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Cotten, Elizabeth

Bob has several songs by Elizabeth Cotten in his repertoire.
Subject: Re: Oh,babe it ain,t no lie
From: catherine yronwode (
Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 23:35:29 -0800

Matt Parker wrote:
> That's an Elizabeth Cotton song--now somewhat of a folk standard for 
> artists like Dylan or again, for Jerry Garcia (It appears on the CD 
> `Almost Acoustic' by Garcia and friends)
> I'd like to hear more about the song's history too, though.

To put this in context for the original querent, Elizabeth Cotten was an
African-American woman who finger-picked guitar, played banjo, and wrote
several fine songs. She had been musically talented from her very young
years but only was able to pursue a career in music toward the end of
her life. She recorded and toured during the 1960s, playing venues where
the likes of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Leo Kotke, John Fahey
and their contemporaries met and were greatly influenced by her style. 

catherine yronwode

Get Your Mojo Workin':

Subject: Re: "Babe It ain't No Lie" query From: Tim ( Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 03:47:25 GMT David G. wrote: > I have loved this song ever since I first heard it at the El Rey last > year. Does anyone know anything about the origins of this song. Who is > Elizabeth Cotton? I love that song too. Cotton was an old blues-folk guitar and banjo player. I haven't heard much of her stuff, Elizabeth Cotton Live is one from the mid eighties just before she died. I remeber reading about her death. She was in her 90's.
Subject: Re: "Babe It ain't No Lie" query From: Robert McNamara ( Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1998 23:31:16 -0500 ... Elizabeth Cotten was a guitarist and singer from North Carolina who was first recorded by Mike Seeger in the late 1950s. Her albums are available from Smithsonian/Folkways, and the CD "Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes" has the song "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie." That particular song was a favorite of Jerry Garcia; the Dead performed it during their fall 1980 acoustic sets, and their version from a 1980 show appeared on the Dead's live acoustic album "Reckoning." The song was also performed a number of times by Garcia without the Grateful Dead, and a fantastic version of the song by the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band appears on the live album "Almost Acoustic." On the album, which was recorded in the fall of 1987, you can hear Jerry dedicate the song "to the memory of Elizabeth Cotten." (She had died in June 1987.) Drummer David Kemper played the song in Garcia's band, and, ten years later, in Dylan's band. The aforementioned Elizabeth Cotten CD also contains her song "Freight Train," which Jerry Garcia performed during his only truly solo performance (the widely circulated 4/10/82 acoustic gig at the Capitol Theater). Another song on her album people will recognize is "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad." -- Robert

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