On Air Now

Current track



John Szwed

September 4, 2023

You may not have ever heard of him, but Harry Smith was one of the most complex scholars of the 20th Century. He was an experimental filmmaker, folklorist, painter, jazz aficionado, occultist, and anthropologist. Yet he led his life almost completely outside the public’s view, with no discernable income, crashing at the apartments of friends. On this episode of Inquiry, we talk with educator and music historian JOHN SZWED about his wild new biography: COSMIC SCHOLAR: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARRY SMITH.