Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World

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Penguin, Dec 30, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 448 pages
The remarkable life and times of the man who popularized American folk music and created the science of song

Folklorist, archivist, anthropologist, singer, political activist, talent scout, ethnomusicologist, filmmaker, concert and record producer, Alan Lomax is best remembered as the man who introduced folk music to the masses. Lomax began his career making field recordings of rural music for the Library of Congress and by the late 1930s brought his discoveries to radio, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Burl Ives. By the 1940s he was producing concerts that brought white and black performers together, and in the 1950s he set out to record the whole world.

Lomax was also a controversial figure. When he worked for the U. S. government he was tracked by the FBI, and when he worked in Britain, MI5 continued the surveillance. In his last years he turned to digital media and developed technology that anticipated today's breakthroughs. Featuring a cast of characters including Eleanor Roosevelt, Leadbelly, Carl Sandburg, Carl Sagan, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters, and Bob Dylan, Szwed's fascinating biography memorably captures Lomax and provides a definitive account of an era as seen through the life of one extraordinary man.
 

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ALAN LOMAX: The Man Who Recorded the World

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Overdue, hagiographic biography of the folk-song collector.Szwed (Music and Jazz Studies/Columbia Univ.; Crossovers: Essays on Race, Music, and American Culture, 2005, etc.) piles up mountains of ... Read full review

Contents

From Chisholm Trail to Harvard Yard
Road Scholars
The Saga of Lead Belly
Travels with Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle
Honeymoon in Haiti
Doctor Jazz
Bohemian Folklorist
A Bourgeois Town
Living on the Black List
The Grand Tour
Skiffle From Folk to Pop
The American Campaign Resumed
The Science of Folk Song
To Hear the World in a Grain of Sand
The Culture War
The Global Jukebox Got the World in a Jug the Stopper in My Hand

The Peoples War
The Century of the Common Man

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About the author (2010)

John Szwed is the author of So What: The Life of Miles Davis and Space Is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra, among other works. He is a professor of music and jazz studies at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.

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