From age seven EC taught herself to play cornshuckin’ country-rag-time on her brother’s banjo (whilst he was out): the opener here was her first accomplishment. At eleven she bought herself a guitar, and again she taught herself, left-handedly holding it upside-down, playing syncopated bass with her fingers and melody with her thumb — ‘Cotten-picking’ it like a banjo. She wrote the classic Freight Train in the first couple of years, before marrying, having a child at fifteen, and giving up music for church and family. Forty years later, by utter coincidence she found work in the musical household of composer Ruth Crawford Seeger (a Joanna Newsom favourite), and re-learned. Her first Folkways LP emerged from home-recordings set up by Ruth’s son Mike. First, Wilson Rag, from her childhood, then Freight Train, followed by a total-knockout, desolate Woody Guthrie… but the entire record is pure magic and downright essential.
Going down the road feeling bad, honey babe Lord, Going down the road feeling bad, honey babe Lord, Going down the road feeling bad… I don’t want to be treated this way.