Sally Go Round the Moon

Alan Lomax and the idea of Curation

Alan was a teenager, traveling the American South with his father John Lomax, when he first encountered this song, sung by 8 girls at the Kirby Industrial School in Alabama. He felt the song was worth preserving to paint a well-rounded picture of cultural life. Imagine you are 19-year-old Alan, and you are studying your community. What would you hear in your school that you would choose to record and share with the world? Later in life, Alan was contacted by Carl Sagan and invited to work on the Golden Record project. I'm fascinated by the connection between these two curation projects: Alan Lomax’s musical imagination, captured by going “round the sun” in 1934, compiled the first album to exit the solar system decades later! Once again, Alan had to think about the music that is worth sharing, through recordings, to paint a well-rounded picture of life on earth. His selections comprise over half the tracks on the Voyager Golden Record, which contains music from diverse genres and parts of the world. Imagine you are grown-up Alan. What songs would you hear in the world that you would like to record and share with the universe?

Songs Change and Travel

The Lomaxes discovered children in many parts of the United States singing this song. Other folklorists have documented the song on the Georgia Sea Islands and in Canada, as well. Compare the recordings; how are they the same? How are they different? How might the songs have traveled and evolved?