Random House, Inc.
Lomax, who has done more than anyone else to make black music of the South known as a glorious expression of American art, summs up sixty years of "discovering the African American musical heritage in this journey through the Mississippi Delta.
Baker & Taylor
A journey of discovery through the Mississippi Delta explores the rich African-American musical heritage of the region, as recorded in the words and music of Muddy Waters, Fred Macdowell, Sid Hemphill, and other great masters of the blues. 12,500 first printing.
Blackwell North Amer
The bluesmen were the bards of America's last frontier, the rowdy Mississippi Delta, in the days of the cotton boom, of levee and railroad building. Alan Lomax takes us on an adventure into the "bad old days" of the Delta. Weaving together the tales of muleskinners and roustabouts, church matrons and convicts, children and blind street singers, Lomax gives us the rich, sorrow-ridden background of the blues. 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.
In pre-integration days, when Lomax, a Southerner, first began his research, custom forbade a white man to socialize or even shake hands with a black. Despite threats of jail and violence, Lomax broke through the veil of silence that up till the 1940s had concealed the life of blacks in the Deep South. For the first time the people in these lower depths told the story of their humiliation and exploitation - of the brutal work camps that wasted lives and of the monstrous state penitentiaries that devoured the rebellious. No blacks before them had dared to expose the cruelties of the post-Reconstruction Deep South, the time of broken promises and illegal repression.
In 1941, Blind Sid Hemphill, drum major of the Hills, introduced Lomax to the African roots of the Mississippi music, whose performance style (in song, speech, music, dance) has survived virtually intact in American black folk communities. This powerful, joy-filled, nonverbal and oral tradition gave rise to spirituals, jazz, dance steps, humor, and other folkways that kept the hearts of blacks alive all through their time of travail. It is this river of African-American culture - swept along in a tide of bawdy tales, murder ballads, work songs, hollers, game songs, church shouts - that produced the blues, which now enchant the world.
Lomax's account of African American oral traditions provides information on such legendary bluesmen as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Son House