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Alan Lomax, assistant in charge
preview of book Alan Lomax, assistant in charge
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Alan Lomax, assistant in charge

Author:
Editor: Ronald D Cohen
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication Date: 2010
Category: General
Grades: Highly recommended
Number of Pages: 431
Appropriate for: All readers
Choice rating: 
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eBook eBook ISBN: 9781604738018  
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About this title

Alan Lomax (1915-2002) was one of the most stimulating and influential cultural workers of the twentieth century. He 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. Here he speaks for himself through his voluminous correspondence.

About author
Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax (1915-2002) was one of the most stimulating and influential cultural workers of the twentieth century. He 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.



About editor
Ronald D Cohen

An award-winning and Grammy-nominated producer, Ronald D. Cohen, Gary, Indiana, is the author of several books, including Work and Sing: A History of Occupational and Labor Union Songs in the United States; Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage; A History of Folk Music Festivals in the United States: Feasts of Musical Celebration; and Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997.



Reviews

Lomax, Alan. Alan Lomax, assistant in charge: the Library of Congress letters, 1935-1945, ed. by Ronald D. Cohen. University Press of Mississippi, 2010. 414p index afp; ISBN 9781604738001; ISBN 9781604738018 e-book. Reviewed in 2011oct CHOICE.

These letters reveal the mind and methods of an American cultural icon, a man whose project, as the head of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, was to transform America's understanding of its folk music. Lomax's vision was inclusive, involving not only British ballads (the focus of prior collecting and research) but American-made ballads, songs, and instrumental music from all regions and ethnic groups. His daily work involved collecting, archiving, promoting, issuing recordings, and publicizing folk music in print and on radio. He corresponded, as these letters reveal, with a vast network of folksong collectors and music industry executives. To have all this in Lomax's own words is to show how the canon of American folk music was shaped, collected, and represented in the last century. More thorough annotation would have made this into an even more remarkable package--Lomax was such an important cultural figure that he deserves the same depth of annotation that editors give to letters of such greats as Hemingway and Faulkner--but this is also the kind of project that suggests itself for a wiki on a Web page maintained by the publisher.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- J. T. Titon, Brown University

Copyright 2013 American Library Association.


 
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