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John Lomax's credibility, an example

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Miles 01 Nov 21 - 04:21 PM
Lighter 01 Nov 21 - 03:50 PM
Miles 01 Nov 21 - 02:47 PM
Lighter 01 Nov 21 - 07:09 AM
Miles 31 Oct 21 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 30 Oct 21 - 12:11 PM
Miles 11 Oct 21 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 20 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 20 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 20 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 20 - 12:29 PM
Jim Carroll 26 May 20 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,Starship 23 May 20 - 10:26 PM
Reinhard 23 May 20 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Starship 23 May 20 - 07:32 PM
cnd 23 May 20 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,Starship 23 May 20 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Starship 23 May 20 - 03:17 PM
Joe Offer 22 May 20 - 07:44 PM
femuse 22 May 20 - 01:00 PM
meself 22 May 20 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Starship 22 May 20 - 11:39 AM
cnd 22 May 20 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,Starship 22 May 20 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Starship 22 May 20 - 07:41 AM
Mr Red 22 May 20 - 05:59 AM
Joe Offer 21 May 20 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Starship 21 May 20 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 21 May 20 - 08:03 PM
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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Miles
Date: 01 Nov 21 - 04:21 PM

Just caught a typo by the way, the "October 18, 1910" "El Paso Times" mention should obviously be "August 18, 1910."


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Nov 21 - 03:50 PM

Many thanks, Miles.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Miles
Date: 01 Nov 21 - 02:47 PM

Thanks Lighter!

Not a dumb question, rather a flattering one, but no, I am not.

“Lomax” just happens to be an often encountered name, obviously, when one is interested in blues-related issues.

The draft I mention is available on the Library of Congress website.

It seems OK to share non-commercial links on Mudcat (?), so here it is:

https://www.loc.gov/resource/afc1933001.afc1933001_ms402/?sp=8


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Nov 21 - 07:09 AM

Miles, I appreciated it too!

And I'm intrigued by your reference to a "draft" of Lomax's book. Are you (dumb question) working on a big Lomax project.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Miles
Date: 31 Oct 21 - 04:51 PM

Impressively long post, I would mostly say in retrospect!
But thanks for the kind words!


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 30 Oct 21 - 12:11 PM

Impressive research Miles!


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Miles
Date: 11 Oct 21 - 11:54 AM

Hi Joseph,

As someone not as expert as yourself on J. Lomax, I would say that I agree with all your points, save for your last hypotheses on dates - though I believe you were close.

If Dink did exist, which I agree is likely, Lomax almost certainly met her one Saturday between February 26 and July 23, 1910, likely not after June 11.

In a draft of Adventures of a Ballad Hunter—and possibly elsewhere, though I did not find it anywhere framed exactly this way—he writes: “Years ago while teaching English at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, Professor James C. Nagle, the head ofethe [sic] Civil Engineering Department, served as supervising engineer for a levee which was being thrown up just across the Brazos River from College Station. One Saturday he invited me down to record the singing of the Negro workers building the levee. There I met Dink of Mississippi, the “woman” of one of the mule skinners.”

Two points here help us narrow down the timeframe:
1/ The construction of the levee
2/ The fact that Lomax was still teaching at the A&M College – the syntax of Lomax’s sentence could be somehow confusing, but it is indeed Lomax, and not Nagle, who was teaching English.

1/ The levee Lomax refers to was known by various names, “Brazos levee,” “Burleson County levee,” and others. Being built on the southwest bank of the river, it belonged to Burleson County, when Bryan and College Station are in Brazos County.

Its construction began at some point between February 26 and March 1, 1910.
And it was completed at some point between December 19 and December 22, 1910

By May 30, 1909, Nagle had completed an estimate for the project:

“The report by Prof. Nagle of the Agricultural and Mechanical college, the civil engineer selected by the commissioners to survey and make estimate on the proposed Brazos levee, was filed with the county judge yesterday. The report shows the entire length of proposed levee to be twenty-seven and a half miles, estimated cost $220,000.” (The Eagle [Bryan, TX] June 1, 1909, p. 1)

By September 1909, the work was expected to start anytime soon:

“The actual work of moving the dirt will begin just as soon as the corps are gathered and out of the way, and this doubtless will be accomplished by the time the survey is completed.” (The Eagle, September 13, p. 1)

Yet, by January 1910, legal matters were still preventing the beginning of construction:

“Just a week ago was the day set for opening bids for the sale of the bonds and for the construction of the levee, but that morning they were served with an injunction forbidding them to sell the bonds or let the contract till further orders from the court. . . . It was agreed by both sides to the controversy last night that the injunction be dissolved and that the levee be constructed. . . . Work on the levee will begin as soon as possible . . . . Among those who attended [the meet]ing yesterday were: . . . Prof. J. C. Nagle, of Bryan . . . .” (The Eagle, January 28, 1910, p. 4)

On February 25, 1910, a special train arrived in Bryan:

“LEVEE BUILDERS ARRIVED
A special train . . . pulled into the I. and G. N. station at 10 o’clock this morning, having just arrived from Memphis, Tenn., . . . . The train was forwarded from Memphis by Roach & Stansell, contractors for the construction of the levee along the Brazos river opposite Bryan in Burleson county. It brought as passengers 115 people, including the superintendent . . . and 90 negro laborers, several negro women and children . . . .” (The Eagle, February 25, 1910, p. 1)

Dink and her son may have been in the latter group, though there were also subcontractors with their own workers. That the train came from Memphis is consistent with Lomax’s claim that women on the camp had been brought from Memphis. Lomax also claimed that the men were from Vicksburg. Why a Memphis contractor would have brought men from Vicksburg via Memphis, is not totally clear, but Roach & Stansell had worked, it seems, on levees not far from Vicksburg, both on the Mississippi and Tensas rivers.

At this point, the construction of the Brazos levee was about to start:

“Mr. Bob St. John [one of the subcontractors], who has charge of the outfit that came several days ago, was in the city today and stated to the reporter that he had his camp all up and everything ready for business and would perhaps break the first dirt tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then Monday sure.” (The Eagle, February 25, 1910, p. 1)

By March 3, 1910, work had indeed been going on for a few days:

“Mr. Bob St. John, foreman of the first outfit that arrived to work on the levee, was in the city today. He stated to the reporter that he had been at work for several days and was making good progress.” (The Eagle, March 3, 1910, p. 3)

By September 1910, Nagle hoped the work would be finished within a few weeks:

“[Nagle] expects the Burleson county work to be finished about the middle of November” (The Eagle, September 28, 1910, p. 1)

But it was completed at some point between December 19 and December 22, 1910:

“BRAZOS RIVER LEVEE COMPLETED – MEETING HELD IN CALDWELL FOR ITS ACCEPTANCE . . . It was not completed until this week” (The Eagle, December 22, 1910, p. 3)

2/ J. Lomax resigned from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas at the end of the 1909/1910 session, to join the University of Texas in Austin, for the next session:

“COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Jne 25,- G. H. Blackmon, who graduated this year in the agricultural and horticultural work of the Agricultural and Mechanical college of Texas, has been elected by the board to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of E. A. Miller . . . . Others of the teaching force who resigned were John A. Lomax of the department of English, who returns to the University of Texas, where he graduated.” (The Houston Post, June 26, 1910, p. 7)

The 1909/1910 session at the A&M College closed on June 14, 1910:

“READY FOR COMMENCEMENT
The thirty-fourth annual session of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas will close in the coming week. The annual commencement . . . will close with the final ball Tuesday night. . . . THE COMMENCEMENT PROGRAM . . . TUESDAY, JUNE 14. . . . 10 p. m.- Final ball.” (The Houston Post, June 12, 1910, p. 8)

If Lomax’s account is accurate in his draft, he met Dink after the building of the levee had begun (at some point soon after February 25, 1910, the first Saturday being February 26), and before the end of the 1909/1910 session at the A & M College (at some point soon before June 14, 1910, the last Saturday being June 11).

We may extend the timeframe since Lomax may have remained in or close to College Station at the beginning of the 1910 summer holidays, and still have somehow considered himself a teacher at the A & M College. However, he spent at least the second half of this vacation collecting cowboy ballads far from there. Being more than 650 miles away by August 1, it seems unlikely that he would have been on the Brazos levee on Saturday July 30, which brings us to Saturday July 23, 1910 at the latest:

“Prof. John A. Lomax . . . passed through Houston yesterday en route to College Station, where he has lived for the last three years. . . . Prof. Lomax will begin a vacation trip in the near future along the Texas frontier, where he will continue the work of collecting the songs of the days of the “long-horn” and the lariat.” (Houston Post, July 14, 1910, p. 7).

“Collecting Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads (. . .)
Deming, N. M., Aug. 1. – . . . . John A. Lomax, who is connected with the university extension work of the University of Texas, is in Deming. Mr. Lomax holds a traveling scholarship from Harvard university which enables him to travel over the west collecting cowboy ballads and frontier songs. . . . Mr. Lomax will spend several days in this vicinity before leaving for Arizona and the coast. He will return to Texas by way of Cheyenne, Wyo., where he will attend the great frontier reunion.” (The Sante Fe New Mexican, August 1, 1910, p. 6)

“John A. Lomax leaves Deming tomorrow evening for Cheyenne, Wyoming, to attend the frontier reunion at that place. He will go by way of California.” (El Paso Times, October 18, 1910, p. 12)

By about September 8, 1910, Lomax was in Austin, preparing the new session at the University of Texas:

“UNIVERSITY FACULTY RETURNING TO AUSTIN
(. . .)
Austin, Tex., Sept. 18 - . . . Mr. John A. Lomax, the assistant director of extension, and secretary of the faculty, has been in Austin for the last ten days and is beginning a publicity campaign in the interest of a greater university.” (The Galveston Daily News, September 19, 1910, p. 4)


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 20 - 12:56 PM

The cylinder of Dink is lost, by all accounts. What Lomax handwrote based on the cylinder (which still exists) might include him throwing in a Katie Adams stanza that he'd learned from a riverman because he liked it, for all we know. And if that, other non-Dink stanzas for all we know. We can't listen to the cylinder.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 20 - 12:47 PM

"in the summer of 1909 or summer of 1910" Sorry, this should read "in the summer of 1908 or summer of 1909."


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 20 - 12:39 PM

_Our Singing Country_ was the 1941 book I mentioned. I think the guys who wrote the late '40s pop song had seen it.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 20 - 12:29 PM

Regarding would those three singers sing the same stanza that similarly, realistically no (and you look up what Enoch Brown really sang for J. Lomax and... where is it), but maybe this helps:

In his 1912 letter printed in the Donaldsville _Chief_ the very distinctive
"Long come the Katie Adams with her headlight turned downstream
And her side-wheel a-knocking, 'Great-God-I-been-redeem'"

is attributed to the black "Mississippi riverman."

But much later he's saying he learned it from Dink, in 1908, or 1904, depending on when he's writing. (If Dink existed, which I think she did, it seems likely that he recorded her in the summer of 1909 or summer of 1910 while he was mostly concentrating on cowboy songs, funded by two guys from Harvard he knew. His story that he later tried to look up Dink in Mississippi and someone there knew who he was talking about rings rather false.)

His 1917 article has lyrics lifted without credit from Prescott Webb's 1915 article in the Journal of American Folklore about bluesman Floyd Canada; some of those he altered for the 1917 article and some not. So in some cases that's Dink pretend-singing what Floyd Canada sang about five years after her, and he does have a qualification in the article that Dink didn't really sing everything he's saying she sang. (!) But no mention of Canada and Webb.

Anyway, caveat emptor.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 20 - 11:43 AM

I assume THIS is available to non-subscribers to Academia - it seems well worth having
I have the hard copy but am always happy to have digitised versions
Jim


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 23 May 20 - 10:26 PM

LOL. So that's how. Thank you again, Reinhard.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Reinhard
Date: 23 May 20 - 10:23 PM

Just scroll three pages to the right?


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 23 May 20 - 07:32 PM

LOL, thank you. Couldn't find my glasses. Now I have 'em. So I'll rephrase myself: BUT, I don't know how to get at p.4B.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: cnd
Date: 23 May 20 - 06:24 PM

Though it looks a lot like a 48, that says 4B, which is page 7 on the Google paper viewer


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 23 May 20 - 03:19 PM

Yeah. BUT, I don't know how to get at p.48.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 23 May 20 - 03:17 PM

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=20010603&id=f0ogAAAAIBAJ&sjid=J6YEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6206,334816

Hopt that link works.


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Subject: ADD:It Takes a Long Long Train with a Red Caboose
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 May 20 - 07:44 PM

Phrases in blues songs have a habit of being repeated over and over again, by various singers. I'm trying to find more context for the Singing Country quote. I'm searching for my Ruby Pickens Tartt book because I'm sure that's the Mrs. Tartt Lomax refers to. The phrase also was used by Peggy Lee and Dinah Shore in 1947, so I'm sure that by the time Lomax published his book in 1949, lots of people were singing it.

IT TAKES A LONG LONG TRAIN WITH A RED CABOOSE
Dick Charles / Lawrence W Marks Jr

as recorded by
Peggy Lee with Dave Barbour & his Orchestra
1947

also recorded by
Dinah Shore '47


I went out to the depot to meet the twelve-o-two,
He wrote me he'd be on it but the train went right on through!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee! Hear that whistle say,
"It takes a long long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away!".

The engineer was wavin' as the train went down the track,
I felt so heavy hearted that I couldn't wave him back!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee! Hear that whistle say,
"It takes a long long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away!".

I listen to that lonesome whistle,
Listen to that mournful bell;
The echo said, "I told you so!",
But my heart said, "Fare thee well!".

I stood there in the station with his letter in my hand,
Cried just like a baby 'cause I lost my lovin' man!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee! Hear that whistle say,
"It takes a long long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away!".

I listen to that lonesome whistle,
Listen to that mournful bell;
The echo said, "I told you so!",
But my heart said, "Fare thee well!".

I know he didn't miss me 'cause he's always on the dot;
He told me that he loved me but I guess he loves me not!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee! Hear that whistle say,
"It takes a long long train with a red caboose to carry my blues away!".
Hoo-oo-oo-ee!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee!
Hoo-oo-oo-ee! Carry my blues away!


Discogs.com attributes the Peggy Lee version to songwriters Dick Charles and Larry Marks, recorded on Capitol by Lee in early 1947. The Dinah Shore recording was released in August 1947.


Here's Peggy Lee (1947): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8Kfx5jsAyE

Dinah Shore (1947): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSJ9f8ZJeQ8

Patti Page (date unknown): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMoQQ1oBzFU

The Browns (date unknown): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Lu1qXgfjM

Janet Seidel (tribute to Peggy Lee): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxksflzXfKE

There's a nice recent recording by the Roe Family Singers (click) of Minneapolis.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: femuse
Date: 22 May 20 - 01:00 PM

in 1928, in "Rainbow around my shoulder ...." Odum started with the songs ... of one armed-laborer named

John Wesley 'left wing' Gordon

https://tinyurl.com/y9oxzw49


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: meself
Date: 22 May 20 - 01:00 PM

I suppose I'm butting in to some conversation that's been going on for years, so forgive me if I'm missing the point but ... is there any reason that the stanza could not have been sung by all three singers? Would anyone's 'credibility' be impugned?


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 22 May 20 - 11:39 AM

I had something written by Mr Scott that would have been helpful. Idiot me read it, closed it and made the second post. Because I clear browsing data frequently, by the time I realized I should have at least bookmarked the site it was too late. It wasn't as Mr Red said something to do with permutations of Mr Scott's post. All I can say is %$#@, and %$#@ again.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: cnd
Date: 22 May 20 - 10:37 AM

It could be that it's just a floating line that Lomax said multiple people sang? In other words, he's not attributing authorship to them, but just mentioning that they sang it.

I'll admit that I haven't checked the sources for their context, though.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 22 May 20 - 08:11 AM

Crap. I can't find it again. I'll check Google Images, because right now I have no idea. Later. (Perhaps Mr Scott will be kind enough ????)


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 22 May 20 - 07:41 AM

I read it but can remember how I got to it. I don't think I had his name in the search. I will have to try and recreate my search later today. Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 May 20 - 05:59 AM

I just read your excellent article on the www

What article was this? I can't find anything with numerous permutations of the names n the OP.


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 May 20 - 09:10 PM

You kinda lost us there, Joseph. You're referring to page 348 of Our Singing Country (Folk Song U.S.A.), the 1949 book by John and Alan Lomax.

And yeah, I admit I get frustrated reading John Lomax, because he leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Alan Lomax is much better, but I think the trade of collecting had become much more sophisticated by the time Alan came of age.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 21 May 20 - 08:35 PM

I just read your excellent article on the www. I have a question. Is the John Wesley Gordon you just mentioned the same as John Wesley 'left wing' Gordon?


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Subject: John Lomax's credibility, an example
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 21 May 20 - 08:03 PM

If you read J. Lomax's 1941 book you'll come away believing that the (unusual, in the second line) stanza

If I feels tomorrow like I feels today
Take a long freight train with a red caboose to carry my blues away

was sung by Enoch Brown.

He wrote a 1939 article that said this stanza was from John Wesley Gordon, who hadn't been discovered by Howard Odum until the mid-'20s.

His 1917 article filed this stanza under a blues attributed to the female singer "Dink."


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