1. Bob Dylan, from “Memphis Blues Again,” Blonde on Blonde (Columbia, 1966, recorded Nashville)
2. Fred Moody, “Mole in the Ground, recorded 1921 in Bucombe County by Frank C. Brown, Duke University, Collection of North Carolina Folk Songs (AFC 1948/037). Cylinder transcription courtesy Todd Harvey, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
3. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” (OKeh, 1924, recorded 15 March 1924, Atlanta) (78_10915 LC, Southern Folk Life Collection). Courtesy Steve Weiss, U. of North Carolina.
4. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” (Brunswick, 1928, recorded February 1928, Ashland, Kentucky). Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways, 1952, Smithsonian Folkways, 1997)
5. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Introduction to recording of North Carolina ballads, Columbia University, 3 March 1935). Courtesy Jennie Rose Halperin.
6. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” Columbia University, 3 March 1935. Courtesy Jennie Rose Halperin.
7. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” Library of Congress, Washington D.C., 1949, as part of Lunsford’s “Memory Collection.” Courtesy Chris King.
8. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, “Mole in the Ground,” Smoky Mt. Ballads (Folkways, 1953, recorded New York, 1951-52). Lunsford, notes: “The text used here is part of the song as sung by a schoolmate of mine, Fred Moody, of Haywood County, N.C., adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in 1901. The term ‘the bend’ means, according to Moody, the bend of the Pigeon River in that section, and well-known to provincial fame for romance and tragedy.”
9. Jackson C. Frank, “Kimbie” (Jackson C. Frank, CBS UK, 1965, recorded London, produced by Paul Simon; Blues Run the Game, Castle/Sanctuary, 2003). Courtesy Matthew Schneider-Mayerson.
10. Shocking Blue, “Rock in the Sea,” Attila, Pink Elephant, 1972).
11. Bob Neuwirth with Eliza Carthy, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” from The Harry Smith Project: Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited (Shout, 2006, produced by Hal Willner, recorded Meltdown Festival, Royal Festival Hall, London, 2 July 1999).
12. Sindhu Zagoren, “Mole in the Ground,” on DJ /Rupture, Special Gunpowder (Tigerbeat, 2004, recorded Barcelona, with Zagoren, banjo, DJ /rupture, organ, Lawrence English, cicadas). Courtesy Cecily Marcus.
13/14. 5 Burrows (Evan Glasson, Sara Beck, Beth Schwartzapfel, guitar, Danielle Durkin, Todd Wright, recorded New School, New York, 2007), “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” Gothic and hoedown versions.
15. Marianne Faithfull, “Kimbie,” Easy Come Easy Go (Naïve, 2008, produced by Hal Willner).
16. anbb (Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld, “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground,” Mimiby (Raster-Noton, 2010, recorded Berlin).
17. The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson), “I Won’t Be Found,” Shallow Grave (Mexican Summer, 2008).
18. “Mole in the Ground,” Joel Katz, Stacie Calkins, Ali Hackett, Soul Harmony rehearsal, 2018
– More on “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” in Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations
– Previous Greil playlists here
Hi Greil! Thank you for this playlist— it’s fascinating to hear the early versions, along with the familiar one from the Anthology. One question about that version, released in 1928: you say that it was recorded in 1924, but every other source I’ve read say that it was recorded in Feb. 1928. Do you have a source for the earlier date?
Hi David, I checked this with Greil, and you’re correct–it should be 1928, and I’ve updated the listing here. Thanks for catching it.