Alan Lomax single-handedly (and some would say, heavy-handedly) saved the folk music from oblivion. Son of John Lomax, Alan travelled across the US and around the world recording folk musicians in their natural habitat. Some of his most notable songs – work songs, cowboy songs, and ballads – formed the bedrock of the folk movement and the succeeding rise of the singer-songwriter in the 1960s and 70s. Everyone from Bob Dylan to Nickelback owe him a debt of gratitude.
Now his extensive recordings – part of what he wanted to call a “global jukebox” – will be available for streaming at Cultural Equality this month. You’ll be able to scroll through most of his collection including songs from Haiti, Spain, and the Soviet Union – 17,000 tracks in all.
These songs are our heritage, poems written and passed down through time from ancestors over the sea to the dusty cotton fields of the deep south. As Lomax once said, “The dimension of cultural equity needs to be added to the humane continuum of liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and social justice.” We can always use a little more cultural equity, not to mention a wee bit more liberty.