Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith)

November 6, 2014 - Comment

Over 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release, this is still the best American roots music collection around! Musicologist Harry Smith assembled the anthology from 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. This 6-CD reissue was painstakingly researched, annotated and packaged to perfection. With 84 rare tracks, this one is a library all

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Over 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release, this is still the best American roots music collection around! Musicologist Harry Smith assembled the anthology from 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. This 6-CD reissue was painstakingly researched, annotated and packaged to perfection. With 84 rare tracks, this one is a library all by itself! Includes Drunkard’s Special Coley Jones; Peg and Awl Carolina Tar Heels; Frankie Mississippi John Hurt; Engine 143 Carter Family; Indian War Whoop Hoyt Ming & His Pep-Steppers; Newport Blues Cincinnati Jug Band; John the Revelator Blind Willie Johnson; Fifty Miles of Elbow Room Rev. F.W. McGee; Sugar Baby Dock Boggs; See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Blind Lemon Jefferson; The Lone Star Trail Ken Maynard, and many more! This impressive–and frankly, fun–musical document is still sending out shock waves almost 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release. The Smithsonian’s six-CD reissue is painstakingly researched, annotated, and packaged (even boasting an enhanced disc for the techno-capable). Unlike field recorders, eccentric filmmaker/collector/musicologist Harry Smith assembled the Anthology from commercially released (though obscure) 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. Its broad scope–from country blues to Cajun social music to Appalachian murder ballads–was monumentally influential, setting musicians like Bob Dylan down the path to folk fandom. The White House started its own national music library with the Anthology; anyone with more than a passing interest in American roots music should do the same. –Michael Ruby

More from Smithsonian Folkways

The Harry Smith Connection: A Live Tribute To The Anthology Of American Folk Music
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Classic Blues From Smithsonian Folkways
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Comments

Karen Newcombe "Gaming Auntie" says:

Mysterious, Beautiful and a Kick Inside I half heard a story about the Anthology on Natl Public Radio a few months ago while I was getting ready for work. The story kept coming back to me, until I had to buy the Anthology to get some peace. Instead of peace, I find that I am now disturbed, intrigued, and haunted.Music is ill-suited to being described in words, so I’ll use an entirely different experience to try and convey what listening to this Anthology is like.I once knew a fellow who had grown up on Bechtel construction project sites around the world. As a kid playing in the dirt at these sites, he’d collected a box full of those stone tools that humans made and used for something like three million years. I found that once I had turned one of these slips of chipped obsidian or shale over for a moment, it settled naturally into my hand. There was a spot for my thumb, another spot for my forefinger, and my hand was making a scraping or digging motion with the thing. The tool and my hand still remembered their…

Amazon Customer says:

The first great collection of American folk song recordings The “Anthology of American Folk Music” put together by Harry Smith was originally issued in 1952 in three volumes of 2 LPs each, with a total of 84 tracks collected from old records. It is said that this collection played a seminal role in the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, influencing and inspiring the generation of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Once you listen to these songs you will have little doubt that was indeed the case. The three volumes focus on Ballads, Social Music, and Songs respectively. I did not recognize enough of these 84 songs to use all of the fingers on my guitar picking hand and I could not care less. You can look over the playlist above and see if anything looks familiar, but, obviously, that is beside the point here. These songs involve a definition of “folk” that is expansive enough to include blues singers like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Richard “Rabbit” Brown. The authenticity of these songs is…

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