Alan Lomax : Selected Writings, 1934-1997 book cover
1st Edition

Alan Lomax
Selected Writings, 1934-1997

Edited By

Ronald Cohen

ISBN 9780415938556
Published April 3, 2005 by Routledge
382 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $39.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

I. 1934–1950: The Early Collecting Years Introduction by Ed Kahn 1. "Sinful" Songs of the Southern Negro 2. Haitian Journey 3. Music in Your Own Back Yard 4. Songs of the American Folk 5. Preface: Our Singing Country 6. 14 Traditional Spanish Songs from Texas 7. Reels and Work Songs 8. Mister Ledford and the TVA 9. America Sings the Saga of America 10. Folk Music in the Roosevelt Era II. The 1950s: World Music Introduction by Andrew L.Kaye and Matthew Barton 11. Tribal Voices in Many Tongues 12. Making Folklore Available 13. Galician Music 14. Italian Folk Music 15. The Folk Song of Italy 16. Folk Song Style: Notes on a Systematic Approach to the Study of Folk Song 17. Skiffle: Why Is It So Popular? and Where Is It Going? 18. Folk Song Style 19. Saga of a Folksong Hunter III. The Folk Revival (1960s) Introduction by Ronald D.Cohen 20. The "Folkniks"—and the Songs They Sing 21. Leadbelly’s Songs 22. Bluegrass Background: Folk Music with Overdrive 23. Getting to Know Folk Music 24. Folk Song Traditions Are All Around Us 25. The Good and the Beautiful in Folksong IV. Cantometrics and Cultural Equity: The Academic Years Introduction by Gage Averill 26. Song Structure and Social Structure 27. Choreometrics: A Method for the Study of Cross-cultural Pattern in Film 28. Appeal for Cultural Equity 29. Cinema, Science, and Cultural Renewal V. Final Writings 30. The Global Jukebox 31. Preface to the 1993 Edition of Mr. Jelly Roll 32. Sounds of the South 33. Brown Girl in the Ring 34. Introduction to Katharine D.Newman, Never Without a Song: The Years and Songs of Jennie Devlin, 1865–1952

View More



Ronald Cohen (volume editor) is professor of History at Indiana University, Northwest (Gary, IN). He is the author of many books, including Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970 (U of Massachusetts Press, 2002). He lives in Gary, Indiana.


"Few researchers have defined a field of study so decisively as the Lomaxes did American folk music during the early 20th century. It is difficult to imagine a grander cultural legacy than the one [Lomax] left behind. Many scholars have speculated on cultural memory; Alan Lomax lived it." -- The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Selected Writings edited and well annotated by the respected folk-music historian Ronald D. Cohen, fits neatly in the literature of Alan Lomax vainglory." -- The New Republic
"Selected Writings is a full-bodied illustration of how Lomax became the pre-eminent scholar in his field." -- Austin Chronicle
"Selected Writings celebrates Lomax's contributions as a writer, scholar and radio announcer...and help[s] us understand why his musical legacy is a defining part of the American experience." -- BOOKFORUM
"This fascinating collection of highly respectful essays (and accompanying CD) proves Lomax actually learned from his subjects rather than using them to validate preexisting academic theory." -- Blender
"Alan Lomax is the most adventurous and exciting musicologist we have ever had. He almost single-handedly, after working with his father, captured the songs of African-Americans and country people, the have nots . . . with his burning social conscience and curiosity of original American music. . . He was a true American original, with his air of wonder, always open to surprises." -- Studs Terkel
"Most collectors dig up dead bones only to bury them in another, their libraries. But Alan Lomax succeeded in spreading the idea that a people could be proud of their old songs, and could continue these old traditions in spite of new times, new temptations, new terrors." -- Pete Seeger
"For over sixty years Alan Lomax devoted his life and scholarship to traditional music and the musicians who carried the legacy. From his early articles in the 1930s, on to his last writings in the 1990s, Lomax introduced American audiences to a world of creative musical excellence, virtually ignored by and invisible to the major media. With an uncanny knack for recognizing artistic excellence and an unflagging energy and determination, Alan Lomax discovered and documented some of the most important traditional folk musicians in our nation." -- Peggy A. Bulger, Director, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
"A good sampler of the writings of America's tireless folk music collector." -- merrell NOden Mojo
"Even if you've read Lomax's awarding-winning Land Where The Blues Began, you'll find this collection fascinating. With essays ranging from Haitian music to Folk Music In The Roosevelt Era and even skiffle, it shows the breadth of Lomax's interests. A few entries are a bit academic, but most crackle with the wit, passion, and poetry of this extraordinary man." -- Merell Noden Mojo
"Truth be told, Songlines would probably not exist had there been no Alan Lomax...Lomax's innate love of and belief in people and their art was the driving force of his life; this book, which is a very good read, demonstrates that love.
It also makes you want to hear the recordings...and that's surely no bad thing"
." -- SONGLINES magazine
"This book is superbly annotated with an excellent bibliography. Right now, it's the closest we have to a biography of Alan Lomax. The inclusion of these audio tracks rounds out the picture of a complex man who has left behind a musical legacy and the tools with which to forge a deeper understanding of our American culture as well as our collective immigrant past. Bravo to Ronald D. Cohen for a superb job." -- In Print