EMAIL PAGE SEVENTEEN
COLUMN SEVENTY-FIVE, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a
news, discussion and debate service of the Committees
of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It
says it aims to provide varied material of interest to people
on the Left.
Heretofore, we were under the impression that Portside is the Internet's voice of the Left. But it turns out to be the Internet's voice of the fundamentalist Far-Left, which, like all fundamentalist organizations, adheres to an orthodoxy and consequently refuses to post dissident or differing opinions from within the Left---such as HATE YOUR GOVERNMENT BUT LOVE YOUR COUNTRY, available to be read in SECTION ONE of COLUMN SEVENTY. Fundamentalists, like fascists, will not tolerate any disagreements or variations from the fundamentalist orthodoxy.
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ALAN LOMAX, 1915-2002
ALAN LOMAX IN 1941
Alan Lomax dies
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 16:35:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: portsideMod <email@example.com>
To: ps <firstname.lastname@example.org>
LOMAX 1915 - 2002 FOLK MUSIC'S FOREMOST PIONEER & ETHNOMUSICOLOGIST DIES
Lomax passed away on the morning of July 19, 2002. Alan Lomax is survived by his
loving daughter Anna Lomax Chairetakis of Holiday, FL; his devoted grandson
Odysseus Desmond Chairetakis of Holiday, FL; his sister Bess Lomax Hawes of
Northridge, CA; his step-daughter Shelley Roitman of Holiday, FL; his nephews;
John Lomax III, Nicolas Hawes, John Bishop, Drew Mihalik, and his nieces; Ellen
Harold, Patricia Gordon, Susan Mihalik, Naomi Bishop and Corey Dinos.
Services for Alan Lomax Vinson Funeral Home 456 East Tarpon Avenue Tarpon
Springs, FL 34689
on Tuesday July 23, 2002 Viewing from 3-5PM, Funeral Service 5-6PM.
lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made to: The Blues Music
Foundation for the Willie Moore Fund c/o Experience Music Project 2901 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98121 http://www.alan-lomax.com
Lomax, the legendary collector of folk music who was the first to record
towering figures like Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, died yesterday
at a nursing home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 87.
Lomax was a musicologist, author, disc jockey, singer, photographer, talent
scout, filmmaker, concert and recording producer and television host. He did
whatever was necessary to preserve traditional music and take it to a wider
some of those he recorded would later become internationally famous, Mr. Lomax
wasn't interested in simply discovering stars. In a career that carried him from
fishermen's shacks and prison work farms to television studios and computer
consoles, he strove to protect folk traditions from the homogenizing effects of
modern media. He advocated what he called "cultural equity: the right of
every culture to have equal time on the air and equal time in the
Lomax's programs spurred folk revivals in the United States and across Europe.
Without his efforts, the world's popular music would be very different today.
Caruso was to singing, Alan Lomax is to musicology," the oral historian
Studs Terkel said in 1997. "He is a key figure in 20th-century
an interview, Bob Dylan once described him as "a missionary."
Lomax saw folk music and dance as human survival strategies that had evolved
through centuries of experimentation and adaptation; each, he argued, was as
irreplaceable as a biological species. "It is the voiceless people of the
planet who really have in their memories the 90,000 years of human life and
wisdom," he once said. "I've devoted my entire life to an obsessive
collecting together of the evidence."
persuade performers and listeners to value what was local and distinctive, Mr.
Lomax used the very media that threatened those traditions. By collecting and
presenting folk music and dance in concerts, films and television programs, he
brought new attention and renewed interest to traditional styles.
incredible thing is that when you could play this material back to people, it
changed everything for them," Mr. Lomax once said. Listeners then realized
that the performers, as he put it, "were just as good as anybody
Lomax started his work as a teenager, lugging a 500-pound recording machine
through the South and West with his father, the pioneering folklorist John A.
prisoners in those penitentiaries simply had
prisoner recorded by the Lomaxes in Angola, La.,was Huddie Ledbetter, known as
Leadbelly, who began his singing career after John Lomax helped secure his
release in 1934. Alan Lomax produced Leadbelly's albums "Negro Sinful
Songs" in 1939 and "The Midnight Special," prison songs performed
with the Golden Gate Quartet, in 1940. The Lomaxes held part of the copyright to
his song "Goodnight Irene," and the royalties they received when the
Weavers' recording of it became a huge pop hit in 1950 helped finance their
Lomax recorded hours of interviews with the New Orleans jazz composer Jelly Roll
Morton in the 1930's, an early oral-history project that resulted in both a
classic 12-volume set of recordings and a 1950 book, "Mister Jelly
Roll," which remains one of the most influential works on early jazz.
the early 1940's, Mr. Lomax made extensive recordings of songs and stories by
Woody Guthrie, both for the Library of Congress and for commercial release on
RCA Victor as "Dust Bowl Ballads." In 1941, he made the first
recordings of McKinley Morganfield, a cotton picker and blues singer better
known by his nickname, Muddy Waters.
1997, Rounder Records began issuing its Alan Lomax Collection, a series of more
than 100 CD's of music recorded by Mr. Lomax in the deep South, the Bahamas, the
Caribbean, the British Isles, Spain and Italy. A recording Mr. Lomax made in
Mississippi in 1959 of a prisoner, James Carter, singing the work song "Po'
Lazarus," opens the multimillion-selling, Grammy Award-winning soundtrack
of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Universal).
From Harvard to Texas Mr. Lomax was born in Austin, Tex., in 1915. He attended Choate and spent a year
After dissing Paul Butterfield, Lomax got into a fist fight with Albert Grossman
Harvard. But in 1933, he left to enroll at the University of Texas, where he
graduated in 1936 with a degree in philosophy. Later, he did graduate work in
anthropology at Columbia University. He had already become a folk-music
collector, recording songs with his father.
father was fired from the University of Texas for recording those dirty old
cowboy songs," Mr. Lomax said. "Cowboys were lowdown, flea-ridden and
boozing, so a guy who associated with them - even though he romanticized them a
lot, as my father did---was looked down on."
Lomaxes' book "American Ballads and Folk Songs" was published in 1934,
followed by "Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Leadbelly" (1936),
"Cowboy Songs" (1937), "Our Singing Country" (1938) and
"Folk Songs: USA" (1946). John A. Lomax became the curator of the
Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress; his son joined him there as
assistant director in 1937.
the end of the 1930's, John and Alan Lomax had recorded more than 3,000 songs on
78-r.p.m. discs. Generations have grown up with these Library of
the 1930's, Alan Lomax was on the road regularly, gathering songs across rural
America and in the Caribbean. He recorded gospel choirs, Cajun fiddling, country
blues, calypsos, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex music and Haitian voodoo rituals. The
Depression and labor-organizing songs he collected were released in 1967 as
"Hard-Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People."
recordings would include interviews with the performers. He was determined to
preserve not only the music, but also the stories behind the songs and the
vanishing communities that produced them.
1935, he traveled with the writer Zora Neale Hurston and the folklorist Mary
Elizabeth Barnicle to collect music from the Georgia Sea Islands and along the
Lomax began a weekly radio program on CBS Radio's "American School of the
Air" in 1939, and then was
Lomax sang alongside Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson during the 1948 presidential
campaign of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. During the McCarthy period,
when Mr. Seeger and other left-wing performers were blacklisted because of their
political views, Mr. Lomax left the country. He had received a Guggenheim
fellowship to study British folk music and lived in England from 1950 to 1957.
He compiled an archive of British folk songs and created programs for English
radio and television. The sound of rural American music was a major factor in
the British skiffle craze that yielded groups like the Quarry Men, John Lennon's
Lomax also collected folk music in Spain in 1953-54 and in Italy in 1955,
helping to spur folk revivals in those countries. Those collecting trips also
resulted in two 10-part BBC radio series, on Spanish and Italian folk music.
Columbia Records issued the 18-volume "Columbia World Library of Folk and
Primitive Music" in 1955, a pioneering survey of world music. "Folk
Songs of the United States," a five-album set, was drawn from Mr. Lomax's
field recordings for the Library of Congress.
Mr. Lomax returned to the United States, the folk revival he had envisioned was
flourishing. His collection "The Folk Songs of North America" was
published by Doubleday in 1960. Young musicians were learning the songs he had
collected and playing them for eager audiences. Mr. Lomax was a consultant who
helped choose performers for the annual Newport Folk Festival.
returned to the South in 1959-60 to make the first stereo field recordings of
American music; 19 albums were released on Atlantic and Prestige Records,
including the first recordings by the country bluesman Mississippi Fred
McDowell. On a 1962 trip to the Caribbean, Mr. Lomax recorded calypsos,
Indo-Caribbean chaupai songs, work songs, children's songs and steel-band music.
He left an archive of Caribbean music at the University of the West Indies,
which also shared in the royalties on recordings.
Lomax became a research associate in Columbia University's department of
anthropology and Center for the Social Sciences in 1962, where he began research
in cantometrics and choreometrics. They were systems for notating and studying
music and dance to discover broad patterns correlating musical styles to other
social factors, from subsistence methods to attitudes about sexuality. He was
associated with Columbia until 1989, when he moved his work to Hunter College.
Lomax was displeased by the advent of folk-rock in the mid-1960's, considering
it inauthentic. When the Paul Butterfield Blues Band performed at the Newport
Folk Festival, he belittled the music, leading to a legendary fistfight with Bob
Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman. He also denounced Mr. Dylan's move from
protest songs to rock.
the end, he remained a vigorous defender of the old ways. He may have
appreciated gospel music, for example, but he was also quick to point out the
loss of the improvised spiritual harmonies it displaced.
Lomax turned to film and television while continuing his academic work. He made
films about dance with Forrestine Paulay, a movement analyst, in the 1970's. He
wrote, directed and produced a documentary, "The Land Where the Blues
Began," in 1985. And he wrote, directed, narrated and produced
"American Patchwork," a series of programs on American traditions
shown on public television in the early 1990's. For such efforts, he was awarded
the National Medal of the Arts.
the 1980's, Mr. Lomax began work on the Global Jukebox, a database of thousands
of songs and dances cross-referenced with anthropological data. With video, text
and sound, the Global Jukebox lets users trace cross-cultural connections or
seek historical roots. The MacArthur Foundation and the National Science
Foundation gave Mr. Lomax grants to create the jukebox, and in 1989 he set up
the Association for Cultural Equity at Hunter College to work on the project.
Lomax's memoir of his Southern travels, "The Land Where the Blues
Began," was published in 1993 by Pantheon; it won the National Book Critics
Circle award for nonfiction. Although he had two strokes in 1995, he continued
to advise Rounder Records on the Lomax Collection, a 100-CD series of his
recordings that the label began to reissue in 1997.
now have cultural machines so powerful that one singer can reach everybody in
the world, and make all the other singers feel inferior because they're not like
him," Mr. Lomax once reflected. "Once that gets started, he gets
backed by so much cash and so much power that he becomes a monstrous invader
from outer space, crushing the life out of all the other human possibilities. My
life has been devoted to opposing that tendency."
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