Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth Cotten’

December 11, 2011

Elizabeth Cotten And Viv Albertine

I was talking with a friend about my “Twelve Amazing Guitarists…” post this past Friday. She mentioned that she did not know who Elizabeth Cotten and Viv Albertine were. I thought I would link to a video for each of them.

I first encountered Elizabeth Cotten while learning finger-picking. Cotten wrote the incredibly challenging song, Freight Train. She was an impressive player, and actually played her guitar upside down, using her thumb to play melodies, and her index finger to run bass lines.

Viv Albertine has a solo album out now, and she has performed with the Raincoats and the New-Age Steppers. But what she’s best known for is as the guitarist and backup vocalist for the legendary punk group The Slits. The first several times I heard the Slits I had no idea what to do with them. Their songs were full of competing rhythms, multi-part vocals. They were dissonant and controversial. They were obnoxious. Really, all the things you want in a good punk band. This is an old video of them performing Heard It Through the Grapevine, and Albertine is the blonde being interviewed at the beginning. It’s followed by their video for Instant Hit.

March 10, 2011

Elizabeth Cotten Page on Smithsonian Folkways

I was messing around today on the Smithsonian Folkways website.  They have a really nice page on Elizabeth Cotten, including photos, sound clips, and video.

From the Folkways website:

Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten (1895-1987), best known for her timeless song¬†“Freight Train,” built her musical legacy on a firm foundation of late 19th- and early 20th-century African-American instrumental traditions. Through her songwriting, her quietly commanding personality, and her unique left-handed guitar and banjo styles, she inspired and influenced generations of younger artists.


Elizabeth Cotten

%d bloggers like this: