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Alan Lomax: Another View

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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
Charley Noble 24 Jul 02 - 05:00 PM
Don Firth 24 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM
Deckman 24 Jul 02 - 06:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM
Deckman 24 Jul 02 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,Frogmore 24 Jul 02 - 09:59 PM
Melani 25 Jul 02 - 12:46 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 25 Jul 02 - 12:29 PM
open mike 26 Jul 02 - 01:12 AM
Nerd 26 Jul 02 - 04:52 AM
Nerd 26 Jul 02 - 05:34 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 02 - 07:59 AM
ard mhacha 26 Jul 02 - 10:09 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Jul 02 - 06:47 PM
Venthony 30 Jul 02 - 11:47 PM
Blackcatter 31 Jul 02 - 01:01 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 20 Sep 17 - 06:09 PM
Stilly River Sage 20 Sep 17 - 09:25 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 20 Sep 17 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,pauperback 20 Sep 17 - 10:44 PM
Mr Red 21 Sep 17 - 05:37 AM
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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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