Writer, musicologist, archivist, singer, DJ, filmmaker, record, radio and TV producer, Alan Lomax was a man of many parts. Without him the history of popular music would have been very different. Armed with a tape-recorder and his own near-flawless good taste, Lomax spent years travelling the US, particularly the south, recording its heritage of music and song for posterity, bringing to light the talents of performers ranging from Jelly Roll Morton to Leadbelly and Muddy Waters, and crucially influencing generations of musicians from Pete Seeger to the Stones, from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan. His influence continues: recordings made by Lomax are the core of the sound-tracks of Oh Brother, Where art Thou? and Gangs of New York, and even featured, remixed, on Moby's Play. John Szwed's biography is the first ever of this remarkable and contradictory man (whom he both knew and worked with for ten years); through it Szwed will tell the story of a musical and political era, as he did so successfully in his previous book on Miles Davis.
Song and dance style--viewed as nonverbal communications about culture--are here related to social structure and cultural history. Patterns of performance, theme, text and movement are analyzed in large samples of films an recordings from the whole range of human culture, according to the methods explained in this volume. Cantometrics, which means song as a measure of man, finds that traditions of singing trace the main historic distributions of human culture and that specific traits of performance are communications about identifiable aspects of society. The predictable and universal relations between expressive communication and social organization, here established for the first time, open up the possibility of a scientific aesthetics, useful to planners.
Alan Lomax (1915–2002) began working for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress in 1936, first as a special and temporary assistant, then as the permanent Assistant in Charge, starting in June 1937, until he left in late 1942. He recorded such important musicians as Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Aunt Molly Jackson, and Jelly Roll Morton. A reading and examination of his letters from 1935 to 1945 reveal someone who led an extremely complex, fascinating, and creative life, mostly as a public employee. While Lomax is noted for his field recordings, these collected letters, many signed “Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge,” are a trove of information until now available only at the Library of Congress. They make it clear that Lomax was very interested in the commercial hillbilly, race, and even popular recordings of the 1920s and after. These letters serve as a way of understanding Lomax’s public and private life during some of his most productive and significant years. Lomax was one of the most stimulating and influential cultural workers of the twentieth century. Here he speaks for himself through his voluminous correspondence.
Alan Lomax is a legendary figure in American folk music circles. Although he published many books, hundreds of recordings and dozens of films, his contributions to popular and academic journals have never been collected. This collection of writings, introduced by Lomax's daughter Anna, reintroduces these essential writings. Drawing on the Lomax Archives in New York, this book brings together articles from the 30s onwards. It is divided into four sections, each capturing a distinct period in the development of Lomax's life and career: the original years as a collector and promoter; the period from 1950-58 when Lomax was recording thorughout Europe; the folk music revival years; and finally his work in academia.
Music and lyrics for over 200 songs. John Henry, Goin' Home, Little Brown Jug, Alabama-Bound, Ten Thousand Miles from Home, Shack Bully Holler, Black Betty, The Hammer Song, Bad Man Ballad, Jesse James, Down in the Valley, The Bear in the Hill, Shortenin' Bread, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, and many more.
Melodies and words for over 200 authentic folk songs and ballads from all parts of the country -- spirituals, hollers, game songs, lullabies, courting songs, work songs, Cajun airs, breakdowns, many more.