On the 100-Year Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic, the Huffington Post Presents a Sampling of Early 20th-Century Folk Songs on the Disaster, Many Recorded by Alan Lomax and Family

“Indeed, one of the most common themes of Titanic songs is the wrath of God. By advertising the ship as “virtually unsinkable” and adding a list of wealthy and prominent passengers, the White Star Line made many people feel the whole voyage reflected hubris, waste, and greed. In many minds, the iceberg was the hand of God, teaching a lesson to the rich and the mighty.”

The first sample,”God Moves on the Water,” recorded by John and Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1933, is performed by Lightnin’ Washington and group. The second–”The Sinking of the Titanic”–was recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in 1937. According to the Huffington Post, “also in 1937, the Kentucky singer Arlie Baker sang Alan and Elizabeth Lomax another sympathetic song, whose most-repeated lines were “Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when that great ship went down.” This is the third song. The fourth wasperformed by Patrick Williams and unidentified group, and recorded in Nassau, Bahamas, by Alan Lomax and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, in July 1935. It’s called “Titanic Sinking.”

Read the article and listen to these songs at the Huffington Post.

Listen to more recordings by Alan Lomax in our Sound Archive.

Text developed and quoted from The Huffington Post.

Originally posted: April 14, 2012