The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #3551   Message #18025
Posted By: Alice
21-Dec-97 - 01:22 PM
Thread Name: Songbook recommendations
Subject: RE: Songbooks
Joe and Bruce, the edition I have is a black hardbound ©60 copy that I believe is a first edition. It is 623 pages long. On the title page is written, "THE FOLK SONGS OF NORTH AMERICA in the English Language by Alan Lomax, Melodies and guitar chords transcribed by Peggy Seeger, with one hundred piano arrangements by Matyas Seiber and Don Banks". I know there is the same hardbound copy in our local library, and my son's primary school teacher has one that he uses in his classroom. It is a well know source among folkies in these parts. The book is dedicated "To my father, John A. Lomax, who broke the trail". I find it very rich in historical information, as well as commentary on the collection of the songs. Each song has detailed notes regarding its history and comments on the recording of the source. For example, notes on the song "Irene" begin with, "The Archive of American Folk Song", which now numbers some 60,000 songs in its files of field recordings, came into actual being one broiling summer day in the State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. The first recording we took on our new portable equipment was of the state's prisoner, Lead Belly, singing "Irene Goodnight". We were powerfully impressed by his panther-like grace and his extraordinary good looks: his already snow-white hair set off the aquiline features and the proudly gazing eyes inherited from his African and Cherokee Indian ancestors. We were amazed by his mastery of his great, geen painted twelve string guitar, but we were deeply moved by the flawless tenor voice which rang out across the green cotton fields like a big sweet toned trumpet. We believe Lead Belly when he said, "I'ze the king of the twelve-string guitar players in the world." My father and I had come to the penitentiary hunting folk songs." There are 317 such commentaries as well as a detailed preface in the original edition of this book. I definitely find it a work of a major American folk song collector, not just an anthology of songs. If future editions fell short of the original, it is an injustice to Lomax and his father. For Irish songs, my favorites are Herbert Hughes (four volumes), who not only went around collecting from the common people of the country, but was an intelligent musician and arranger and also Colm O'Lochlainn, who's Irish Street Ballads have been reprinted a number of times. Alice in Montana