JOHN A. LOMAX & ALAN LOMAX – AMERICAN BALLADS AND FOLK
SONGS – 1994 (1934)
Don’t expect to find everything
for one reason it is a recent reprint of an older book. But it is very
comprehensive and extensive. The classification is multifarious. It can be one
subject (cocaine and whisky) or genre (the blues) that is concerned in one
chapter, or something quite different like a social situation, the participants
of this social situation (Southern Chain Gangs) that are the authors or the
subjects of another chapter.
The circumstances of the songs
are explained, the music is fully given and the lyrics are of course quoted. An
Index of titles is included at the end and a bibliography will help you go further.
But it is essentially a
collections of songs so you cannot expect long presentations, long
dissertations on the genres and the social problems behind. The book provides all
kinds of songs, including racist songs, though probably not the most extreme
like coon songs, and the book seems to miss Indian songs, including the famous
Love Call that is both Indian and non-Indian.
That’s probably because it does
not include songs from musicals or films, at least not as a priority. I am sure
we can find all those on the virtual spider web. You must also understand the
songs are given in one version which is neither the official nor the only
version available. There are many variants and you better check them if you
want to be thorough.
So You will not find the Ballad
of Ira Hayes by Peter LaFarge made famous by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, though
you might prefer another version still.
him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war
Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian you should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land
Down the ditches for a thousand years
The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Till the white man stole the water rights
And the sparklin' water stopped
Now Ira's folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered
And forgot the white man's greed
But we can’t have all we want
between a front and a back covers.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU