Anthology of American Folk Music by Josh Dunson
The Enduring Cultural Weight of the Anthology of American Folk Music
Harry Smith was an eccentric who collected obsessively — i. He was an artist, a beat satellite, a maker of surreal animated films some of which are now cult classics of early 70s cinema influential for the likes of Terry Gilliam — for a bit of a trip, see his boisterously occult masterpiece Heaven and Earth Magic. In the American poet Carl Sandburg issued American Songbag, a literary collection of traditional American folk songs. The cover-designs for the records took a detail from the illustrations to the work of 16th Century mystic Robert Fludd, and the colour scheme used to differentiate the volumes was an elemental coda drawn from the Enochian system of 16th Century occult prophet John Dee. Harry was serious about esoteric magic, eventually being ordained a bishop in the Gnostic Catholic Church of the notorious Aleister Crowley, and he evidently found some connection between the culture of American folk and the culture of the occult.
The Anthology of American Folk Music , edited by Harry Smith — , is one of the most influential releases in the history of recorded sound. Originally issued by Folkways Records in , the Anthology brought virtually unknown parts of America's musical landscape recorded in the late s and early s to the public's attention., Originally released in as a quasi-legal set of three double LPs and reissued several times since with varying cover art , Anthology of American Folk Music could well be the most influential document of the '50s folk revival.
I carried it home in my laptop bag the day it arrived and tweaked my lower back shifting my position on the train, trying to avoid fracturing the skull of a fellow subway commuter whose head was at bag-level. The pain has not subsided. The Anthology is a funny subject for music writers because so much has been written about it by so many smart people, but there always seems to be more to say. The set, compiled by mystic scholar Harry Smith from his extensive collection of 78 records in , never stops giving. When a generation encounters the Anthology , it takes something new from it; in the s, it kickstarted the national interest in folk that would eventually shape the consciousness of the s. It was in the air.
The Anthology of American Folk Music is a six- album compilation released in by Folkways Records catalogue FP , FP , and FP , comprising eighty-four American folk , blues and country music recordings that were originally issued from to Experimental film maker Harry Smith compiled the music from his personal collection of 78 rpm records. The album is famous due to its role as a touchstone for the American folk music revival in the s and s. Harry Smith was a West Coast filmmaker, magickian , bohemian, and eccentric, who, around , developed a hobby of collecting old blues , jazz , country , Cajun , and gospel records, 78s being the only medium at the time. While mainstream America often considered these records to be ephemeral , he took them seriously and accumulated a collection of several thousand recordings, and over time began to develop an interest in seeing them preserved and curated.