Monday, October 20, 2008

Adjective Noun: Graycoat Soldiers

Norman Blake: Graycoat Soldiers


I have wanted to introduce everyone to the music of Norman Blake for some time. He sings and plays Southern folk music. This is related to, but not the same as bluegrass.

Southern folk music usually features a smaller group of musicians than bluegrass, and the vocals are usually by one singer, without the harmonies of bluegrass. This tends to bring the words into greater focus, and solo virtuosity of the instrumentalists is emphasized over the ability to blend that is so important in bluegrass. Each style has its pleasures.

Norman Blake is probably the second-best known performer of Southern folk music, surpassed only by the great Doc Watson. Blake is a fine guitar player, who also does not exactly embarrass himself on a variety of other stringed instruments. He has always surrounded himself with quality accompanists, including his wife Nancy on cello. And his lyrics, whether original or by someone else, always feature great storytelling.

Graycoat Soldiers is a Civil War tale. The song has an interesting lyrical structure. The verses give snapshots of the progression of the Civil War from the point of view of the Confederate soldiers who went of to fight it. The chorus, from the point of view of the families who were left behind, foreshadows the tragedy that the Civil War would become for the South.

submitted by Darius

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