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High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project

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Audio CD, August 18, 2009
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High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project + Older Than My Old Man Now + Haven't Got The Blues (Yet)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Loudon Wainwright III has created one of the most ambitious projects of his career with the 2 CD set 'High Wide & Handsome - a grand gathering of songs, both old and original, revisiting the life, times, and recorded legacy of legendary singer and banjo picker Charlie Poole (1892-1931). The music ranges from old-timey to dixieland, from parlor songs to acapella gospel, a compendium of the strains that have created and continue to create American popular music. Greil Marcus put it this way - 'Poole might have been waiting all these years for someone to talk back to him so completely in his own language.'

Guest artists include Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Sloan Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Maggie Roche, Terre Roche, Suzzy Roche, Geoff Muldaur, Chris Thile, Rob Moose, Rayna Gellert, Matt Munisteri, Paul Asaro, and Wade Schuman. The lavish packaging features a 68 page booklet with notes by Greil Marcus, an historical essay by Poole biographer Kinney Rorrer, dozens of photos, and a complete set of lyrics.

In 2009 'High Wide & Handsome' won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, and was chosen by NPR's Fresh Air music critic Ken Tucker as album of the year.


Heartfelt, funny and dead-on right. --News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

Splendid. --The Washington Post

Gripping stories filled with black humor, genuine sadness, lost hope, as well as plenty of booze and women … This absolutely wonderful set of music is a real tribute indeed. --The Nation Online

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
  1. High Wide & Handsome 2:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Took My Gal Out Walkin' 2:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. I'm The Man Who Rode The Mule Around The World 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. My Mother And My Sweetheart 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Bill Mason's Bride 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Goodbye Booze 2:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Old Ballyhoo 1:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Little Waterloo 2:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. I'm Glad I'm Married 3:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Mother's Last Farewell Kiss 4:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Acres Of Diamonds 2:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Way Up In NYC 4:06$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. If I Lose 3:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. The Great Reaping Day 2:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Where The Whippoorwill Is Whispering Goodnight 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
  1. The Man In The Moon 2:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. The Deal 4:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. No Knees 2:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Moving Day 2:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Old And Only In The Way 3:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Ragtime Annie 3:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Sweet Sunny South 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. The Letter That Never Came 3:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Awful Hungry Hash House 4:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Rowena 2:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Didn't He Ramble 4:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Ramblin' Blues 3:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Charlie's Last Song 4:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. Beautiful 4:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. High Wide & Handsome (Reprise) 2:06$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 18, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: StorySound Records
  • ASIN: B002JUP8GU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,462 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Charlie Poole was an American banjo player. He was part of a string band that recorded in the 20's and 30's. He is revered by many folk and rock stars,and one of them is Loudon Wainwright, III. Charlie Poole's band "The Ramblers', was "a bluesy fiddle lead, backed up by long, flowing, melodic guitar runs and the finger-style banjo picking of Poole. Predictable as it may be, it was nonetheless outstanding. No string band in early country music equalled the Ramblers' controlled, clean, well-patterned sound." He played mostly cover songs, but he wrote many songs, words and music. Charlie Poole left a legacy that many remember, and Loudon Wainwright III has honored him by singing many of his songs.

This CD 'High Wide and Handsome:The Charlie Poole Project', has 2 discs with 30 songs of magnificent proportion. Many of the tunes are written by Charlie Poole, but Loudon has inserted several of his own songs. Wainwright's children, Rufus and Martha, join in on several tunes to make this a CD that you want to listen to over and over again. Charlie Poole was from North Carolina, and he always wanted to leave this world 'High Wide and Handsome'. That is an old southern expression that you called someone of wealth and importance.

Some of these tunes make no sense at all' I'm The Man Who Rode The Mule Around The World' is one that many have tried to understand and finally left alone. 'My Mother and My Sweetheart' is a tune that memorializes two women that are loved by a man, such sweet and lovely lyrics. 'Goodbye Booze' seems to be a favorite of all. Charlie Poole was a boozer and after a thirteen week drunk he died at the age of 38. The sentimental 'Mother's Farewell Kiss' is one of those songs where you sing along.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 13, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Loudon Wainwright III
"High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project"
(Second Story, 2009)
This 2-CD set is a bold, brilliant tribute to Charlie Poole, one of the early old-timey country music superstars of the Great Depression, with singer-satirist Loudon Wainwright III taking a surprising, refreshing foray into earnest, straightforward traditional folk music.

Charlie Poole was a notorious ne'er-do-well, a hard-drinking musical prodigy from a small town in North Carolina who became a star in the 1920s. Like many artists of the era, he was poorly paid for his work, and while his records sold well, he found it hard to make ends meet. Poole was an accomplished musician, one of the best clawhammer banjo players of his time, and a sly, humorous singer. Eventually, the hard-living performer drank himself to death in 1931, as the economy collapsed and record sales fell flat -- Wainwright explores this mixed legacy, both the glory and the pathos, crafting a remarkable portrait that pierces the veil of time to present Poole as a three-dimensional person -- playful, boisterous, flawed and charismatic.

Wainwright bookends cover versions of old classics with new compositions that illuminate Poole's life. The first is the title track, "High Wide & Handsome," a masterpiece of bragadoccio that paints the singer as a lusty, vibrant scoundrel, a charming, charismatic braggart and lover of the good life -- in short, a rock star.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By SloJoe on August 18, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I was a little dubious purchasing this, not being a fan of early country music or early Americana. It seemed all rather Grandma Moses to me, but I am a big Loudon Wainwright fan, so I thought "what the heck." Wow, was I pleasantly surprised! There's something for everyone who enjoys traditional acoustic music at all. It's chock full of songs serious, sardonic, sentimental, spiritual. It features guest appearances from a plethora of Wainwrights, Roches, and acoustic musicians such as Geoff Muldaur, David Mansfield, Chris Thile, Erik Friedlander, Rob Moose, etc. Not all the songs are to my taste, so that's why I docked it one star, but I'm sure glad I bought it!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Dodson on September 6, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I saw Loudon several months ago live in concert in Asheville, NC where spoke about at length and sang a few songs from the upcoming Charlie Poole concept album. He spoke of Charlie's life and how the project came together. At the time I found it odd that Loudon would attempt such a project about a 1920's bluegrass musician. The songs made little impression on me at the time and I quickly forgot about it. But when I saw the announcement the other day in Rolling Stone of the release of this 2 CD set set, and the first rate album art, I immediately got a strong gut feeling that this was going to be something magical. That my friends was an understatement!! In a nutshell, this CD is pure genius! I can't express in words how much I like this CD! Brillantly conceived and executed right down to the choice of studio musicians, album art, and liner notes, Loudon really belts one out of the park! I just hope that enough people hear it and can appreciate the gargantuan effort to put this tremendous project together. (check out the documentary on the making of this CD on YouTube) I have been a huge fan of Loudon since Album I and throughout his history his releases have oftentimes been uneven. However, If you have ever seen him in concert you know that his performances are always first rate and his showmansip is second to none. With this CD however, Loudon has clearly outdone himself. Everything here is firing on all pistons. The band and guest musicians just add the right flavor on every track. No overproduction here. If you like old time bluegrass or gospel music, or are just a fan of Loudon's music, I think there is something here for everyone. This CD gets 5 solid stars!Read more ›
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