Folk Song and Minstrelsy
It's a 4 LP box set released in 1962 and distributed, as far as i can tell, by the Book-of-the-Month club. It's a pretty good sampling of the northeast-midwest school of folk music of the 50s and early 60s, but lacking in any Delta blues or Appalachian folk. Listening to it the first time, nearly 50 years after its release, you can almost feel the dry tinder waiting for the spark of Bob Dylan to arrive to start the fire of the 60s.
There's two whole sides of Odetta, another side of Cisco Houston, a whole disc devoted to performances from the 1961 Newport Folk Festival, including one Joan Baez track, two more from Cisco Houston, including an unexpurgated version of "The Cat Came Back," and Pete Seeger singing "East Virginia Blues," the closest this comp gets to mountain music, a side of the Weavers, and more.
As i'm needledropping these albums to add to my digital library, i can't help but wonder what the BOMC subscribers must have thought when this monster box showed up in the mail in the spring of 1962? Was it mostly urban sophisticates who supported the BOMC back then, or rural folk who didn't have time to go book shopping, but liked to have occasional reading options? Was this seen as an eye-opening glimpse into a foreign and exotic culture, an attempt to make palatable for the mainstream something unique and homegrown, or something else entirely?
Full track listing here.
Labels: pop culture