The second week of May marks the third anniversary of my first modest post on "Tom Dooley," published on Kingston Crossroads in May but uploaded to the web in general in July when at the suggestion of folks here I began saving the posts into a blog.
Since that week in May, 2008 there have been 132 editions of Weekend Videos/Comparative Video 101 (both silly names but all I could come up with at the time - now I'm stuck with them). 12 of the articles have been special subjects, like the retrospectives The Best of Comparative Video 101 - 2009 and 2010, retrospectives on the careers of Dave Guard, Bob Gibson, Bob Shane (linked below), two on John Stewart (Nick Reynolds upcoming), fantasy camp, and other topics.
That leaves 120 separate posts on individual songs. The mathematically inclined among us will note that that means these articles have covered the equivalent of ten complete, 12-song LPs. Most of the posts include versions of the songs as performed by the Kingston Trio, and I believe that no comparable archive exists for any other artist anywhere else on the web. CompVid101 is not a comprehensive page and pales in comparison of scope to genuinely landmark sites like Jerry Kergan's Kingston Trio Liner Notes, Rick Daly's Folk USA, Ake Holm's wonderful Harry Belafonte website, or the lamentably retired John Stewart page by Ron Beffa called Clack's Cellar - and of course the full site of Ken Laing's The Kingston Trio Place where these articles first appear.
But this series is, as they say, what it is. I'm sure most of you have noted that the posts really aren't research articles, exactly, though I am proud of the bits of background I've been able to provide about the songs. Each article is actually an essay, one that presents my personal experience with and memories of each individual tune and my opinions on the performances I've been able to find. That anyone at all would care to read my ramblings on often long-forgotten folk songs is something I find immensely pleasing.
Which brings us to this anniversary edition. I really love doing these posts, and I have to review them with some frequency to be sure that the videos I have included in each article are still there - and if YouTube has yanked some of them for copyvio, I try to find replacements. (And one of my big projects for the summer will be to create a usable index-by-song-title page.) Of the 132 posts, nine stand out for me as the best overall of the whole group - best writing, best information, and best range of musical/video performances.
So this shamelessly self-congratulatory post simply re-presents for your consideration my own favorite articles of the last three years. Here they are in order of publication - and thanks to all for doing me the great compliment at looking at my work over the years.
1. "The Sinking of the Reuben James" - 1/1/09
2. "The Patriot Game" - 4/4/09
3. "The Colorado Trail" - 5/15/09
4. "Bay of Mexico" - 3/12/10
5. Bob Shane, Soloist - 6/18/10
6. "The Escape of Old John Webb" - 9/2/10
7. "The Dutchman" - 2/3/11
8. The First Grammy For Folk - And Why It Matters - 2/10/11
9. "The City of New Orleans" - 2/24/11