28 Songs, 1 Hour 13 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Much of the banjo playing here sounds different than normal banjos because in addition to pioneering the preservation of American folk music Pete Seeger also single-handedly invented a modification of the instrument, elongating its neck by three frets, allowing for his preferred method of detuning the strings a minor third lower than the standard 5-string banjo. American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1 (the first in a five-volume set) focuses largely on the songs Seeger recorded in the McCarthy era of the ‘50s, when his singing voice and political voice got him blacklisted. “John Henry” opens the collection with Seeger’s fast-picking and straight tenor singing the narrative of the folk hero who challenged the birth of industrial labor. Did you know that the proper title for “Jimmy Crack Corn” is actually “Blue Tailed Fly” and that it was a blackface minstrel song musing joyously on the death of a slave owner? That song is here too, as are much more whimsical numbers like “Skip to My Lou” and of course Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Much of the banjo playing here sounds different than normal banjos because in addition to pioneering the preservation of American folk music Pete Seeger also single-handedly invented a modification of the instrument, elongating its neck by three frets, allowing for his preferred method of detuning the strings a minor third lower than the standard 5-string banjo. American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1 (the first in a five-volume set) focuses largely on the songs Seeger recorded in the McCarthy era of the ‘50s, when his singing voice and political voice got him blacklisted. “John Henry” opens the collection with Seeger’s fast-picking and straight tenor singing the narrative of the folk hero who challenged the birth of industrial labor. Did you know that the proper title for “Jimmy Crack Corn” is actually “Blue Tailed Fly” and that it was a blackface minstrel song musing joyously on the death of a slave owner? That song is here too, as are much more whimsical numbers like “Skip to My Lou” and of course Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

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