Archive for May, 2012

Eric Bogle (left) and John Munro

This is what Memorial Day is all about:  Eric Bogle singing songs of World War I (Click the link for another from two years ago).

I met Eric Bogle in Northport, Maine a few years ago, and his buddy John Munro, while they toured the US singing bawdy songs of Australia and sobering ones of war.  One of the most memorable concerts ever, in a small wooden building called the Blue Goose.  His songs No Man’s Land (also called The Green Fields of France) and his more dangerous And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda capture the spirit of war, or at least its bottom line.

Play the video of a performance of No Man’s Land below.

Well, how do you do, Private William McBride,
D’you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?
I’ll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
Been walking all day, Lord, and I’m nearly done.
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean, Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
Did the rifles fire o’er ye as they lowered ye down?
Did the bugles sing “The Last Post” in chorus?
Did the pipes play the “Flowers O’ The Forest”?

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Bob Dylan is 71 years old today.  May his music live forever. 

I used to think that only he and Joan Baez were capable of singing his songs, but there have been so many good covers of his work in recent years, from artists who have broken away from his style, that I’ve revised that thought. 

But Joan Baez is still the best at it. 

Here is Joan in 1965 singing “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, which Dylan had released the previous year on Another Side of Bob Dylan.  She may have been thinking about their broken romance as she was singing this.


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It’s come to this…

Item in the news:  Leading social networking site goes public on NASDAQ





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This folk song by Sydney Carter (1915-2004) has been making its way around the web lately, thanks in part to that ‘Sixties rebel N.T. Wright (see my post of May 12th).

I won’t play the video of Bishop Wright singing it (there comes a time when, as one realizes that YouTube is half one’s act, one should lighten up on the videos).

Andrea Mantegna, Calvary 1457-59

These lyrics to “Friday Morning” by Sydney Carter tell the story from Luke 23 of one of the thieves on the cross, the one who didn’t insult Jesus for getting strung up there with them. Maybe next year on Good Friday I’ll post the video. It does work better with music.


It was on a Friday morning that they took me from the cell
and I saw they had a carpenter to crucify as well.
You can blame it on to Pilate; you can blame it on the Jews.
You can blame it on the Devil, but it’s God that I accuse.
“It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me,”
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree.

You can blame it on to Adam; you can blame it on to Eve.
You can blame it on the apple, but that I can’t believe.
It was God that made the Devil, and the woman and the man.
And there wouldn’t be an apple if it wasn’t in the plan.
“It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me,”
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree.

Now Barabbas was a killer, and they let Barabbas go.
But you are being crucified for nothing that I know.
And your God is up in Heaven and He doesn’t do a thing
With a million angels watching, and they never move a wing.
”It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me,”
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree.

“To hell with Jehovah,” to the carpenter I said;
“I wish that a carpenter had made the world instead.
Goodbye and good luck to you; our ways will soon divide.
Remember me in heaven, the man you hung beside.
”It’s God they ought to crucify instead of you and me,”
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree.

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Mothers Day 2012

Pablo Picasso, Mother and Child. Sketch 1922.

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This works a whole lot better if you know who N.T. Wright is.  Anglican bishop, author, speaker, New Testament scholar, theologian.  “N.T.” stands for New Testament, or Nicholas Thomas, take your pick.  

Some people don’t care for Tom Wright, but those people aren’t the sort who like Bob Dylan either, so it’s a wash. Here Tom sings “The Hour that the Ship Comes In”, one of Dylan’s great eschatological hymns. 

This is another in the “you’ll either get this or you won’t” department.  And excuse the British accent. 


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I keep saying that Peter Seeger should win the Nobel Peace Prize.  Is anybody out there listening?   

At 93 years old he’s still going, and his music will keep on after he’s gone to graveyards and become a verse in one of his own songs.

Here’s a video of Pete in his natural habitat, before a crowd singing “Bring ’em Home”, a song still good today.  For a brief bio, and my last year’s commentary, click here. 

Happy birthday, Pete.  You’re one of the last of the American patriots.   

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