Thursday, March 12, 2009

A week of folksongs (6) : I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground

What a strange and beautiful song ! Recorded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford, who was himself a folklorist and minstrel (and a lawyer by trade) from North Carolina. According to Harry Smith, Lunsford wrote that this song is "typical of the Pigeon River Valley".

The following is a quote from a short Wikipedia article about the song :

As stated in his own words within his recordings, Mr. Lunsford considered
himself an archivist and never took credit for this song or any songs he
recorded. He traveled the western mountains of North Carolina and learned this
song from the "locals" as it was his goal and passion to archive songs that he
heard growing up for historical reference.

Novelist and critic Robert Cantwell says: "Listen to 'I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground' again and again, learn to play the banjo and sing it yourself over and over, study every printed version, squander your time in the bargain, and you still won't fathom it." He's right.
(Retrieved from the folktunes site)

Bascom Lamar Lunsford - I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground (buy) (1928)

Swedish folksinger Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth, mentions Lunsford as one of his main influences. In his song "I Won't Be Found", the opener of his great self titled debut album that came out last year, he even quotes Lunsford's verses about the mole in the ground and the lizard in the spring.
Check this song on his myspace page .

So that was the last post for this week of folk songs. I'm taking the kids to the country this week end and I'll be back next week.
See you !


OrLaNd said...

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Best Regard,

Nicolas L said...

Thank you very much !

I'll take a look at your blog as soon as possible.



PS I've been to Indonesia once, but only to Bali and Lombok.

-Twist- said...

I don't know if i have to write in french or in english. Anyway, this song is beautiful. Didn't know for The Tallest Man On Earth, but by listening to this one, it's not surprising.
Was it released on an album or something like that?

Nicolas L said...

Yes, it's better to speak English here, as only 15 percent of my visitors here are French.
The song was not released on an album because there were no such things in 1928, but you can find it in various compilations including the anthology of american folk music, or the great double CD "Folksongs" from Frémeaux & Associés (grande maison française)