You Ain't Talking to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
As wild in his personal life as he was disciplined in his professional endeavors, Charlie Poole left a legacy that influenced artists ranging from early country pioneers such as Uncle Dave Macon to innovators such as Earl Scruggs to contemporary roots-based artists on the order of Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia whose acoustic group Old & in the Way took its name from a Poole song. Almost single-handedly, Poole rescued the banjo from string band antiquity, exploring its sonic possibilities to a degree unimagined before his time. This three-CD collection features the bedrock of his legacy, in a single disc devoted to the enduring recordings Poole made with his North ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
As wild in his personal life as he was disciplined in his professional endeavors, Charlie Poole left a legacy that influenced artists ranging from early country pioneers such as Uncle Dave Macon to innovators such as Earl Scruggs to contemporary roots-based artists on the order of Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia whose acoustic group Old & in the Way took its name from a Poole song. Almost single-handedly, Poole rescued the banjo from string band antiquity, exploring its sonic possibilities to a degree unimagined before his time. This three-CD collection features the bedrock of his legacy, in a single disc devoted to the enduring recordings Poole made with his North Carolina Ramblers a guitar-fiddle-banjo trio and the Highlanders, between July 1925 and September 1930 virtually his entire recorded output; a heavy drinker, Poole died in 1931, at age 39, following a "suicidal thirteen-week bender," according to Poole authority Henry Sapoznik, who compiled, produced, and wrote this set's informative liner notes. Playing country blues, old-time string band tunes, and dialect or "coon" songs, Poole forged a canon that includes "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues" a Dylan favorite and "White House Blues" which became "Cannon Ball Blues" when appropriated by A. P. Carter and was later retooled for modern times by John Mellencamp. Discs 2 and 3 feature songs recorded by Poole and the same songs as recorded by artists who either preceded Poole and influenced him such as the mega-popular minstrel artist Arthur Collins, who dominated the pop charts in the late 1800s and early 1900s or followed and were inspired by him such as Uncle Dave Macon and Gid Tanner. It's a vibrant history lesson in both the development of a certain strain of country music and in the stylistic approaches that were handed down and then transformed over the course of several generations. With an evocative cover drawing of Poole by Robert Crumb, a cigar box–like package, profuse illustrations, and admirable audio restoration of recordings compiled from 78s and cylinders, this collection does right by Charlie Poole, the music he made, and the history he altered.
All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
First, a word about what You Ain't Talkin' to Me is not: it is not a box set of Charlie Poole's complete recorded work. He recorded some 110 songs for the Columbia, Paramount, and Brunswick labels between 1925 and 1931, and 43 of those tracks are collected here, with the balance of this three-disc set given over to sides by Poole's stylistic predecessors and contemporaries. Creating a feel for Poole's life and milieu is the goal here, and presenting musical evidence to place him as the clear grandfather of both bluegrass and modern country is the not-so-hidden agenda. Poole was never an overwhelming banjo player, but his three-finger picking style certainly carries trace elements of what would become bluegrass some 20 years later when a banjo whiz named Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's band in 1946. Poole wasn't a particularly strong singer, either, but his rambling, gambling persona and flamboyant stage antics and frequent multi-week alcoholic benders provide convincing evidence that Poole was outlaw country five decades before the term was even born. Poole's real genius -- since he didn't write songs -- was his ability to take folk tunes, pop songs, fiddle reels, blues fragments, and church hymns and reconfigure them into autobiographical statements by dropping or importing a verse, adding a stray line here and there, changing the title, and eventually delivering fresh, stripped-down versions of familiar songs that now seemed entirely Poole's. What You Ain't Talkin' to Me does best is document how this process worked, and after a first disc of acknowledged Poole classics "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues," "White House Blues," "If the River Was Whiskey," "Ramblin' Blues", the second and third discs present Poole songs alongside their antecedents in what is essentially a workshop in how pop folk is created in a mechanized age. On disc three, for example, you hear Arthur Collins' 1902 version of "Oh! Didn't He Ramble" as a heavily stylized and orchestrated bit of vaudeville. In Poole's hands, stripped down and shaped into a sinewy, sexy, and bluesy ensemble piece for banjo, guitar, and fiddle, it became the self-referential "He Rambled" in 1929. Similarly, Eddie Morton's civil and orchestrated "You Ain't Talking to Me" from 1909 becomes an ominous barroom boast in Poole's version, released as "You Ain't Talkin' to Me" in 1927. This ability to create new possibilities from old choices is what has driven American music from the very beginning, and Poole's talent for making it all seem like personal autobiography makes him very much a modernist, only a short leap away from an artist like Hank Williams. Doubters need only listen to Poole's "If I Lose, I Don't Care," which leads off the third disc, to clearly see the kind of DNA that went into modern country. As a glimpse of Poole's life and times, and a look behind the curtains at the adaptive nature of his creative process, this attractive set it comes in a small cigar box with a R. Crumb illustration of Poole on the lid and includes a 60-page book insert does a super job, but listeners should be aware that it is hardly comprehensive. Those interested in a more extensive sampling of Poole's work should check out JSP's four-disc box, Charlie Poole With the North Carolina Ramblers and the Highlanders, which features 96 of his 110 known recordings.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/17/2005
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 827969278024
  • Catalog Number: 92780

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Shootin' Creek (3:26)
  2. 2 Baltimore Fire (3:13)
  3. 3 Leaving Home (3:11)
  4. 4 There'll Come a Time (3:31)
  5. 5 White House Blues (3:31)
  6. 6 The Highwayman (3:20)
  7. 7 Hungry Hash House (3:25)
  8. 8 The Letter That Never Came (2:51)
  9. 9 Take a Drink on Me (3:17)
  10. 10 Husband and Wife Were Angry One Night (2:52)
  11. 11 Ramblin' Blues (3:07)
  12. 12 Took My Gal A-Walkin' (2:48)
  13. 13 Old and Only in the Way (3:29)
  14. 14 Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues (2:53)
  15. 15 Bill Mason (3:01)
  16. 16 A Kiss Waltz (3:10)
  17. 17 Flop Eared Mule - Highlanders (3:00)
  18. 18 A Trip to New York, Pt. 1 - Allegheny Highlanders (3:06)
  19. 19 Sweet Sixteen (2:54)
  20. 20 Write a Letter to My Mother (3:03)
  21. 21 If the River Was Whiskey (3:10)
  22. 22 Mother's Last Farewell Kiss (3:05)
  23. 23 Milwaukee Blues (3:18)
  24. 24 Where the Whippoorwill Is Whispering Good-Night (3:09)
Disc 2
  1. 1 The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee (3:21)
  2. 2 Sunny Tennessee - Floyd County Ramblers (3:18)
  3. 3 Bulldog Down in Sunny Tennessee - Doc Walsh (2:40)
  4. 4 Moving Day (3:14)
  5. 5 It's Movin' Day (3:28)
  6. 6 Home Sweet, Home - Frank Jenkins (2:34)
  7. 7 I'm the Man That Rode the Mule 'Round the World (3:04)
  8. 8 Man That Rode the Mule Around the World - Sid Harkreader (2:56)
  9. 9 Lynchburg Town - Highlanders (3:02)
  10. 10 Going Down to Lynchburg Town/Don't Let Your Deal Go Down - The Blue Ridge Highballers (3:10)
  11. 11 Some One (3:05)
  12. 12 Monkey on a String - Cal Stewart (2:33)
  13. 13 Monkey on a String (3:09)
  14. 14 Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister (3:13)
  15. 15 May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister (2:54)
  16. 16 Married Life Blues - Byron Parker (2:41)
  17. 17 The Infanta March - Fred Van Eps (4:22)
  18. 18 Sunset March (2:41)
  19. 19 I'll Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms (2:59)
  20. 20 Goodbye Eliza Jane (1:39)
  21. 21 Good-Bye Sweet Liza Jane (3:06)
  22. 22 Good-Bye Booze (3:17)
  23. 23 Goodbye Booze - Fate Norris (2:51)
  24. 24 You Ain't Talking to Me (2:56)
  25. 25 You Ain't Talkin' to Me (2:57)
Disc 3
  1. 1 If I Lose, I Don't Care (3:09)
  2. 2 The Battleship of Maine - Red Patterson's Piedmont Log Rollers (3:18)
  3. 3 Budded Rose (3:04)
  4. 4 Standing by a Window - Clay "Henry" Everhart (3:17)
  5. 5 Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo - Uncle Dave Macon (3:06)
  6. 6 Come Take a Trip in My Airship - Billy Murray (2:11)
  7. 7 I Once Loved a Sailor (3:08)
  8. 8 Dixie Medley - Carl Freed (2:43)
  9. 9 My Wife, She Has Gone and Left Me (3:18)
  10. 10 My Wife Went Away and Left Me (2:56)
  11. 11 Baby Rose - Billy Murray (4:14)
  12. 12 Just Keep Waiting Till the Good Time Comes (3:27)
  13. 13 Shuffle Feet, Shuffle - Hendly-Whitter-Small (2:40)
  14. 14 Coon from Tennessee (3:13)
  15. 15 Coon from Tennessee (3:06)
  16. 16 On the Banks of the Kaney - Big Chief Henry's Indian String Band (3:08)
  17. 17 Dixie Medley - Fred Van Eps (4:10)
  18. 18 Southern Medley (3:06)
  19. 19 The Man That Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was a Married Man - Mack Woolbright (3:14)
  20. 20 Sweet Sunny South (2:55)
  21. 21 Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South (2:46)
  22. 22 Oh! Didn't He Ramble (2:11)
  23. 23 He Rambled (3:00)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Charlie Poole Primary Artist, Banjo, Vocals
Uncle Dave Macon Banjo, Vocals
Sam McNeil Banjo
DeWitt Jenkins Banjo
Charlie Parker Banjo, Vocals
Fred Van Eps Banjo
Buster Carter Banjo, Vocals
Paul Miles Banjo
Doc Walsh Banjo, Vocals
Francis Jenkins Banjo
Arthur Wells Banjo
Dacosta Woltz Banjo
R.D. Hundley Banjo
Leon Cofer Banjo, Vocals
John Patterson Banjo, Vocals
Harold Hall Banjo
Fisher Hendley Banjo
Sam Moore Banjo, Harmonica
Marshall Small Banjo
Gid Tanner Fiddle, Vocals
Homer "Pappy" Sherrill Fiddle
Posey Rorer Fiddle
Guy Brooks Fiddle, Vocals
Lonnie Austin Fiddle
Banks McNeil Fiddle
Charley La Prade Fiddle
Benny Jarrell Fiddle, Vocals
Odell Smith Fiddle
Paul Cofer Fiddle, Vocals
Robert Dewey Cooper Fiddle
Bernice "Bernie" Coleman Fiddle, Vocals
Henry Hall Fiddle
Percy Setliff Fiddle
Roy Harvey Guitar
Clarence Hall Guitar
Fate Norris Guitar, Vocals
Preston Young Guitar, Harmony Vocals
A.P. Thompson Guitar, Vocals
Henry Whitter Guitar
Ben Evans Guitar, Vocals
Leonard Stokes Guitar, Vocals
Joseph Alfred Stegall Guitar
Mack Woolbright Guitar, Vocals
John Willie Boone Guitar, Vocals
Sid Harkreader Guitar, Vocals
Norman Woodlief Guitar
Clyde Robbins Guitar
Thomas Franklin Cooper Guitar
Lonnie Griffith Guitar
Walter Boone Harmonica, Harmony Vocals
Lucy Terry Piano
Carl Freed Piano
Arthur Collins Vocals
Kelly Harrell Vocals
Cal Stewart Vocals
Billy Murray Vocals
Eddie Morton Vocals
Bob Cranford Harmony Vocals
Earnest Branch Banjo, Vocals
Larry Nolen Guitar
Technical Credits
Henry Sapoznik Producer, Liner Notes, Annotation
Kinney Rorrer Liner Notes
Frank Carbonari Graphic Design
Howard Fritzson Art Direction
Michelle Holme Art Direction
Tom Choi Packaging Manager
Robert Crumb Cover Art
Michael Brooks Archival Consultant
Andreas Meyer Restoration Sound Engineer
Christopher [1] C. King Remastering Audio Restoration
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