Anthology of American Folk Music

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February 10, 2007


Greil Marcus


11 Feb 07

It's more than gratifying to have Mike Seeger describe me as a friend. Without his generosity, lack of vanity despite decades of remarkable achievement, and unfailing curiosity, I could never have gotten anywhere with Dock Boggs. I did ask him for suggestions as to how to go about finding an actual 78; I work best with talismans, and figured Boggs would be more present if I could turn and look at a piece of black shellac with the Brunswick label on it. (It probably wouldn't have hurt getting a line on Harry Smith if I'd known I was walking past the apartment where he amassed his record collection every day while I was writing "Invisble Republic.")

As it happened, my wife talked to the folklorist Ed Kahn, and he entered an auction, looking--and came away with a perfect "Pretty Polly" for about $15. Later I found "Country Blues" for $100--much less than Otis Rush's "Double Trouble" on the coiled Cobra label--with the soundtrack LP for Elvis's "Double Trouble" not that much easier to find.

I'd always coveted one of the early DJ copies of "Like a Rolling Stone" with the song cut in half, one half on each side, on red plastic, but assumed they were hen's teeth. In London the DJ Charlie Gillett pulled out a copy--the only copy of the song he had. He'd picked it up used for 25 cents in a New York store in 1965. Turned out they are fairly common, and an instant yes on eBay. But the thing glows--light shines right through it.

Greil Marcus


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