Freight Train


There is a story that Elizabeth cotten got to name herself on the day. She started school. Her parents had a mess of kids and supposedly. They never really agreed on a name to call her when she was born in eighteen. Ninety three or eighteen ninety-five people disagree on birthdate. Which makes sense considering that she'd didn't even have a name anyway. The family just kinda settled into calling her little sister because she was the youngest sister. Of course a moniker. Like that didn't work for the teacher. Who asked for the child's name on the first day of school little sis had always liked the name Elizabeth? So that's what she told the teacher her name was and for the rest of her long and eventful life. That's how she was known though. Many of her friends would one day call her by nickname Lib. Little could she have known when she was just a girl that the name Elizabeth Cottonwood one day wind up in the Smithsonian be announced at the Grammy Awards and even lend itself to a Beautiful Park in Syracuse New York? There's another story about Elizabeth. Many years later as an adult and apparent herself she was working in a department store in Washington. Dc when she encountered a young girl near the same age. Elizabeth had been on that first day of school. This girl was lost and in tears because she had gotten separated from her mother while shopping as any child or parent who has stressful. He lived through. This situation knows it can be terrifying. But Elizabeth was kind and calm and the girl named Peggy immediately trusted her together. The two set out to find the girl's mother it didn't take long. But the chance encounter made history. Elizabeth cotten obviously made an impression on. Peggy's mom a woman named Ruth Crawford seeger because before long Elizabeth was working in their home helping to take care of the three kids cook and clean. They quickly bonded with her and she made the most of her time there. The seekers were a musical family. Father Charles was a musicologist that someone who studies music and how it develops in different cultures he worked for universities and the federal government to help document and preserve the music of African American native American Latin American cultures and more. The mother of the Family Ruth was a music teacher who published a book of Children's songs and the children were very interested in folk music especially the oldest child his name was Pete Seeger and he would be famous musician on his own for years. Elizabeth would share space in the home with the Family. Who's world seem to revolve around making sound? Someone was always learning practicing listening writing or singing. Something new little. Did they know that the woman in their midst was incredible musician herself honestly? Though she was so humble she might never have told them wouldn't stay hidden forever. Though as the days flowed by someone from the family found her playing one of the guitars in the home and in a very unique style that they had never really heard before embarrassed. She apologized for touching their instrument but they were more astonished by what they had just heard. Linda's family back home. In North Carolina had been musical to when she was a girl. Her folks sang spirituals. All the time and her brother had a guitar and Banjo. Which only seem to call to Elizabeth. Whenever he was at work she would sneak into his marvelous sounds. This made her brother angry and she was firmly told not to touch them again but she couldn't help herself. Elizabeth loved the sound of the string instruments. She found them awkward because she was left handed though her solution was to hold them upside down. Putting the low sounding strings. Closer to the grand high-sounding strings. Right up by her face was the opposite way that the instrument was intended but she made it work. She plucked the strings with her fingers. Two or three at a time which could create a counterpoint melodic lines at the same time. It's not easy to do but Elizabeth methodically learned to do it. When her brother's work schedule allowed of course eventually her brother moved out to start a life outside of the household and he had the nerve to take his own guitar and Banjo with him. This left poor young Lib and quite a dither. In these days kids would often work to help the family which she did but she also saved some of the money for a guitar her own three dollars and seventy five cents. That is what her first guitar cost. And as she clearly remembered from that point on her poor mother never got any peace and quiet. Every spare moment was filled with music. Which sounds Nice. But you've got to remember. Elizabeth was learning by teaching herself. Luckily she was a quick study. When you spend that much time working hard on something you are bound to improve. That's how it works. She put in the time and before long. Elizabeth was not just playing guitar but playing incredibly well in her own unique finger style and she was also writing songs. One Song she wrote when she was just eleven years old was called freight train. If you'd told young Elizabeth that one day decades

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