Suzy Bogguss: American Folk Songbook

The simple pleasure of classic folk music

If you grew amidst the 1960s folk revival, you may well remember a favorite Pete Seeger, Burl Ives or Johnny Cash record of great American folk songs. You might have been schooled by the Dillards (in the guise of the Darling Family) on The Andy Griffith Show, had parents who sang these songs as you drifted off to sleep, sang folk songs at camp or had a progressive grade school teacher who introduced these songs at music time. But it’s probably been a few decades since folk songs were central to your life. Of course, you’ll still hear many of these titles on Prairie Home Companion and at bluegrass festivals, but their mainstream circulation has dwindled, pushing their legacies to the fringe. And that’s a shame, because these are great songs, rife with historical significance (both in their creation and in the stories they tell) and deep musical pleasures.

Suzy Bogguss has collected seventeen titles, mostly well-known, and assembled them into a songbook of both musical and intellectual depth. In addition to her lovely acoustic renderings, assisted by a terrific band of musicians and backing vocalists, she’s written a companion book that provides history and sheet music. The song backgrounds essay the unsettled origins of many songs (is “Red River Valley” a reference to a tributary of the Mississippi, a spur of the Hudson, or the valley drained by the Red River of the North?), the variations of their lyrics, and their paths to prominence. The sheet music is perfect for accompanying your home sing-along on piano or guitar, and the CD is sure to be a favorite for both parents and kids, not to mention a nutritious respite from calorie-free children’s records. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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