Alan Lomax

Popular Songbook

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AllMusic Review by

Since Alan Lomax spent his life traveling American and European backroads in search of genuine folk songs, it's difficult to think of his name in conjunction with popular music. Popular Songbook, though, asks the listener to do just that, and the collection's reasoning for doing so is a sound one. A number of songs Lomax gathered on his collecting trips later became popular hits by other artists. One imagines that many of these songs -- "Midnight Special," "Black Betty," and "Rock Island Line" -- would have stayed in their respective hollows without his efforts. Popular Songbook traces these songs' roots, taking the listener back to the original inspiration for "Irene Goodnight" and "The House of the Rising Sun." Of course, old folkniks will know that John Fogerty didn't write "Midnight Special" and Brian Wilson didn't write "Sloop John B." These listeners will enjoy Popular Songbook nonetheless, if for no other reason than to irritate their rock & roll friends who are ignorant of these songs' origins. The collection also makes a good starting point for the new folk fan: the familiar songs offer an easy point of entry and a number of the folk founders -- Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie -- are represented here. Popular Songbook also works as a nice tribute to a great song collector.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
03:39
2 03:32
3 03:38
4
feat: Lead Belly
02:55
5 02:21
6
01:38
7 02:53
8
feat: Bessie Jones
00:56
9 01:27
10
feat: Lead Belly
02:17
11
01:04
12
04:07
13
feat: Kelly Pace
01:46
14 01:05
15 02:36
16 02:46
17
02:57
18
feat: Lead Belly
06:24
19
03:09
20
01:07
21
01:33
22
feat: Lead Belly
04:38
blue highlight denotes track pick