Jun 12, 2011

Roots Music, "Make Me a Pallet"

olive branch

If you don’t care for lowland blues, acoustic blues, bluegrass, or roots music (the inclusive term, I guess), you might excuse yourself from today’s post. And while you're away, get a life. Or you could sample each piece for a few seconds or more, just to broaden your horizons.

YouTube - Mississippi John Hurt Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

YouTube - Gillian Welch - Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor

YouTube - Doc Watson - Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor

YouTube - Mississippi John Hurt — Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor

The blog titled Robert Frost’s Banjo got me wandering around on YouTube, starting with Taj Mahal and Dave von Ronk, which led to Mississippi John Hurt, which led to young Christine Pizzuti at I Play Banjo Now, and that connected to Gillian Welch’s YouTube version of “Make Me a Pallet.”  She in turn credited Doc Watson as her link to the song.  I’ve liked “Make Me a Pallet” since I first heard Hurt’s rendition in the sixties, but the fact that I enthusiastically like all four of these versions makes me wonder if I should . . . worship it. 

I wonder too if Sarah Palin’s bus tour will . . . LISTEN . . . to all available versions of whatever. Taj Mahal (Harlem), Dave von Ronk (Brooklyn), and Christine Pizzuti (New Palz) are New Yorkers, but variety is the theme here, if I have one. Taj Mahal majored in animal husbandry at U. Mass.  There is a John Hurt museum in Mississippi (which I learned at Robert Frost’s Banjo, located in Idaho). Doc Watson’s place sits somewhere in the mountains of western North Carolina, and Gillian Welch is a Californian whose beginnings included membership in a goth band.  She performs with her partner, David Rawlings of Rhode Island, who does things on the guitar that strike me as original and terrific. 

Sometimes I forget to be grateful to the U.S. and the world of music for such happy accidents.  Yes, variety can be work; yes, it’s worth it.

(Biographical info is from Wikipedia).



Rune Eide said...

The first version won hands down with me. Many well-known songs started out like this.

Banjo52 said...

RuneE, Thanks for taking the time to listen. I probably agree--Hurt's voice is irrestible, his guitar work is fascinating, and the lyrics show how powerful simple lyrics can be, not to mention the "turn" in the "story," in which the dangers keep increasing, even as the speaker is, or pretends to be, in a sort of begging posture.

I'll try to shut up now, but this was an unusually fruitful adventure for me on YouTube. The other three pickers and singers have interested me for some time now.

Anonymous said...

I have always like banjo music. This is an interesting post.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Listened to all four versions, but Gillian Welch held my attention to the end. Gets my vote and this is before I read she's from California

Brenda's Arizona said...

Enjoyed them all. Something about Doc Watson... has he been alive forever?
And your photos- tell us about them?

Banjo52 said...

Abe, thanks, and me too, of course, about the banjo.

PA, you have no qualms about a Californian doing bluegrass? (yeah, me neither. If it's good, it's good, and she is--and original to boot. I haven't yet made my peace with the slower pace she's giving this song, but it's interesting).

Brenda, yeah, Doc's getting up there--I'd guess 80s.

Photos. Top left: a singer at Detroit’s Renaissance Center a couple years ago. Top right: a friend of mine at the L.A. Café, Waterford, Mich. (he’ very good, all kinds of music).
Left: a Cincinnati Reds fan who struck me as a bluegrass fan (he and three buddies never said a word or cracked a smile in three hours of 95-degree heat).
Right: lilacs (aren't they? at a nearby park.
Right bottom: two guys who aren’t very good, asked to be, deserved to be decapitated. Sorry you asked?

Banjo52 said...

(Next time I'm doing a post that's nothing but typos, Bukowski or no Bukowski (. # @ * 9

Anonymous said...

Oh, that first one put me in the mood for some Mark Twain.

Banjo52 said...

AH, I never thought of that, but I see your point. Something about Hurt's voice suggests the solidity of Jim on the river.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Don't forget to bring a bottle of Chivas Regal
blended scotch whiskey. It was Charlies favorite

Kelly said...

...loved this post...and every version of the song too. My son plays guitar and bass and has an affinity for blues and bluegrass too. I'm going to show this to him tomorrow!

Banjo52 said...

PA, Dewars would suffice.

Kelly, good deal. Can he do the right-hand finger picking, or is he a flat picker?

All, GREAT bird shots and paintings at Kelly's place.

Lovers' Lane