John Jacob Niles

My Precarious Life in the Public Domain

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Christmas songs ("The Cherry Tree"), historical pieces ("Jimmy Randal," "Mary Hamilton"), mythology ("The Maid Freed from the Gallows"), and British folk ballads ("The Gypsy Laddie," "The Ballad of Barberry Ellen") make up this regrettably sparse collection of recordings by the supremely prolific American folk balladeer John Jacob Niles. Based on the research of Dr. Francis James Child, My Precarious Life in the Public Domain features ten selections out of the many that Niles recorded during his career. Those familiar with the singer/folklorist/woodworker's glorious falsetto and penchant for gigantic homemade dulcimers and lutes will revel in these wondrous stories and recordings, but while each small anthology of his work brings one or two new pieces to the digital puzzle, a serious collection that encompasses all this great man's work is most sorely needed.

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