“Come All You Blackface Freaks and Hillwilliams: 200 Years of Roots-Rock Revival (A Memoir)”

At my new venture, work-titled Hogeland’s Publishing WorkSpace, I’m posting what we now call a “long read”:  “Come All You Blackface Freaks and Hillwilliams: 200 Years of Roots-Rock Revival (A Memoir).” (A note on the title is in the “About” section on the other site.) Here’s the opening:

1. Coon Song

When I was in grade school, cheerful, pretty young women led me and my classmates, well-kept kids born in the 1950′s, in singing doleful lyrics set to catchy melodies. “All the world is sad and dreary,” we sang. “Gone are the days,” and “my heart is bending low.” The songs were written by Stephen Foster, the best-known American pop composer of the nineteenth century. His work had great longevity. A century after his death, I knew it by heart.

But it’s not Foster’s long survival or even his Victorian melancholy that startles my memory now. It’s his most enduring theme. I was born after Brown v. Board of Education. When the first Civil Rights Act of the 1960′s was signed I was entering the fourth grade. Yet throughout my childhood I sang of black people’s unquenchable longing for their days in slavery.  Read more…

Der Bingle and the Lucy Poems

According to the Romantic Circles blog (not what it sounds like, but a site dedicated to scholarship on the English Romantic period), Bing Crosby’s final album is to be re-released soon, with formerly unreleased bonus material, including settings of works by well-known poets, including Wordsworth’s “Lucy Gray.” Weird, yet for some of us (or one of us?) a must-hear. Here’s the poem itself, with its direct sampling of British-isles folk ballad (and along with other Romantic and Victorian poems in this style, it had its own influence, in turn, on American country music): Continue reading