Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lomax-a-Day, Day 6

"The Horse Named Bill" is absurd. I'm not sure when it was written, but it seems way ahead of its time. To me it feels like 1960s free-association psych-folk, a stoned Bob Dylan doing talking blues at Philharmonic Hall, John Prine at his most off-the-wall. But obviously, the roots of nonsense folk go much deeper than I know. Alan Lomax puts it best: "The tall tales of the frontier were replaced by jokes told round the cracker barrels in the country stores. The fellows who inherited the Yankee predilection for stretching the truth just to hear it pop [amazing!] joined liars' clubs and competed in national contests. " 

Doing a little research after making this recording, I discovered that the song has appeared on several folk records for kids. What I love about "folk for kids" is that the perceived tameness of folk music in general allows all sorts of ridiculous, off-color humor to slip in the back door. "I'm going out in the woods next year/ And shoot for beer--and not for deer/ I am--I ain't/ I'm a great sharpshootress." What the hell?

My research also led me to discover that I am way too late with my idea of creating an American folk music puppet epic. Jim Henson beat me to this song a long time ago. Check it out:

My version pales in comparison to Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers.

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