14 March 2012

The Lomax

When I lived in NYC during the '80s and '90s, I was privileged to listen to a couple truly wonderful radio stations: WFMU (which used to be affiliated with the now-defunct Upsala College) and Columbia's WKCR. Both played an incredible diversity of music, including, from time to time, bits from the field recordings of folklorist Alan Lomax.

If you're a music person, these recording are your history. You need to know about them. Beginning in the 1930s, Lomax took an old reel-to-reel tape recorder to the American Deep South, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Russia, among other places to capture the local, folk musics of these places. In the South, you can hear in his recordings the origins of the Blues, Country, Gospel, R & B, and Rock 'n' Roll (ask Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, any of them). He saw, perhaps, that indigenous cultures and musics were being homogenized by the rise of corporate media and wanted to preserve these artifacts for posterity. Many of the works from his collection can be streamed online at the Association for Cultural Equity. I encourage to go there, listen, read, and broaden your musical horizons. Remarkable, indispensable stuff. Priceless. Brilliant.

Here're some examples from YouTube:


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I recognize some, will have to listen to 'em all when I get a chance.

Randal Graves said...

Neil Lomax was an underrated quarterback, and Son House will fuck your shit up because what's more fucked up than the saddest songs 'round making one smile?

Jim H. said...

@if: If you go back and get ahold of those early Beatles and Stones records, you'll find a number of songs penned by some of these seminal bluesmen brought to the public's attention by Lomax. Many died poor and broke even though their songs had been hits by such as Elvis, the Faces, Aerosmith, the Animals, Clapton, the Yardbirds, etc. The list goes on and on.

@RG: Neil Lomax. Dude, Son House is the shit! & hey that's why they call it the blues.