Non-Offensive Folk Music “B-Sides” Boxed

It’s a given that Folkways Records’ six-album compilation Anthology of American Folk Music, compiled from the vast collection of eccentric boho Harry Smith in 1952, provided a blueprint for the similar folk, blues, gospel and country music archival collections released in recent years by Atlanta-based label Dust-to-Digital. So it’s rather appropriate that the award-winning company, helmed by Lance and April Ledbetter, are behind the upcoming box-set of flip-sides from those same 78 rpm records that made up the track-listing of the original Folkways set.

Released as a four-CD set on Oct. 16, with commentary on each track by the likes of Art Rosenbaum, Devendra Banhart, Rosanne Cash, Will Oldham, Peter Stampfel and others, The Harry Smith B-Sides will be sequenced in the identical order that Smith (pictured here in 1968) created for the original Anthology, minus three tracks. Not because those three recordings couldn’t be tracked down. Not because of space restraints. No, they’ve been omitted from the box set (replaced in each case by four seconds of silence where the song would have been) because they contain racist language, and clearly anyone in 2020 buying a historical package of rural music from the 1920s and ‘30s (i.e. middle-aged-and-older white men) mustn’t be exposed to such atrocities, lest they get highly offended and go tear down a statue in the name of Black Lives Matter.

Meanwhile, an excerpt from the current number one song in the USA: “Beat it up nigga, catch a charge/ Extra large and extra hard/ Put this pussy right in your face/ Swipe your nose like a credit card/ Yeah, you fuckin’ with some wet-ass pussy/ Bring a bucket and a mop for this wet-ass pussy!”

Thanks so much for protecting us, Dust-to-Digital!

Photo courtesy John Cohen Archives.