Sunday, October 3, 2021

VA - People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 [2010] (3 x CD's)



VA - People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 [2010] (3 x CD's)

A stunning, landmark 3CD Boxed Set featuring 70 powerful and tragic songs from the Golden Age of American Roots Music by some of the cornerstones of American vernacular recording . Over 30 never before reissued.  These songs of death, destruction and disaster, recorded by black and white performers from the dawn of American roots recording, are rare audio messages in a bottle. Produced and annotated by the Grammy winning team of Christopher King and Hank Sapoznik, booklet and packaged designed by Grammy award winning Susan Archie, with an introduction by Tom Waits who says "In the late 1920's and early 1930's, the Depression gripped the Nation. It was a time when songs were tools for living. A whole community would turn out to mourn the loss of a member and to sow their songs like seeds. This collection is a wild garden grown from those seeds."

Whether they document world-shattering events like the sinking of the Titanic or memorialize long forgotten local murders or catastrophes, these 70 recordings are audio messages in a bottle reflecting a lost world where age old ballads rubbed up against songs inspired by the day's headlines. These recordings are from back at a time when singers would be storytellers and tell the history of an event in musical story form. Most of these songs are about real life tragedies, such as the sinking of the titanic, the wide spread destruction of crops by the boll weevil, floods in Mississippi, plus various fires, explosions, droughts and more over the years. This compilation bears witness to every song seemingly had to provide a cautionary note.  Whether that note was to beware of getting to dependent on the emerging whirlwind of the newest technologies like the airplane or "unsinkable" ships, the mysteries of natural disasters like floods and fire or the hazards of pre-martial sex, being a vexing wife or coveting another man's the hand of "God" was written all over these things. People take warning was not only, or merely, a convenient metaphor to set the parameters of the song. That is what this three CD set is all about. So if you want to know about train wrecks ship wrecks, grizzly murders, the sorrows of the Great Depression and other obscure tales from the early 20th century then here is your chance to those subjects all in one place. A small capsule of American everyday history. (Amazon)

This set was originally issued in 2007 in a slim long box, this version is the 2010 version.

I want to thank Tribe, whom bought to my attention to this wonderful set. Tribe stated "If you care for the Anthology of American Folk Music then you should appreciate this".



Track lists


01 Hi Henry Brown, Charlie Jordan Titanic Blues 3:14

02 Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers With Riley Puckett Wreck Of The Old 97 2:53

03 Birmingham Jug Band Bill Wilson 3:21

04 Bob Miller The Crash Of The Akron 3:31

05 Ernest Stoneman The Fate Of Talmadge Osborne 3:06

06 Cantor Joseph Rosenblatt El Mole Rachmim (Fur Titanik) 3:31

07 Blind Alfred Reed The Wreck Of The Virginian 2:59

08 Bill Cox Fate Of Will Rogers & Wiley Post 3:17

09 Dixon Brothers Down With The Old Canoe 2:52

10 Cliff Carlisle Wreck Of Number 52 3:16

11 Furry Lewis Kassie Jones Part 1 3:07

12 Furry Lewis Kassie Jones Part 2 3:03

13 Carver Boys The Brave Engineer 3:16

14 Richard "Rabbit" Brown The Sinking Of The Titanic 3:48

15 Blind Alfred Reed Fate Of Chris Lively And Wife 3:25

16 Red Fox Chasers, Paul Miles, vocal Wreck On The Mountain Road 2:37

17 Kentucky Raamblers The Unfortunate Brakeman 2:26

18 Riley Puckett Altoona Freight Wreck 2:37

19 J. F. Mainer's Mountaineers The Fatal Wreck Of The Bus 2:48

20 Frank Hutchison Last Scene Of The Titanic 3:29

21 Skillet Lickers Casey Jones 2:48

22 Fred Pendleton & The West Virginia Melody Boys The Wreck Of The Westbound Airliner 2:58

23 Ernest Stoneman The Titanic 3:14

24 William & Versey Smith When That Great Ship Went Down 2:56


01 Ernest Stoneman The Story of the Mighty Mississippi 3:07

02 Robert Hicks Mississippi Heavy Water Blues 3:04

03 Fiddlin' John Carson Dixie Boll Weevil 2:59

04 Charley Patton Mississippi Boll Weevil 3:06

05 Bob Miller Ohio Prison Fire 3:27

06 Elder Curry Memphis Flu 3:03

07 Blind Alfred Reed Explosion in the Fairmount Mine 3:21

08 Fiddlin' John Carson Storm That Struck Miami 3:02

09 Kansas Joe And Memphis Minnie When the Levee Breaks 3:13

10 Andrew Jenkins Alabama Flood 3:18

11 J. H. Howell's Carolina Hillbillies Burning of the Cleveland School 3:02

12 Charley Patton High Water Everywhere Part 1 3:06

13 Charley Patton High Water Everywhere, Part 2 3:05

14 Martin & Roberts Ryecove Cyclone 3:02

15 Cap, Andy & Flip McBeth Mine Explosion 2:52

16 Charley Patton Dry Well Blues 3:20

17 Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers Baltimore Fire 3:12

18 Uncle Dave Macon Tennessee Tornado 3:14

19 Son House Dry Spell Blues, Part 2 3:13

20 Green Bailey The Santa Barbara Earthquake 2:57

21 Vernon Dalhart The Death of Floyd Collins 3:29

22 Carson Robison Trio The Porto Rico Storm 2:33

23 W.A. Lindsey & Alvin Condor Boll Weavil 2:59

24 Elders McIntorsh & Edwards The Flood of 1927 3:13


01 Hayes Shepherd Peddler And His Wife 3:24

02 Earl Johnson The Little Grave in Georgia 3:07

03 Ernest Stoneman Kenney Wagner's Surrender 2:23

04 Kelly Harrell Henry Clay Beattie 3:08

05 Carolina Buddies The Murder of the Lawson Family 3:27

06 Clarence Ashley Naomi Wise 2:53

07 Will Bennett Railroad Bill 2:59

08 Dykes Magic City Trio Frankie 3:02

09 Bill Cox Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Part 1 3:00

10 Bill Cox Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Part 2 3:04

11 Dennis McGee & Ernest Fruge Lanse Des Belaires 2:50

12 B.F. Shelton Darling Cora 3:53

13 Furry Lewis Billy Lyons And Stack O' Lee 2:36

14 Grayson & Whitter Tom Dooley 3:10

15 Floyd County Ramblers The Story of Freda Bolt 3:37

16 John Hammond Pretty Polly 3:10

17 Bob Miller Fingerprints Upon the Windowpane 3:00

18 Roy Harvey & The North Carolina Ramblers The Bluefield Murder 3:07

19 Ashley & Foster Frankie Silvers 3:05

20 Wilmer Watts Fate of Rhoda Sweeten 3:11

21 Willie Walker Dupree Blues 3:29

22 Dykes' Magic City Trio Poor Ellen Smith 3:12




  1. A beautiful set. This, along with the Anthology of American Folk Music and Dust To Digital's Goodbye, Babylon!, is a comprehensive collection of American old-timey/country blues music. Kudos to you for putting this out there!

    1. Let me add The Harry Smith B-Sides to my comment above.

    2. Thanks Tribe,
      A bit of teamwork goes a long way.
      Thanks for highlighting the importance of this set and others posted recently.


  2. Good morning, my friends

  3. Thank you, Butter, and I promise I'll look both ways before crossing the room to my CD player. Cheers!

    1. Hi Aging Child,
      I would advise at least having a few band-aids tucked into the hip pocket...