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 Alan Lomax Quotes
10 Famous Quotes by Alan Lomax
1/31/1915 - 7/19/2002
Also Known As:  
Lomax, Alan
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About Alan Lomax

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.

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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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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.

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Well I think that, really, when I look back on fifty years of working on folk music in America and elsewhere, I think maybe the most important contribution I made to the future was the time that I put in with these two people. I was very young and I could really sit at their feet.

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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.

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Back in the early 30s, Woody and Lead Belly were musical cronies. At all the New York folk-song parties of that day - and the guitar picking population of New York at that time consisted of about ten people, if you can believe it - Lead Belly and Woody were the stars. And usually after all of us had decided to go to bed, Woody would go home with Lead Belly and they'd sit up and play until morning.

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My father and I met Lead Belly in the Angola Penitentiary in 1933. We came there looking for the roots of American black song, and we certainly found them with Lead Belly.

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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.

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We went over Lead Belly's repertory with him. And we helped him round it off into concert form so that when he got up in front of his audience, he sang ballads and work songs and lullabies and children's games and square-dance tunes, the whole thing.

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We were doing a benefit for this Spanish cause, the Spanish Loyalists who were fighting against Franco, and Woody was on the show. It was one of the first nights he was in New York. He stepped out on the stage, this little tiny guy, big bushy hair, with this great voice and his guitar, and just electrified us all. I remember the first song I heard him sing: "Mention Dirty to My Heart."

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