Check it out: Old, Weird America

I hope that you’ve at least heard of Harry Smith’s wonderful Anthology of American Folk Music. For the uninitiated, Harry Smith was a kooky old guy who collected American recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. It was released as a six album set in 1952. Loads of folkies in the 1950s and 1960s got their grubby hands on it, and shaped the way of popular music.

The blog The Old, Weird America is one of those places on the Internet that makes the rest of trash worthwhile. The site’s host is going through each song of the Anthology, finding covers and live performances and research (and mp3s!). From the introduction:

With this blog, i want to use the Folkways Anthology as a roadmap to explore american folk music and maybe other countries traditions along the way. I’ ll use texts, images, music and videos gathered from my personal collection and from the net to make this work-in-progress enjoyable and educational the best i can.

It’s a trove of historical music Americana and a labor of love.

Check it out:

Dig in here at The Old, Weird America.

History of the English language (in 10 minutes!)

Another 10 minute delight – Open University has 10 videos, each about 1 minute, that are clever takes on the evolution of the English language. From the description:

Where did the phrase ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ come from? And when did scientists finally get round to naming sexual body parts? Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through ‘The History of English’ squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet. Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century.

(If this is your thing, I totally recommend Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue, which has afforded me many useful facts about the grand English language, some of which I actually remember).

Check it out: