Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Keep on the Sunny Side

The 4th of July kicks ass. It seems like a holiday for kids, right? Sparklers, fireworks, ambiguous meats like hot dogs and whatever that stuff is in canned baked beans. But as a kid, it fell so far behind Christmas, New Years, Easter, my birthday, Memorial Day... it was barely better than any other day in the summer. This year I finally realized how much better this holiday is when you are an adult. I appreciate the day off (even if I hardly work right now, anyways) and I appreciate watching the neighborhood kids get a kick out of something as small as those little "snaps" you throw on the ground (or at your brother), and I appreciate all the deeper meanings of the holiday, too. I'm not going to get too sappy here, but our men and women are deployed across the globe, and it's an important time to remember them, and to remember our country's history, the good and the bad. Plus, I got to write my name with a sparkler, and my brother-in-law's camera was good enough to capture the whole thing. The recording I listened to this weekend ended up being the perfect soundtrack for the holiday. As Tom Moon says in his entry, "This should be required listening for anyone who wants to understand the American experience."

Artist: The Original Carter Family
Recording: The Carter Family: 1927-1934 (5 disc box set) (Book Entry)
Recording #226

(If this takes forever to load click here for the whole playlist)

I listened to 126 songs by the same artist, most of them barely distinguishable from each other, and somehow I wasn't really bored of the Carter Family by the time I got to the end. The quality of the recording is actually exceptional for how hold these are, which is nice, because recording hiss from songs of this era can really ruin my enjoyment of a good song. So although most of the songs really seem to have the same general simple premise of basic folk song with steady rhythmic acoustic guitar to accompany the voices, there were some songs that stood out to me. "Poor Orphan Boy" was surprisingly catchy, with a nice quick pace; "Chewing Gum" was much goofier than I would have thought recordings in the 20's would have been; and finally "Keep on the Sunny Side" really did brighten up my day, and I think the Carter's version is one of the best I have heard. Even though the chemical composition of each song was similar, what really makes the 5 discs worth listening to is the broad range of topics the Carter's covered-- ballads, hymns, murder tales-- it really is an amalgam of the Appalachian existance, with its varied "melting pot" background. So as I devoured my all-you-can-eat Maryland crabs and imagined future 4th's when my son will actually be able to focus his eyes far enough to appreciate fireworks, the Carters were reminding me that folks in America have been doing this for a long time, which was a comforting feeling.

Buy The Carter Family Box Set at Amazon

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