Stumping Gracenote

When importing a CD into iTunes, the program queries the Gracenote CDDB to get the album name, artist, track names, and other data about the CD from the database. Most of the time, Gracenote has the information. Every so often, though, you throw something so obscure at the database that it can't come up with a match, and you have to type the information in yourself. That happened to me on Thursday.

So what was this obscure CD? Something on a vintage indie label? Well, no. It was Folkways: A Vision Shared - A Tribute To Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly from 1988 on CBS Records. The lists of artists is a veritable musical Who's Who: Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, U2, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Little Richard with Fishbone, Arlo Guthrie, Brian Wilson, Pete Seeger, Taj Mahal, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and two tracks from Bruce Springsteen, "Vigilante Man" and "I Ain't Got No Home."

As anyone who is familiar with Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly would know, the songs are heavy with social commentary on Depression-Era America. It was a hard time, and the songs reflect it. Much of the music is spare and acoustic, with the songs "Jesus Christ" by U2 and the incandescent version of "Rock Island Line" by Little Richard with Fishbone being notable exceptions. The latter song is worth the price of the disc all by itself.

It is out of print, alas, but is available through Amazon.com via third-party sellers.