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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, La Vierge aux Anges, 1881

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, La Vierge aux Anges, 1881

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Some people didn’t like Utah Phillips.  But then, they didn’t like Pete Seeger either.

Utah died in 2008 after creating a lot of mischief in his storytelling and folksinging.  This song, about the plane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima 70 years ago today, needs to be heard more often.  Thanks to WERU radio for keeping the voice of Utah Phillips alive.

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My last post was an exercise in frustration—Nick Cave’s “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow”—because that’s nearly what we had accumulatedDana Winner over a period of two months.  The snow is mostly gone now, and it’s time to get beyond that.

Belgian singer Dana Winner has recorded one the best versions ever of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and although it’s a melancholy love song it does hold hope of summer.  And her voice is way better than Nick Cave’s.  Or Sting’s, for that matter.

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Just returned from the medical mission in the Dominican Republic.  More on that later when I sort out photos.  In the meantime see our Hancock County Medical Mission Facebook page or hcmm.homestead.com.nick cave

Thanks to Kat, from Keep the Coffee Coming, for this one:  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow.”

The firewood pile is under there somewhere.  I have already found the truck.

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This will work if you’re a Gilbert & Sullivan fan, or if you’re familiar with theModern Major General song from The Pirates of Penzance, “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” (even if you don’t remember where it came from).

As for the biblical philology stuff, I used to hang around people who did this, so yeah, it’s funny if you’re into that stuff too. In fact, it’s hilarious.

Laugh. Or not. The back button is at the upper left.

By the way, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Maine will be doing Yeomen of the Guard this year at The Grand in Ellsworth, Feb 6, 7 & 8.

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Dylan turns 73 today. Bob Dylan - early - at mic

Here’s a recording of him at his first TV appearance, about age 22, singing the traditional ballad “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Notice in his early style the debt that Dylan owes to Woody Guthrie, who was born about the time the song may have been written (possibly by Dick Burnett, a fiddler from Kentucky), about a century ago.

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We seem to be hanging out in England today. See earlier Good Friday post.

I put up the lyrics to this song before, and threatened you with a video of N.T. Wright singing it. Then I forgot.

Tom Wright has appeared recently, as if he needed more attention, as the cover story of the current issue of Christianity Today.

Here is the Bishop of Durham himself singing, not Bob Dylan this time, but “Friday Morning” by Sydney Carter. It’s a touch of irony on the level of Pilate looking Jesus in the eye and asking, “What is truth?”

“Friday Morning” by Sydney Carter

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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I’m trying to find a video of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee in AugustPete Seeger 1955 House Un-American Activities Committee 1955.  I know I’ve watched it, but it’s not to be found.  If you know its whereabouts, let me know.

Pete died today.  Ninety-four years and he never grew old.  One of the last great American heroes, and if you’d like to argue with me on that I shall walk away.  You win.  You know who your heroes are, and God help you.

Excerpts from Pete’s hearing before the Committee follow.  He was sentenced to 10 concurrent one-year prison terms (for contempt of court) but only served a few hours while his lawyer sorted out the bail.  Years later the sentence was overturned.

Pete appealed not to the Fifth Amendment but—as he said in an interview later—to the First:  freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.  Much of the hearing  can be summed up in this reply:   I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.”

The hearing begins:

MR. TAVENNER: When and where were you born, Mr. Seeger?

MR. SEEGER: I was born in New York in 1919.

MR. TAVENNER: What is your profession or occupation?

MR. SEEGER: Well, I have worked at many things, and my main profession is a student of American folklore, and I make my living as a banjo picker—sort of damning, in some people’s opinion.

MR. TAVENNER: Has New York been your headquarters for a considerable period of time?

MR. SEEGER: No, I lived here only rarely until I left school, and after a year or two or a few years living here after World War II I got back to the country, where I always felt more at home.

Further on…

MR. TAVENNER: Mr. Seeger, prior to your entry in the service in 1942, were you engaged in the practice of your profession in the area of New York?

MR. SEEGER: It is hard to call it a profession. I kind of drifted into it and I never intended to be a musician, and I am glad I am one now, and it is a very honorable profession, but when I started out actually I wanted to be a newspaperman, and when I left school—

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Will you answer the question, please?

MR. SEEGER: I have to explain that it really wasn’t my profession, I picked up a little change in it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Did you practice your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I sang for people, yes, before World War II, and I also did as early as 1925.

MR. TAVENNER: And upon your return from the service in December of 1945, you continued in your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I continued singing, and I expect I always will.

MR. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight-Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

MR. TAVENNER: I don’t believe there is any more authoritative document in regard to the Communist Party than its official organ, the Daily Worker.

MR. SCHERER: He hasn’t answered the question, and he merely said he wouldn’t answer whether the article appeared in the New York Times or some other magazine. I ask you to direct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: Sir, the whole line of questioning—

CHAIRMAN WALTER: You have only been asked one question, so far.

MR. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

MR. TAVENNER: Has the witness declined to answer this specific question?

CHAIRMAN WALTER: He said that he is not going to answer any questions, any names or things.

MR. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

The Committee got nowhere with him.  They went in circles for a while, Pete saying, “My answer is the same as before, sir.”  This follows:

MR. TAVENNER: I have before me a photostatic copy of the April 30, 1948, issue of the Daily Worker which carries under the same title of “What’s On,” an advertisement of a “May Day Rally: For Peace, Security and Democracy.” The advertisement states: “Are you in a fighting mood? Then attend the May Day rally.” Expert speakers are stated to be slated for the program, and then follows a statement, “Entertainment by Pete Seeger.” At the bottom appears this: “Auspices Essex County Communist Party,” and at the top, “Tonight, Newark, N.J.” Did you lend your talent to the Essex County Communist Party on the occasion indicated by this article from the Daily Worker?

MR. SEEGER: Mr. Walter, I believe I have already answered this question, and the same answer.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: The same answer. In other words, you mean that you decline to answer because of the reasons stated before?

MR. SEEGER: I gave my answer, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: You see, sir, I feel—

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I will tell you what my answer is.

(Witness consulted with counsel [Paul L. Ross].)

I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Why don’t you make a little contribution toward preserving its institutions?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that my whole life is a contribution. That is why I would like to tell you about it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I don’t want to hear about it.

Pages of transcript later, the Committee tired of him and  ended the hearing:

MR. TAVENNER: Was the booking agent of People’s Songs an organization known as People’s Artists?

MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same.

MR. TAVENNER: Will you tell the Committee, please, whether or not during the weekend of July 4, 1955, you were a member of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same as before, sir.

MR. TAVENNER: Were you a member of the Communist Party at any time during the various entertainment features in which you were alleged to have engaged?

MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same.

MR. TAVENNER: Are you a member of the Communist Party now?

MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same.

MR. SCHERER: I ask for a direction on that question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: My answer is the same as before.

MR. TAVENNER: I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: The witness is excused.

____________________

[Source of text]:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/01/28/pete_seeger_huac_transcript_full_text_of_anti_communist_hearing_courtesy.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

____________________

[CBC interview in 1965 about the trial]:

_____________________

And, in one of the most  patriotic songs (or least—you choose), written by Woody Guthrie:

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This flashmob assembled in a town square in Sabadell, Spain, just north ofBeethoven - thumbnail Barcelona. The quality of the video and audio is exceptional because it was sponsored by the bank in the background. But don’t let that bore you. The passers-by were completely surprised and delighted.

Beethoven’s ninth symphony, final movement  (“Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”).

Merry Christmas.

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Enjoy this one while you can. YouTube may yank it again. Mr. Bean

Rowan Atkinson, also known as Mr. Bean, conducts the Salvation Army Band in one of the best jazz-Christmas tunes ever.

God rest ye merry.

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Young doctor goes to Alaska to find himself, also to pay off his medical school debt. There’s a story in there somewhere.

In the case of Northern Exposure, the TV series back in the early ’90s, the youngNorthern Exposure - Joel and moose doc was Joel Fleischman, who clearly found himself out of his east-coast element and refused to conform to his new environment.

In another story, currently in progress, the doc is a young woman from an island off the coast of Maine, who finds Alaska somewhat her element, only more so. Bigger. Farther. Colder, and darker. She was too little back in the early ’90s to stay up with Mom and Dad and watch the TV show, and she has no idea what I’m talking about.

Darkness. Yes, that’s partly what it’s about this time of year, especially nearer to the Arctic Circle. Stay indoors under the fluorescent lights of the hospital and you’ll never know the difference, but your brain will burn out. Get out under the stars, under the moon, light a bonfire, a Swedish torch, make a snow lantern and email a photo of it to Sarah and Dick. Do something out in the cold and feel alive. After tonight Spring is on the way.

Light. That’s what it’s really about. Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. The menorah gets lit, the Advent candles too. Jesus is the light of the world, we remind ourselves at Christmas. God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.

The earlier years of Northern Exposure gave us some of the best TV around, and no doubt the series aided Alaska’s tourism. Great character development, great story lines, great scenery, fun-loving Tlingit people.

Here in the video Chris, the part-time philosopher and full-time disc-jockey at KBHR Radio, hosts the turning of the season from darkness into light. It’s makeshift, it’s a fire warden’s nightmare, but it’s a party.

Plug in the Christmas tree lights and have an eggnog. Spring is on the way.

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“A painter first, and a musician second.”  This is how Joni has described herself, but what a musician!  SheJoni Mitchell 2 has also said that her music  was meant at first to pay her way through art school and to buy cigarettes.  Her voice has lowered over the years, possibly from smoking, although she might say it was from age.  Her incredible vocal range has narrowed, but she still dazzles in torch singing and jazz.

My first awareness of Joni’s music was in 1971 while lobster fishing as a teenager with my father.  That summer, the coolest song that ever came over that boring old AM radio station (I think Dad kept it on only so he wouldn’t miss Paul Harvey News) began with the lyrics, “The wind is in from Africa; last night I couldn’t sleep” and it turned out to be Joni’s song “Carey”.  I re-discovered it a few years ago with her “Blue” CD, and recently I’ve burned a copy and listen in the car.  It’s new every time I hear it.

Joni Mitchell - olderLobstering on my own now, I’ve since made a fan out of at least one crew member, a friend from Switzerland—there was a folk program that used to come on every week (different radio station, and sadly no more Paul Harvey) and the host would open each time with a Joni Mitchell song.  I’d shove the poor guy out of my way and scramble for the volume knob and crank it up.  He got the hint and bought me her “Travelogue” CD for Christmas, just released that year and featuring her artwork and music about the September 11 tragedy.

Joni Mitchell painting - window

Self-portrait

Joni’s  lyrics really grab my attention.  She writes about life—joys and sorrows, broken relationships, and having fun (“Come on down to the Mermaid Café and I will buy you a bottle of wine, and we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down”).  Growing up conservative, the smashing of wine glasses didn’t make sense, but by now I can appreciate the act in the song at least (still, who is supposed to clean that up?).  Like good literature, she says more with fewer words, painting a picture in the mind (if not on canvas), whether writing about giving her baby up for adoption (“Little Green”) or breaking up with a man, possibly Leonard Cohen (“Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine; you taste so bitter and so sweet.  Oh, I could drink a case of you darling, and I would still be on my feet”), or worrying about a friend mixed up in the occult (“I think of rain, I think of roses blue; I think of Rose, my heart begins to tremble, to see the place she’s lately gotten to, gotten to, gotten to”).

I’m less conservative now, or perhaps more so; and I see grace in more places than I used to because God’s in charge of it and he’s not as stingy as we are.  Joni’s music points me to the joy and caring and truth that only comes from grace, whether she is aware of it or not.  Oh, there are other musicians that do that for me too, some of Joni Mitchell - at easelthem unfit to mention (some might think) in a conversation about grace; but this is Joni’s three-score and ten and I thank God she’s made it this far.

The video was recorded in 1970.  She describes her role in Woodstock the year before:  she didn’t make it there,  but wrote this song that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young made famous.

  

 

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16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing_girls
Fifty years ago today an African-American Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama was dynamited by members of a Klan group.   Four girls died, ages 14 and 11, with many others injured.

Joan Baez sings this song written by Richard Fariña (her brother-in-law) to commemorate the attack.

Read more in this Wikipedia article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

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I may get in trouble for this, but it’ll be with all the right people.

Today I got a belated Fathers Day present—a flag decal, and I rushed right out and pasted it on the back window of my Ford Ranger truck.  Nothing more patriotic than that.

No, it’s not a U.S. flag decal, there are already enough of those around; but it’s one that Sarah Palin would bealaska flag proud of nevertheless, and she may even have one of these on a GMC Yukon Denali, right alongside Old Glory.

Daughter Number One moved to Anchorage, Alaska a few weeks ago and sent me this sticker of the Alaska state flag—a simple and elegant design, with the Big Dipper and North Star.  Pasting it on the truck I felt like a kid again, when my parents received their copy of the Readers Digest, probably back in ’68 or so, when the magazines were stuffed with U.S. flag decals and sent to an appreciative public.  Not knowing any of the politics behind this (at the innocent age of 12) I rushed out (as I did today, less innocently, at 57) and pasted their decal on the side window of my dad’s 1961 Peugeot 404, the very car I learned to drive in.  Ah, Peugeot 404 1961memories.

This would have been a whole lot more patriotic (in 1968, to support the war effort) if the car had been a Chevy or a Ford (and not a Peugeot), but Dad had got a deal on the Peugeot, and this was decades before the French fell out of grace by not wanting to bomb Iraq with us.  A second time.

Come to think of it, it was the French not wanting to bomb Vietnam anymore that got us into war in the in the first place, back in the ’60s.  Remember?  French Indo-China?

John PrineWhich leads to my second topic—to prove I’m not rambling—a song about pasting a flag decal (that had fallen out of a Readers Digest) onto the windshield of one’s car (back in 1968 or so, and probably it was a Chevy) along with the patriotism, and a theology, involved in that act.

by John Prine:   “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”

(They’re already overcrowded from yer dirty little war / Now Jesus don’t like killin’ no matter what the reasons for / and your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore).

If I get in trouble for this it’ll be worth it.  And I got more of this stuff, too.

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Pete Seeger banjo.1Pete Seeger turned 94 yesterday and he probably sang at his own party.

In this video he is a mere 45, singing a medley of war songs that were popular throughout American history.

There is a little humor in this, as Pete normally sings anti-war songs, but he hopes you’ll not be too literal and appreciate the irony.

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