Friday, 4 August 2017

Lloyd and Picture Post – David Gregory

In an article – A.L.Lloyd and the search for A New Folk Music – Canadian Folklorist and Scholar E. David Gregory writes:

Early in 1946 Lloyd resumed his career in journalism, earning his daily bread as a reporter for The Picture Post. His first article appeared in March 1946 and was titled “The Disney Team at Work” (1946b). It was followed the next month by “Can German Prisoners Learn Democracy?” (1946c) and “Argentina Votes Itself a Dictator” (1946d). An article in September, “Czechoslovakia: A Peasant’s Life” (1946e) probably explains how Lloyd got the opportunity (and the money) to attend a Czech folk festival that year. For the remainder of the 1940s he continued to work as a staff member of Picture Post, operating in tandem with a variety of photographers but most often with Bert Hardy.

As the Cold War climate worsened Lloyd nearly lost his job because of his known Communist affiliation, but Picture Post editor, Tom Hopkinson, resisted pressure from the weekly magazine’s owner, Edward Hulton, to sack him. Lloyd had to take care that his articles in the magazine between 1947 and 1950 were strictly “human interest” in focus and showed no ideological leanings towards the left, although he did get the opportunity to write about several topics that greatly interested him: fisheries, the mining industry, gypsies, the theatre, and UNICEF (1947c, 1947g, 1948c, 1948d, 1948e).

Other articles in Picture Post and in the monthly magazine Lilliput reveal that Lloyd’s job afforded him many opportunities to travel abroad, to Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Brazil and Argentina (1946e, 1947b, 1947d, 1947e, 1947f, 1948a, 1948b, 1948f, 1949a, 1950b, 1950a).

He used these trips to learn more about the folk music of Celtic Britain and of various countries of Europe and South America. During these years he continued his research into the traditional music of Central Europe and the Balkans, publishing articles on Moravian folk dancing and on the tradition of guerilla songs in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria (1946g, 1946h).

He also began to develop a parallel expertise in the folklore and folk music of Latin America. Lloyd, a talented multi-linguist, spoke Spanish and he felt a strong attraction to traditional Latin American culture, so he was excited to visit Brazil and Argentina in 1949. He was disappointed in Brazil, describing the situation there as “horrible” but he was fascinated by Argentina and was delighted with the chance to expand his knowledge of Argentine music and folklore, about which he would publish a booklet, Dances of Argentina (1954).

In his conclusion David Gregory writes:

The story of A. L. Lloyd and folk music in the critical half-decade, 1945-1949, is that of a man who began the postwar era thoroughly dissatisfied with the musical status quo in his own country. Scathing about the genteel apology for folk music perpetrated by the EFDSS, he saw - or believed he saw - something approaching his vision of “genuine folk-song” on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

In the U.S.A., he claimed, folk-song had been the popular music of the working man, white and black. And it was still a living tradition, vibrant and evolving daily in response to the changing times.
Initially pessimistic about the feasibility of breathing fresh life into the corpse of English traditional song, Lloyd gradually came to hope that it might, after all, be possible to borrow some of the ingredients of the American revival.

His travels as a journalist for Picture Post stimulated his interest in the folk music of other countries, especially Central Europe and South America, and he also came to recognize that some of the leading lights of the EFDSS were not as conservative as he had once thought. The radio program East Anglia Sings reminded him that traditional music was still a living culture in some regions of the British Isles, and his work as a song-researcher for Geoffrey Bridson led him to explore the almost lost heritage of mining songs from the coal-fields of north-eastern England.

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