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Folk | Public Domain 4U

“You Are My Sunshine” as performed by Wilf Carter

you-are-my-sunshine-200“You Are My Sunshine” is an example of country music’s large contribution to American music. This version shows off the song’s country roots. The tune was made popular by Jimmie Davis, who would later became governor of Lousiana. The song was written by a Paul Rice, but the songwriting was credited to the Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell, who purchased the song from Mr. Rice.

Wilf Carter, who performs this version, was a Canadian who often used the nickname of “Montana Slim.” Carter’s version evokes the deep melancholy in the song. The contrast between the cheery chorus (the most recognizable section), and the tone of the verses, make this version unique.

One curious part of this recording, the fluttery instrument that emerges during the first chorus, sounds like a direct reference point for a similar texture The Clash would employ on “Somebody Got Murdered,” several decades later.

Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band – “Highway No. 61”

Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band - Highway No. 61Several decades before Bob Dylan recorded his breakthrough “Highway 61 Revisited” album, the folk-blues song “Highway No. 61” was interpreted by numerous blues singers including Charlie Pickett, Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy, The Sparks Brothers and others. Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band recorded this classic version with fiddler Will Batts on vocal duties. According to Dylan, when he told his record label the title of his new album in 1965, they didn’t understand it, and only agreed to let him call the record what he wanted after to he went all the way “up the fucking ladder” to insist on it. The rest is history.

Big Bill Broonzy – “How You Want It Done”

Big-Bill-BroonzyIn his long career, Big Bill Broonzy wrote and copyrighted over 300 songs. Many were original, some were adaptations of folk songs in the oral tradition. You can hear in this early Broonzy recording of “How You Want It Done,” the seeds of rock and roll guitar playing which would later sprout in the hands of Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and many others in the 1950’s. We’re fortunate to have a nice clean digital copy to enjoy today.

Paddy Killoran – “Sligo Maid’s Lament”

Sligo is a form of lively folk music which takes its name from the county and town of Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. Paddy Killoran, one of the biggest names in Sligo, was born there in 1904. He emigrated to the United States in the 1920’s and embarked upon a prolific recording and performing career. “Sligo Maid’s Lament” was one of his popular 78 RPM sides. Sligo music is alive and well today, and if you like it as much as we do, have a look at sligomusic.ie for more info on the history of Sligo, and about contemporary and early Sligo artists.

Akins Birmingham Boys – “I Walked And Walked”

AkinsBoysWalkedThis is one fine early example of amply motivated walking in song, from a group called Akins Birmingham Boys. Little biographical info is available online about these ukelele strummin’ and fiddlin’ singers, but we do know they recorded this and one other side for Columbia records, and the songs more than stand the test of time. Great vocals on this early pop country gem.