & McGee Brothers - He's Up With the Angels Now
TRACKS MARKED AS "OMITTED" COULD NOT BE INCLUDED BECAUSE OF THEIR COPYRIGHTED STATUS (first release in 1960s or later). THEY CAN BE FOUND ON THE EXCELLENT UNCLE DAVE MACON BOX-SET BY BEAR FAMILY RECORDS.