The Anthology Of American Folk Music was a compilation of 84 folk songs from 78s released 1926-1932. Originally on 3 volumes on 6 lps, later re-released in 1997 on 6 CDs. It was edited, compiled, and annotated by Harry Smith, and released by Folkways Records on 1952. This album is considered by many to be one of the most important albums of the 20th century because it started a revival of interest in American Folk Music.


Harry Smith's purpose for creating The Anthology Of American Folk Music was to see if America could be changed through music. This did indeed happen, after the album was released, it intrigued many young American musicians and inspired them to make their own folk music. One of these musicians was Bob Dylan. It also caused a mass-rediscovery of the performers in this compilation that were still alive at the time.

Vol. I, "Ballads"Edit

This was first volume of The Anthology Of American Folk Music. The title of Vol. I was "Ballads", meaning that the songs in this volume was were songs that told stories, usually tragic ones. The Ballads were organized in chronological order by when the ballad originated. One of the possible reasons why this volume was arranged this way was to give a brief social history of the south from c. 1776-1929, each song illustrating roughly a different period. Most of the songs before #6 where renditions of ballads referenced in Francis James Child's English And Scottish Popular Ballads. It contains songs 1-27.

  1. Henry Lee- Dick Justice
  2. Fatal Flower Garden- Nelstone's Hawaiians
  3. The House Carpenter- Clarence Ashley
  4. Drunkard's Special- Coley Jones
  5. Old Lady And The Devil- Bill and Belle Reed
  6. The Butcher's Boy- Buell Kazee (performer)
  7. The Wagoner's Lad- Buell Kazee (performer)
  8. King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Mi-O- Chubby Parker
  9. Old Shoes And Leggins- Uncle Eck Dunford
  10. Willie Moore- Burnett And Rutherford
  11. A Lazy Farmer Boy- Buster Carter and Preston Young
  12. Peg And Awl- Carolina Tar Heels (group)
  13. Ommie Wise- G.B. Grayson
  14. My Name Is John Johanna- Kelly Harrell and The Virginia String Band
  15. Bandit Cole Younger- Edward L. Crain
  16. Charles Giteau (song)- Kelly Harrell
  17. John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man- The Carter Family
  18. Gonna Die With A Hammer In My Hand- Williamson Brothers and Curry
  19. Stackalee- Frank Hutchison
  20. White House Blues- Charlie Poole and The North Carolina Ramblers
  21. Frankie- Mississippi John Hurt
  22. When That Great Ship Went Down- William and Versey Smith
  23. Engine 143- The Carter Family
  24. Kassie Jones- Furry Lewis
  25. Down On Penny's Farm- The Bently Boys
  26. Mississippi Boweavil Blues- The Masked Marvel
  27. Got The Farm Land Blues- Carolina Tar Heels (group)

Vol. II, "Social Music"Edit

This was the second volume of The Anthology Of American Folk Music. The title of Vol. II was "Social Music", meaning that the songs in this volume were songs that would be played at social gatherings. Disc A featured Dance Music, and Disc B featured Religious Music. It contains songs 28-56.

  1. Sail Away Lady- "Uncle Bunt" Stephens
  2. The Wild Wagoner- Jilson Setters
  3. Wake Up Jacob- Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers
  4. La Danseuse- Delma Lachney and Blind Uncle Gaspard
  5. Georgia Stomp- Andrew and Jim Baxter
  6. Brilliancy Medley- Eck Robertson and Family
  7. Indian War Whoop- Floyd Ming and His Pep Steppers
  8. Old Country Stomp- Henry Thomas
  9. Old Dog Blue- Jim Jackson
  10. Saut, Crapaud- Columbus Fruge
  11. Arcadian One-Step- Joseph Falcon
  12. Home Sweet Home- Breaux Fréres
  13. Newport Blues- Cincinnati Jug Band
  14. Moonshiner's Dance, pt. 1- Frank Cloutier and The Victoria Café Orchestra
  15. Must Be Born Again- Rev. J.M. Gates
  16. Oh Death, Where Is Thy Sting?- Rev. J.M. Gates
  17. Rocky Road- Alabama Sacred Harp Singers
  18. Present Joys- Alabama Sacred Harp Singers
  19. This Song Of Love- Middle Georgia Singing Convention No. 1
  20. Judgement- Rev. Sister Mary Nelson
  21. He Got Better Things For You- Memphis Sanctified Singers
  22. Since I Laid My Burden Down- Elders McIntorsh and Edwards' Sanctified Singers
  23. John The Baptist- Rev. Moses Mason
  24. Dry Bones- Bascom Lamar Lunsford
  25. John The Revelator- Blind Willie Johnson
  26. Little Moses- The Carter Family
  27. Shine On Me- Ernest Phillips and His Holiness Singers
  28. Fifty Miles Of Elbow Room- Rev. F.W. McGee
  29. I'm On The Battlefield For My Lord- Rev. D.C. Rice and His Sanctified Congregation

Vol. III, "Songs"Edit

This was the third volume of The Anthology Of American Folk Music. The title of Vol. III was "Songs". Meaning that the songs on this volume were miscellaneous songs that had no story or social purpose. It contains songs 57-82.

  1. The Coo Coo Bird- Clarence Ashley
  2. East Virginia- Buell Kazee (performer)
  3. Minglewood Blues- Cannon's Jug Stompers
  4. I Woke Up One Morning In May- Didier Hébert
  5. James Alley Blues- Richard 'Rabbit' Brown
  6. Sugar Baby- Dock Boggs
  7. I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground- Bascom Lamar Lunsford
  8. The Mountaineer's Courtship- Mr. and Mrs. Ernest V. Stoneman
  9. The Spanish Merchant's Daughter- The Stoneman Family
  10. Bob Lee Junior Blues- Memphis Jug Band
  11. Single Girl, Married Girl- The Carter Family
  12. Le Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme- Cleoma Breaux and Joseph Falcon
  13. Rabbit Foot Blues- Blind Lemon Jefferson
  14. Expressman Blues- Sleepy John Estes
  15. Poor Boy Blues- Ramblin' Thomas
  16. Feather Bed- Cannon's Jug Stompers
  17. Country Blues- Dock Boggs
  18. 99 Year Blues- Julius Daniels
  19. Prison Cell Blues- Blind Lemon Jefferson
  20. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean- Blind Lemon Jefferson
  21. C'est Si Triste Sans Lui- Cleoma Breaux and Joseph Falcon
  22. Way Down The Old Plank Road- Uncle Dave Macon
  23. Buddy Won't You Roll Down The Line- Uncle Dave Macon
  24. Spike Driver Blues- Mississippi John Hurt
  25. K.C. Moan- Memphis Jug Band
  26. Train On The Island- J.P. Nestor
  27. The Lone Star Trail- Ken Maynard
  28. Fishing Blues- Henry Thomas

Vol. IVEdit

After the release of the first three volumes, Harry Smith had plans for a fourth volume, he even made some master tapes. But it was never released during his lifetime. This was because Marian Distler, one of the co-founders of Folkways Records insisted that he put a song on it that had to do with re-electing Franklin Roosevelt, he wouldn't do it because he didn't think it was a very good song. So they never released it. The notebooks in which he wrote the annotations for the songs in Vol. IV were lost as well. But the tapes changed hands every now and then, until it landed in the hands of John Fahey who finally released it in 2000 on his own label, Revenant Records. This volume didn't have a specific subject, but they were all supposed to be what Harry Smith considered 'good performances'. All the songs on this volume were from 1928-1940, but the majority were from 1930-1940, even though this was out of the range of the first three volumes, they were all authentic folk songs. This suggests that this volume was made to show the few performers that continued to exhibit the folk tradition after and during the depression. It contained 28 songs on 2 CDs.

  1. Memphis Shakedown- Memphis Jug Band
  2. Dog And Gun (An Old English Ballad)- Bradley Kincaid
  3. Black Jack David- The Carter Family
  4. Down On The Banks Of The Ohio- Blue Sky Boys
  5. Adieu, False Heart- Arthur Smith Trio
  6. John Henry Was A Little Boy- J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers
  7. Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy- Monroe Brothers
  8. Southern Casey Jones- Jesse James (musician)
  9. Cold Iron Bed- Jack Kelly and His South Memphis Jug Band
  10. Packin' Trunk- Lead Belly
  11. Baby Please Don't Go- Joe Williams' Washboard Blues Singers
  12. Last Fair Deal Gone Down- Robert Johnson
  13. Parchman Farm Blues- Bukka White
  14. Mean Old World- Heavenly Gospel Singers
  15. Hello Stranger- The Carter Family
  16. Stand By Me- Sister Clara Hudmon
  17. West Virginia Gals- Al Hopkins And His Buckle Busters
  18. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?- Blind Alfred Reed
  19. Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravy Train- Uncle Dave Macon
  20. Governor Al Smith- Uncle Dave Macon
  21. Milk Cow Blues- Sleepy John Estes
  22. No Depression In Heaven- The Carter Family
  23. I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)- Roosevelt Graves and Brother
  24. He's On The Ring (Doing The Same Old Thing)- Memphis Minnie
  25. The Cockeyed World- Minnie Wallace
  26. Barbecue Bust- Mississippi Jook Band
  27. Dans Le Grand Bois (In The Forest)- Hackberry Ramblers
  28. Aces' Breakdown- The Four Aces

Vols. V & VIEdit

In the foreword in the original booklet, Harry Smith says: "Volumes 4, 5, and 6 of this series will be devoted to examples of rhythm changes between 1890 and 1950" (1). Unfortunately, Harry Smith gave away his entire record collection before he even started to work on Vols. 5 & 6, and volume 4 ended up not having the purpose he said it would have in the foreword when it was posthumously released in 2000.

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