Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Keep On The Sunny Side

Bob Dylan revisited is so two weeks ago: now I'm on a Carter Family kick, thanks to the PBS series The American Experience, which aired a documentary last night on the music group who is undoubtably the cornerstone of country music. Per usual with historical programs examining anything pre-mass media, there wasn't a lot of film footage to illustrate the proceedings, so we had to endure the standard goofy reenactments showing rehearsals and performances. And can anyone tell me why a documentary purporting to show the long-reaching impact of this iconic American musical group would barely mention one of their best known songs (Wildwood Flower)? Still, nobody can deny the power of the music played throughout the show, that lonesome, emotional and moving music. Forget that O Brother horseshit--The Carters are the real McCoys. Everyone has their favorites, but mine will always be Single Girl, Married Girl, Chewing Gum, I Never Will Marry, Hello Central, Give Me Heaven and There's No Hiding Place Down Here. Inexplicably, Rounder Records has chosen to delete the 9-CD series they released about 10 years back (two of which are shown above), collecting every recording the 'Family ever released on Victor Records (yet Rounder still rationalizes putting out dreck like The Best Of Jonathan Fucking Richman...wha...?). Your choices are to pay the slightly-increased used prices at Amazon, or if you're wealthy (and good for you if you are), simply shell out $200 to the German roots label Bear Family for their brain-boggling 12-cd set, which collects nearly everything the Carter Family ever laid on magnetic oxide and includes a 220-page hardcover book (which, when read alongside Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?, the definitive biography on the Carters, will make you feel like you just received a PhD in early American folk music). You'll end up broke and unable to make your rent/mortgage, but what a way to keep yourself on the sunny side.


Anonymous said...

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Lee Hartsfeld said...

I like the Carter Family, but my tastes run more toward both the more down-home quartets--Smith's Sacred Singers, in particular, who debuted in 1926--and the artier white gospel groups, such as The Vaughan and Stamps Quartets, whose antiphonal arrangements are more representative of what one would have heard in singing schools, gospel concerts, etc. The Carters are very much like the gospel and pop-folk to come (Lewis Family, Woody Guthrie, et al), which is why I think they've become the symbol of/for early country. Just my opinion. I've treated their reputation somewhat critically at my blogs. Even untouchables like Dylan and Raymond Scott have gotten worked over at my sites. I spare no one!

Your posts are *extremely* well-written, btw.