Various Artists - Daddy-O Daddy!  Rare Family Songs of Woody Guthrie

Daddy-O Daddy!
Rare Family Songs of Woody Guthrie

Various Artists

Rounder Records (11661-8087-2)

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By David Schultz

Frankie Fuchs grew up playing with Woody Guthrie's children Arlo, Nora, and Joady. Occasionally, Sundays were spent taking Woody from the hospital to the beach and sharing songs. In 1951 and 1952, Woody recorded some of these songs on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and others were written down in notebooks. Six of the songs on Daddy-O Daddy! were unreleased, unrecorded, and even unfinished. Fuchs, with the help of Nora Guthrie, The Woody Guthrie Archive, The Richmond Organization, and the Smithsonian Institution, collected these songs with the vision of having other artists perform them. Over a 15-month period, these songs were recorded and are now released on Rounder on their collection Daddy-O Daddy! Rare Family Songs of Woody Guthrie.

The album opens and closes with Woody's spoken words to Howdy Little Newlycome, a wonderful poem about where babies come from.

Each of the artists bring their own unique styles to the songs they perform. Joe Ely & Jimmie Dale Gilmore contribute two songs Want to See Me Grow and Tippy Tap Toe, both in their version of Texas-inspired alternative country. Syd Straw sings a wonderful New Orleans-tinged My Daddy (Flies a Ship in the Sky). Cissy Houston sings the quiet lullaby Sleep Eye. Taj Mahal sings a reggae-flavored Don't You Push Me Down. Ramblin' Jack Elliott sings a rolling Curly Headed Baby, driven by Greg Leisz's pedal steel. Billy Bragg & The Blokes sing a paean to not wetting his bed in Dry Bed.

By far the wildest, rockingest, bluesy songs on the album are Kim Wilson's versions of New Baby Train and Bigger. In particular, Wilson's wailing harmonica and Sonny Leyland's piano keep the pace up on these screamers. These were also two songs that didn't have complete music, so Fuchs shares cowriting credit with Guthrie. These songs are proof that this album can be entertaining for more than just the kids.

The booklet that accompanies the CD is full of original Woody Guthrie artwork, pictures of the performers, complete recording information and lyrics.

Besides being an advocate for the disadvantaged of American society, Woody Guthrie also wrote dozens of songs for children. Frankie Fuchs' vision to bring these songs to life, many heard here for the first time, results in a collection for children and adults alike.

Track Listing:

  • Howdy Little Newlycome - Woody Guthrie (spoken)
  • Want to See Me Grow - Joe Ely & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
  • Don't You Push Me Down - Taj Mahal
  • New Baby Train - Kim Wilson
  • Little Seed - Cissy Houston
  • Dry Bed - Billy Bragg & The Blokes
  • Little Sack of Sugar - Taj Mahal
  • My Daddy (Flies a Ship in the Sky) - Syd Straw
  • I'll Write and I'll Draw - Ramblin' Jack Elliott
  • Bigger - Kim Wilson
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - Billy Bragg & The Blokes
  • Tippy Tap Toe - Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Joe Ely
  • Curly Headed Baby - Ramblin' Jack Elliott
  • Sleep Eye - Cissy Houston
  • Howdy Little Newlycome - Woody Guthrie (spoken)
Edited by David N. Pyles

Copyright 2002, Peterborough Folk Music Society and David Schultz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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