Folk Music from 1947
May 23, 2009 9:57 AM   Subscribe

To Hear Your Banjo Play is a documentary by Alan Lomax from 1947. It is narrated by Pete Seeger and features Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee among others.
posted by RussHy (15 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
RussHy - I think I'm learning to love you more.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2009

This is so good, it's Zombie Bacon Banjo good.
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on May 23, 2009

Great stuff.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:13 AM on May 23, 2009

Credit where it's due - this has appeared at least once on MeFi before, though not in an FPP.

NickySkye posted a link to this here 2 years ago, albeit the Internet Archive version. It's one of the better known films of its genre among those of us who are aficionados of this kind of thing.

Directors were Lerner and Van Dyke, fwiw.

Can we argue about the proper use of the word "folk" now?

posted by fourcheesemac at 10:18 AM on May 23, 2009

Sorry about that, it didn't show up on the thread preview.
posted by RussHy at 10:29 AM on May 23, 2009

Can we argue about the proper use of the word "folk" now?

posted by nola at 10:32 AM on May 23, 2009

Mod note: comment removed - please don't turn every thread into a fight, go to metatalk if your fight quotient is too low.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2009

This is great, and the perfect antidote to my really aggravating (banjo related) morning. Thanks!
posted by smartyboots at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2009

Alan Lomax interviewing Woody Guthrie:

Guthrie: Here’s a pretty good one I used to hear down in that country: "Here’s to her, and to her again. If you can’t get to her, let me to her. I’m used to her."

Lomax: Well, some of them were even worse off than that, weren’t they, Woody? In the way of being a little off color, or something?

Guthrie: Yes, well they started from there and went on down.

Lomax: Where’d they go from there? What was the next stop?

Guthrie: Well, let’s hear you say one, then I’ll be remembering mine.

Lomax: I wasn’t brought up that way, Woody. You see, I didn’t grow up in the country. I grew up inside a brick house. I didn’t have that kind of experience.... I wish I had.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:47 AM on May 23, 2009

Thank you much. I do like a little banjo plucking now and then.
posted by metagnathous at 12:00 PM on May 23, 2009

Wonderful post RussHy, so glad to see this documentary make it to the front page of the blue. I love Pete Seeger, love the old timey folk music, especially banjo. Watching this long ago film my heart goes pitterpat for him, that lanky, contemplative warmth and intelligence is so attractive.

20 years after this was made, when I was a little rascal of 12 in 1966 or maybe it was early '67, I sat with Pete Seeger on a "float" of sorts, in a Civil Rights March that was going Fifth Avenue to hear Martin Luther King speak at the United Nations Plaza. I was gaga about him, his brand of political and social activism and it was awesome to sit next to a man who I thought of as a hero. He's an old geezer now. He was born May 3, 1919, so that would make him 90 years old this month.

Charming in the vid to see little, old and wrinkled Mrs. Gladden in her solitary country cabin, reading her old love letters. awww.

The spiritual, part madrigal, part dirge, the oldtimers sing at the end of the picnic makes my eyes well with tears, it's hauntingly soulful. The square dancing at the end was beautifully complex, wow.

I *love* banjo music, that bright, upbeat pluckiness. Thanks for the joy.
posted by nickyskye at 12:29 PM on May 23, 2009

Thank you RussHy; and thank you Alan Lomax, without you much of this would have been lost.
posted by adamvasco at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2009

Nickyskye...what a great experience... Pete may be old but he's still active and still playing... I saw him this past year in Ann Arbor... hearing him sing "bring em home" was a moving experience... I used a version of it along with some shots taken at a peace march in DC a couple of years ago.... (disclaimer, self link of sorts).

Thanks for the post RussHy, I hadn't seen this...
posted by HuronBob at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fast forwarding a bit, I've enjoyed this for some time. Here seems as good an opportunity as any to post it.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:35 PM on May 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

That's a good link, IndigoJones.
posted by RussHy at 5:53 PM on May 23, 2009

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