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Posts Tagged ‘Wilco’

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“I recall Gandhi said ultimately all things devolve into the political, but I’d argue that all things devolve into pro-people and anti-people. And I can pose the question, which side are you on?”

― Stetson Kennedy

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I came across the above quote from the late author/activist/folklorist Stetson Kennedy (1916-2011) and it really spoke to me, especially when applied to the current affairs taking place here in this country.

Myself, I see the current administration not being particularly pro-people. They tend to be more pro-corporation, pro-wealthy, pro-white. Actually, they tend are the wrong words here– they are those things.

I would call them anti-people.

This is fairly evident especially if you are a person of color, a woman, a gay or transgender person, a non-christian, an immigrant, a poor person, a sick person, a person who likes clean water and air, a person who prefers fair and honest elections, a person who doesn’t want to have to pack a sidearm to go to the market, a person who doesn’t like their nation’s leader* cozying up to our longtime foes and slapping down our allies, a person who values education and the sciences, a person who sees the value of collective bargaining and the pure falsity of trickle down economics or someone who prefers simple truth to absolute deception.

In these times, his question is a valid one– which side are you on? If you can’t answer this simple question, we’re all in world of trouble.

That said, I thought I would share a little more info on Stetson Kennedy because I am pretty sure he’s well off most of our radars. Part of the family of Stetson hat fame, he was a folklorist, having written a well regarded book on the folklore of his native Florida, as well as a civil rights and union activist through the early part of his adult life. Unable to serve in WW II because of a back injury, Kennedy turned his efforts to righting some of the injustices and dangers he saw in his own part of the world, primarily racial hatred and inequality. He infiltrated the KKK and wrote a book, I Rode With the Ku Klux Klan, which exposed the rituals and actions of the group and that ultimately led to a governmental crackdown on it, crippling the hate group for decades to come.

An interesting part of this story is that while he was infiltrating the KKK, he was feeding code words from the group to the writers of the Superman radio show who used them in a 16 part segment on the show called Clan of the Fiery Cross. It had a huge impact in the public perception of the group and set back its recruitment and growth for decades.

No one wanted to be in a group that the Man of Steel was against. If only it were still that way.

Here are a few more words from Kennedy:

“There is more than one way to be Kluxed, and we need to think about ourselves and the kind of people we elect into public office.”

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“The bed sheet brigade is bad enough, but the real threat to Americans and human rights today is the plain clothes Klux in the halls of government and certain black-robed Klux on court benches.”

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“If the Bush brothers really think that women and minorities are getting preferential treatment, they should get themselves a sex change, paint themselves black and check it out.”

–Stetson Kennedy, 2004


That brings us to this Sunday morning music. It’s, believe it or not, a song called Stetson Kennedy from one of my favorite albums, Mermaid Avenue, from the collaboration of Billy Bragg and Wilco in creating songs from a group of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. Guthrie was friend of Kennedy and when Kennedy ran for the governorship of Florida in 1952 — which he lost and for which he was vilified and basically ran out of the state– Guthrie wrote the lyrics for a campaign song that never came about. Bragg and Wilco did it many years later, in 1997. I liked this song before I knew Stetson Kennedy was particularly the line:

I ain’t the world’s best writer nor the world’s best speller
But when I believe in something I’m the loudest yeller

Give a listen and have yourself a decent Sunday. And, hey, pick a side, will ya’?

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Going to keep it simple this morning and just play this week’s Sunday morning music. It’s off the collaborative albums , Mermaid Avenue, from Wilco and Billy Bragg, where they took never recorded Woody Guthrie lyrics and set them to music. I’ve played a number of the songs from these albums over the years but somehow missed this favorite. It’s about a Hesitating Beauty named Nora Lee and I’ve included the lyrics below. The painting above is a piece from 2003 called Rarity of the Moment that seems to have that same feeling of unfulfilled desire as the song.


 

“Hesitating Beauty”

 

For your sparkling cocky smile I’ve walked a million miles

Begging you to come and wed me in the spring

Why do you my dear delay

What makes you laugh and turn away

You’re a hesitating beauty, Nora Lee

 

Well I know that you are itching to get married, Nora Lee

And I know how I’m twitching for the same thing, Nora Lee

By the stars and clouds above we could spend our lives in love

You’re a hesitating beauty, Nora Lee

 

We can build a house and home where the flowers come to bloom

Around our yard I’ll nail a fence so high

That the boys with peeping eyes cannot see that angel face

My hesitating beauty Nora Lee

 

Well I know that you are itching to get married Nora Lee

And I know how I’m twitching for the same thing Nora Lee

By the stars and clouds above we can spend our lives in love

If you quit your hesitating, Nora Lee

 

We can ramble hand in hand across the grasses of our land

I’ll kiss you for each leaf on every tree

We can bring our kids to play where the dry leaves blow today

If you quit your hesitating, Nora Lee

 

Well I know that you are itching to get married, Nora Lee

And I know how I’m twitching for the same thing, Nora Lee

By the stars and clouds above we could spend our lives in love

If you quit your hesitating, Nora Lee

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I only have time enough this morning to throw this song out for this week’s Sunday morning music. The song is At My Window Sad and Lonely with lyrics by Woody Guthrie. The band Wilco and singer Billy Bragg put music to these lyrics along with a number of other Guthrie songs in the Mermaid Avenue albums. The version below is an acoustic version from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Nice stuff.

The image to the right is from my Outlaws series from back in 2006. This piece is called Followed. It was chosen because I think this person might be sad and lonely.

Give a listen and enjoy your Sunday…

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GC Myers- The Unwelcome Guest 2017Well, wasn’t that a day yesterday?

Unpresidented.

Actually, every day forward is unpresidented. And yes, I know the difference between the two homophones.

I believe I am using the correct one in this case.

In what may have been the worst first day for any presidency, the Faux One spoke at the CIA where he bragged about his victory, said that we may get another chance to take the Iraqi’s oil and trashed the press for showing photos and figure from his inauguration that didn’t jibe with the alternate reality spinning around in that bigly orange dome.

He then sent his press secretary Sean Spicer out for his first press briefing at the White House.  Spicer kind of looks like the Frank Burns character from the classic M.A.S.H. television series and has what appears to be about the same pettiness, intellect and temperament.  He is thin lipped and thin-skinned.

Spicer came out and attacked the press for its reporting on the size of the inauguration, angrily stating the obvious untruth, “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”  He gave some misleading and simply wrong figures from the Washington Metro to prove his case.

He personally estimated the crowd at the inauguration to be between 1 and 1.5 million.  I am guessing he wouldn’t be able to get a job guessing weights at the carnival with those keen observation skills. You can read a good article on the known facts of the inauguration in this article from The Atlantic.

Taking no questions, he huffed off the podium.  Again, think Frank Burns stomping out of the Swamp.

Beginning your tenure in that position with provable falsehoods is not an auspicious start.  And there was not a mention from the Faux One or Spicer on the large and peaceful demonstrations against his stated policies taking place within a stone’s throw of the White House as well as across the country and around the world.  Instead of acknowledging the protest and trying to reach out, they instead chose to whine and lie about something so inconsequential as the crowd size for the inauguration in their first day on the job.

Whine and Lie– it’s the new modus operandi.  Either get used to it or support and encourage a free and open press. Yell down every lie ( that’s apparently going to be a full-time job!) and stay engaged.  The unity, good will and energy from yesterday’s demonstrations is worth nothing if it is not continued forward day by day, week by week and month by month until change is truly at hand.

Okay, this week’s Sunday morning musical selection is from one of my favorite albums, Mermaid Avenue. It consists of the unrecorded lyrics of Woody Guthrie as translated though the music of Wilco and Billy Bragg.  This particular song is titled The Unwelcome Guest.  For me, that title could refer to the Faux One taking his place in the Oval Office.  But in the song it refers to a Robin Hood sort of character who travels the world on horseback stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  The rich refer to him as the the Unwelcome Guest and he knows that they will kill him one day.  But he knows that there are many other brave folks willing to take up his mantle and continue his quest.

Yes, they’ll catch me napping one day
and they’ll kill me
And then I’ll be gone but that won´t be my end
For my guns and my saddle will always be filled
By unwelcome travellers and other brave men

And they’ll take the money and spread it out equal
Just like the Bible and the prophets suggest
But the man that go riding to help these poor workers
The rich will cut down like an unwelcome guest

Have a good day. Stay engaged, be vigilant and speak up when faced with lies or hatred.

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GC Myers-The Incantation 1994I was going through some old images the other day and for some reason I always settle on this image shown here, an old piece from my earliest painting efforts over twenty years back.  I call it The Incantation.  At that moment a news station was on the TV, with its incessant and seemingly never-ending  coverage of the presidential primaries.

So much is said yet there seems to be so little substance in it that it turns into just words uttered.

Nonsense or an incantation, of sorts.

In my mind, the connection was made between this image and the song below, Hoodoo Voodoo from Billy Bragg and Wilco, based on unpublished lyrics from Woody Guthrie.  Guthrie had  several songs with nonsensical lyrics, often written for his children. I like this version– it spans that gap nicely between nonsense and incantation.

Actually, I think Sarah Palin quoted many parts of this song verbatim during some of her speeches, most notably her recent ones while stumping for Donald Trump. As I said: nonsense and incantation.

Give a listen and read along.  Hopefully the next time you’re held under a spell cast by the talking heads on one of the news networks, this song will start playing in your mind.  Nonsense is the only defense against their incantations.

Hoodoo voodoo, seven twenty one two
Haystacka hostacka, ABC
High poker, low joker, ninety-nine-a-zero
Sidewalk, streetcar, dance a goofy dance

Blackbirdy, bluejay, one, two, three, four
Trash sack, jump back, EFG
Biggy hat, little hat, fatty man, skinny man
Grasshopper greensnake, hold my hand

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Momma cat, Tommy cat, diapers on my clothes line
Two, four, six, eight, I run and hide
Pretty girl, pretty boy, pony on a tin can
I’ll be yours, you’ll be mine

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Jinga jangler, tinga lingle, picture on a bricky wall
Hot and scamper, foamy lather, huggle me close
Hot breeze, old cheese, slicky slacky fishy tails
Brush my hair, kissle me some more

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now
Kissle me now

Brush my hair
And kissle me some more

Kissle me some more
Kissle me some more

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hundertwasser_land-of-men-birds-shipsThe painting above is titled Paradise-The Land of Men, Birds and Ships.  It’s actually a mural that was painted on a building outside of Paris in 1950 by artists Friedensreich Hundertwasser and  René Brõ.  It was saved from demolition in 1964 although I have no idea where or in what condition it now stands.  I’ve featured Hundertwasser’s work, with it’s rich colors and organic shapes, here on the blog a few times in the past.  I like his work,  I like this and thought it fit well with the song I’ve chosen for today’s Sunday Morning Music.

That song is Ships and Birds from one of my favorite albums, Wilco and Billy Bragg‘s 1998 Mermaid Avenue.  It’s a collection of old unheard Woody Guthrie lyrics set to new music composed by Wilco and others.  This track features Natalie Merchant singing the lead and is just a lovely, simple  song.  A nice way to kick off any Sunday morning.

Have a great Sunday…

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I mentioned Woody Guthrie in yesterday’s post and it reminded me of a musical release that is coming out in the next month.  It is the release of Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions from Billy Bragg and Wilco, which incorporates the remastered first two volumes from the original 1998 release with a new volume of 17 songs. 

 These sessions were the result of the Guthrie family asking singer/activist Billy Bragg along with Wilco to have a go at interpreting some of the many songs left after his death in 1967.  Guthrie didn’t read music so his unrecorded songs’ melodies were stored only in his memory, leaving only the lyrics.  But the lyrics were terrific and provided Bragg and Wilco plenty of inspiration to produce a memorable set of music.  I have used several songs here over the years and often find myself switching on Mermaid Avenue (named after the street in Brooklyn where Guthrie lived at the time of his death)  in the studio to work by.

Here’s one of my favorites, Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key.

 

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