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Like Joan Baez, the big names in folk singing belong in this middle group. Many of them have been songsmiths in their own right, and all have been devoted to creating and re-creating folk music with feeling rather than negotiable embellishment. Chief among them was the late Huddie Ledbetter, a felonious Negro known as Leadbelly, who is folk singing's one immortal. He was so great he was almost authentic. He spent much of his career behind bars for murder and other pastimes, but on both sides of the walls he was a natural, whooping primitive, shouting in primary rhythms with a voice as clear and incomprehensible as an echo.
After Leadbelly. names like Woodrow Wilson ("Woody") Guthrie and William L. C. ("Big Bill") Broonzy are the ones to drop in folksville. Both were drifters who wrote songs, sang them, made no money, and tended the flame. Guthrie, 50, who has been terribly ill with a nervous disease for the past eight years and is now at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, is an Oklahoman who never held a job more than a week or so. always needed a shave, and sang for anybody who cared to listentimber workers on the edge of the Great Lakes, sharecroppers in the South. Today's young folk singers show a widespread predilection for Woody Guthrie songs, especially Hard Travelin' and This Land Is Your Land.
Darlings & Buddhas. Big Bill Broonzy died in 1958. Mainly a blues singer, he was the unwashed darling of purist fans, but he had short patience with all the folk curators who insist that a true folk song has to be of unknown authorship and come down through the oral tradition. "I guess all songs is folk songs." he said. I never heard no horse sing 'em."
The tradition of Broonzy and Guthrie is being carried on by a large number of disciples, most notably a promising young hobo named Bob Dylan. He is 21 and comes from Duluth. He dresses in sheepskin and a black corduroy Huck Finn cap, which covers only a small part of his long.' tumbling hair. He makes visits to Woody Guthrie's hospital bed, and he delivers his songs in a studied nasal that has just the right clothespin-on-the-nose honesty to appeal to those who most deeply care. His most celebrated song is Talkin' New Yorkabout his first visit to the city, during the cold winter of 1961, when he discovered "Green Witch Village."
But the current patriarch of folk singing is Pete Seeger. A Harvardman who quit college to wander through the country collecting songs. Seeger has sung at least 50 LP albums. In 1949 he organized a group called the Weavers that won a tall reputation for quadripartite purity. Seeger commands so much respect among folk singers that the only criticism ever leveled against him* is that he can't carry a tune. But that gives him the seal of