Ballad of an American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson

Author: Earl Robinson and Eric A. Gordon

Publication date: 199?

American Folk Music and Musicians Series #3

The Scarecrow Press

"Earl Robinson's autobiography, Ballad of an American, is the life-and-times story of the composer who wrote the immortal labor song "Joe Hill" and the cantata Ballad for Americans, which caused a media storm when it appeared on CBS national radio, with Paul Robeson singing baritone, in 1939. A member of America's Old Left, a perpetual FBI target, and eventually an adherent to New Age philosophies, Earl Robinson characterizes the expanse of America in the twentieth century through his music. Robinson was involved in folk music from the beginning, and his influence would eventually be felt by all of America through such artists as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Ballad of an American is not a definitive musicological or biographical work, but a witty, darting, first-person account of one of America's most famous composers, during one of the most lively times in American history. The book reads like a well-rehearsed anecdote, infected with Robinson's humor and containing telling word portraits of some of America's most important artists, such as Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Carl Sandburg, and Frank Sinatra. Much like his music, Robinson does not shy away from the rough textures of his life and frankly discusses painful personal issues, musical triumphs, as well as the evolution of his active engagement in social and political expression.."