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Alan Lomax: Another View

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Armen Tanzerian 22 Jul 02 - 02:31 PM
Bill D 22 Jul 02 - 02:56 PM
catspaw49 22 Jul 02 - 03:02 PM
Big Mick 22 Jul 02 - 03:06 PM
Giac 22 Jul 02 - 03:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 04:01 PM
Ron Olesko 22 Jul 02 - 04:18 PM
katlaughing 22 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 05:22 PM
Ron Olesko 22 Jul 02 - 05:44 PM
Mudlark 22 Jul 02 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 22 Jul 02 - 06:04 PM
Big Mick 22 Jul 02 - 06:17 PM
Peter T. 22 Jul 02 - 06:23 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 06:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 06:29 PM
Deckman 22 Jul 02 - 06:37 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Jul 02 - 07:09 PM
BH 22 Jul 02 - 07:32 PM
Amos 22 Jul 02 - 07:36 PM
Armen Tanzerian 22 Jul 02 - 07:54 PM
Bobert 22 Jul 02 - 08:05 PM
DougR 22 Jul 02 - 08:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Jul 02 - 08:31 PM
GUEST,Fact Checker 22 Jul 02 - 08:44 PM
Bobert 22 Jul 02 - 08:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 09:00 PM
Barry Finn 22 Jul 02 - 09:14 PM
BH 22 Jul 02 - 09:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 09:38 PM
BH 22 Jul 02 - 09:41 PM
Deckman 22 Jul 02 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,Frogmore 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM
greg stephens 22 Jul 02 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM
Haruo 22 Jul 02 - 11:11 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 11:19 PM
Art Thieme 22 Jul 02 - 11:42 PM
Benjamin 23 Jul 02 - 12:16 AM
Art Thieme 23 Jul 02 - 12:35 AM
Armen Tanzerian 23 Jul 02 - 12:43 AM
Benjamin 23 Jul 02 - 02:59 AM
Chanteyranger 23 Jul 02 - 03:04 AM
Jeri 23 Jul 02 - 07:05 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 08:49 AM
alanabit 23 Jul 02 - 11:03 AM
Bennet Zurofsky 23 Jul 02 - 12:07 PM
IanC 23 Jul 02 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 03:39 PM
Ron Olesko 23 Jul 02 - 03:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jul 02 - 03:48 PM
Art Thieme 23 Jul 02 - 03:49 PM
Mudlark 23 Jul 02 - 04:01 PM
dick greenhaus 23 Jul 02 - 04:06 PM
Big Mick 23 Jul 02 - 04:08 PM
Peter T. 23 Jul 02 - 05:11 PM
Deckman 23 Jul 02 - 06:00 PM
Nerd 24 Jul 02 - 02:13 AM
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Don Firth 24 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM
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Subject: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Armen Tanzerian
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 02:31 PM

A friend recently passed along the following. I am not acquainted with the author, but I find myself agreeing more than not. I have heard a couple of stories of Lomax's behavior at Newport -- standing up two somewhat mystified Mississippi Delta bluesman in front of a largely white audience and instructing them to conduct a "carving session", for instance -- that have more than a tinge of paternalism, not to say racism, about them.

MR. BIG STUFF Dave Marsh

Seeing Alan Lomax's obituary on the front page of the New York Times irked the hell out of me. Harry Smith syndrome all over again-the Great White "Discoverer" as the axis of cultural genesis. Lomax, wrote Jon Pareles, "advocated what he called 'cultural equity: the right of every culture to have equal time on the air and equal time in the classroom.'"

He did?

In 1993, when Lomax published The Land Where the Blues Began, his memoir of blues research in the deep South, Peter Bochan invited him to do a WBAI interview. Bochan ventured to Lomax that Elvis Presley stood as a great product of the Southern folk cultures. Lomax firmly denied this, and said that Bochan couldn't even know that Presley had listened as a boy to Sister Rosetta Tharpe's gospel radio show because "You weren't there." He said this so persistently and adamantly-with all the stupid "folklorist" purism that ruined the folk music revival-that Bochan went home and intercut Lomax's prissy voice and dumb assertions with excerpts from Beavis and Butthead. It aired that way.

Even sticking to the blues, Lomax cut a dubious figure. As a veteran blues observer wrote me, "Don't get too caught up in grieving for Alan Lomax. For every fine musical contribution that he made, there was an evil venal manipulation of copyright, publishing and ownership of the collected material."

The most notorious concerns "Goodnight Irene." Lomax and his father recorded Leadbelly's song first, so when the song needed to be formally copyrighted because the Weavers were about to have a huge hit with it, representatives of the Ledbetter family approached him. Lomax agreed that this copyright should be established. He adamantly refused to take his name off the song, or to surrender income from it, even though Leadbelly's family was impoverished in the wake of his death two years earlier.

Lomax believed folk culture needed guidance from superior beings like himself. Lomax told Bochan what he believed; nothing in poor people's culture truly happened unless someone like him documented it. He hated rock'n'roll-down to instigating the assault against Bob Dylan's sound system at Newport in '65-because it had no need of ediation by experts like himself.

The nature of the expert mattered, too. 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. He eliminated Work from his second Mississippi trip. He also burned Muddy Waters for the $20 he promised for making the records.

Maybe the fact that Lomax served as a folk music "missionary" (to use Bob Dylan's term) offsets all this. Provided that it doesn't turn out that Lomax used and discarded ethnic workers worldwide the way he used Work, I guess there's a case to be made. But I do hope that people understand that when Pareles says that "Mr. Lomax wasn't interested in simply discovering stars," part of the meaning is that he didn't want them to get in the way of his self-importance.

Sometime soon, we need to figure out why it is that, when it comes to cultures like those of Mississippi black people, we celebrate the milkman more than the milk. Meanwhile, every sentence that will be uttered about Lomax this week-including these-would be better used to describe the great musicians he recorded in the U.S., the Bahamas, and elsewhere. Reading Gordon's book serves as a good corrective.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 02:56 PM

ummmm...I avoided posting on the other thread, because I have met/seen Lomax twice, and I got the distinct impression that the general tone of the above was true. *sigh*.. The words 'pompous' and 'condescending' come to mind.

I do not wish to detract from what he accomplished, nor malign the recently departed, I just know from my own experience that I doubt I would have been able to be civil to Mr. Lomax, had I dealt with him on a daily basis.

People come as a package...you get the good and the bad together. I respect what he did that was good, while hoping that his shortcomings are avoided by future folkloreists and compilers.

'nuff said....


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 03:02 PM

Excellent post Bill. The bitter and the sweet are often packaged together.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 03:06 PM

Well said, Bill. And thanks, Arman, for posting that.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Giac
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 03:28 PM

Thanks, Armen, and Bill.

Having heard such accounts for years, I, too, declined to post on the other thread. Likewise, this is not to devalue the man's work, but it is in protest of the denial of credit and remuneration to those who deserved it.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 04:01 PM

Without Alan Lomax we'd have lost most of the legacy of the people whom he's supposed to have exploited. Thanks to him we can learn to appreciate them, and learn from them.

Ewan MacColl had his dark side, and so did Woody Guthrie. So do we all, if the truth were told, but mostly it's well hidden, or there's no reason for anyone to go round digging it up and putting it on show.

But without them we would be a lot poorer, and so would the world.

(And that "assault against Bob Dylan's sound system at Newport" never happened the way it's been written up in folk legend anyway, as I understand - though I wouldn't gve a monkeys' if it had anyway; whatever happened didn't do Dylan any harm - in fact the reverse once it got recycled into legend.)


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 04:18 PM

I also understand that Lead Belly learned Good Night Irene from his uncle.

There is also the story that Lead Belly pulled on a knife on John Lomax. It is true that Lead Belly did spend some time as driver for the Lomaxes, but John also booked Lead Belly into some decent concerts and secured a home for Lead Belly. After the split, I understand that Lead Belly had difficulty booking his own concerts.

I'm not trying make excuses, but I think we need to put things in perspective. In 2002 things would be different, perhaps people would even give credit to John Lomax for helping an ex-con find decent work.

Alan and John Lomax were businessman, and that is an important fact to remember. That doesn't make them criminals or evil people.

The "folk process" is never easy, especially when commercial aspects take hold.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM

This is really interesting to someone who never knew that much about them except what John had collected in the way of cowboy songs. I appreciate the different perspectives and education provided. Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 05:22 PM

Alan Lomax talked about his other side in Land Where The Blues Began---about the racism inherant in his being a product of southern culture. He also spoke to those same aspects of his father's character. He, after recognizing these downsides, sought to purge them from his personality. Joseph Campbell, for all his good work, was also quite antisemitic. It took me a while to get just part way past allowing that sad fact to color my feelings about the man. I'm still working on that one. But I choose to appreciate and give for all the monumental collecting work that the Lomax family has done. As I said in the other Lomax thread, It just doesn't matter that he put a copyright on trad stuff he found. There was no alternative precedent then and there was no ethical negative judgment tied to doing what they did. When the Weavers saw that doing it was possibly somewhat unfair and shady, you never saw the name PAUL CAMPBELL (their chosen group pseudonym) on traditional material ever again. Michael Cooney now sends royalties on his recordings of traditionbal songs to the Library Of Congress Folk Culture division because he feels everyone who records those songs ought to support more collecting work.

The things noted here in this thread by it's originators might be strictly true but it's of no more real importance than fining out that the greatest pitcher in baseball history often threw a spitter. If the catcher didn't mind getting spit on his glove (and never got too bent out o' shape over it), then what the hell? And don't give me that crap about truth being an absolute----because it isn't. One guys freedom fighter is the other woman's rapist.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 05:44 PM

Well put Art. Everyone is entitled to work out problems and become a better person. I think the legacy that Alan Lomax left us is extraordinarily positive. None of us would be on a website devoted to folk music if it weren't for the work of Alan Lomax and others like him.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Mudlark
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 05:52 PM

Thanks to all for these postings. This is, in large part, what makes Mudcat a favorite part of my day.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:04 PM

Doing something 'good' doesn't make a good person.

Adolf Hitler could be credited with the VW Beetle and the freeway/motorway system.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:17 PM

Leave it to the village idiot (GUEST), to follow up well written and well thought out commentary with drivel such as above.

Thanks, Art & Ron & Kevin, for the perspectives you have given. These complex men have always left me with alpha and omega feelings. In the end the question, it seems to me, is "Is the world a better place for their having been here?". It would appear, this site is testament to this, that the world is much better for their having trod the path. We all have our quirks and we all have things that we would rather no one knew. Hell, I attended a Ronald Reagan rally once. But don't tell anyone, OK? 1975. Not sure what the hell I was thinking. Oh well...............................


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:23 PM

Sounds like a cue for another thread -- what was I thinking?

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:28 PM

Both extremely negative developments. Hot air heating of the passenger compartment with cables that kept breaking so you had to drive around all summer with the heat on. Try checking fluid levels on the various chambers of your battery on the great old VW bus and you'll quickly learn what it neabs ti be a contortionest.----------The only real value to the Interstate Highway system is to get the trucks off the beautiful 2-lane highways I took instead whenever I could.

Art


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:29 PM

About the things that make you blush inwardly to remember? And you thank God you aren't famous enough to be hounded by the iconoclasts...


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Deckman
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 06:37 PM

I am truly enjoying these comments. I think that Ron and Art and Big Mick (who makes up these names), and others, have all said some very sensible statements. I'm wondering out loud about something here ... in our present day world of instant news, flash/bang videos, etc., are we all just maybe wanting someone to QUICKLY tell us the "BOTTOM LINE?" Was he, or wasn't he? What's the REAL story? Did he or didn't he? Hmmmm? I 'dunno? CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 07:09 PM

Good point Bob. That is one of the reasons Ayn Rand never appealed to me - everything was either black or white, no shades at all. Everyone looks for quick answers and having worked in broadcast news for 12 years (in my other life)you are 100% on the mark. Tell it fast, tell it first, worry about the details later - even though the reporting was supposed to be thoroughly checked first. Too often the real story is clouded by the facts.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: BH
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 07:32 PM

I was not going to get into this can or worms, but after the VW and Autobahn thoughts I had to put my 2 worthless cents in.

Certainly Lomax left a positive--in general--legacy. Ron's points are well taken. Overcoming your background/upbringing to the best of your ability is certainly an admirable thing. His legacy is the treasures of music discovered that might otherwise not have been heard of again.

The "Guest", however, made a valid point. What then is a "good" person. Philosophers can pontificate for hours (years)---who really knows. They can tell you too that the chair on the table does not exist because chairs are not on tables.

Hitler was not a "good" person---the legacy of a VW and a highway is certainly not outweighed by the other historical horrors---Mussolini made the trains run on time---Hooray. Lomax, at the least, left a positive legacy with only some very slight negatives in his character that might preclude him from sainthood.

Anyway, I never did know why Americans like the VW.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Amos
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 07:36 PM

One of the first passages we all make in our way to adulthood must be to appreciate the difference between raw, complex, volatile reality and the clean little categories we use to corral it into our measured thinking processes.

It's a lot harder to face the truth about the raw material than it is to jump around an index of pre-defined categories and use them to face the world with.

Unfortunately, it is a lot less fun, and a lot less truthful.

As far as the Lomaxes go, I can weep over their sins as much as anyone's, but I can say at the same time that I am very glad they accomplished the good they did in the world. It added something of great worth to my life. I can forgive a passel of SOBs when they do that, and have!

A


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Armen Tanzerian
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 07:54 PM

Hey, look, Pete Seeger is the sweetest guy in the world, and in the '40s, Elizabeth Cotten was a maid in his rather privileged family home. Should we hold that against him? Of course not. I'm sure Pete was the first to celebrate her recognition, and I'm sure he didn't try to finagle royalties for Freight Train.

But Lomax made a habit of treating his "discoveries" like musical exhibits and implying that were it not for the Great Alan, none of them would ever have become known. And apparently, an appreciable part of his living consisted of royalties for Goodnight, Irene. These are not the habits of a nice guy.

That said, whether or not Muddy Waters got paid for his 1941 Lomax field recording, Muddy said years afterward that listening to the one copy that Lomax left with him was the turning point in his career, because he realized, as he said, "I can do this!"


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 08:05 PM

Well, first of all the important stuff. Yo Bill Hahn. Frive a VW for two hours on a country road on a cool evening, just listening to the unique sound of the VW engine as go go up and down through the gears and you'll understand the fascination. And let's not forget that Dr. Porsche had tried to have the Italians produce the VW before turining to the receptive Germans. And lets also not forget that if it weren't for the English who occupied Wolfsburg after the war, *and* built the posr war bugs that theu might have died right there in Germany.

Now, as for the Lomax. Having lived in Richmond, Va. for a good portion of my life and having just recedntly purchased "The Complete Plantation Recordongs of Muddy Waters" I do have one observation to make. In Richmond there exists a culture of folks who are very paternal, who are condesending and who don't have a clue that they are doing it. No, this doesn't explain the copywrite stuff but does expalain the Lomaxs behavior in dealing with folks, especially black folks. Yes, as Alan Lomax asks Muddy questions on this CD one gets the feeling that he is interrogating the poor man rather than interviewing him. This is the way I felt when I ran into those folks in Richmond. You could hear it in their speech patterns, their accents and the manner in which they carried themselves. But, in the Lomax's defense, it was more cultural than individual.

And, I too, felt uncomfortable posting on the other thread for this reason. Bad behavior is bad behavior, irregarless of the reason...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: DougR
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 08:08 PM

Seems to me the good far outweighs the bad.

Good posts, Art,McGrath.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 08:31 PM

Hi, Bobert: I was interested in your obersvations about some white folkses in Richmond who are condescending, and don't realize it. One thing that I've noticed in some white liberals is that they are committed to helping the downtrodden as long as they don't have to get to close to them, or recognize that they are complex humans, with as much cultural richness as they may material poverty. I even read where someone posited that the poor are sometimes almost treated like pets that we take care of in a paternalistic, distant way. I have no idea how Alan looked upon the folks he "discovered." He may indeed have seen them as his discoveries, not as real people with human dignity. But then, maybe he didn't. The best lesson that can be learned from all of this is not whether Alan Lomax explotied or helped poor musicians. It's that we examine ourselves and make sure that we don't help people for our own selfish reasons. We are as capable of doing that as anyone else.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: GUEST,Fact Checker
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 08:44 PM

Member Armen Tanzerian writes: "Hey, look, Pete Seeger is the sweetest guy in the world, and in the '40s, Elizabeth Cotten was a maid in his rather privileged family home. Should we hold that against him? Of course not. I'm sure Pete was the first to celebrate her recognition, and I'm sure he didn't try to finagle royalties for Freight Train."

Another Mudcat member spreads false information.

Elizabeth Cotten DID NOT work in Pete Seeger's "rather prvilileged home." She worked in the home of his father, Charles Seeger, many years after Pete was grown and gone. By that time, Charles Seeger was long divorced from Pete's mother and remarried with three younger children: Mike, Penny and Peggy.

Just because someone is a Mudcat member instead of a guest, doesn't mean they know whatdafuck dey talkin' 'bout.


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 08:58 PM

Jerry: Good points, my friend. As we know, those with self serving motives tend to be found out for there is nothing hidden that one day won't be found and no secret kept that one day won't be common knowledge. You know the source...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:00 PM

Here's a good site about Elizabeth Cotton, with lots of good stuff.

What's supposed to be wrong with the Seeger's giving Elizabeth a job helping run their household? Is the idea that if you give someone a job in an office that's OK, but if you give them a job in your own home, that's demeaning?

The story is she was working in a shop and she found Peggy Seeger lost and crying and looked after her till her mother was contacted, and after that they found they all liked each other, so the family offered her a job. And then she got back into playing music after 25 years not doing so, and the younger Seegers helped her get the attention and recoignition she deserved.

As for whether it was Pete Seeger's home, he was born in 1919, Elizabeth came to work in 1947. My son's older than thta, and he's got his own place - but this is his home too. (Home is "where, when you go there, they have to let you in").


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:14 PM

Shame, the man's grave is still warm. If there's a need to talk ill of the dead at least wait till their family & friends have had the time to respectively grieve their loss.
I can recall hitchhiking through the south in the 60's & how the old black man who offered me a ride started to shake with fear when we were stopped & grilled by a state trooper (never mind that I was a longhair). Trying to get into prisons & juke joints during the 40' & 50's to record the music he did had to be a walking nightmare. Ever been in a southern prison? Lydia Parrish (who?) collected songs of the Georgia Sea Islands during the early 40's & treated the music as if she were the only one deemed worthy of collecting it,(& made that known to other collectors) treated the music as if it were a possession, much to the loss of the folk world. How many here are familiar with her work (she did some good too) & how many in comparison to the Lomax's. Thank the stars that there were people like Allen (Child wasn't all that forgiving of the peasant {peons in his eyes?} folk he collected from). Of all his collecting of work songs, ring games (who would know of ring games & athems), blues & etc, etc & more etc, who in folkdom has not benifited? Really if it weren't for him where would the collected music of Saemus Innis, Peter Kennedy or Ewan McColl be, was he a drug dealer or more of the doctor who administered the shot in the arm that traditional music needed, which may at the time been rattling on it's own death bed. If those faults that some are finding in him today were mine I'd have gone on to the other side smiling, feeling that my life was well spent in knowing that the good I did far out shined any of the bad. That ol death bed is a hell of a lot more comfortable when you know you've done your best, you've been loved by others & if you can count among your deeds just one action that has given the world only a grain of good you can be assured that when you rise from the bed of shit that you lay in you'll come up smelling like roses. What was that about tending our gardens? I know that the music I love, because of this man & those like him, would only be a shadow of what it could've been & that the library of Congress's folklore achives may never had existed.
Barry


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: BH
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:30 PM

Exactly---Mike Seeger championed her career. That was the house she worked in.

As usual the topic drifts---Bobert thinks the VW thing was important---OK. I have had the "pleasure"of spending time in an orignal "bug". No thanks---until my career as circus clown takes off and I fit into the circus car I will leave the hum or rattle of a VW to those that dear Adolf intended it for----the masses that he abhored...Ach such a dear fellow vas Adolf. It still amazes me that Americans who now love the horrendous SUVs also adored the Nazimobile.

A sociologist could have a field day figurint that one out. Another off topic question---why is it that the more U S flags on a car the more aggressive the driver?

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Alan Lomax: Another View
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 02 - 09:38 PM

Better a bit of thread drift than a punch-up at a graveside.

("Why is it that the more U S flags on a car the more aggressive the driver?" Well, maybe if you'd taken the Worlkd Cup a bit more to your heart that wouldn't be true any more. The Flag of St George, the English one - not to be confused with the Union Jack - has quite lost its overtones of nastiness these days, thanks to that.)


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

I do not understand. Please clarify.

BH


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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!


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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.....


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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!


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

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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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


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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?


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

Bennet,

That's what I said.

Art Thieme


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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...


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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.


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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


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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.


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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


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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...


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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...


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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?


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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!


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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


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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)


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