Working on the Levee
October 23, 2018 12:06 PM   Subscribe

In 1978, Alan Lomax returned to the Mississippi Delta for another of his numerous field recording trips to the area. While there he recorded an interview with men who had worked levee building work teams during the depths of Jim Crow. This playlist has some of the work songs and hollers he recorded at the same time.

Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 1 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 2 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 3 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 4 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 5 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 6 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 7 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 8 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 9 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 10 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 11 of 12) (1978)
Greenville levee-camp conversation (part 12 of 12) (1978)
posted by OmieWise (2 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
LOC has 509 digitized audio recordings and over 6000 manuscripts to read online.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:21 PM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is fantastic stuff. Alan Lomax is a giant, one of the most important figures of the 20th century. I am so thankful for the work he did preserving these voices for all of history.

At the start of this series, I am reminded of many encounters in the clinic and the hospital. When you sit down and spend some seriously mindful time with an elderly, perhaps demented, person and ask “How are you doing today?” and they start diving into their family, their youth, the onion on their belt, etc and the intern tries to redirect them to the actual acute complaint or the family member is trying to cut them off and explain what *they* think the problem is, I’m like “shut up!” and let this person speak. What they have to say about their life is a precious gift to us and we are incredibly fortunate to be in a position to hear what they have to say. And yes, it maybe has little to do with their diabetes or their stroke that I am supposed to be treating, all that information I need I got from their blood test or their CT scan. But hearing what it was like to drop out of school to build levees at age twelve living without electricity or plumbing...that shit has more meaning to me in understanding this confusingly bleak state of being a conscious human than all the objective test results in the world.

Alan Lomax is a truly great American hero.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:39 PM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


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