Sounds of the South
DOI link for Sounds of the South
Sounds of the South book
I had been recording in the field for twenty-five years—beginning with the Edison cylinder machine and every few years moving on to a better device—before stereo came along. After years of work in Europe during the ’50s I returned to America to find the folk song revival, that I had earlier helped to launch, in full swing. Where Burl and Pete and Woody and Leadbelly and a few others had held sway, now there were hundreds of singers and scores of groups. Some of the young folkniks, who dominated the New York scene, asserted that there was more folk music in Washington Square on Sunday afternoon than there was in all rural America. Apparently, it made them feel like heroes to believe that they were keeping a dying tradition alive. The idea that these nice young people, who were only just beginning to learn how to play and sing in good style, might replace the glories of the real thing, frankly, horrified me. I resolved to prove them wrong. Thus in the summer of 1959, supported by Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, I returned to my native South, where I had worked before, to record the singers of mountain, bayou, prison and cotton patch with state-of-the-art equipment.