Friday, September 28, 2007

Erik's Random 10

Elizabeth Cotten is one of the most unjustly forgotten people in the American folk canon. Real fans of the genre know who she is, but the average music fan does not. Born in 1895 in North Carolina, Cotten, like many African-Americans of her generation, played music but could not survive professionally. We know some of these stories--Mississippi John Hurt for instance. Cotten started working as a maid at the age of 13. She married at 15 and stopped playing to raise her family. In the 1940s, now in her sixties, Cotten began playing again and her recordings caught the attention of Pete Seeger. She was picked up by the burgeoning folk movement and made a number of interesting recordings over the next twenty years. Her most famous song, "Freight Train" has been recorded by a number of artists. Her wonderful, understated voice combined with her unique way of playing the guitar makes her a real treat. I found my first listen to Cotten a very arresting experience.

1. Elizabeth Cotten, I Don't Love Nobody
2. Ali Farka Toure, Tulumba
3. Bob Wills, Faded Love
4. Neil Young, Cowgirl in the Sand
5. Tommy Jarrell, Old Molly Hare
6. John Zorn, Spillane
7. Van Morrison, Cyprus Avenue
8. Sun Ra, Journey Toward Stars
9. Midnight Oil, Shakers and Movers
10. The Killers, Everything Will Be Alright