History in Review
American Negro Songs
230 Folk Songs and Spirituals, Religious and Secular. By John W. Work. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 1998. Pg. 259.) ISBN: 978-0-486-40271-0.
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - June 3, 2009
John W. Work (John Wesley Work III, 1901-1967) was an African-American musicologist and scholar who specialized in African-American folklore and music. He was associated with Fisk University and worked with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. In his book, American Negro Songs: 230 Folk Songs and Spirituals, Religious and Secular, Work compiled a representative collection of folk songs that highlight the African-American experience. In addition to the songs in this collection, Work provides an informative overview the origins and the various forms of African-American music. Detailed information is provided on the history of African-American spirituals, blues, work songs, and social songs.
This book was originally published in 1940 under the title American Negro Songs and Spirituals. Despite the passage of time, this book still stands as one of the most outstanding collections of African-American folk songs. Still in print, this is an essential reference for singers, historians, and folklorist. Complete lyrics and music are included for each song. Work did not include individual notes for each song. However a great deal of information is contained in the five introductory essays that precede the actual songs. In these essays he also explores the role that African Culture, and Slavery, have played in the development of African-American music.
The essays alone make this book a worthwhile contribution to the body of work on African-American musicology. However, it is the songs that will be of most interest to most readers. The songs in this collection include both well-known classics and uncommon songs, such as:
- Angels Done Bowed Down
- Bet on Stuball
- Captain, O Captain
- Death Ain't Nothin' But a Robber
- Ezek'el Saw the Wheel
- Go Down Moses
- Go Tell it On the Mountain
- He Never Said a Mumblin' Word
- I Must Walk My Lonesome Valley
- John Henry
- Lay Down Ten Dollars
- My Name's Written on High
- New Born Again
- O Mary Don't You Weep Don't You Mourn
- Railroad Bill
- Screw the Cotton
- Steal Away to Jesus
- We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder
- Workin' on the Railroad Line
Songs of the Civil War, compiled and edited by Irwin Silber.
A Collection of 125 Civil War songs that includes an historical introduction, illustrations, scores for easy piano, guitar chords, plus all the verses.
Our Singing Country, by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax.
The words and music to 200 American folk songs and ballads that were first recorded in the 1930 and 40's.
Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
Copyright © History in Review 2009 - All Rights Reserved