MYSTERY ROOTS RECORDING FROM DECEASED ARCHIVIST’S COLLECTION GAINS ATTENTION

Interesting story I read that I thought I’d pass along about this strange tune. Full song below story.

MYSTERY ROOTS RECORDING FROM DECEASED ARCHIVIST’S COLLECTION GAINS ATTENTION

Hear the lost, then found recording just below.

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by Skip Wiley

MUSIC ROUTES NEWS (August 24, 2014) — When virtually forgotten American musicologist Lana Maxol died of natural causes in 1999, it was her great niece, Sarah Short, who inherited the bulk of Aunt Lana’s personal belongings.

“Acetates and tape galore,” recalls Short. “Most were thoroughly indexed and most were merely copies of originals Aunt Lana donated to universities and such in her day.”

The original recordings, most personally recorded by Maxol during her musical travels in the ‘20s and ‘30s through the foothills, hollers and back roads of rural America, earned Maxol a reputation as one of the top musicologists of her time.

“She was a preserver of music history,” says Short, Maxol’s only survivor today. “I always wondered what it would’ve been like to travel with Lana to the wilds and backwaters of America to find all that roots music that she recorded. She was already pretty old by the time I was old enough to tag along though, and to be honest, I guess when I was younger, I didn’t really care much for her kind of music. I was pretty high on The Beatles back then.”

Interest in Maxol is growing now ever since Short found an unmarked, undated recording in one of her aunt’s old suitcases that she was planning to give to Goodwill. She shared the song with a music professor acquaintance and collector of roots music.

“He had never heard the song before,” Short recalls. “And he has a pretty extensive knowledge of Aunt Lana’s work.”

“It was rough to listen to, the tape old and delicate, but with some technology, he was able to clean up the noise a bit,” says Sarah.

The song is dark and seems to be about a man unwittingly having an affair with the devil’s wife.

When Short found it, it was untitled.

“We decided to call it ‘The Devil’s At My Heels,” for obvious reasons when you listen to it,” she says.

The source, too, is a mystery.

“Who knows who it is,” says Short. “Or where it came from. But maybe that’s the fun of it. I just think it’s neat that after all these years, something of Aunt Lana’s is getting attention in a whole new century. I’m sure she would find this to be a real hoot. Too bad though she isn’t around to provide some answers.”

 

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