The booklet of FOLKWAYS: A VISION SHARED also includes the Smithsonian/Folkways discography of Woody Guthrie and Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter.
Includes liner notes by Anthony Seeger, Peter Guralnick and Bob Dylan.
This tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly might be fueled by superstar appearances, but it is the strength of the songs by the two honored legends that is the true highlight of this collection. Woody Guthrie was a folk troubadour who documented the often hard life and times of his America, while Leadbelly explored his vision through an amalgam of folk, gospel, blues and pop. Honored by the contemporary musicians they greatly influenced, the two musical icons come alive thorugh new interpretations of their durable songs.
Highlights include the obvious: Dylan sings his idol Woody Guthrie's epic ballad "Pretty Boy Floyd," a track powerfully displaying the potency of a majestic song, a simple, distinctive vocal and acoustic guitar. The always pitch-perfect, ethereal Emmylou Harris performs a mesmerizing "Hobo's Lullaby." John Mellencamp proves his roots with a rendition of Guthrie's "Do Re Mi," exhibiting how Woody was the original voice of the heartland. Bruce Springsteen gives a searing acoustic performance of Woody's Dustbowl ballad "I Ain't Go No Home" and then rocks out with a Stones-ish "Vigilante Man." U2 leave their distinctive stamp on a frenetic romp through the Guthrie-penned "Jesus Christ." The background voices even sound like an updated version of the Weavers, a revered vocal quartet which first popularized Guthrie and Leadbelly's classics.
The most upbeat cut is without a doubt Little Richard and rock/punk/funk stylist Fishbone's raucous charge through Leadbelly's classic "Rock Island Line." Taj Mahal injects a welcome shot of blues with a biting take on "The Bourgeois Blues," and Beach Boy Brian Wilson offers up a version of "Goodnight Irene" that flows in the same airy vein as his own hit "Sloop John B." The album ends with a Pete Seeger-led let's-all-join-in version of the collection's most famous song of all, "This Land Is Your Land."
A VISION SHARED is a must for any folk collector and an excellent introduction to two of America's greatest musical treasures.