Title: Negro Folk Songs as Sung By Lead Belly, '...
Publisher: MacMillan Co., New York
Publication Date: 1936
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good
Edition: First Edition.
xiv, 242 pages. The first 64-pages of this book are devoted to Lead Belly's biography, mostly phonetically transcribed from Lead Belly's own account of his life, growing up poor and living on the edge of poverty and violence and eventually landing in prison. The remainder of the book transcribes several dozen of his songs, with musical notation and commentary by the Lomaxes. The Lomaxes, father and son, discovered Huddie (HUGH-die) Ledbetter, who everyone called Lead Belly (only later condensed into one word), at Angola State Prison, in Louisiana, where he was frequently trotted out to entertain visitors. In their travels across the country recording traditional music for the Library of Congress, they had met many talented performers, but no one with the powerful personality, musical gift, or the extensive repertoire of folk songs of Lead Belly. After Lead Belly's release from prison in 1934 (which may or may not have been assisted by the Lomaxes' recording of his plea for clemancy in ballad form), the Lomaxes sought to manage Lead Belly's career as a performer. They knew a lot about music but little about the music business, and the relationship had fallen apart even before this book--which must have been seen as part of their effort to promote Lead Belly's performances--was published. A commercial flop, receiving a long, condescending review in the New York Times, the book still stands as one of the most substantial biographies of a black musician to be published before the Second World War. Lead Belly spent the last fifteen years of his life performing, influencing the white folk music scence, blues, and eventually rock 'n' roll. An indisputably important book. First edition (first printing). A much-nicer-than-usual copy. Cloth covers shellacked, perhaps as a preservation effort, and indeed, they show almost no wear. The dust jacket has minor loss at the folds and a few creases, but is generally very good or better. The orange dots on the spine and a narrow strip of the front cover have faded to yellow, as usual. Scarce in nice condition. The back of the jacket, incidentally, advertises other new Macmillan books, including Gone with the Wind. Bookseller Inventory # 74184
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