Songs and Stories Archive

In Aunt Molly's Own Words

Only one recording of Aunt Molly was released commercially in her lifetime: Kentucky Miner's Wife (Ragged Hungry Blues), recorded by Columbia Records in New York City on December 10, 1931.

Folk collectors like John and Alan Lomax and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, however, recorded Aunt Molly on several occasions during the 1930s, and these songs are deposited in the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song. Two of the songs below, "Little Dove" and "Ten Thousand Miles," were pressed for public sale by the Archive of American Folk Song. These recordings feature Molly singing in the traditional Appalachian style, her voice "squeaky and high-pitched," just as composer Elie Siegmeister described it in 1940.

Just before her death in 1960, Aunt Molly and John Greenway recorded an album in which Molly told stories about her life and songs, while Greenway performed the pieces. Many of the songs below are from this collaborative effort. Some say that Greenway's adaptations are more pleasing to the ear, but you can decide for yourself. Unfortunately, the sound quality of these recordings varies—be prepared to adjust volume as necessary. Listen to Aunt Molly Jackson:

The Birth of Robin Hood

 

The Death of Harry Simms

 

Dishonest Miller

 

Dreadful Memories

 

Hard Times in Coleman's Mine

 

Hunger

 

Hungry Ragged Blues

 

Little Dove

 

Molly Jackson Defines Folk Music Once and for All

 

Mr. Cundiff Turn Me Loose

 

Pistol Packin' Woman

 

Poor Miner's Farewell

 

Roll On Buddy

 

Ten Thousand Miles

 

I Am a Union Woman

 

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columbia record.

 

amj mid-1930s.

Aunt Molly in New York City, mid-1930s. See larger image. Source: Pistol Packin' Mama.

 

al dexter's pistol packin song.

Molly claimed she was the "pistol packin' mama" that inspired Al Dexter's song by the same name. See larger image. Source: Pistol Packin' Mama.

 

Molly Shares Her Music

The American Ballad Singers "obtain material from Aunt Molly Jackson, who comes from hill country," in this December 21, 1941, New York Times photo. See larger image.

 

Molly and Gus 1943.

Aunt Molly with husband Gus Stamos in New York City, 1943. See larger image. Source: Pistol Packin' Mama.

 

Cavalcade of American Song.

June 1, 1941, New York Times notice of Molly's performance in Cavalcade of American Song. View the whole page.

 

Molly on the Radio.

"Today on the Radio," January 23, 1940, New York Times. View the full day's program.