Elizabeth Cotten: Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar
This will make you toss out your yawnfest Folkways LPs of bug sounds and jugbands or whatever and force you to rethink your intentions as a record collector. Miss Cotten is the real Folkways deal and this is probably one of the best records they ever put out (up there with the Anthologies of American Folk Music and everything Guthrie related). Besides being a remarkable snapshot of American life, these songs reach inside and massage your soul from a time when music was so raw and pure that it really makes you think about how much bullshit surrounds things today.
Just to give a little background, she developed her remarkable and unique fingerpicking style (which involves playing a right handed guitar left handed and thereby upside down, switching the usual picking roles of the fingers in regards to the bass a treble strings) while still a pre-teen just after the turn of the century and then lay musically dormant for roughly 25 years, after having a child at age 15. In a stroke of luck she happen to work for the famous Folkways-involved Seeger family taking care of their kids, which lead to this recording of her vocal and instrumental music. A song she originally wrote when she was only 11 years old, “Freight Train”, became a hit single, which is pretty damn interesting, considering she didn’t record it UNTIL SHE WAS 60. Think about that for a minute. This record is essential.