Yesterday, I posted a hymn for Veterans' Day. As you can tell, I have been on an Tennessee Ernie Ford kick. I have always appreciated Tennessee Ernie Ford for a number of reasons. When he's just talking he had the quintessential East Tennessee accent (he was originally from Bristol, Tennessee), but when he started signing particularly Gospel songs, this golden Opera level baritone-bass voice would just come out of nowhere and knock your socks off. As I was searching for that on Youtube, I ran across the following clip:
PBS has been all agog about Ken Burns' new documentary on the 1930's Dust Bowl. I have yet to see it myself, but the ads and previews look incredibly interesting. In fact, one of my 100+ year old parishioners was interviewed by the local PBS station for its own little documentary about the Dust Bowl in South Dakota. The above clip, at least the very first one, is a Woody Guthrie song. Guthrie was from Oklahoma, and a lot of his early songs, including the one above sung by Ford and Odetta, was about the Dust Bowl.
Odetta is a much forgotten gospel, blues, and folk singer. Most people know the names of singers like Aretha Franklin from that genre, but Odetta for some reason is largely forgotten for reasons I have never understood. She died in 2008.
Tennessee Ernie Ford was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan and died shortly after attending a state dinner in his honor by President George H.W. Bush at the White House in 1991, the long years of battling alcoholism finally catching up with him. I always found this ironic about him because J. Edgar Hoover some decades earlier was convinced he was pinko and investigated him several times during the Red Scare hysteria (though he was never officially blackballed), primarily because he liked to sing Woodie Guthrie songs, a person the House Committee for UnAmerican Activities had labelled a subversive.