Book: Our Singing Country

John A. Lomax & Alan Lomax, with Ruth Crawford Seeger. Our Singing Country: Folk Songs and Ballads. Dover, 2000 (originally published 1941). 444 pages.

Unlike the Lomax’s usual approach, this is a very scholarly work. It makes no attempt at being usable as a songbook, and instead consists of exact-as-possible transcriptions made from field recordings. The book would be fairly superfluous if those recordings were readily available, but since they’re not (although they were at the time the book was first published), this is an excellent resource – albeit a poor second to the many field recordings which are available. The real fun I got from reading the book, though, was from the stories occasionally included between songs; as they say in the introduction, “these people have a lot to say and a lot to remember, and that is why this book is mostly in quotation marks.”

8/10 (Great).


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