TRIBUTE TO ALAN
“We have an overarching goal –
the world of manifold civilizations animated by the vision of cultural
Alan Lomax died on July 19th. He was one of the cultural giants of the 20th Century, but his name probably isn’t very familiar to many movie buffs. Born into a wealthy family in 1915, Lomax devoted his life to collecting, disseminating, & preserving the folk music of the people, first in the United States, and then abroad.
Alan Lomax at his typewriter in
Lomax, a committed “New Dealer,” began his lifework on field trips sponsored by the Library of Congress in the middle-‘30s. Artists such as
(BOUND FOR GLORY) Guthrie, and Muddy Waters made their first recordings for
Lomax. He recorded Burl Ives, Memphis Slim, Pete Seeger, and Sonny Boy Williamson. Lomax also recorded over eight hours with Jelly Roll Morton before he died, documenting the birth of jazz by one of its greatest early masters. He received the National Book Award in 1993 for THE LAND WHERE THE BLUES BEGAN, his account of his work in the American South from the ‘30s through the
All of the artists represented in the “Fellow
Travelers” section of our BURIED TREASURES
page are in some way beholden to Lomax. Filmmakers such as Warren Beatty
(REDS), Ken Loach (BREAD &
ROSES), and John Sayles & Maggie Renzi (MATEWAN) all carry forward the vision of “cultural equity”
that he believed in so deeply.
The phenomenal success of the recent soundtrack O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? is a testament to his ongoing relevance (even though we didn’t like the film itself very much). The man goes to his rest, his legacy intact.
Alan Lomax recording in Dominica in 1962.
Click here to learn more about Alan
Lomax, including where to get books and recordings, and how to make a contribution to his memorial fund.
© Jan Lisa Huttner (7/31/02)