mudcat.org: Alan Lomax: Another View
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2]


Alan Lomax: Another View

Related threads:
Review: Lomax Songbooks (7)
John Lomax's credibility, an example (22)
The Ballad Hunter - Alan Lomax (3)
Wanting Help finding a Lomax Recording (13)
Tech: Digitising Lomax: AFC crowdsourcing (2)
Lomax 1959-60 Southern Journey NEW LPs (18)
Alan Lomax Recording Locations (5)
Lomax review BBC radio NOW (10)
Upcoming Lomax radio feature (7)
Alan Lomax Archive going online (67)
John A Lomax Jr. (8)
Lomax/Collins BBC Radio4 (17)
Nicki Minaj song samples Lomax recording-Rosie (7)
All of Alan Lomax's recordings online- f (9)
Alan Lomax- Forest City Joe. (8)
Alan Lomax in the Upper Midwest podcasts (6)
Alan Lomax Southern Journey: new LOC book (4)
Questions Re: the Lomaxes and Copyright (19)
In the Footsteps of John A. Lomax (AusBC (3)
Jean Ritchie on Stephen Colbert (13)
Alan Lomax on Radio 4 (8)
Lomax songbooks, comparison of content (8)
alan lomax documentary here (8)
The Lomaxes on BD (like graphic novels) (3)
New Alan Lomax biography reviewed (27)
Lomax Book containing "Grasshopper Sittin'... (2)
Obit: Bess Lomax Hawes 1921-2009) (34)
PBS t.v. special: Alan Lomax Songhunter (11)
'Lomax the Hound of Music' (3)
The Color Purple with Lomax music (1)
Documentary on Alan Lomax - PBS, 22 August 06 (37)
Blues In The Mississippi Night - Lomax (15)
Estil C. Ball's 1938 J. Lomax recording? (8)
Alan Lomax & the Ramblers (15)
Alan Lomax Birthday (6)
Happy! – Jan 15 (A Lomax / Sigmeister) (3)
Remixing Lomax (75)
'Land Where The Blues Began' Lomax, Sad. (52)
Obit: Alan Lomax-An Era Passes (1915-2002) (86)
Book: The Land Where The Blues Began (Alan Lomax) (12)
Alan Lomax? recording - Who's singing? (8)
Alan Lomax Tribute at NOMAD (1)
John Henry & Alan Lomax on Radio (5)
Help: Alan Lomax radio programme (5)
Lyr Add: Lomax Recording Trip Index (9)
Link Add: Alan Lomax Website (7)
Allan Lomax suffers stroke (7)
Lomax Collection on-line (16)
The Alan Lomax collection: Southern Journey (3)


Mr Red 21 Sep 17 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,pauperback 20 Sep 17 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 20 Sep 17 - 09:47 PM
Stilly River Sage 20 Sep 17 - 09:25 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 20 Sep 17 - 06:09 PM
Blackcatter 31 Jul 02 - 01:01 AM
Venthony 30 Jul 02 - 11:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Jul 02 - 06:47 PM
ard mhacha 26 Jul 02 - 10:09 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 02 - 07:59 AM
Nerd 26 Jul 02 - 05:34 AM
Nerd 26 Jul 02 - 04:52 AM
open mike 26 Jul 02 - 01:12 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 25 Jul 02 - 12:29 PM
Melani 25 Jul 02 - 12:46 AM
GUEST,Frogmore 24 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM
Deckman 24 Jul 02 - 08:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM
Deckman 24 Jul 02 - 06:08 PM
Don Firth 24 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM
Charley Noble 24 Jul 02 - 05:00 PM
Nerd 24 Jul 02 - 02:13 AM
Deckman 23 Jul 02 - 06:00 PM
Peter T. 23 Jul 02 - 05:11 PM
Big Mick 23 Jul 02 - 04:08 PM
dick greenhaus 23 Jul 02 - 04:06 PM
Mudlark 23 Jul 02 - 04:01 PM
Art Thieme 23 Jul 02 - 03:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 03:48 PM
Ron Olesko 23 Jul 02 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 02:05 PM
IanC 23 Jul 02 - 12:40 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 23 Jul 02 - 12:07 PM
alanabit 23 Jul 02 - 11:03 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 08:49 AM
Jeri 23 Jul 02 - 07:05 AM
Chanteyranger 23 Jul 02 - 03:04 AM
Benjamin 23 Jul 02 - 02:59 AM
Armen Tanzerian 23 Jul 02 - 12:43 AM
Art Thieme 23 Jul 02 - 12:35 AM
Benjamin 23 Jul 02 - 12:16 AM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 11:42 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 11:19 PM
Haruo 22 Jul 02 - 11:11 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM
greg stephens 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Frogmore 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM
Deckman 22 Jul 02 - 09:44 PM
BH 22 Jul 02 - 09:41 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:










Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Sep 17 - 05:37 AM

If I might summarise one recurrent theme here, about the end justifying the means.

Hitler - nil point
Lomax - 9 (ish)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 10:44 PM



"Be careful how you choose your enemy, for you will come to resemble him. The moment you adapt your enemy's methods your enemy has won. The rest is suffering and historical opera."
Michael Ventura


And its not just the VW Beetle that is Nazi-esque look at the adoption of the black militarized police uniforms with the German style helmets. May I see your papers, please?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 09:47 PM

Elvis loved Christian songs whether it was "Milky White Way" (1944), "You'll Never Walk Alone" (1945), "It Is No Secret" (1950), "Crying In The Chapel" (1953), "I Believe" (1953), or whatever.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 09:25 PM

I never heard about Elvis and folk, but the case has been made that he listened to a lot of spirituals. That's a different kettle of fish, and it came out in his later work near the end of his life.

Back to the topic.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 06:09 PM

"Bochan ventured to Lomax that Elvis Presley stood as a great product of the Southern folk cultures." Bochan was as laughably off-point as Alan knew and Marsh wouldn't know. Presley had almost no interest in folk music, which is why he listened to successful and recent pro entertainers such as Wynonie Harris, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Hank Snow, and Dean Martin. Rock and roll music was invented by Wynonie and his professional-up-to-date-hip-black-music peers such as Wild Bill Moore (who played sax in Jazz At The Philharmonic, and made e.g. "Rock And Roll" in 1948), and Roy Brown (who said he didn't even listen to acoustic guitar blues, and made e.g. "Butcher Pete" in 1949).

Alan wanted folk music such as Sidney Stripling's (born about 32 years before Hank Snow and about 50 years before Little Richard) to be preserved. He was enormously hardworking with regard to folk music. Meanwhile, if Alan personally disliked, say, Monet, then so the heck what, and if Alan personally disliked rock and roll music, which first hit the black national charts in 1948 when Alan was 33, then also so the heck what.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Blackcatter
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 01:01 AM

First time for me reading or commenting on this thread. If you're interested in what I've said elsewhere, read the "main" thread that has dropped off the list (I think).

All I can say is that his family - his daughter, grandson, step-daughter and various nephews and nieces are all nice people. I had a chance to meet them at his funeral and they welcomed me and my friend Chip into their home even though we had never met Alan. A man who is at least partially responsible for that nice of a family can't be all bad.

Also: Hitler was an idiot. He never had an original thought. both the Autobahn and the VW were not his idea. That he approved of their production has little to do with intelligence. Hitler, like most leaders of countries have dozens of people who spend their days trying to get their boss to do, or not do millions of things. If that were not the case, Dumbya wouldn't be able to do anything productive either.

pax yall


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Venthony
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 11:47 PM

I recntly read an article in the New York Times that, in essence, stated schoolchildren don't know much about George Washington these days because the writers of modern textbooks feel that heroic white men on horseback "aren't very popular" anymore.

Maybe, maybe not.

All I know is that if it weren't for the Lomax recordings --condescending and biased as the underlying motives may have been -- my life would have been robbed of a great deal of joy.

With every good wish, Tony


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 06:47 PM

If there's anyone still needs reminding of what a different and frightening world he had to operate in, listen to the programme discussed in this thread.

And here's a link to the BBC page that for the next week anyway will provide a link to an archived tape of the programme(RealAudio)

Anybody who thinks they'd have done better than Alan Lomax, in the circumstances of his time, is very likely fooling themselves; if they are right, they must be pretty special. And the kind of special people who would have done better probably wouldn't be so certain about it themselves.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 10:09 AM

This thread runs along familiar lines, when anyone dies there good and bad points are raked over. Lomax may have been no paragon of racial tolerance, but his brilliant research and rescue of folk songs has to be acknowledged.

The Irish composer Thomas Moore was accused of pilfering old Irish melodies for his numerous songs, what harm, the melodies might have been lost forever.

And so it goes with Alan Lomax, a wee word in the ear of Tommy Makem would throw some more light on Lomax, as he spent some time listening to Tommy`s mother Sarah and was fascinated by the good womans repetoire of folk songs. Ard Mhacha.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 07:59 AM

I wish people would not indulge in the habit of judging people of one era by the standards of another . . Sure, we can and should make judgements about events, actions, etc., but, unless we are being very careful to compare our subject with the norms of the time in question (or, perhaps, with the attitudes and actions of other people of and at that time) we discredit ourselves by personalising these matters.

Just a thought - all of the more 'substantial' comments I might make have been better expressed by others.

George Hawes


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Nerd
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 05:34 AM

Okay, now I'm really pissed off at Marsh. I decided to look at The Land Where The Blues Began and see what Lomax said about the discovery of Muddy Waters. Marsh's claim is:

Lomax's obit made the front page mainly because he "discovered" Son House and Muddy Waters. But in "Can't Be Satisfied", his new Muddy Waters biography, Gordon shows that Lomax's discoveries weren't the serendipitous events the great white hunter portrayed. Lomax was led to House and then Waters by the great Negro scholar, John Work III of Fisk University. Gordon even shows Lomax plagiarizing Work, and not on a minor point. (See page 51) In his book, Lomax offers precisely one sentence about Work.

In The Land Where the Blues Began, Lomax clearly states that "people told us we must hear...Muddy Waters." In other words, he was led there. He does not make it seem serendipitous that he found MW, or make himself out to be a great White hunter.

Who is the "us?" Himself and John Work! In other words, the "one sentence" he offers about Work is precisely to say that "Work and I were led to Muddy Waters together by a third party." If this is inaccurate, so be it. But it doesn't seem to be grandstanding, or claiming "I discovered MW all by myself!"

Finally, Marsh is downright dishonest in claiming there is only one sentence about John Work. There are two. The second is the very first sentence of the book's acknowledgements, which runs: "I have many people to thank for contributions on fieldwork data--Samuel Adams, John Work, and mainly Louis Jones..." Later on Lomax gets to thanking less important people, like his father! Anyone who thinks Work did not get his due is not reading very carefully.

I think Marsh is just pissed off because Lomax didn't like Elvis. Well, guess what? At Lomax's funeral, one of Elvis's producers, Steve Belmont, recounted Elvis's enthusiasm at learning a song called "Lordy, Lordy, Lordy." Elvis asked Belmont to guess where he'd gotten it. When Belmont guessed that it must have come from a 50s group like the Comets, Elvis replied "No, that was recorded in the 1930s by two geniuses: John and Alan Lomax."

Amen, Elvis!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Nerd
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 04:52 AM

I'm still kind of mad about Dave Marsh's article above.

Just looking at Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell's bio of Leadbelly...it turns out that Alan and John Lomax's initial appointment to the LoC for collecting was for...one dollar a year! A purely symbolic payment.

The falling out with Leadbelly was not originally because he begrudged them the portion of publishing rights. It started because John Lomax gave LB post-dated checks to force LB to save some of his money (he claims he did this at the request of LB's wife). LB was pissed off and initiated legal proceedings, including trying to get rights and fees back. When LB tried to make it in NY a second time without the Lomaxes' support, though, he found out that they really HAD been working for him, essentially as manager, agent and promoter all in one. That's why they expected a portion of LB's earnings. None of this seems outrageous to me, especially as LB signed the contracts in the first place knowing their significance.

It would not make sense for Lomax to take "his name" (sic) off the song so that LB's family could make more money, anyway. If they were still impoverished after getting the same amount for the song that Lomax got (the credit was half to LB, half to John Lomax, none to Alan), he could always give them money. But in the future if they were rich and he was poor, why not retain the rights that Lomax picked up for all that work of being LB's manager, agent and patron?

Finally, that part about Peter Bochan editing the Lomax tape into Beavis and Butthead--is there anyone else here who thinks that makes Bochan look like a MUCH bigger asshole than Lomax?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: open mike
Date: 26 Jul 02 - 01:12 AM

the carter family, also have some songs credited to them which they borrowed (stole?) from other sources- but the songs remain in our memories and in the public domain because they "disseminated" them...thru recordings, broadcasts, etc. it si good but it is bad--- does the word disseminated have as a root word semin?? oh gosh how do you spell that?? semen?? those little rascals...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 12:29 PM

Very interesting thread. People are people, and we have to take the rough with the smooth.

But I appreciate your good taste, Armen, in making this a separate thread. Some people think it was a little untimely, but then again waiting a few months and then starting it when all the good things had already been said would have seemed nastier.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Melani
Date: 25 Jul 02 - 12:46 AM

Thanks, Don, for posting that link to the NPR show. I would have totally missed it otherwise.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,Frogmore
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM

Yes, I caught the NPR piece today. I admire Alan and his life's work. Beware the seduction of all this posting of opinions. It's taking some of you away from devoting yourselves to YOUR life's work.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 08:01 PM

You are so right McGrath of Harlow, it is all blazing color. But notice sometime what is the MOST colorful ... TOOTHPASTE, or DOGFOOD, or SOAP. You see that is the real purpose of T.V., to sell you things. Not news, not romance, not entertainment, but selling you things. Thank gawd I'm colorblind and know how to actually read! CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM

No, surely it's not black and white oin teh news, it all bright blazing colour. But no shades of grey.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 06:08 PM

Hmmmm? Good Grief Don! Do you actually mean that it's not all black or white? If that is the case, then there must be some shades of gray? That means I'll have to think ... a little. But if I have to think the issues through again, I'll be late for the evening news, where they tell me what to think, in black and white! Hmmm ... life gets so complicated. Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM

One hour of today's Talk of the Nation on NPR was devoted to a discussion of Alan Lomax. Two of the guests on the show were Nick Spitzer and Pete Seeger. If you missed it, you should be able to find it here. The program hasn't been archived yet, (too soon after airing) but I think they usually do. Someone did call in near the end of the program and raise the matter of copyrights. Spitzer briefly addressed the matter.

I have a couple of thoughts on this:—

1. When someone is generally and justly admired for what they have accomplished in life and the words of praise are flowing, some people feel compelled to rush in and shine a spotlight on the person's feet of clay. I find this sort of thing ingenuous. Sure, we're all human: we've all done things that we're not particularly proud of, we've all done things yesterday that we probably wouldn't do today, and we should all be aware that the admired person was not perfect. But I really question the motivation of people who feel this overwhelming need to leap up, out-shout the eulogy, and point out what they believe to be the person's dark side. What psychological need of their own makes them feel that this is necessary?

2. It is hardly fair to judge the actions and beliefs of someone years ago (especially when there is some question that the person actually performed those actions and held those beliefs) by the sensibilities of today.

3. Before we get too judgmental, perhaps we should apply the It's a Wonderful Life principle. You remember, in the movie: George Bailey, feeling that his life had come to naught, is about to hurl himself off the bridge into the river below. "It would have been better," he said, "if I'd never been born." The angel, Clarence Goodbody appears and gives him a chance to see what the world would have been like had he not been born.

What would the world be like if Alan Lomax had never been born?

Don Firth


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 05:00 PM

Just the kind of discussion to provoke me into re-reading what I have on Lomax, A.L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Frank Warner, and Carl Sandberg. Always a good read, and much more interesting than my life or the lives of newer singer-songwriters.

I'm just amazed how good a job the folks above did in crediting their sources, so the rest of us have some sense of where these songs came from.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Nerd
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 02:13 AM

Armen,

Bennett said it all. I think it's especially important to recognize that Lomax's money from copyright was most of the money he could ever expect to get, and it wasn't that much. He got what the underfunded LoC department could afford, got some University grants, and paid the rest himself. He collected because he was compelled to, certainly not because he thought he'd get rich!

Also, anyone who can paint him as a racist

1) never met him

2) never read his books

I've done both, and he was more introspective about his own position vis-a-vis race than most of us. Beyond that, he put his money, his name and his ass on the line to show the world that, for example, the African-American musical tradition drew on rich cultural resources from Africa, an assertion that could have gotten him shot if the local sherriff heard him say it. Because of this, it's hard to interpret a lot of his public behavior. He was always conscious of how his public image might affect his future abilities to collect.

BTW, Armen, it's true that he sometimes put together corny pseudo-jook joints on stage at Newport, but this wasn't for paternalistic reasons. He wanted people to get a sense of what this tradition looked like. Is it more racist to assume that the delta bluseman will be able to handle this, or to assume he is "somewhat mystified" by it? Neither position can be proved without talking to the bluesman, which Lomax did and we didn't...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Deckman
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 06:00 PM

WOW!! Like I said earlier. Here is a clear example of just how wonderful MUDCAT can be! Thank you MAX. CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 05:11 PM

I cannot remember if it is in his autobiography, but somewhere there is the story of Lomax trying to locate Son House in Mississippi, and he makes the mistake of saying, Mr. Son House, and they nearly ran him out of town. He was treading, always in that era, this fine line -- we are talking about a white man thinking that criminal and near criminal black people might have something to offer. In 1939. I think, in a weird way, that only someone like Lomax could have got away with what he did -- so maybe the Lord had use for his Southern manners, condescension and all.

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 04:08 PM

Art..........I was just going to post that.

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 04:06 PM

There's an old saw about how if you like sausage and respevt the law, you should avoid seiing how they're made. The same thing is too often true of folk music collectors.

In the case of the Lomaxes, I can only say "So what?" Both are dead; both left behind a magnificent body of work that enriches us all. It's not necessary to admire (or belittle) either of them on the basis of personality.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Mudlark
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 04:01 PM

Great post, Bennet Zurofsky. Way too easy to take actions out of 60-yr old contexts, also romantic to expect total altruism from anybody. Race, class, money...all volatile issues... Whatever else can be said, the Lomax's clearly had courage, vision and a love of the music they collected.

This is a great thread...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:49 PM

Bennet,

That's what I said.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:48 PM

Having a few problems logging in, and the only server that opened was the one that doesn't support cookies.

And of course that droll individual who just posted at 3.39 as me wasn't me. Is it possible to put a personal troll in the auction?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:44 PM

I hate it when people lose their cookies in public.

If you go to the personal page you can find out how to re-set your cookie.

Feel better!

Ron


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:39 PM

Where's my cookie? I know that my fellow guest-haters take my endlessly pretentious postings much more seriously when I'm not posting as a guest.

Joe? Are you there? I want my cookie back.

Anonymous Guest or Anonymous Guest had better not have eaten my cookie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 02:05 PM

I can't see that the blame for that bit of petty silliness on the part of whoever refused to allow any more recordings for all those years can really be laid at Alan Lomax's door.

All kinds of things can go wrong about that kind of thing without anyone really being to blame.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 12:40 PM

It seems quite probable that Alan Lomax was capable of being a bit insensitive.

Another incident which occurred in England was when Lomax recorded a video in "The Ship" at Blaxhall, Suffolk in 1953. The locals were promised that they would see the video before it was made generally available (they weren't that reluctant but were not entirely happy about the possibility of being made fools of as far as I know).

This was never done and no-one was subsequently allowed to record performances from "The Ship" for 20 years (until 1973). Unfortunately, this led to one of England's, certainly Suffolk's, most famous "singing pubs" remaining unrecorded until well after its original heyday.

In general, Alan Lomax's influence was probably very positive but there are some places where it may have been better if he hadn't trodden.

:-(
Ian


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 12:07 PM

Many of the criticisms of Lomax that are expressed above reflect an almost complete failure to appreciate the times and context in which he did his most important work. Alan Lomax was raised in Texas, i.e., he was a child of the Jim Crow South. He did most of his important collecting in the Jim Crow South. It is not, therefore, surprising, that some of the racism that was at the very heart of that culture is sometimes reflected in his work.

What is surprising, and what makes Alan, and his father John, great, is the extent to which they overcame that culture. More than any other collectors, including the commercial recording companies that limited their releases to the "race records" audience, the Lomaxes gathered the many musics of Southern Black culture, preserved them and, perhaps most importantly, dignified them as the important cultural heritage they are, preserving them in the Library of Congress, publishing them, and presenting them to an international, multi-racial, educated audience.

In "The Land Where Blues Began" Alan Lomax describes much of this work. Can you imagine the impact it must have had when he came to a small Southern town, identifying himself as from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and then sought out the Black musicians among the sharecroppers and denizens of the jook joint? Although he also recorded many White musicians in the South, his principal focus was upon Black musicians. Here he was, the voice of authority, effectively saying that this Black culure was the most important thing to be found in those towns. This certainly had an impact on Black pride and probably upon Southern White attitudes as well.

And how about going into the prisons to record the Black prisoners, i.e., the very people that the prevailing Southern White culture viewed as the lowest of the low? Those prisons essentially were a re-invention of slavery for Southern Black men. The Lomax's prison work not only discovered and preserved a great deal of wonderful music, it also opened up those prisons and their conditions to a great deal of scrutiny from non-Southern eyes that they would not have otherwise received.

John and Alan Lomax were an extremely interesting pair. If they had not been father and son it seems unlikely that they ever would have worked together. John was reputedly fairly conservative in his politics while Alan was, at the least, a close fellow traveller of the Communist Party. When one looks at Alan's most productive years, i.e., the 1940's and early 1950's (until he decided to live in England to avoid McCarthyism in the U.S.), it is plain that he had a strong political agenda that he worked hard to promote through folk song and which included racial equality as one of its principal planks. It is no coincidence that Lead Belly began to compose and sing political songs like "Bourgeoise Blues" only after he became closely associated with the Lomaxes. Alan Lomax was extremely active in promoting concerts and acting as a "svengali" for up and coming folksingers to whom he provided material, including performers like Burl Ives and Josh White whose names don't often come up in connection with Alan's obituaries. The Bear Family multi-cd set "Songs for Political Action" is a good source to get some perspective on this aspect of Alan's carreer. It seems to me that Alan is the one who largely gets the credit (or some might say blame) for folk music's strong identification with the left. Prior to that, many of folk music's better known promoters, like Henry Ford, used it to promote specifically right wing causes (cf. Adolf Hitler, another promoter of "folk music" in the 1930's).

The copyright question also needs to be placed in context. First and foremost, the Lomaxes had to make a living and they had to support their collecting activity. Contrary to what most people seem to believe, they were paid very little for their work with the Library of Congress and had to support their collecting largely from their own pockets. Collectors had long copyrighted the music they collected, see, e.g., Percy Grainger, Bela Bartok and Cecil Sharpe. The Lomaxes were probably better than most in sharing the credit with their source.

The fact is that in our culture you have to figure out a way to make some money from it if you are going to be able to continue worthwhile work. Composers and the sources of traditional songs certainly deserve their royalties, but so do people like the Lomaxes who schlepped their so-called portable recording equipment (a concept that we take for granted but which they pretty much invented), which weighed five hundred pounds or more, to remote places with no electricity to "discover" these musics, record them, and then bring them to the world, successfully promoting them to the culture at large. Copyright of traditional material is an extremely controversial and difficult subject, but it is far from plainly evil for the Lomaxes to claim royalties arising from their collecting work. They were intrepid collectors who brought us a great deal of music that it is unlikely we would have ever heard otherwise.

Their relationship with Lead Belly is also a highly complicated one, involving all of the issues referred to above and more. Lead Belly was in many ways the Lomax's colleague in collecting, as well as their greatest "discovery," and it is undeniable that at times their attitude towards him seemed condescending and their remuneration of him for his efforts seemed less than fair. (Although from what I read it seems that Alan was considerably less guilty of these sins than his father was). Nevertheless, but for the Lomaxes, Huddie Ledbetter would have likely ended his days as an unknown and undiscovered genius, worked to death in the virtual slavery of the Southern prisons. Surely the vastly improved life, the continuing fame and the international appreciation of his genius that Lead Belly would never have attained but for the Lomaxes must stand as a significant counterweight against whatever "sins" they committed against him.

-Bennet Zurofsky


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 11:03 AM

So we have the old chestnut about Adolf Hitler being responsible for the Autobahn system and VWs again. No he bloody well wasn't. The plans for the Autobahn system were lain long before he came to power. The parallels of Lomax with Guthrie (hardly a paragon of paternal virtue) and Leadbelly (not exactly a social philanthropist either) are perfectly valid. It is fair enough to recognise a man's achievement and the imperfections.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 08:49 AM

"Egotestical" - I like that. And if you had an egotestical man waving his hands aggressvely in the air to emphasise what he was saying, he'd be testiculating.

Here's today's obituary from the Guardian.

Note this sentence to put it in context, and remind people of the world in which Lomax worked, and the way things were then: "In 1935, in search of music from the Georgia Sea Islands, near Florida, he darkened his skin with walnut juice to avoid the attentions of local racists." That took guts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 07:05 AM

I find it difficult to judge anyone's entire life based on things I've heard from other people. Everyone's done good; everyone's done bad. It seems when someone's in the public eye, their lives are analyzed under a microscope, and I wonder how enormous all of our sins would seem given the same treatment.

People also learn over the years and may not be the same person at the end of life they were at various points during it. It's too easy to look at a snapshot in time and say "this was the man." You ignore the possibility people can change. I never met the man. All I know is, the place where Alan Lomax's life touched mine is full of music and is a good place.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:04 AM

"Egotestical"? Groundskeeper "Willie"? This is getting quite low, Max. :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Benjamin
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 02:59 AM

Hey, could of been any of the other Ben's at this school!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Armen Tanzerian
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 12:43 AM

OK, Benjamin, you can just join young Mr. Simpson here in detention. And no funny business -- Groundskeeper Willie will be giving me a full report.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 12:35 AM

And acceptance often can take quite a bit of time and not a small amount of real work----and then maybe the changing of the generational guard---------and the letting down of the egotistical (or egotestical) guard.

I just made up that word and, yes, I am justifiably proud !! (You are all free to use it---but please give me credit.)

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Benjamin
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 12:16 AM

Ah, Armen, I'm getting the impression that your a Simpsons fan!

Now seriously, I've heard many of these stories when I talked to Sparky Rucker back in 2000. He seemed quite bitter. He refused any association with Mr. Lomax telling me "he know's what he did!" If all of this is true, I really can't blame him. As harsh as it can be, you sometimes just have to accept the good with the bad.

Benjamin


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 11:42 PM

part 2

And whenever possible I'd tape the music of the people I was meeting "out there". I fancied myself doing what Alan Lomax had done in order to issue those early Columbia Records LPs showcasing the music of places like Scotland where I first heard people like Ewan MacColl (albeit English)and Jeanie Robertson. That same year --'59--I heard a fellow named SANDY PATON at a Sunday afternoon hootenanny at Chicago's Gate Of Horn. He was freshly back from Great Britain where he collected from that same great woman who was on that album I'd taken out of the Chicago Public Library. (Amazingly that is now out on CD on Rounder.)

These people set the standards that defined my life's work. I know it was valuable----in spite of any attempts by anyone to try to marginalize that early work simply because aspects of these people's lives fell short of being as perfect as, say, a priest or other generally perfect human beings.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 11:19 PM

An old Chicago friend of mine, George Hahn, got reparations cash from the German government for the deaths of his entire family during the holocaust. The first thing he did was go out and purchase a VW Beetle. He liked the car a lot.

Just a thing that happened...

Carol and I, when first married in '67, had a small inheritance after my mother's death. We bought a new VW microbus for $2,400.00 and then travelled the first 3 years we were married. Gas was .30 a gallon then. Just took our music and our books and dog and cat and sang & camped out in almost every state in the union and all through Alberta---only did stop when we settled in Oregon for a bit. I figured I was "retiring first" because my father had died at 48 and I was sure I'd go early too. Climbed the mountains when we had the energy. Best choice I ever made. Neither Carol nor I can do that now. Best car I ever owned. I did drive it for one full summer and half of another with the heat on full 'cause the cash wasn't there to fix it. In winter it didn't need fixing.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Haruo
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 11:11 PM

Well, I just have to mention that on my websites (La Lilandejo, Songlist, etc.) the flag of St. George, despite its antedating the late World Cup, intends no extreme dexterity, but merely signifies "First Aid for the Esperantically Challenged".

Liland


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM

I'll elucidate BH.

The English national Flag, the flag of St George, until a few years ago was rarely seem except flying on Church of England steples and so forth. However in recent years it's started to be used by some rightwing mobs, and people have tended to look suspiciously at it.

However over the period of the World Cup this summer the whole place blossomed with them, and it seems to have lost those overtones.

Partly because in quite a lot of situations it ended up being flown alongside the Irish tricolour, that being the other local nation in the championship.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM

This stuff is of course worth talking about, though when he's not even cold is maybe not the time I'd have chosen to deal with it.Anybody interested in folk music will have studied Alan Lomax's writng and work, will have been a bit disturbed by some of the slightly odd tone of some of his comments about black people,will have been upset about some of the royalty stories etc etc.So? he came from a world which was his world. He tried to get beyond it and succeeded. he did fantastic things, and the fact is we'd not be sitting here talking the way we are it wasn't for him and his like. So Leadbelly was a murderer. Woody Guthrie was personally a complete shit. Alan Lomax did this and did that. OK. But we are the richer for what they did. I salute them.For the wonderful things.
I'll cheer the whingeing GUESTS and people of their ilk when they do something wonderful too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,Frogmore
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM

All very interesting. "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" At least cool it for a day or two. Rabid fact-finders/academics are nice, but not essential. A.P. Carter collected songs. Was he perfect? Lotsa people commenting on this one will be gone in 30 years. Or less. Now get back to your own life's work please and we'll think about all this - and maybe respond later. Maybe not. I happen to care a lot about some kinda jerky people. They've got their good points.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Deckman
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:44 PM

This is proving to be a very rich thread, folks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: BH
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:41 PM

I do not understand. Please clarify.

BH


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 13 August 2:21 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.