I’m back from a very pleasant and well deserved week’s in Dorset. Back from swimming at Burton Bradstock and eating breakfast lunch and tea (on separate days) at the Hive Beach Café; back from walking the lanes and footpaths, visiting NGS gardens, enjoying a or two pints of Palmer’s Ales. Back to work – doh!
Anyway, enough self pity, on with the blog. This week’s protest song was written in 1990 and does it still have relevance today? – does it ever. Here is the first verse:
“It’s all agreed, let’s have a war
It’s been so dull, let’s make some speeches
Let’s get the voters off our backs
They’d rather watch us storm some beaches
And so we lose some of the boys
At least we let ‘em die like men
Take out a villain, make some noise
And they’ll elect us all again”
It could have been written this year, or last year, or ..
So, continuing my musings on how how musicians make their money (and whether they make the money they deserve), how come so few people bought Cut and Run by Danny Carnahan and Robin Petrie? Indeed how come now one has ever heard of them?
I have chosen to record the event with Masters of War, a classic track from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the only Dylan album I ever bought on CD. As usual, I had problems deciding which track to select from the album, but, with daily news from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, this one seemed to be the most appropriate.
Masters of War is a classic folk protest song, and there has been some discussion about the genre since the publication, earlier this year, of 33 Revolutions Per Minute (A History of Protest Song) by Dorian Lynskey. The book was well reviewed and led to the publication of another interesting Guardian photo gallery. And to risk over-linkage and over-Guardianage, checkout this video of Martin Carthy and Tom Robinson discussing protest song.
I think that I should have a mini season of protest songs, so – watch this space.
Instead of an mp3 track, this week we have a video. Whilst rooting around the official Robert Johnson website I discovered this video. You will all know the song, so many versions have been recorded. If you don’t have the original, go out an buy a copy. As they say at the end of the video, “No Robert Johnson – No Rock and Roll.”
D’oh! I missed an opportunity. Yesterday (Sunday 8th May 2011) was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Johnson. It was commemorated in this article in the Observer. Never mind, I’ll post a track next week to celebrate the 100 & 1/52nd anniversary!
I was trying to think of more records in my collection that feature someone whistling to build a mini series of whistling tracks. I may not have any; certainly I could not think of any immediately. So while I rack my brains a bit more, here is Hank Williams singing (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle from his 40 Greatest Hits
Today, Christmas Eve, I’m going to post a Christmas song. The choice is between Loudon Wainwright III’s Christmas Morning, Loudon Wainwright’s Conspiracies or James Last plays Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. (Okay, I made the last one up). So it will be Loudon Wainwright singing … Christmas Morning.
Despite a certain lack of enthusiasm from some close to me, I love Loudon Wainwright. I love his singing, his guitar work but mostly I love his songs. Loudon Wainwright’s songs can make me cry with laughter and cry with sadness, shame and anger. Who else can do that? Not many.
Christmas Morning tells us that:
“A week from today we begin a brand new year
Let us all be hopeful, men & women of good cheer
And resolve to fight against stupidity and fear
It’s Christmas morning
And as awful as the world can be we are still alive
And if we’re very careful we might well survive
There are cures and solutions, and there is compromise
No certainty here, just some hope, resolve, ifs and buts. Going into 2011, I think we might just have to make do with that.
Happy Christmas (and / or other mid-winter festivities) and a Happy New Year to my small but loyal band of readers.
Today I’m going to post another track from the Charles Mingus album Mingus Ah Hum in tribute to Neil Fujita who died on 23rd October aged 89. Fujita was a graphic designer and was responsible for the cover art on this album and many other iconic jazz albums released by Columbia in the ’50s.
For Mingus Ah Hum, Fujita used his own abstract paintings, as he did for Dave Brubeck’s Time Out. For other albums he used artwork by other artists and photographers but still managed to convey “jazz cool” and make you want to buy the album. “Buy me and you can be cool too”, the covers say.
Later in his career Fujita’s designs were used on book covers. The most iconic of these were for Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
He went on to teach at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design in New York, and continued to exhibit his work locally after retirement. In 2005, he published his autobiography, Mouth of Reddish Water: A Japanese American Story.
Lots of pictures and big writing for this week’s homework blogpost. I’ve been away for the weekend celebrating my sister’s 60 and nephew’s 28th birthdays, so a quick post is required.
We have rock music for this week’s earworm! There is not much of it in my collection but I do have a Steely Dan CD. (Memo to self: should re-buy all the old Steely Dan CDs.) The track is Reelin’ in the Years from Can’t Buy a Thrill. Listen and then try to get that guitar riff out of your mind today – it’s impossible.
What to post today after an inconclusive general election and during a weekend of horse trading? Time to rifle through the album collection!
There are so many contenders and my initial reaction was to post I Cry and Sing the Blues by Buddy Guy. Perhaps not, but if it’s got to Buddy Guy with a more positive spin how about My Time After Awhile? Appropriate yes but why would I (how could I) put a positive spin on the election? The most votes and greatest number of seats went to the Conservative Party and I am not certain that regulating the financial sector to prevent another melt down of the economy is going to be the first act of a party bankrolled by … er the financial sector.
Whatever the result of this weekend’s deal making it looks like Gordon Brown’s days in Downing Street are numbered. So how about The Secret to a Long Life (Is Knowing When It’s Time to Go), I’m Sorry For You My Friend, or more unkindly, Shallow Brown?
After the Liberal Democrat’s disappointing poll, squeezed by Labour and the Conservatives, I couldn’t really dedicate The Time Has Come to the party or The Real Deal to Nick Clegg it’s leader, could I?.
So, it has to be that Cajun classic Cameron Two-Step by Barro with the Teardrops. Never heard of them? Well the sleeve notes tell us that the “Cameron Two-Step was a custom recording and no information is available on this band”. Strangely appropriate!
I’m cheating this week; I confess. I’ve run out of sitar music and haven’t got round to purchasing any more yet. “Shame!” “Charlatan!” and more cries beginning with the phoneme sh..!
To fill the sitar shaped hole I’m posting Ganges Delta Blues by Ry Cooder and VM Bhatt from the album A Meeting by the River. This album was a collaboration between Cooder (no introduction necessary) and Hindustani classical musician VM Bhatt. It won the Grammy for Best World Music Album in 1993.
Bhatt plays the mohan vina, a modified 20-string archtop guitar of his own invention. It has twelve sympathetic strings, three melody strings and five drone strings and is played with a slide. Ry Cooder plays bottleneck guitar and percussion on the album is provided by Cooder’s son Joachim on dumbek and Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari on tabla.
The album was recorded live with no overdubs at Christ The King Chapel, St Anthony’s Seminary, Santa Barbara, California, in September 1992. The sound is gorgeous and the music miraculous; more so because the musicians had never met before the recording.