THE SONGS OF AUNT MOLLY JACKSON

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AUNT MOLLY JACKSON, her relatives from the fascist country of Harlan County, Kentucky, all come to Leadbelly's house almost every day.... AUNT MOLLY JACKSON would sing us an hour or two of Bloody Harlan County, songs of organizing the coal miners to beat the thugs of old Sheriff Blair. MOLLY told tales from her life as a mountaineer midwife, sung us the songs that she used to make the sweethearts lose their bashfulness, the husband and the wife go back to their bed, the lonesome ones take up a new heart, and the older ones to be in body and action as quick, as funny, as limber and as wise as the younguns coming up. MOLLY IS LIKE LEADBELLY. She is the woman Leadbelly. She is in her cotton apron what Leadbelly is in his bathrobe. She talks to him exactly as to her reflection in her mirror. He speaks back to her like the swamplands to the uplands, the same as his river would talk to her highest cliffrim. She loves him in the same half jealous way that he loves her, because he sees and feels in Aunt Molly the woman who has found in her own voice the same power on earth as he has found.
Woody Guthrie, "LEADBELLY is a hard name," American Folksong, New York, NY, 1961 (reprint of 1947 edition), p. 10.

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