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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dion

"Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie" by Elizabeth Cotten

In observance of Black History Month, I will be celebrating Africa-American music all February long. This first installment comes to us by way of Elizabeth Cotton, an American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter from Carrboro, NC.

Cotten was a self-taught left-handed guitarist, who developed her own original style. She played a guitar strung for a right-handed player, but played it upside down, as she was left-handed. This position meant that she would play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as "Cotten picking"

I learned this song from none other than Jerry Garcia, who performed the song during his folkie days in Palo Alto, CA. It was a staple in his solo/duo sets as well as both the JGB and the Grateful Dead.

It's a fun little song that Cotten wrote about a mean old woman from her neighborhood in Carrboro who used to make up lies about her, which then got her in trouble with her own parents. I hope you enjoy my take on this classic folk song.

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