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The American Songbag Paperback – October 29, 1990
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These folk songs are grouped under loose headings such as 'Dreams And Portraits,' 'Pioneer Memories,' 'The Big Brutal City,' 'Picnic and Hayrack Follies, Close Harmony, and Darn Fool Ditties,' 'The Great Open Spaces,' 'Hobo Songs,' and 'Tarnished Love Tales And Revolutionary Antiques,' and 'Mexican Border Songs' among others.
Many, understandably, have a British origin--'The Foggy Dew,' 'Barbara Allen,' 'As I Was Walkin' Down Wexford Street,' 'Pretty Polly,' and 'The House Carpenter'--while the origin of others, like 'The E-RI-E,' 'The Ballad Of De Boll Weevil,' and 'The Buffalo Skinners' seem to be distinctly American.
'Turkey In The Straw,' however, like "When The Curtains Of Night Are Pinned Back,' is a "classical American rural tune," and "as American as Andrew Jackson, Johnny Appleseed, and Corn-on-the-Cob."
Sandburg provides a brief introduction to each song, many of which are informative, while others are humorous and so idiosyncratic that each only muddies the waters of clarity if taken at face value.
American music lovers may believe that 'Shenandoah' is a wholly American creation, but Sandburg sensibly suggests that the original may have referred to the name of a foreign ship or an Indian chief, rather than to 'the Historic Virginia valley.Read more ›
Unfortunatly, the product offered by Amazon is an amazingly poor xerox copy of the original book. ULAN Press, who ever they are produced this book. The copy is so poor that the music is not readable sitting at the piano. The text is also out of focus and barely legible. I get a headache tring to read it.
Sandburg work is amazing and I am anxious to uptain a better copy. I hope to find an old copy of an original printing.
I strongly discourage anyone from buying this Amazon/ULAN offering!
People trying to find great folk songs with both wit and wonder and laughter, heart ache and beauty probably have been doing this since Sandburg published this book in the 1920s. Being so familiar with this book, back in the day, and still today, I can identify different folk singers who have a repertoire of traditional songs by the ones who like myself studied this book and learned to play its songs, and those who had learned from the Lomax Collections, though in all the big Lomax books, there were credits to the inspiration and work Sanburg put into this book, as well as songs taken from this book.
Sanburg wasn't a folklorist, but a poet and someone who liked to sing these songs and play the guitar. He includes a few songs that aren't folk by any description like the very funny "Horse Named Bill" written by a friend of Sandburg's named Sinclair Lewis whom you might heard of!
The legions of folkies who once had only this book and the Lomax collections have spewed forth generations of serious scholars of folk music in this country and the world. Specialized monographs can be found on Kentucky fiddling or the musics of Mali, on down picking banjo, and Black song before the blues. With the specialization that has developed over the decades, few would even attempt to write one book and call it the American Songbag.
Especially if you like to sing and play, this book will take you back to an easier time, with some good songs. You will be surprised at how many of them you know the tune to, even if you can't read the music!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Hobo Poet was certainly an entertaining musician. Definitely a triple threat; wait, did he also dance?Published 18 months ago by Dwane L. Starlin
Essential for any folk music lover! A killer resource, and a killer deal. I love the personalized introductions, which spark with Sandburg's trademarked poetry. Read morePublished 20 months ago by jason simpson
Great fun - lots of songs I remember learning as a child, plus way more that were new to me.Published 22 months ago by Granfran
The book was a gift and the recipient was overjoyed! I couldn't have been happier with her reaction. Thank you for making her/my day!Published on February 9, 2014 by Gary W Nelson
This is one of the best anthologies of of American folk songs. Sadly, some songs only have one verse, but still, the background on each song, although sometimes not entirely... Read morePublished on October 29, 2013 by Barry O'Brien
A used, 1927 book about the history of our songs by Carl Sandburg is not too easy to find.
I'm well pleased with my purchase.