Lomax 1939, discs 2589 & 2590

It’s a little tricky to figure out how to go about listening to the Lomax recordings I posted about last night. The LoC website lists the songs in alphabetical order by title, which is useless. Lomax’s field notes seemed at first to be the way to go, a roughly chronological order of recording. But it turns out the notes are not chronological at all. And he doesn’t have notes for all the recordings. And many of the notes he does have are not cross-referenced with disc numbers. So I’m just going to go by the discs’ LoC catalog numbers, which is arbitrary but methodical.  So:

The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip, discs 2589 & 2590. 1939. (on mp3, from the Library of Congress website)

[Why do they start at 2589 and not 1? Because it’s the Library of Congress and that’s just not how they roll, I guess.]

These first two discs mostly seem like Lomax is dicking around with his friend (John B. Jones) and his friend’s mother (Mrs. Kate W. Jones), and getting paid by the government to do it. The Joneses sing fragments of songs that they don’t remember well, stopping and starting, and generally not seeming to care that this is going to be listened to for potentially countless future generations. Which is kind of fun to listen to. Mrs. Jones also plays a little piano, and Mr. Jones demonstrates a hunting horn. A couple of the songs they sing are nice, but the highlight of this batch is definitely Mrs. Shirley Lomax Mansell singing the Appalachian lullaby “All the Pretty Little Horses” (at a later date, apparently added to the end of disc 2590 as a comparison to Mrs. Jones’s version of the same song).

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