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Alan Lomax

  • American writer
  • Born January 31, 1915
  • Died July 19, 2002

Alan Lomax (; January 31, 1915 – July 19, 2002) was an American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a musician himself, as well as a folklorist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker. Lomax produced recordings, concerts, and radio shows in the US and in England, which played an important role in preserving folk music traditions in both countries, and helped start both the American and British folk revivals of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.


The British ballads became a new kind of form in their hand. And out of them came the blues, a new kind of song of commentary and satire, a song form which, after all, has become the main musical form of the whole human species.




You could hear him, literally, half a mile away when he opened up. He was at his peak then. He was, naturally, dying to get out of the place he was in, and he recorded for us his appeal for pardon to the governor.




He learned through the way that my father and I felt about his songs, his country songs, that they were great songs. And then he went out and sang them for the audiences that we found, and he found a tremendous reaction to that.




I knew Bobby Dylan back in the days when he lived in the village. He used to come and see me and sing songs for me, saying they ought to go into my next collected book on American folk music.




And the thing that I always tried to do with important singers when I met them was to sit down and record everything they knew, give them a first real run-through of their art.



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