Various Artists

Southern Journey, Vol. 5: Bad Man Ballads

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Seventeen "songs of outlaws and desperadoes," recorded by Lomax with a wide variety of Southern performers, Black and White. The themes of murder, violence, and running from the law have been perennial themes in the folk music of all cultures. This collection has versions of a few fairly well-known songs in this vein ("John Henry," "Pretty Polly," "Po' Lazarus"), though most are more obscure. The artists range from Black Mississippi prisoners and a cappella mountain singers to string bands and harmonizing quartets. As is often the way in this sub-branch of folk music, the music isn't nearly as upsetting or depressing as the lyrics; indeed, it's often uplifting, if not downright celebratory.

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