Alan Lomax

Deep River of Song: South Carolina - Got the Keys to the Kingdom

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John Lomax, Alan Lomax, and Ruby Lomax made numerous aluminum and acetate disc recordings in the Gullah enclave of South Carolina's Murrells Inlet between 1934 and 1939, where a distinct tradition of unaccompanied spirituals and work songs was still predominant. The fragments collected weren't gospel, but real spirituals, and they frequently sound not only measured but also gently mournful, resigned as much as they are cautiously invested in the prospect of a better world beyond this one. There are surprisingly (or maybe not) only semantic differences and few melodic ones between the straight spirituals and the work songs, and in the right hands, one could pass for the other. Both forms, it would seem, deal in the possibility of redemption, and both use roads, trains, and in some cases, chariots as metaphoric transformational vehicles. This haunting, understated set is fleshed out by the addition of similarly themed field recordings done at Reid State Farm, a South Carolina prison, where the concept of a better world awaiting and the prospect of eventual redemption were undoubtedly taken quite literally. With the contents really all of a piece, it is difficult to single out individual tracks here, but "Leprosy (Nicodemus)," sung byZack Knox, "Got the Keys to the Kingdom," sung by Lillie Knox, and "Ain't But the One Train Run This Track (All Night Long)," sung by D.W. White & the Pearson's Funeral Home Choir, are particularly poignant.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
03:20 Amazon
2
02:07 Amazon
3
01:14 Amazon
4
01:35 Amazon
5
01:50 Amazon
6
03:59 Amazon
7
02:10 Amazon
8
feat: Zack Knox
01:09 Amazon
9
feat: Zack Knox
02:49 Amazon
10
feat: Zack Knox
01:27 Amazon
11
01:33 Amazon
12
02:35 Amazon
13
01:51 Amazon
14
feat: Lillie Knox
02:00 Amazon
15
feat: Zack Knox
02:20 Amazon
16
02:56 Amazon
17
02:13 Amazon
18
feat: Lillie Knox
02:23 Amazon
19
feat: Tina Russell
01:32 Amazon
20
00:46 Amazon
21
01:25 Amazon
22
01:52 Amazon
23
03:13 Amazon
24
01:28 Amazon
25
02:17 Amazon
26
02:15 Amazon
27
02:54 Amazon
28
03:15 Amazon
29
02:11 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick