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Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Library of Congress - and Muddy Waters' Wooden Cabin on Stovall's Plantation; The Collectors and the Collected

Lomax Recordings: Iconic Song List

Alan Lomax, Special and Temporary Assistant, Archive of American Folk Song, Library of Congress, 1936-1937; Permanent Assistant in Charge, 1937-1943 (from the introduction to Alan Lomax, Assistant in ChargeThe Library of Congress Letters, 1935-1945, edited by Ronald D. Cohen). 

Compare The Library of Congress with 

Muddy Waters' wooden shack near Clarksdale, Photo from John Collis,
"The Story of Chess Records"

See also photos opposite  p. 192 in "Muddy Waters, The Mojo Man" by Sandra B. Tooze
and opposite p. 140 in "Can't be Satisfied, the life and times of Muddy Waters", by Robert Gordon

Bottom Left photo, Sandra B. Tooze (the cabin as it appeared in 1995);
 Top Right photo, John Rockwell.
Jar of Stovall Plantation Soil, a present from Mr. Stovall during my visit

Three of my own photos, below:

The plot where Muddy's cabin once stood,
 Stovall Plantation

Stovall Cotton Crop

Rolling Fork Plaque

From the CD:

PS Bonny Sartin (formerly of The Yetties) gave a fascinating and amusing talk at the William Barnes Society AGM in Dorchester, Dorset (UK) on 11 October, 2016 on 'The Folk Songs of Dorset' - about the song collectors (like Cecil Sharp and the Hammond Brothers) and the old singers - on the collectors, and the collected- and the social, educational and material divisions between them.

I was reminded of this poem-song parody I wrote nearly 40 years ago, about English folk-song collectors, before the era of the disc-recorder or tape-recorder:


Cecil Sharp he scoured old Somerset,

The Appalachians too;

Henry Hammond biked round Dorset,

All in the foggy dew.

They cycled and they hiked it,

They rattled round the lanes,

They searched in pub and workhouse

For old-fashioned folk-song strains.

They noted down in note-books

One half of what they heard;

They cut out all the juicy bits,

And every other word.

Before Cecil there was Sabine,

A double-barrelled squire-cum-Rev…

He hunted down his song-birds

Then rewrote the truth they’d give.

Before Maud was Lucy Broadwood,

Charles and Percy, Ralph and George;

Henry went with brother Robert,

To ensure no song was forged.

But they edited and they censored,

And tampered with each tune,

So what they handed down to us

Wasn’t even fit to croon.

The Reverends were most worthy,

The collectors all meant well;

But those toothless peasant singers

Were all left to go to hell.

With a fol-derol-de-rol-de

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