November 27, 1991, when he passed away, aged (really? would you believe it?) only 68. We’re remembering Harry Smith today. Plenty of rich and informative Harry Smith postings here on the Allen Ginsberg Project to draw your attention to.
Ancienne Belgique launched last year an “(ambitious) plan to, over the coming years, once again shine a spotlight on (Harry’s) masterful compilation (his) Anthology of American Folk Music’ – Each year, a new (international) artist is singled out and invited to perform. The full evening programme consists of a deep dive into ‘The Anthology’, with personal interpretations of songs” and, a little insight into “Old Weird America”, (to use Greil Marcus‘ phrase), Harry’s particular musical universe.
Last year’s featured performers were The Golden Glows. Here they are performing “Old Lady & The Devil”
and here’s the original (Bill & Belle Reed)
This year it was Sam Amidon. Here’s his performance of “Spike Driver Blues”
and here’s the original (Mississippi John Hurt)
and Mississippi John Hurt in 1965 (recorded for Pete Seeger‘s “Rainbow Quest” series for New Jersey public tv
“Why, thank you, I’m glad to say that my dreams came true – that I saw America changed by music – (and all that stuff that the rest of you are talking about). Thank you..”
(Harry Smith’s Grammy acceptance speech, 1991)
Harry and the music lives on.