"Folk Songs of Middle Tennessee ... is superior to most collections because Boswell cast a wide net in his collecting, recording many items from people not usually thought of as folksingers, and because, unlike most collectors of his day, he was equally skilled at music and lyric transcription". -- W. K. McNeil, The Ozark Folk Center
This volume brings together, for the first time, more than one hundred traditional songs from Middle Tennessee -- a region that is synonymous in the popular mind with music but one that has been curiously neglected in folksong scholarship. The songs presented here were originally collected in the late 1940s and early 1950s by George Boswell, a distinguished scholar and field researcher who died in 1995.
While living in Nashville, Boswell scoured the city and surrounding counties for old ballads and folk songs.
Sometimes using a wire or tape recorder, at other times employing a stenographer, he visited numerous singers and transcribed the words and tunes to hundreds of songs. Even after moving from Tennessee to assume a teaching position at the University of Mississippi, Boswell continued to work on his collection, annotating and comparing texts, and publishing occasional samples. In 1950, he noted that Tennessee, virtually alone among southern states, had no published collection of its folk songs. That has remained the case until now.
The songs chosen for this book are presented with musical notation and extensive backgound notes, including biographical data on the original informants (many of whom were business and professional people) and fascinating histories of each song. A number of the songs are rare and previously uncollected; others arelocal variants of long-popular ballads. The publication of this volume -- the first major collection of southern folk songs in many years -- is not only a testament to Boswell's scholarship but a marvelous contribution to our understanding of southern folk culture and the ways in which it has interacted with popular culture.