This came from my father in laws personal collection. He had a story he used to tell my husband about meeting Lead Belly. My late father in law was a penniless engineering student at Columbia University in New York during the Great Depression. He was 28 years old in 1939 when this recording was released. He supported himself in part by playing trumpet in dance club orchestras. His interest in music led him to study acoustics and sound engineering, and shortly before the War, he was working in a studio where Lead Belly was doing some recordings.
At some point between takes, Dad and Lead Belly crossed paths in a hallway and spoke at length. Dad wasn’t actually involved in Lead Belly’s recording, but he was in the building at the same time. Dad said that he’d heard Lead Belly was arrested not long afterwards. That would put the date around 1939, which is when this recording was released.