Previously Unreleased Mississippi Fred McDowell Recordings Now Available

Chapel Hill’s Devil Down Recordings has announced the release of “Come and Found You Gone”, The Bill Ferris Recordings, a new CD featuring over an hour of previously unreleased Mississippi Fred McDowell recordings made by Bill Ferris in 1967. From the Devil Down website:

These recordings are different from any other of Fred McDowell due to their very nature: rather than conducted with the production of a record in mind, the recordings were made casually over the course of a night. McDowell is here heard at his best, relaxed and energetic, performing many of his most famous songs as well as songs never before heard. With his foot tapping on the hardwood floor and laughter in the background, “Come and Found You Gone” brings the listener into that hot night in August, 1967, immersing them in the world of the blues house party, and guiding them through the night as it unfolded… The 18 track album includes a 16 page booklet featuring liner notes from blues researcher and Rolling Stone Magazine top 10 Professor Bill Ferris, Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, and leading French blues scholar Vincent Joos. This booklet also contains a dozen award-winning photographs taken by Bill Ferris in 1970 at Otha Turner’s 4th of July picnic in Potts Camp, Mississippi.

The SFC was proud to provide Devil Down with access to the original field recordings housed in the William R. Ferris Collection. You can stream tracks or purchase the CD at the Devil Down website.

Another Dog In Outer Space Song

A few months ago Carrie wrote here about Goebbel Reeves’ “A Dog For Outer Space“, his ode to Laika, the dog who was launched into orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. It seems that Reeves’ hand-written lyrics don’t represent the only country song written about the canine cosmonaut, as we recently stumbled upon a song called “Sputnik Dog” in the Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs Picture Album, Hymn and Songbook (FL-417 in the SFC Song Folios Collection). Compared to Reeves’ tearjerker, the Flatt and Scruggs version of the Laika story (reproduced below) is a good deal more celebratory, though a little confused about the nature of  the dog’s journey and his prospects for a safe return:

Hank Cochran’s “She’s Got You”

The late great singer-songwriter Hank Cochran penned many country hits over the course of a half-century long career in Nashville, including  “Make The World Go Away” (for both Ray Price and Eddy Arnold) and “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” (for Merle Haggard), but his most lasting contribution to the country songbook may have been “She’s Got You”, written specifically for Patsy Cline in 1961 as a follow-up to “I Fall to Pieces”, a song Cochran had written in collaboration with Harlan Howard.

According to Mark Bego’s I Fall To Pieces: The Music And Life Of Patsy Cline, Cline had trouble completing her December 17, 1961 recording session “because she was so emotionally involved with the lyrics of ‘She’s Got You’ that she kept breaking down and sobbing in the middle of it.” Cline reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown the very next day, so it’s safe to assume she had some other issues at the time. Nonetheless, “She’s Got You” is sad enough one can certainly imagine it bringing a singer to tears.

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(clip from SFC CD-4761)

The song has since been covered by Dottie West, Loretta Lynn, and LeeAnn Rimes as well as by a number of male artists, who tended to change the initial pronoun in the interest of heteronormativity. A couple of the more recent variations come from singers more closely associated with British new wave and Mississippi rhythm and blues, respectively. Elvis Costello recorded a version for his 1981 country-themed album Almost Blue (clip from SFC CD-4826):

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And Little Milton included “He’s Got You” on 2000′s Feel It (clip from SFC CD-2520):

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Tuli Kupferberg, 1923-2010

We were saddened to hear this morning that poet/musician/activist Tuli Kupferberg, one of the founding members of the folk-rock band the Fugs, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 86 years old.

The Fugs released their first album, The Village Fugs (later reissued as The Fugs First Album), on Broadside and Folkways records in 1965. Fellow poet and founding member Ed Sanders wrote in1993,

We came to the attention of Folkways owner Moe Asch through the good efforts of legendary artist, filmmaker, and musical anthropologist Harry Smith… To float the project past Mr. Asch, Harry told him we were the Fugs Jug Band.”

While the Fugs remained largely unknown to mainstream audiences, the band had a lasting influence on popular music, introducing the explicit profanity, sexual references, and leftist politics that would later become a staple of punk rock. Kupferberg wrote many of the band’s funniest and most politically cutting songs, including “Kill for Peace” and “CIA Man” (recently featured in the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ movie Burn After Reading).

The SFC’s  Broadside Collection contains many unreleased solo recordings Tuli Kupferberg made for Broadside in the 1970s, including the clip below, “Take-a-this-pizza”:

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Clip from FT-9458 in the Broadside Collection.

This Land Is Your Land

Happy birthday to the United States of America, an institution that turns 234 years old this week. Let’s celebrate with some clips of America’s favorite patriotic folk song, “This Land Is Your Land”.

Here’s the first verse of Woody Guthrie’s original 1944 recording (a verse that would become the chorus in all future versions):

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(clip from SFC CD-654, This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings)

The “As I went walking that ribbon of highway” verse, as sung by Pete Seeger in 1958:

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(clip from SFC CD-2041, American Favorite Ballads)

The “I roamed and rambled” verse, by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in 1962:

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(clip from SFC FC-4520, Folk Songs of Our Land)

The “When the sun comes shining” verse, sung by Lee Greenwood (the guy who gave us “God Bless the USA”): 

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(clip from SFC CD-3650, American Patriot)

And North Carolina native Mojo Nixon puts a punk rock spin on the frequently dropped “Private Property” verse:

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(clip from SFC CD-1355, Root Hog or Die)