Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac-**Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- Songs To Sit Around The Soda Fountain By- A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of The Angels performing Cry Baby Cry.

CD Review

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Era: The ‘60s: Teen Time, Time-Life Music, 1991


Every “teenage nation” generation since they started to place teenage-hood as a distinct phase of life between childhood and young adulthood over a century ago has developed it own tribal rituals and institutions. Today’s teens seem to have cornered food courts at the mall, video arcades and the ubiquitous Internet screen connections through various look-at techno-gadgets although, frankly, I am not fully current on all their mores, customs and tribal language.

What I am familiar with, very familiar with, is the teen institutions of my generation, the generation of ’68, that came of teen age in the early 1960s. Our places of rendezvous were the corners in front of mom and pop variety stores in the days before franchise 7/11 came to dominate the quick stop one item shopping market; the every present pizza parlor with its jump jukebox where we deposited more than a few nickels, dimes and quarters; for some of the dweebs (or if you wanted to get away with a “cheap” date, but only as a last resort ) the bowling alley; the open air drive-in restaurants complete with car hops for more “expensive” dates; and, for serious business, meaning serious girl and boy watching, the soda fountain. And not, in my case, just any soda fountain but the soda fountain at the local individually-owned drug store that used the fountain to draw people (read, kids: what would we need prescription drugs for, those were for old people, we were invincible) into the store.

That last scene is what will drive this review, and for a simple reason. The cover of this CD (which is part of a huge Rock ‘n’ Roll Era set of CDs from this period) under review, The 60s; Teen Time, has an illustration of just such a classic soda fountain, complete with three whimsical teen-age frills (read girls, if you are not from my old working class neighborhood) all sipping their straws out of one, can you believe it, one paper cup while a faux Fabian-type looks on. Ah, be still my heart.

Needless to say this scene, complete with its own jukebox setup (although not every drug store had them, ours didn’t), the booths with the vinyl-covered seats and Formica top tables (with paper place settings, condiments, etc., right), the soda fountain granite (maybe faux granite) counter, complete with swivel around stools that gave the odd boy or two (read: me and my boys) a better vantage point to watch the traffic come in the store (read: girls). Said counter also complete with glassed-encased pie (or donut) cases; the various utensils for making frappes (that a New England thing, look it up), milkshakes, and cherry-flavored Cokes; a small grille for hamburgers, hot dogs and fries (or the odd boy grilled cheese sandwich with bacon); and, well a soda jerk (usually a guy) to whip up the orders. Oh, did I say girl and boy watching. Ya, I did. Still, what do you think we were all there for? The ice cream and soda? Come on. Does it really take an hour or an hour and a half to drink a Pepsi even in teen-land?

Enough said about the décor because the mere mention of the term “soda jerk” brings to mind a Frankie, Frankie from the old neighborhood story, Frankie of a thousand stories and Frankie who was the king hill skirt-chaser (read: girl), and my best friend in middle school (a.k.a. junior high) and high school. Ya, that Frankie, or rather this time Frankie’s sister. Now when we were juniors in high school we mainly held court at the local pizza parlor which in the pecking order was way above the soda fountain. That was for kids, unless, of course, things were tough at the pizza joint (meaning girl-free) and we meandered up the street to Doc’s drug store soda fountain to check out the action there.

Of course, before we graduated to the “bigs” the old soda fountain was just fine. And it did no harm, no harm at all, to strike up friendships , or at least stay on the good side of the soda jerks so you get an extra scoop of ice cream or a free refill on your Coke. Whatever. See, the soda jerk was usually the guy (and like I said before it was always guys, girls would probably be too distracted by every high energy teen guy, including dweeb-types, trying to be “cool”) connected the dots and said who was who and what was what in the local teen scene. But the thing is that the soda jerk also had some cache with the girls, I guess it must have been the uniform. Wow! Personally I wouldn’t have been caught dead wit that flap cap they wore.

So one night we are dried up (read: no girls) at the pizza parlor and decided, as usual, to meander up the street to Doc’s. We had heard earlier in the day that Doc had a new jerk on and we wanted to check him out anyway. As we entered who do we see but Frankie’s sister, Lorrie, Frankie’s fourteen year old sister, talking up a storm, all dewy-eyed, over this new jerk, who must have been about eighteen. And this “cradle-robber” had his arm around, or kind of around, Lorrie. Old Frankie saw red, no double red, if not more.

See, Frankie was a guy who had more girls lined up that he could ever meet and be able to keep himself in one piece, although he has only one serious frail (read: girl again okay) that kept his interest over time (Joanne that I told you about before when I was doing a Roy "The Boy" Orbison review). So Frankie was no stranger to the old male double standard of the age, especially in regard to his sister. Not that he was really protective of her as much as he was insulted (so he told me later) by some new “jerk” trying to make moves to become king of the hill by “courting: Frankie’s sister.

And Frankie, old wiry, slender, quick-fisted Frankie was tough. Tougher than he looked. So naturally new boy “jerk” takes umbrage (nice word, right?) when Frankie starts to move “sis” away with him. Well the long and short of it was that Frankie and “jerk” started to beef a little but it is all over quickly and here is why. Frankie took an ice cream cone, a triple scoop, triple-flavored ice cream cone no less, that was sitting in a cup in front of a girl customer ( a cute girl who I wound up checking out seriously later) and bops, no be-bops, no be-bop bops one soda jerk, new or not, with it. Now if you have ever seen an eighteen year old guy, in uniform, with hat on, I don’t care if it is only a soda jerk’s uniform wearing about three kinds of ice cream on that uniform you know, you have to know that this guy’s persona non grata with the girls and “cool” guys in town forevermore.

Or so you would think. Frankie went out of town for a few days to do something on family business (not related)after this incident and one night near the edge of town as I was walking with that young girl customer whose ice cream Frankie scooped (I bought her another one, thank god I had a little cash on me, and that is why I was walking with her then, thank you) when I saw one Lorrie sitting, sitting like the Queen of Sheba, in Mr. Soda Jerk’s 1959 boss cherry red Chevy listening to Cry Baby Cry by The Angels as “mood” music on the background car radio that I could faintly hear. Just don’t tell Frankie, okay.

And that is what drove the girls in those days to the kind of music presented in this compilation. Most of it was strictly from some Teen Romance notion of what girls, girls who bought records in vast quantities to while away their giggling girlish listening hours, though would sell. This stuff was definitely not classic rock like Elvis when he was young and hungry. Or Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley. No way. What this, mainly, was now that we were high strung teens very aware of what sex was, if not always what to do about it, that previously mentioned mood music. And while one would not be caught dead dancing to this stuff at a dance, even a school dance, out on the beach, in the car, or wherever boys and girls went to “be alone” this was the background music.

That said the ones that, as I recall in the mist of time, that set the “mood” best were, of course (ask my ice cream girl) Cry Baby Cry by the Angels; Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs: Clarence Henry’s classic make-up song, You Always Hurt The One You Love; and, Trouble In Paradise by The Crests.

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger's House- "Rainbow Quest"-Jim And Hazel Garland

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Pete Seeger's now famous 1960s (black and white, that's the give-away)"Rainbow Quest" for the performer in this entry's headline.

Markin comment:

This series, featuring Pete Seeger and virtually most of the key performers in the 1960s folk scene is a worthy entry into the folk archival traditions for future revivalists to seek out. There were thirty plus episodes (some contained more than one performer of note, as well as Pete solo performances). I have placed the YouTube film clips here one spot over four days, November 10-13, 2009 for the reader's convenience.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

*Happy Birthday Townes -Once Again, Townes Van Zandt- From The Vaults- “In The Beginning”

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Townes Van Zandt performing "Tecumseh Valley".

CD Review

In The Beginning, Townes Van Zandt, Compadre Records, 2003


This main points in this review have been used in reviews of other Townes Van Zandt material.

Whatever my personal musical preferences there is no question that the country music work of, for example, the likes of George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette in earlier times or Garth Brooks and Faith Hill a little later or today Keith Urban and Taylor Swift (I am cheating on these last two since I do not know their work and had to ask someone about them) "speak" to vast audiences out in the heartland. They just, for a number of reasons that need not be gone into here, do not "speak" to me. However, in the interest of "full disclosure" I must admit today that I had a "country music moment" about thirty years ago. That was the time of the "outlaws" of the country music scene. You know Waylon (Jennings) and Willie (Nelson). Also Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Jerry Jeff Walker. Country Outlaws, get it? Guys and gals (think of Jesse Colter)who broke from the Nashville/ Grand Old Opry mold by drinking hard, smoking plenty of dope and generally raising the kind of hell that the pious guardians of the Country Music Hall Of Fame would have had heart attacks over (at least in public). Oh, and did I say they wrote lyrics that spoke of love and longing, trouble with their "old ladies" (or "old men"), and struggling to get through the day. Just an ordinary day's work in the music world but with their own outlandish twists on it.

All of the above is an extremely round about way to introduce the "max daddy" of my 'country music moment', Townes Van Zandt. For those who the name does not ring a bell perhaps his most famous work does, the much-covered "Pancho And Lefty". In some ways his personal biography exemplified the then "new outlaw" (assuming that Hank Williams and his gang were the original ones). Chronic childhood problems, including a stint in a mental hospital, drugs, drink, and some rather "politically incorrect" sexual attitudes. Nothing really new here, except out of this mix came some of the most haunting lyrics of longing, loneliness, depression, sadness and despair. And that is the "milder" stuff. Not exactly the stuff of Nashville. That is the point. The late Townes Van Zandt "spoke" to me (he died in 1997) in a way that Nashville never could. And, in the end, the other outlaws couldn't either. That, my friends, is the saga of my country moment. Listen up to any of the CDs listed below for the reason why Townes did.

Townes Van Zandt was, due to personal circumstances and the nature of the music industry, honored more highly among his fellow musicians than as an outright star of "outlaw" country music back in the day. That influence was felt through the sincerest form of flattery in the music industry- someone well known covering your song. Many of Townes' pieces, especially since his untimely death in 1997, have been covered by others, most famously Willie Nelson's cover of "Pancho and Lefty". However, Townes, whom I had seen a number of times in person in the late 1970's, was no mean performer of his own darkly compelling songs.

This compilation, “In The Beginning”, gives both the novice a Van Zandt primer and the aficionado a fine array of his core early works in one place. This material, as the extensive liner notes reveal, was material that Townes performed very early in his career and had mislaid to be released only in 2003 several years after his death. Pay particular attention to some of the lyrics that are harbingers of later work like “Tecumseh Valley” and “Don’t You Take It Too Bad”. For those who thought that Townes merely evolved into his dark lyrics this one will disabuse you of that notion. He was always dark. Stick outs here are: “Black Widow Blues”, Black Jack Mama”, “Colorado Bound”, and “Black Crow Blues”. Blues is the dues, okay.

Waiting Around To Die

townes van zandt


Sometimes I don't know where
This dirty road is taking me
Sometimes I can't even see the reason why
I guess I keep a-gamblin'
Lots of booze and lots of ramblin'
It's easier than just waitin' around to die


One time, friends, I had a ma
I even had a pa
He beat her with a belt once 'cause she cried
She told him to take care of me
Headed down to tennessee
It's easier than just waitin' around to die


I came of age and I found a girl
In a tuscaloosa bar
She cleaned me out and hit in on the sly
I tried to kill the pain, bought some wine
And hopped a train
Seemed easier than just waitin' around to die


A friend said he knew
Where some easy money was
We robbed a man, and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me
And drug me back to muskogee
It's two long years I've been waitin' around to die


Now I'm out of prison
I got me a friend at last
He don't drink or steal or cheat or lie
His name's codine
He's the nicest thing I've seen
Together we're gonna wait around and die
Together we're gonna wait around and die

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger's House- "Rainbow Quest"-K. L. Lang And His Band

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Pete Seeger's now famous 1960s (black and white, that's the give-away)"Rainbow Quest" for the performer in this entry's headline.

Markin comment:

This series, featuring Pete Seeger and virtually most of the key performers in the 1960s folk scene is a worthy entry into the folk archival traditions for future revivalists to seek out. There were thirty plus episodes (some contained more than one performer of note, as well as Pete solo performances). I have placed the YouTube film clips here one spot over four days, November 10-13, 2009 for the reader's convenience.

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger's House- "Rainbow Quest"-Len Chandler

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Pete Seeger's now famous 1960s (black and white, that's the give-away)"Rainbow Quest" for the performer in this entry's headline.

Markin comment:

This series, featuring Pete Seeger and virtually most of the key performers in the 1960s folk scene is a worthy entry into the folk archival traditions for future revivalists to seek out. There were thirty plus episodes (some contained more than one performer of note, as well as Pete solo performances). I have placed the YouTube film clips here one spot over four days, November 10-13, 2009 for the reader's convenience.

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- Fidel Passes At 90-Films to While Away The Class Struggle By- Bernico Del Toro's "Che"- In Honor Of A Revolutionary Fighter And Hero Of The Cuban Revolution

Click on the title to link to a YouTube film clip featuring Che Guevara at the United Nations In 1964. You can link to many others from this one.




In Honor of Anniversary Of The July 26th Movement



From The Pen Of Frank Jackman (2015)


Every leftist, hell, everybody who stands on the democratic principle that each nation has the right to self-determination should cautiously rejoice at the “defrosting” of the long-time diplomatic relations between the American imperial behemoth and the island of Cuba (and the freedom of the remaining Cuban Five in the bargain). Every leftist militant should understand that each non-capitalist like Cuba going back to the establishment of the now defunct Soviet Union has had the right (maybe until we win our socialist future the duty) to make whatever advantageous agreements they can with the capitalist world. That despite whatever disagreements we have with the political regimes ruling those non-capitalist states. That is a question for us to work out not the imperialists.

For those who have defended the Cuban Revolution since its victory in 1959 under whatever political rationale (pro-socialist, right to self-determination, or some other hands off policy) watching on black and white television the rebels entering Havana this day which commemorates the heroic if unsuccessful efforts at Moncada we should affirm our continued defense of the Cuban revolution. Oh yes, and tell the American government to give back Guantanamo while we are at it.    



Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some films that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. In the future I expect to do the same for books under a similar heading.-Markin

DVD Review (2011)

This year is the 58th Anniversary of the July 26th Movement's Moncada attack, the 52nd Anniversary of the Cuban revolution and the 44th anniversary of the death of Ernesto, “Che”, Guevara in the wilds of Bolivia. Defend The Cuban Revolution! Free The Cuban Five!

Che, starring Bernico Del Toro, 2008

The first paragraph and other portions of this review have been used in other DVD reviews of Che Guevara and fit here as well:

"On more than one occasion I have mentioned that "Che" Guevara, as icon and legend, despite his left Stalinist politics (at best) and the political gulf that separated him from those who fought, and fight, under the banner of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International, was, and is, a justifiably appealing revolutionary militant for the world's youth to consider. A number of films have come out over the years that portray one or another aspect of the "Che" personality. Here the central thrust of the film is the creation of "Che" as a revolutionary cadre in the guerrilla warfare movement that dominated much of the radical political action of the 1960s, in the wake of the success and survival of the Cuban revolution in the face of American Yankee imperialism."

Unlike other films of Che`s exploits that have been reviewed in this space this monster, two-disc, four and one half film is strictly a homage to his skills as a revolutionary guerilla fighter out in the bush first in the hills of the Sierra Maestre in Cuba and then, tragically and fatally, in rural Bolivia. Some footage is thrown in, seemingly as relief, from interviews and an occasional speech but the heart of the film, and probably the reason that Che will long be remembered by generations of youth is that fight to turn himself from a "rich kid" doctor to a struggler against imperialism wherever he found it.

That story, whatever, the political differences we might have is appealing. What is not, in a long film, is the concentration on every military maneuver and every action in every campaign in Cuba and Bolivia. This short changes Che as a political man with definite politic views, hard views about the nature of the future communist society, that came to the fore in the period when he was a Cuban state official and responsible for helping to run the government under the guns, real and economic, of American imperial attack.

In that sense this film does not work. Moreover, in contrast to Eduardo Noriega's "Che" in which that actor in his mannerisms, his good and manly looks, and in his earnestness (no pun intended) to free the Americas of the Yankee "beast" was Che. Bernico Del Toro's seems a bit ponderous. However, the film is saved a bit when "Che" and Del Toro are reprieved in the Bolivia-centered second disc when we get a better look at his determination to end up where he started, as a guerrilla fighter extraordinaire fighting against the world's injustices.

That, my friends, today is refreshingly appealing. That said though, Che deserved a better fate that to be caught out in the bush in Bolivia. And here, as I have noted elsewhere, is where the irony (and the political differences) between us comes in. What the hell was he doing in the Bolivian bush, of all places in Bolivia when they was a working class (mainly miners) who had a history of extreme militancy and readiness to do class battles against the state (and have done so since then). Che, mainly deserves his status as icon, as a personal exemplar, but a whole generation of militants in Latin America and elsewhere got torn up to no purpose based on that wrong strategic assumption. That is the real lesson of the film.

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- As Fidel Passes-"One Hundred Years Of Solitude"?- A Guest Review Of A Biography Of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Click On Title To Link To Guest Book Review Of The Life Of Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Commentary

Although I have reviewed a number of novels, political or otherwise, in this space over the past several years the name of the Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been mentioned here only in passing as one of the "talking heads" in documentary reviews about his long time friend, the Cuban Revolution's Fidel Castro. This recent biography of Marquez, which I have not read yet, according to the guest book review cited above delves into that relationship. In any case, for those with a bent toward biography this will have to do for now. I will review the few Marquez's novels that I have read, including the magically realistic (whee!) One Hundred Years Of Solitude, at some later time. GGM-RIP-April 2014 

**********

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- On Moncada- A Documentary View of Fidel Castro

In Honor of Anniversary Of The July 26th Movement
From The Pen Of Frank Jackman (2015)
Every leftist, hell, everybody who stands on the democratic principle that each nation has the right to self-determination should cautiously rejoice at the “defrosting” of the long-time diplomatic relations between the American imperial behemoth and the island of Cuba (and the freedom of the remaining Cuban Five in the bargain). Every leftist militant should understand that each non-capitalist like Cuba going back to the establishment of the now defunct Soviet Union has had the right (maybe until we win our socialist future the duty) to make whatever advantageous agreements they can with the capitalist world. That despite whatever disagreements we have with the political regimes ruling those non-capitalist states. That is a question for us to work out not the imperialists.
For those who have defended the Cuban Revolution since its victory in 1959 under whatever political rationale (pro-socialist, right to self-determination, or some other hands off policy) watching on black and white television the rebels entering Havana this day which commemorates the heroic if unsuccessful efforts at Moncada we should affirm our continued defense of the Cuban revolution. Oh yes, and tell the American government to give back Guantanamo while we are at it.   


DVD REVIEW

Fidel Castro: An American Experience, PBS Productions, 2004


This year marks the 55th anniversary of the Cuban July 26th movement, the 49th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution and the 41st anniversary of the execution of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara by the Bolivian Army after the defeat of his guerrilla forces and his capture in godforsaken rural Bolivia. I have reviewed the life of Che elsewhere in this space (see July archives, dated July 5, 2006). The Cuban Revolution stood for my generation, the Generation of '68, and, hopefully, will for later generations as a symbol of revolutionary intransigence against American imperialism.

Thus, it is fitting to review a biography of Che’s comrade and central leader of that revolution, Fidel Castro. Obviously, it is harder to evaluate the place in history of the disabled, but still living, Fidel than the iconic Che whose place is secured in the revolutionary pantheon. The choice of this documentary reflected my desire to review a recent post- Soviet biographic sketch. As always one must accept that most Western biographic sketches have various degrees of hostility to the Castro regime and the Cuban Revolution. The director here, Ms. Borsch, is apparently a second generation Cuban exile in America. Nevertheless, after viewing this sketch I find that it gives a reasonable account of the highlights of Fidel’s life thus far and for those not familiar with the Fidel saga a good place to start. To get a more detailed analysis one, as always, then goes to the books to get a better sense of the subject.

Let us be clear about two things. First, this writer has defended the Cuban Revolution since its inception; initially under a liberal- democratic premise of the right of nations, especially applicable to small nations pressed up against the imperialist powers, to self-determination; later under the above-mentioned premise and also that it should be defended on socialist grounds, not my idea of socialism- the Bolshevik, 1917 kind- but as an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist revolution nevertheless. That prospective continues to be this writer’s position today. Secondly, my conception of revolutionary strategy and thus of world politics has for a long time been far removed from Fidel Castro’s (and Che’s) strategy, which emphasized military victory by guerrilla forces in the countryside, rather than my position of mass action by the urban proletariat leading the rural masses. That said, despite those strategic political differences this militant can honor the Cuban Revolution as a symbol of a fight all anti-imperialist militants should defend.

Ms. Borsch obviously differs with my political prospective. Nevertheless she has presented interesting footage focusing on the highlights of Fidel’s career; the early student days struggling for political recognition; the initial fights against Batista; the famous but unsuccessful Moncada attack; the subsequent trial, imprisonment and then exile in Mexico; the return to Cuba and renewed fight under a central strategy of guerrilla warfare rather than urban insurrection; the triumph over Batista in 1959; the struggle against American imperialist intervention and the nationalizations of much of Cuba’s economy; the American-sponsored Bay of Pigs in 1961; the rocky alliance with the Soviet Union and the Cuban Missile Crisis; the various ups and downs in the Cuban economy stemming from reliance on the monoculture of sugar; the various periods of Cuban international revolutionary support activity, including Angola and Nicaragua; the demise of the Soviet Union and the necessity of Cuba to go it alone along with its devastating hardships; and, various other events up through the 1990’s.

All of this is complete with the inevitable ‘talking heads’ experts interspersed throughout the documentary giving their take on the meaning of various incidents. There is plenty of material to start with and much to analyze. As mentioned before Che’s place is secure and will be a legitimate symbol of rebellion for youth for a long time. Fidel, as a leader of state and a much more mainline Stalinist (although compared with various stodgy Soviet leaderships that he dealt with over the years he must have seemed like their worst Trotsky nightmare) has a much less assured place. Alas, the old truism holds here - revolutionaries should not die in their beds.

On The 60th Anniversary Defend The Gains Of The Cuban Revolution- *In Defense Of Cuban Revolution- In Memory Of Celia Hart -A Daughter Of The Revolution

Click on the headline to link to a "Defense Of Marxism" Website 2004 commentary by Alan Woods on some of the politics, and political controversy, of the late Celia Hart.

Workers Vanguard No. 922
10 October 2008

Celia Hart, 1963 - 2008


On September 7, Cuban leftist Celia Hart, along with her brother Abel, died in a car accident in the Cuban capital of Havana. Their parents, Armando Hart and Haydée Santamaría, were two historic leaders of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which laid the basis for the overthrow of capitalist rule on the island and establishment of the Cuban deformed workers state.

Celia Hart regarded herself as a Trotskyist. But this stood in contradiction to her unwavering support for Fidel Castro’s Cuban Stalinist regime and her support to the bourgeois-populist regime of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, with which Cuba is currently allied. The eclectic and self-contradictory “trotsko-guevarist” politics she espoused were at a great distance from the revolutionary program embodied in Trotsky’s permanent revolution. But Hart did not ooze with the odious anti-Communism of the social-democratic left that liked to parade her around at their international conferences, like the recent Socialist Action-organized Toronto event, “A World in Revolt—Prospects for Socialism in the 21st Century” (see “ICL’s Trotskyism vs. Socialist Action Reformism,” WV No. 917, 4 July). Celia Hart was feisty and sharp, always willing to engage in open political debate. We always enjoyed our discussions with her. We are sorry that she’s gone.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac-When Kerouac Beat Was Neat-A Film Clip From The 1950s B-Film Classic “High School Confidential”

I ain’t saying that this B-film (although A on the rock and roll intro with Jerry Lee Lewis sitting at the piano in back of a flat-bed truck flailing, yes, flailing away on his classic rock and roll song teen angst, teen alienation song High School Confidential heralding the hint, just the hint, of a possibility that we of the generation of ’68 might be getting ready for that big jail break we were sitting under some atomic bomb air raid desk looking for guidance on) “beat” poetess will make you throw away your personally autographed first edition City Lights copy of mad monk om man Allen Ginsberg’s Howl or even some torn-up paperback copy of Jeanbon (Jack) Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues or even some shotgun version of street gunsel mad poet Gregory’s Corso’s machine gun sonnets but she was a sister, a sister in the struggle to break out of the square, the big box that they had waiting for us as portrayed by Hollywood. Be-bop, be-bop sister, be-bop.




I ain’t saying that everything the sister had to say had its head on straight or that if we, we meaning those fledgling ‘68ers mentioned above, had heard her in some forbidden teen age night club,  a club filled with smoke, cigarette smoke and djinn smoke and weed smoke and maybe hash pipe smoke too although that might have been for more private moments, and maybe too train smoke and dreams, road dreams to see mystic vistas,  sitting with some cashmere sweater frill, not quite old enough to do the apparel justice, blonde maybe, red-headed for sure, in ancient landlocked celtic strongholds where some fierce blue-eyed boys stood waiting, holding forth against the squares, against the cubes, against the pentagonals,  against the angry young men, against the not angry young men, and ditto women, against the death-dealing old men, against the country club uncertain certainties, against that cold war hot war red scare night, against the break-out blockers as fierce as any New York Giants monster linebacker, that we would have understood half, hell, a quarter of what she said but like some mad dash shaman, oops, shaman-ess, it would have stuck, stuck to be mulled over, stuck for later times and so…Be-bop, be-bop sister, be-bop. 


And I definitely ain’t saying that even if  all she said did have its head on straight that we, we meaning those fledgling ‘68ers mentioned above, had heard her in some forbidden teen age night club,  a club filled with smoke, cigarette smoke and djinn smoke and weed smoke and maybe hash pipe smoke too although that might have been for more private moments, and maybe too train smoke and dreams, road dreams to see mystic vistas,  sitting with some cashmere sweater frill, not quite old enough to do the apparel justice, blonde maybe, red-headed for sure, in ancient landlocked celtic strongholds where some fierce blue-eyed boys stood waiting, holding forth against the squares, against the cubes, against the pentagonals,  against the angry young men, against the not angry young men, and ditto women, against the death-dealing old men, against the country club uncertain certainties, against that cold war hot war red scare night, against the break-out blockers as fierce as any New York Giants monster linebacker, would have dug exactly what she had to say any more than when our time did come that we more than echo listened to om-antic mad monk Allen Ginsberg howl against that evil night, or Jeanbon (Jack) Kerouac sit in some hell-hole mere florida trailer park sweating whiskey and hubris against his children, or Gregory Corso playing the lone ranger against the death night, but it would have stuck, stuck to be mulled over, stuck for later times and so…Be-bop, be-bop sister, be-bop.   




The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger's House- "Rainbow Quest"-Patrick Sky

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Pete Seeger's now famous 1960s (black and white, that's the give-away)"Rainbow Quest" for the performer in this entry's headline.

Markin comment:

This series, featuring Pete Seeger and virtually most of the key performers in the 1960s folk scene is a worthy entry into the folk archival traditions for future revivalists to seek out. There were thirty plus episodes (some contained more than one performer of note, as well as Pete solo performances). I have placed the YouTube film clips here one spot over four days, November 10-13, 2009 for the reader's convenience.

Happy Birthday To You-Once Again, The Voice of The Generation Of '68?- Bob Dylan Unplugged



  1. Happy Birthday To You-

    By Lester Lannon

    I am devoted to a local folk station WUMB which is run out of the campus of U/Mass-Boston over near Boston Harbor. At one time this station was an independent one based in Cambridge but went under when their significant demographic base deserted or just passed on once the remnant of the folk minute really did sink below the horizon.

    So much for radio folk history except to say that the DJs on many of the programs go out of their ways to commemorate or celebrate the birthdays of many folk, rock, blues and related genre artists. So many and so often that I have had a hard time keeping up with noting those occurrences in this space which after all is dedicated to such happening along the historical continuum.

    To “solve” this problem I have decided to send birthday to that grouping of musicians on an arbitrary basis as I come across their names in other contents or as someone here has written about them and we have them in the archives. This may not be the best way to acknowledge them, but it does do so in a respectful manner.    

  2. Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Bob Dylan performing "Blowin' In The Wind" in 1963.


    CD REVIEW


    The Times They Are A-Changing, Bob Dylan, Columbia, 1963


    In this selection we have some outright folk classics that will endure for the ages like those of his early hero Woody Guthrie have endured. "The Times They are A-Changing" still sounds good today although the generational tensions and the alienation from authorities highlighted there is markedly less now than than in those days-not a good thing, by the way. "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" is a powerful tale out of John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" about the plight of an up against the wall family farmer out on the then hardscrabble prairies (and it has only gotten worst since and Dylan made one of his periodic 'comebacks' doing this song at a Farm Aid concert in the 1980's).

    "With God On Our Side" like "Masters of War" is a powerful anti-war song although some of the tensions of the Cold War period in which it was written have gone (only to replaced today by the fears generated by the `war on terrorism'). "Only A Pawn In Their Game" was a powerful expression of rage after the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers. The "Hattie Carroll" song shows Dylan's range by dealing with injustice from a different perspective (and a different class) than "Only A Pawn In Their Game". But with no let up in highlighting blatant discrimination and animus in either case. Finally, in reviewing these early Dylan albums (and some of the later ones, as well) I have noticed that they are not complete without at least one song about lost love, longing or perfidy. Here, there is no exception to that rule with the haunting, pleading voice of "Boots of Spanish Leather".

    posted by markin at 10:49 AM

    7 Comments:
    Kim said...
    The problem is that Dylan himself clearly states that Masters of War is not an anti-war song:

    Q: Give me an example of a song that has been widely
    misinterpreted.

    A: Take "Masters Of War." Every time I sing it, someone writes
    that it's an antiwar song. But there's no antiwar sentiment in
    that song. I'm not a pacifist. I don't think I've ever been one.
    If you look closely at the song, it's about what Eisenhower was
    saying about the dangers of the military-industrial complex in
    this country. I believe strongly in everyone's right to defend
    themselves by every means necessary... you are affected as a
    writer and a person by the culture and spirit of the times. I was
    tuned into it then, I'm tuned into it now. None of us are immune
    to the spirit of the age. It affects us whether we know it or
    whether we like it or not.

    from http://expectingrain.com/dok/int/2003tour.html

    And I think to say that "With God on Our Side" is an anti-war song is reducing the song to something topical. The idea that it is simply an anti-war song really ignores the last verse in the piece regarding Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot fought in no war, so then, if this is an anti-war song why is he even in the picture?
    I believe it is far less an anti-war song and far more a song about asking the question: what does it mean to believe in God? To me, it's more about asking the question: shouldn't we be on God's side and not He on ours?

    THIS question then throws into the spotlight the idea that God is on the side of America and that she is always right. Dylan, it seems to me, is not quite buying into that. None of us should. But he's not an either/or kind of a guy. He's not an "America is all bad or all good" kind. Hattie Carroll bites into two groups, and both come out severly wounded: the racists and their racist application of "justice" AND the liberals who decry injustice but do nothing about it.

    7:10 PM
    markin said...
    When I used the term ‘anti-war’ in relationship to Bob Dylan’s song Masters of War I meant that in a generic sense rather than giving it some specific political or pacific meaning. According to the Dylan quote that Kim cited in her comment there is a tendency, including by Dylan, to equate the terms ‘anti-war’ and ‘pacifist’. I would not give such a narrow meaning to the term ‘anti-war’. In Dylan’s context it is essentially anti-militarism, especially the dramatically American militarism of the time by the Brecht-like phrases that he uses. That concept does not preclude the concept of just wars against the escalation of such militarism. Leftists except probably Quakers, as a rule, subscribe to some form of just war theory. Certainly in my youth the concept of just war meant supporting the struggle of the Vietnamese against the American presence.

    One need not go back that far for an example, though. Much closer in time is the current ‘struggle’ by Iraqi forces against the American presence there. Although the situation is definitely murkier than in Vietnam, to the extent that any one is fighting directly against the American presence (as opposed to indiscriminately bombing everything that moves), theirs is an example of just war. Hell, in 2003 the simple act of the Iraqis, with or without Sadaam, defending themselves against the American invasion was an example of a just war. So Kim, you see that ‘anti-war’ is a pretty elastic term and that brother Dylan and I are, after all, not so far away in our idea that everyone has a right to defend themselves. It is a question of whose right to such defense is supported at any given point that is at issue.

    After the above rather abstract discussion, let us cut to the chase about whether Masters of War is an ‘anti-war’ song. During the Vietnam War I was involved with a group of active duty anti-Vietnam War G.I.s (Army soldiers, in this case) who faced court-martial for disobeying lawful orders. Those orders being refused were orders to go to Vietnam, a rather serious offense for a soldier. As part of their defense at the court-martial a few of them, when they got on the stand to make statements, started reciting Master of War in order to have it placed in the transcript of trial. The colonels and majors who made up the court-martial board tried to, red-faced with anger, stop them. Those officers, at least, knew what ‘anti-war’ lyrics were when they heard them. Enough said, I think.

    11:01 AM
    markin said...
    The question of whether “With God On Our Side” is an anti-war song is a little more problematic than that of “Masters of War”. I would only comment that one should not get hung up on the ‘god’ part as I consider this more a common political convention of the time in order to get a hearing for your song (a not unimportant consideration, by the way) that a universalistic appeal to for America to get “on the right side of god”. In the 1960’s, an age wedded to existential concepts, references to god could be as directed to the void as they could to some religious supreme being. Later, as Dylan entertained more religious feelings in his life and in his work that argument might make more sense but certainly not in the early 1960’s. If one did not have a sense of irony then, one was ‘lost’. That ironic sense is why we listened to Dylan and others. They expressed in song things about the world that disturbed us at the time.

    What really interests me today about Dylan’s lyrics on this song is how passive they are in relationship to the task that he has presented. In those days, the threat of nuclear annihilation was palpable as things like the Cold War –driven nuclear arms race and the Cuban Missile Crisis made plain. Dylan was apparently entirely willing to let some ultimately ‘just’ god pull the chestnuts out of the fire for us. Alternately, in those days a number of us preferred to take to the streets to organize the fight for nuclear disarmament. “God” could come along if he/she wanted to-no questions asked. Hell, we were so desperate for recruits that Judas Iscariot was welcome if he wanted to turn over a new leaf.

    11:12 AM
    markin said...
    Here are the lyrics to Masters of War and you can make your own judgment about whether it is an anti-war song or not. I have given my opinion above. Markin

    Masters Of War

    Come you masters of war
    You that build all the guns
    You that build the death planes
    You that build the big bombs
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks

    You that never done nothin'
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it's your little toy
    You put a gun in my hand
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    When the fast bullets fly

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A world war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain

    You fasten the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion
    As young people's blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud

    You've thrown the worst fear
    That can ever be hurled
    Fear to bring children
    Into the world
    For threatening my baby
    Unborn and unnamed
    You ain't worth the blood
    That runs in your veins

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say that I'm young
    You might say I'm unlearned
    But there's one thing I know
    Though I'm younger than you
    Even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    And I hope that you die
    And your death'll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I'll watch while you're lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I'll stand o'er your grave
    'Til I'm sure that you're dead

    Copyright ©1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

    7:31 AM
    markin said...
    A Voice Of His Generation

    Nod To Bob: An Artists’ Tribute To Bob Dylan on his Sixtieth Birthday, various artists, Red House Records, 2001

    A musical performer knows that he or she has arrived when they have accumulated enough laurels and created enough songs to be worthy, at least in some record producer eyes, to warrant a tribune album. When they are also alive to accept the accolades as two out of the four of the artists under review are, which is only proper, that is all to the good (this is part of a larger review of tributes to Greg Brown, Bob Dylan, Mississippi John Hurt and Hank Williams). That said, not all tribute albums are created equally. Some are full of star-studded covers, others with lesser lights who have been influenced by the artist that they are paying tribute to. As a general proposition though I find it a fairly rare occurrence, as I noted in a review of the "Timeless" tribute album to Hank Williams, that the cover artist outdoes the work of the original recording artist. With that point in mind I will give my "skinny" on the cover artists here.


    It seems hard to believe now both as to the performer as well as to what was being attempted that anyone would take umbrage at a performer using an electric guitar to tell a folk story (or any story for that matter). It is not necessary to go into all the details of what or what did not happen with Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 to know that one should be glad, glad as hell, that Bob Dylan continued to listen to his own drummer and carry on a career based on electronic music.

    Others have, endlessly, gone on about Bob Dylan’s role as the voice of his generation (and mine), his lyrics and what they do or do not mean and his place in the rock or folk pantheons, or both. I just want to comment on a few songs and cover artists on this 60th birthday album. Overall this Red House Records (a well-known alternate folk tradition recording outfit) production is a true folkies’ tribute to old Bob where the artists while well-known in the folk field probably as not as familiar to the general listener. Nevertheless several covers stick out: John Gorka’s rendition of the longing that pervades “Girl Of The North Country" is fine, as is the desperate longing of Martin Simpson’s “Boots Of Spanish Leather”. Greg Brown does a rousing version of “Pledging My Time” and the long time folk singer Rosalie Sorrels does a beautifully measured version of “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”. The finale is appropriately done by old time folkie, and early day Dylan companion on the folk scene Ramblin’ Jack Elliot with “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” Solid work here. Kudos.

    3:32 PM
    markin said...
    In the interest of completeness concerning my earleir evaluation of the Dylan songs "Masters Of War" and "With Good On Our Side" on his early albums here are the lyrics to the latter song.

    Interestingly, except for changing the Cold War theme against the Russians then to the so-called War On Terror now against seemingly every Moslem that any American presidential administration can get it hands on (Bush in Iraq and Afgahnistan) and Obama (same and, maybe, Pakistan) these lyrics "speak" to me today. The word they speak is hubris, American hubris, that the rest of the world has had reason to fear, and rightly so. What do they "speak" to you?

    "With God On Our Side"

    Oh my name it is nothin'
    My age it means less
    The country I come from
    Is called the Midwest
    I's taught and brought up there
    The laws to abide
    And the land that I live in
    Has God on its side.

    Oh the history books tell it
    They tell it so well
    The cavalries charged
    The Indians fell
    The cavalries charged
    The Indians died
    Oh the country was young
    With God on its side.

    The Spanish-American
    War had its day
    And the Civil War too
    Was soon laid away
    And the names of the heroes
    I's made to memorize
    With guns on their hands
    And God on their side.

    The First World War, boys
    It came and it went
    The reason for fighting
    I never did get
    But I learned to accept it
    Accept it with pride
    For you don't count the dead
    When God's on your side.

    When the Second World War
    Came to an end
    We forgave the Germans
    And then we were friends
    Though they murdered six million
    In the ovens they fried
    The Germans now too
    Have God on their side.

    I've learned to hate Russians
    All through my whole life
    If another war comes
    It's them we must fight
    To hate them and fear them
    To run and to hide
    And accept it all bravely
    With God on my side.

    But now we got weapons
    Of the chemical dust
    If fire them we're forced to
    Then fire them we must
    One push of the button
    And a shot the world wide
    And you never ask questions
    When God's on your side.

    In a many dark hour
    I've been thinkin' about this
    That Jesus Christ
    Was betrayed by a kiss
    But I can't think for you
    You'll have to decide
    Whether Judas Iscariot
    Had God on his side.

    So now as I'm leavin'
    I'm weary as Hell
    The confusion I'm feelin'
    Ain't no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head
    And fall to the floor
    If God's on our side
    He'll stop the next war.

    11:32 AM
    markin said...
    Guest Commentary

    I have mentioned in my review of Martin Scorsese's "No Direction Home; The Legacy Of Bob Dylan" (see archives) that Dylan's protest/social commentary lyrics dovetailed with my, and others of my generation's, struggle to make sense of world at war (cold or otherwise)and filled with injustices and constricting values. Here are the lyrics of three songs-"Blowin' In The Wind", "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Like A Rolling Stone" that can serve as examples of why we responded to his messages the way we did. Kudos Bob.


    The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Come gather 'round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You'll be drenched to the bone.
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin'
    Then you better start swimmin'
    Or you'll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won't come again
    And don't speak too soon
    For the wheel's still in spin
    And there's no tellin' who
    That it's namin'.
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don't stand in the doorway
    Don't block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There's a battle outside
    And it is ragin'.
    It'll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don't criticize
    What you can't understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin'.
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can't lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is
    Rapidly fadin'.
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin'.

    Copyright ©1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

    Blowin' In The Wind

    How many roads must a man walk down
    Before you call him a man?
    Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
    Before she sleeps in the sand?
    Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
    Before they're forever banned?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
    The answer is blowin' in the wind.

    How many years can a mountain exist
    Before it's washed to the sea?
    Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
    Before they're allowed to be free?
    Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
    Pretending he just doesn't see?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
    The answer is blowin' in the wind.

    How many times must a man look up
    Before he can see the sky?
    Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
    Before he can hear people cry?
    Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
    That too many people have died?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
    The answer is blowin' in the wind.

    Copyright ©1962; renewed 1990 Special Rider Music


    Like A Rolling Stone

    Once upon a time you dressed so fine
    You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
    People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
    You thought they were all kiddin' you
    You used to laugh about
    Everybody that was hangin' out
    Now you don't talk so loud
    Now you don't seem so proud
    About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be without a home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
    But you know you only used to get juiced in it
    And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
    And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
    You said you'd never compromise
    With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
    He's not selling any alibis
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And ask him do you want to make a deal?

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all come down and did tricks for you
    You never understood that it ain't no good
    You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
    You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
    Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
    Ain't it hard when you discover that
    He really wasn't where it's at
    After he took from you everything he could steal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
    They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
    Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
    But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe
    You used to be so amused
    At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
    Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
    When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
    You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    Copyright ©1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music

    Sunday, November 24, 2019

    Upon The 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of "King Of The Beats" Jack Kerouac-Out In The Be-Bop Rock Night- Present At The Creation-The Birth Of Rock

    Out In The Be-Bop Rock Night- Present At The Creation -The Birth Of Rock

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5fsqYctXgM&feature=related


    Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Bill Haley and The Comets performing the classic rock anthem, Rock Around The Clock.


    DVD Review


    One For The Money: The Birth Of Rock, various artists, 2005


    The birth of the “beat” movement or, at least the public awareness of its break-out, occurred in the 1950s. It even reached down to “the projects” kids like me with my dark sun-glassed, flannel shirted, black chino-ed look, and a mandatory pinch of teen angst if not of any real understanding of what that break-out meant. The seminal cultural moment for us kids, us clueless 1950s kids, was when the clean, free, breathe of fresh air that we call rock ‘n’ roll crashed onto the scene that also occurred in the be-bop 1950s.

    Although the “beat” movement, especially its literary end, was driven, and driven hard by the cool, clear, high white note jazz performed by the likes of Charley Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and in no way frontally drove rock the two easily mingle in memory of that be-bop night. Especially for those of us who really were too young to be washed over by the beats and got our “beatitude” in a more second-hand way but who were dead center when that wild jungle night, “devil's music”, “what was that sound, and where can we hear more of it?” drum beat hit our virgin ears about 1955 or so. Call us the stepchildren of one movement, and the children, mad, crash-out, runaway children of the other.

    That is the premise behind this one hour documentary as it tries to tap into what the roots of rock were, how it exploded onto the central 1950s teenage stage and how it was tamed beyond redemption, teenage redemption anyway within a few short years. One only needs to say the names Bill Haley and The Comets, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, and Eddie Cochran, and then say Fabian, Rick Nelson, Conway Tweety, Neil Sedaka, Bobby Vinton and Paul Anka to know that the music had died. And it wasn’t coming back, at least not in its innocent, hungry form, just as our youth never did either.

    For an hour documentary this one covers a lot of territory. Much time is spent on the roots of rock and who pushed it along and also on the space that what we now call, sadly, classic rock, filled at just that moment in the 1950s when we, meaning teenage America, were desperate to have our own music, our own not-our parents-seal of approval music. If you think about the roots, it is almost a "no-brainer" that black rhythm and blues would be an important factor as a source for rock. Especially as it came all rambly and scrambly out of the Mississippi Delta and got electrified in the immediate post-World War II period as it followed the black migration north to the Southern river cities and then the Midwest industrial cities. And as it got more sophisticated as its mainly black listeners and a few white “hipsters” settled in. Just listen to early Bill Haley “jump” with that bass line and saxophone on classics like Rock Around The Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll (even though Big Joe Turner’s version on the latter is about ten times better and sexier). Also a no-brainer, since it seems that every poor white boy child of the Great Depression who could strum three chords or pluck a few ivories was putting R&B together with that old time Appalachian mountain twang music, hillbilly music is the influence of rockabilly.. No question that this rock is purely American songbook-worthy music.

    As for those who pushed the music first place, rightly I think, goes to Alan Freed (and last place to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, although I like every other breathing 1950s kid frenetically raced home to watch the thing in the afternoon, every afternoon okay). He gets his just desserts here, especially in his attempts to bring to the fore the black groups who originally recorded many of the songs that would be covered by whites and who would gain much wider recognition for those efforts. Also deserving of mention is Sam Phillips and his Sun Record operation that was the first stop north for those who wanted to reach those teens waiting, waiting patiently, waiting out until hell froze over in the cold war night just to hear the likes Of Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee.

    Well I’ve covered the roots, I covered the movers and shakers, and I should mention the ”talking head” music historians who give their take, half a century later, on what it all meant. But that is no the real reason to watch this thing. The real reason is to see Bill Haley’s sax and bass men hold forth like high heaven’s own angels; to see Elvis shake , rattle and roll like some demon sex fiend making all the girls sweat and all the boys practice their moves in dank cellars or before merciless mirrors; to hear Little Richard go wild, male/female wild, high pitched wild at the piano; to see Jerry Lee reach down in some primitive place and drive those ivories to bloody hell; to see Chuck Berry duck walk his stuff; and to see between segues all that jitterbuggery, that shear, happy energy as the kids danced their hearts out. That, my friends, my nostalgic friends was what it was like in that be-bop night of 1950s classic rock.

    **********
    Rock Around The Clock Song Lyrics from Bill Haley
    One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock,
    Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock, rock,
    Nine, ten, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock, rock,
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight.

    Put your glad rags on and join me, hon,
    We'll have some fun when the clock strikes one,
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
    We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight.
    We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight.

    When the clock strikes two, three and four,
    If the band slows down we'll yell for more,
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
    We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight.
    We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight.

    When the chimes ring five, six and seven,
    We'll be right in seventh heaven.
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
    We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight.
    We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight.

    When it's eight, nine, ten, eleven too,
    I'll be goin' strong and so will you.
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
    We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight.
    We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight.

    When the clock strikes twelve, we'll cool off then,
    Start a rockin' round the clock again.
    We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
    We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'til broad daylight.
    We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight.

    The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *In Pete Seeger's House- "Rainbow Quest"-Grant Rogers

    Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Pete Seeger's now famous 1960s (black and white, that's the give-away)"Rainbow Quest" for the performer in this entry's headline.

    Markin comment:

    This series, featuring Pete Seeger and virtually most of the key performers in the 1960s folk scene is a worthy entry into the folk archival traditions for future revivalists to seek out. There were thirty plus episodes (some contained more than one performer of note, as well as Pete solo performances). I have placed the YouTube film clips here one spot over four days, November 10-13, 2009 for the reader's convenience.

    In Honor Of The King Of The Folk-Singing Hard-Living Hobos The Late Utah Phillips -From The Archives- *Playwright's Corner- Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh"

    Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for American playwrght Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh.

    BOOK REVIEW

    THE ICEMAN COMETH, EUGENE O'NEILL, YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, NEW HAVEN, 2006


    The dreams (and illusions) of the very wretched of the earth are different from those of you and I. Or are they? This is the true subject matter of Eugene O’Neill fine play. Very little action, lots of drinking, lots of dreaming, lots philosophizing by the bedraggled cast of characters in a low down gin mill do not sound like the makings of a great American play. But they are. The narrowly focused story line turns into a microcosm of the underside of American society in the early part of the 20th century. These are not the ‘robber barons’ of historic fame but the jetsam of the early stages of industrial society. These are the ones that cannot cope, for one reason or another, with the new ways and seek solace and comfort in the back streets of urban society. For lack of a better word these are what Karl Marx called the lumpenproletariat. Not Jean Genet’s hardened rough and ready sailors, pimps and male prostitutes but on the margins nevertheless. In neither case will they make the revolution. But they have their dreams too and O’Neill is there to chronicle them.

    Between shots of whiskey the denizens of this small world exhibit all the emotions, contradictions, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of life that the rest of us ‘normals’ have to face. Except, for dramatic effect, these flophouse devotees get their noses rubbed in it by one Harry Hickey- traveling salesman and sport- formerly chief denizen of the ‘resort’ who now has gotten ‘religion’ and wants to spread his new found ‘glad tidings’. Spare us from the Hickeys of the world-a little dreaminess and a couple of illusions never hurt anyone. Did they? Although in O’Neill’s hands the dialogue is a little stilted and the characters are a little stereotyped and wooden(the seemingly obligatory house philosopher, renegade anarchist, token immigrant, day workers, runaway with a hidden past, Irish cop and floozies) the point he is trying to make gets across just fine. This is a must read on your American drama list.