i've been reading greil marcus' book 'invisible republic,' ostensibly about bob dylan, but really (imho) about the old way of being american - the stoic mask, the taking of other people's homelands (as in the song, coo-coo bird - because the coo-coo bird takes over other birds' nests to raise their young), the old ragtag music, etc. - as he terms it 'the old weird america.'
in fact, i've felt so inspired by the book that i've bought Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music,' a very nice 6-CD volume, remastered, with copious notes, and i am just enjoying it so much. it reminds me of my adolescent fling with folk music, back in the early 1960's - i had no idea then that it really was connected with the american communist movement - and also it brings me back to those wonderful vanished people of my childhood, about whom i have written at length on this weblog. (it's very easy for me to tell people that my father is danish, everyone readily believes that, but to describe my mother, who is hidden beneath my blonde exterior, but is visible if you know what to look for, is more difficult. i've decided it might be easiest to say that she is from one of those old tri-racial isolate groups like the Louisiana Creoles. I think they come closest to being like what her people were, than say the Appalachian Melungeons, which gives ordinary people a completely different picture. And Americans are so image-conscious.)
greil marcus writes brilliantly about all of this, and makes me aware that bob dylan seems to have really understood the truth about folk music and also about the ersatz folk-music of the early 60's, which he was expected to personify and chose not to. Good for him.
There is something about this old, authentic 'folk' music on the Anthology that just brings tears to my eyes, and makes me want to take out my old repro dulcimer, the one with the wind-drones, and strum.