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Friday, September 3, 2010

Gallows Pole

Last evening I was listening to the great "The Electric Muse" 4 discs + booklet on Transatlantic where Karl Dallas defined the who's who and why and where of folk, british folk and folk rock...

From Child's ballads to Davey Graham, Steeleye Span, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and... Led Zeppelin;-)

One of the first tracks, on disc one or four, contained a radio recording dated 1939 in NYC, of Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, playing - on his mighty Stella twelve strings - and singing "Gallows Pole".

I was amazed... I already experienced Rev. Gary Davis and Leadbelly old 12 strings blues and tunes... BUT sure wasn't prepared to listen to this... THIS... imagine: Leo Kottke, Fred Gerlach and Peter Lang on a monster acoustic stringed 014-070 (!!!), sounding modern like sounded - yes, he was coming from outer space - Michael Hedges back in the '80s!

A fingerbuster played with syncopation and dexterity. Superb.

Then I gave a listen to Fred Gerlach "Gallows Pole" from his Folkways' disc and, again, WOW... that magic! Fred's rendition was simply beautiful and faithful to Leadbelly's...

Child's Ballad # 95 - i.e. "Gallows Pole" is a Phoenix, always resurrecting to new life from the ashes... Led Zeppelin and virtually ALL folksingers, Bob Dylan and up and down, played and performed and singed it... different titles and slightly different texts... same "hangman" and story...

I love this... so, here are some Wikifacts about "Gallows Pole" and its mysteries.


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