"Beautiful and affecting . . . Perhaps the songs are valuable not only because of their artistic worth but because they remind us of something most important in society that no one can quantify—how much everybody owes to things people give each other for nothing, such as songs."
"It is difficult to imagine that anyone concerned about the human spirit in extremis could be unmoved by [this volume]."
"A magnificent musical tradition . . . [Wake Up Dead Man] contributes to our knowledge of a little-known part of American life."
"A thorough, socially responsible, sensitive, and scholarly presentation."
—Bess Lomax Hawes, American Anthropologist
"There is great beauty in the simple, honest outpouring of human spirit in the texts and melodies of these songs. . . . Jackson has done great service."
—Willard Rhodes, Ethnomusicology
The songs helped workers through the rigors of cane cutting, logging, and cotton picking. Perhaps most important, they helped resolve the men's hopes and longings and allowed them a subtle outlet for grievances they could never voice when face-to-face with their jailers.
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