Daily Download: "Pretty Polly," Dock Boggs

Two free downloads from an old-time legend.

Published September 23, 2005 7:01AM (EDT)

The legendary old-time blues artist Dock Boggs recorded just 12 songs between 1927 and 1929, and then sold his banjo when the Depression hit, giving up music until 1963 when Mike Seeger tracked him down and convinced him to record again. The death-obsessed singer's recordings, driven by his frenetically paced and often dissonant but always coldly controlled banjo playing, are some of the most powerful in American folk music. As a general rule I actually prefer Boggs' '60s Folkways tracks, but there's something unmatchably intense and unsettling about many of these early recordings, most especially "Pretty Polly," a murder ballad sung in Boggs' rail-thin voice, harsh, emotionless and chilling. Also available for free download is his iconic "Country Blues."

By Salon Staff

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