Mudcat Café message #2954628 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #131081   Message #2954628
Posted By: Don Firth
29-Jul-10 - 02:35 PM
Thread Name: Who's THE most over-rated 'legend'?
Subject: RE: Who's THE most over-rated 'legend'?
Back in the mid-1950's, a friend of mine (non-singer, but an appreciator) got an extraordinary set of records:   Leadbelly's Last Sessions on Folkways. A boxed set. I don't recall how many LPs, but it contained several. Recorded by Leadbelly just a year or two before he died (1949).

Several of us sat around one evening and listened to the whole set. Force of Nature indeed! Leadbelly talked some about his life and experiences and sang a lot! I coveted like crazy, but at the time, I couldn't afford to get a set of my own.

I do sing a few selected songs that Leadbelly sang, but I'm primarily a singer of British and American ballad-type songs. When I attempt a hard-core Leadbelly song, I sound like a bass-baritone version of Richard Dyer-Bennet trying to do the same song, so discretion is the better part of valor. Besides, I can't do blues for s**t, so I don't (although Leadbelly is a whole lot more wide-ranging than simply sticking to blues).

I used to do "Black Girl," and a pretty good job of it, too, or so some people told me. I didn't try to imitate Leadbelly, I just sang it straight out (but I did use Leabbelly's guitar work, especially the bass runs). Then a couple of white acquaintances took me to task for singing it, saying that they didn't think it was appropriated for a white guy like me to sing it and that they found it offensive. Hmmph!! (I had a black friend who used to ask me to sing it!)

On one of the records, Leadbelly expressed an admiration for Gene Autry and proceeded to sing "When It's Springtime in the Rockies," trying to sound as much like Gene Autry as he could. Pretty funny, but a darned good attempt!!

A couple of years ago, I wandered into a used record and CD store and stumbled on a CD boxed set of "Leadbelly's Last Sessions" and instantly reached for my wallet. But I'd already bought a couple of things somewhere else and didn't have enough wampum with me. I came back the following day, but the set was gone. Someone had beat me to it.

But—I just discovered that the set is still available!!    HERE.

Thanks for reminding me!!

Don Firth