Thursday, May 14, 2009

#36: Cemetaries Downtown

Playlist for Sunday May 17, 2009
Hosted by Greg Denton with guest Douglas Davey


1. Wake Up Jacob - Prince Albert Hunt & His Texas Ramblers

2. The Funeral - Hank Williams
Recorded by one of the most important of the "white" country singers in 1950. A very "white" salesman from the north visits a "colored" church in Savannah while a "colored" couple mourns out front, and he sits in a "colored" pew while a "colored" preacher with "simplicity and shrewdness in his Ethiopian face" (showing "the wisdom and ignorance of a crushed and dying race") delivers a sermon at the funeral of a little "colored" boy. The "white" man can picture the "colored" boy living with his "curly hair and protruding lips" easily, since he's seen thousands of them in his "hurried southern trips". The "white" man learns a thing or two from this "colored" sermon, namely that the Lord giveth many comforts and thus has the right to take away the lives of children whenever he wants to. Clearly recorded for a 1950s "white" American audience, I guess he wants to pass this "colored" learning on to other "white" folks. I'm sure it was an important contribution to the civil rights movement.

3. Funeral Hearse At My Door - Rocky Fuller
4. Lincoln's Funeral Train - Norman Blake & Tony Rice
5. Lonely One Car Funerals - Willie P. Bennett
6. Your Funeral And My Trial - Sonny Boy Williamson

7. Graveyard Dream Blues - Bessie Smith
8. Graveyard Blues - Hobart Smith
9. Graveyard Blues - Roscoe Holcomb
10. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean - Blind Lemon Jefferson

11. The Little Grave In Georgia - Earl Johnson
A 13 year old girl name Mary Phagan was raped and murdered in Marietta, Georgia in the Spring of 1913. The trial generated a lot of attention. Leo Frank, who ran the pencil factory where Mary worked, was found guilty and convicted, though he professed innocence. And then when his death sentence was commuted, the KKK operating under the name "The Knights Of Mary Phagan" stepped in. They kidnapped Leo Frank (he was Jewish), tortured him, and lynched him. Years later, in 1982, a former factory office boy confessed on his deathbed to giving false testimony against Frank - he had actually witnessed the building janitor dragging Mary Phagan's mutilated body and even heard him admit to the crime. I guess the office boy figured it was a worse crime to be Jewish in 1913, but by 1982 was maybe rethinking things.

Earl Johnson penned and recorded this song in October 1927:
"Little Mary is in Heaven, she's there for the golden shore
We'll all praise God to meet her, where there'll be no murder no more."

12. Graveside Song - The Stevens Sisters
13. She's In The Graveyard Now - Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band
14. Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down - Bozie Sturdivant

15. Cemetaries Downtown - Old Man Luedecke

No comments: