Monday, March 5, 2012

COLLECTION #178: Old Folkie Books

No, that's not 'old fogey' books, although it could be argued that these books are something only old fogeys like me would appreciated! In honor of Music Monday, I'm sharing my somewhat pathetic collection of books about old folk singers. (My friend Jean is probably laughing her head off at my little tiny collection. But I say, if she wants to start a collector blog to share her enormous collection of everything folk music related, I'll be the first to sign on as a follower!)

I've loved folk music since I was a pre-teen in the late '50s, early '60s.  When the wave of 'nouveau' folk music, popularized by the likes of the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, the Weavers, and Joan Baez hit the pop charts, I was on board. In those days, every kid with a guitar could play "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", "Puff the Magic Dragon", and "500 Miles".  (I mentioned 'nouveau' folk music.. this is to separate it from the earlier wave of folk music which was popular from the 1920s through the 1940s, epitomized by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, the Carter Family, and others).
From Woody Gurthrie: A Life

So, I have a few books about folk musicians, including a couple of song books. This isn't the extent of my song book collection, but since these are specifically about folk singers, I've included them in this collection.

My absolute favorite female folk singer is Judy Collins. She has morphed through the years of her career, from a straight-up folksinger, singing traditional and modern folk songs, (but rarely her own), to a polished singer of show tunes, pop songs, and ballads, but with her roots firmly in the folk music traditions of her youth. She has written a few lovely songs, and performed them admirably, but in my opinion, she does best with the songs of others. Her voice is rich and pure, with an incredible range and color. I can't hear "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" or "Suzanne" without a lump coming to my throat.
 Suzanne, folk classic written by Leonard Cohen
Bob Dylan is arguably the greatest influence on modern folk music, much like Woody Guthrie was on Depression era folk music. His songs have been recorded by a Who's Who of musicians, from folk to rock to New Age, to.... well, just everyone. I particularly loved 'Nashville Skyline', his album recorded in the late '60s, with a country vibe I'd never known he had.

From Nashville Skyline

From the Bob Dylan Scrapbook
Who the heck is Tom Paxton, you might ask? Well, even if you haven't heard of Tom Paxton, his songs have been recorded by nearly as many artists as Bob Dylan's songs.  He wrote the children's classics "Going to the Zoo", and "the Marvelous Toy", as well as folk classics "Ramblin' Boy",  "Last Thing on My Mind",  "I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound", and "Bottle of Wine". My above mentioned friend Jean introduced me to Tom (literally and figuratively) in the late '70s, when she took me to several of his concerts at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. I've probably been to half a dozen 'Tom Concerts', with her, and due to her personal friendship with Tom, we've had several pleasant conversations.

One of the more humorous folk music stories, is the legendary "Alice's Restaurant", song and book, written and performed by Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody Guthrie. I felt that I had 'arrived' musically, back in the late '60s, when I mastered Alice's Restaurant on the guitar.  (Ha ha!)  This cute book was illustrated by Marvin Glass, who is best known as a toy entrepreneur.

Last but not least, here's a layout I did about myself, featuring a photo taken during those 'folk music loving days'.


Jean Wilcox Hibben said...

Yeah ... I'll have to consider a collectors' blog. Hmmm. But I love your displays. Love the old books. Mine are all falling apart & I'd be embarrassed to feature most of them (my beloved Lomax book is without the front cover - I use it as a bookmark - and just lost its back cover last month). And now I'm using the Stephen Foster book you talked me into buying to write some Foster columns for GenWeekly.

Ruthann said...

As soon as I saw this collection, I zoomed in on Tom Paxton. My dad sang all of his songs, and your recollections and song titles just have me singing to myself. How I would love to hear those songs again. I have old cassettes of him singing the songs, but I never play them. Thanks for the wonderful memories!