Synopses & Reviews
A self-described song-hunter,” the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930s and 40s, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Deltas music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets where the blues began, Lomax gave voice to such greats as Leadbelly, Fred MacDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others, all of whom made their debut recordings with him.
The Land Where the Blues Began is Lomaxs stingingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey” (Kirkus Reviews) through Americas musical heartland. Through candid conversations with bluesmen and vivid, firsthand accounts of the landscape where their music was born, Lomaxs discerning reconstructions . . . give life to a domain most of us can never know . . . one that summons us with an oddly familiar sensation of reverence and dread” (The New York Times Book Review). The Land Where the Blues Began captures the irrepressible energy of soul of people who changed American musical history.
Winner of the 1993 National Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, The Land Where the Blues Began is now available in a handsome new paperback edition.
"Singingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey....The devil's own music gets its due." Kirkus Reviews
"Without Lomax, it's possible that there would have been no blues explosion, no R&B movement, no Beatles and no Stones and no Velvet Underground." Brian Eno
"No one has come close to Alan Lomax in illuminating the intersecting musical roots of an extraordinary range of cultures, including our own." Nat Hentoff
Folklorist Lomax offers a rollicking memoir of his journey back into blues country. A "singingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey" (Kirkus Reviews).
This odyssey across America's musical heartland covers the history of blues through candid conversations with bluesmen and vivid, firsthand accounts of the landscape where their music was born.
Set in an era as harsh and fertile as Delta silt, The Land Where the Blues Began reveals how the river of African-American culture overtook its repressive banks to give us R & B, soul, rock 'n' roll, and the only purely American art form, the blues. Alan Lomax takes us on an adventure into the "bad old days" of the post-slavery, Jim Crow Mississippi Delta the birthplace of the blues when railroads and levees were being built and cotton boomed at the expense of Southern working-class African Americans. Singing of their misery and their barely concealed rage, the Bluesman enlisted their African heritage to keep their souls alive and in the process created the first satirical song form in the English language. We meet Muddy Waters (the father of modern blues), learn how Robert Johnson met his end, and are introduced to Fred McDowell and Son House, who taught Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton how to play the blues.
About the Author
Alan Lomax was an ethnomusicologist, record producer, and network radio host/writer. His work included the prize-winning 1990 PBS television series American Patchwork and the multimedia interactive database called The Global Jukebox, which he produced as an anthropologist for Columbia University and Hunter College. Lomax died in 2002. The Alan Lomax Archives represent an exceptional assemblage of audio and videotape, 16-mm film, photos, published recordings, and assorted papers documenting folk music, dance, and ritual from around the world. The Archives were created over the course of sixty years, and symbolize the lifelong determination of Lomax to recognize the artistic achievements of worldwide local cultures.