Various: If You Ain't Got The Do-Re-Mi (Smithsonian)

 |   |  <1 min read

Woody Guthrie: Pretty Boy Floyd
Various: If You Ain't Got The Do-Re-Mi (Smithsonian)

Subtitled "Songs of Rags and Riches" this 27-track collection pulls together the likes of bluesmen Lead Belly and Josh White, folk singers such as Pete Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers, and others on songs (mostly) born in the Depression.

So here are classic songs such as Brother Can You Spare A Dime? and Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out. Okay, not the most cheerful of albums you might think -- but these songs and their delivery are an affirmation of the human spirit, and in them you can hear songs which have come down through the years.

Lead Belly's Gallis Pole was resurrected as Gallows Pole and later became Hangman by Led Zeppelin. And you don't have to be a musicologist to appreciate the sentiment behind Yankee Dollar by Trinidadian Lord Invader, or Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on If You Lose Your Money (which Cream borrowed, bent and turned into an electrifying rocker).

So with Woodie Guthrie's Pretty Boy Floyd, piano rags, bluesman Speckled Red, and the uplifting chorus "You can't scare me I'm stickin' to the union" this may seem quaint, but it is also a powerful reminder of hard times and how songwriters articulate the concerns of ordinary people.

And is a collection -- with excellent essays on the recordings and information on each songs -- which tells you more about the human condition than most CDs cluttering up most record stores.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Aliens: Luna (Pet Rock)

The Aliens: Luna (Pet Rock)

Back in the late Ninenties the Beta Band from Britain were, for some of us at least, the most exciting and promising thing around. They released three charming folkadelic EPs -- packaged on CD... > Read more

Flip Grater: While I'm Awake I'm At War (Maiden)

Flip Grater: While I'm Awake I'm At War (Maiden)

New Zealand singer-songwriter Flip Grater has a rare distinction at Elsewhere: she's the only artist so far who has previously had music posted (here) as well as recipe (here) which she picked up... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Lou Reed; Original Classic Album Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Lou Reed; Original Classic Album Series

Because Lou Reed's solo career after the Velvet Underground was so erratic, this Bargain Buy series (five albums for $20) really is the way to go: at worst you'll get a classic album, something... > Read more

KHOMEINI'S GHOST by CON COUGHLIN (2009): The spirit of the departed

KHOMEINI'S GHOST by CON COUGHLIN (2009): The spirit of the departed

Within weeks of Ayatollah Khomeini returning to Iran in 1979 after almost 15 years in exile, the Islamic Revolution he had envisioned and agitated for was complete and a ruthless, fundamentalist... > Read more