Moving through the anthology section by section, picking one song per section, might prove more difficult than I imagined. This morning I passed up classics like "Turkey in the Straw" and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in search of a deeper cut, but the deeper cuts weren't quite calling out to me either. Maybe it's just Monday.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Lomax-a-Day, Day 4
I'm glad I started this project on a long weekend, or I may have been discouraged more quickly. I spent a good chunk of the pre-work morning trying to choose a song out of the "Pioneers" section. Groggy indecision led me to learn most songs in the section, until I finally landed on "Oleana." It's a satirical ballad about early Norwegian settlers who bought land from the swindled fiddler, Ole Bull (pictured in the video below). The Pennsylvania homesteads Bull sold turned out to be hilly, forested, and barren. Later it surfaced that the man Bull bought the land from didn't own it all. A Norwegian journalist wrote "Oleana" to poke fun at the settlers who dreamed of a free ride in America. My heart goes out to the immigrants, whose dreams couldn't have been too different from my own Scandinavian forebears. This song is full of great lines like "the little pigs... trot about this lovely land/ with knives and forks stuck in their backs/ inquiring if you'd like some ham." I had to wait to record until I returned home in the evening, not wanting to disturb my neighbors with a 7:30am version of this rousing tune.