In issuing this first sampler of folk material from TRADITION RECORDS we have tried not oniy to please the discriminating folk song lover, but to make this record appeal to a wider audience of varying tastes and ages.
This may seem too aspiring a notion at first hut the whole range of human emotion, which is the backbone of all folklore and folk song, is the unifying factor. The intent listener will find it, in one form or another, in every one of these performances. It is this element which makes the record one multicolored whole, enhanced, rather than hurt, by its variety.
We have chosen some familiar and some surprisingly lovely and little known Scots and American songs … a guitar number recorded in a negro household in the Southern Mountains; a flamenco recorded in a Spanish village; spirituals sung by the warm timbred voice of Odetta; a gruesome Cockney song; a woeful halyard shanty; a spirited Irish rebel song and an American humor song as well as many others.
Many of the artists may be known to you, but there are also some delightful new performers whom you probably have not heard before.
Whether this record will be an introduction or a renewed acquaintance with TRADITION, we hope you will enjoy it as a much be-thumbed and listened-to addition to your record library.
THE BIRDS' COURTSHIP … from "A Ballad Singer's Choice" (TLP 1003) sung by Ed McCurdy with banjo accompaniment by Erik Darling. Ed is one of America's most widely recorded folksingers. From his vast repertoir he has gathered all his favorites and put them together on this disc.
O'DONNELL ABOO … from "The Rising of the Moon" (TLP 1006) an album of Irish rebel songs sung with fervor, much fervor, by Tommy Makem and Patrick, Tom and Liam Clancy.
JOHN HENRY … played on the guitar by Mrs. Etta Baker, from the album "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" (TLP 1007) — This album includes performances on banjo, fiddle, mountain dulcimer, harmonica and guitar. To play John Henry Mrs. Baker tuned the guitar to an open C chord and used a jackknife blade to get the rasping ring-of-the-steel sound.
THE HEARSE SONG … Colyn Davies sings this music hall favorite with much morbid detail from his Tradition album "Cockney Music Hall Songs and Recitations" (TLP 1017). Sure way to insomnia.
RODENOS … el Niño de Ronda sings this spirited flamenco which tells about a horseman confronted in the mountains by a band of outlaws. The scene is el Niflo's own village of Ronda where he and a guitarist got together in a little tavern and recorded these passionate songs for Alan Brown in 1955. (TLP 1008).
JOHNNY'S GONE TO HILO … sung by Paul Clayton. This halyard shanty is a girl's plaintive cry for her lover sailing to Peru. The repetition of the phrase "Johnny's gone to Hilo" reminds one of the flowing of the sea. The song comes from "Whaling and Sailing Songs From The Days of Moby Dick" (TLP 1005). Paul got many of his songs from old ship's logs in his home town of New Bedford.
DARK AS A DUNGEON … from "Come and Sit by My Side" (TLP 1019) sung by Glenn Yarbrough, assisted by Fred Hellerman and group. A solemn warning to young men not to seek their fortune in the mines. The album has many popular folk songs presented in a manner that modern listeners will understand and appreciate.
JOHNNY LAD … Ewan McColl, assisted by Peggy Seeger, sings this song on his album "Classic Scots Ballads" (TLP 1015). The maiden has had twentynine lads already but this is IT — in spite of all Johnny's faults. This collection of songs in Lowland Scots dialect has many Child ballads and some beautiful, lesser known songs with banjo and guitar accompaniments.
HA-NA-AVA BA-BA-NOT … sung by Hillel and Aviva, the authentic Israeli singers, from their album "Songs of Israel and Many Lands" (TLP 1002). The title means "The Most Beautiful of All Girls". The young man asks his beloved to give him one look. She turns towards him at last and allows him to embrace her.
I WAS BORN ABOUT 10,000 YEARS AGO … This creation of American soil is sung by Oscar Brand, accompanied on the guitar by Fred Hellerman, from his record "Laughing America" (TLP lOl4) — an anthology of American humor in folksong. This is a tail-story type song which probably originated in some college.
KEEL ROW … This short song, claimed as a Scottish air, deals with the boatmen in their traditional blue bonnets who took the boats up and down the Tyne river in the early 1700's. Isla Cameron, the British singer of B.B.C. fame, sings this song from "Through Bushes and Briars", songs from the British Isles (TLP 1001).
THE FAIRY BOY … played on the Uilleann pipes by Seamus Ennis. The words of the song tell how a mother lost her son to the fairies and the way she got him back. It is from "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (TLP 1013) which includes pipe music, tin whistle, and folk songs of Ireland.
THE GAMBLING SUITOR … Jean Ritchie and Paul Clayton sing this courting exchange of witticisms from "American Folk Tales and Songs" (TLP 1011), a recorded companion to the Signet Key book of the same name. Also on the record are many stories and tall tales, told in the quiet, understating manner of the mountains by Richard Chase, who compiled the book. Mr. Chase, who has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America, has spent many years among the people of the Southern Mountains collecting tales and songs.
SPIRITUAL TRILOGY … Odetta needs no introduction to those who have heard her Tradition album "Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues" (TLP 1010) from which we took these Spirituals — "Oh, Freedom", "Come and Go With Me" and "I'm on My Way". Her new album "Odetta at the Gate of Horn" (TLP 1025) is now available.