Showing posts with label Cisco Houston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cisco Houston. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- For Bob Dylan- *This Land IS Your Land- The Troubled Life And Musical Genius Of Woody Guthrie-A Video Tribute

Click Ob Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Woody Guthrie Doing " This Land Is Your Land".

DVD Review

Woody Guthrie And His Guitar: This Machine Kills Fascists, narrated by Billy Bragg with other artists and commentators, 2004


Most of the points made in this space in an April 1, 2006 review of Woody Guthrie’s CD “This Land Is Your Land”, reposted directly below, and his place in the folk pantheon, his work and his influence are germane to this extremely informative, well-produced almost three hour film documentary of the life and times of the legendary folk troubadour, “Woody Guthrie And His Guitar: This Machine Kills Fascists”. I will make additional points at the end:

“*A Populist Folk Singer For The Ages- The Dust Bowl Refugee- Woody Guthrie

CD REVIEW

This Land Is Your Land -Woody Guthrie, Smithsonian Folkways, Washington, D.C., 1997


Although this space is mainly dedicated to reviewing political books and commenting on past and current political issues literary output is hardly the only form of political creation. Occasionally in the history of the American and international left musicians, artists and playwrights have given voice or provided visual reminders to the face of political struggle. With that thought in mind, every once in a while I will use this space to review those kinds of political expression.

This review is being used to describe several of Woody Guthrie’s recordings. Although I have listened to most of his songs and recordings these represent those songs that best represent his life’s work.

My musical tastes were formed, as were many of those of the generation of 1968, by Rock & Roll music exemplified by The Rolling Stones and Beatles and by the blues revival, both Delta and Chicago style. However, those forms as much as they gave pleasure were only marginally political at best. In short, these were entertainers performing material that spoke to us. In the most general sense that is all one should expect of a performer. Thus, for the most part that music need not be reviewed here. Those who thought that a new musical sensibility laid the foundations for a cultural or political revolution have long ago been proven wrong.

That said, in the early 1960’s there nevertheless was another form of musical sensibility that was directly tied to radical political expression- the folk revival. This entailed a search for roots and relevancy in musical expression. While not all forms of folk music lent themselves to radical politics it is hard to see the 1960’s cultural rebellion without giving a nod to such figures as Dave Van Ronk, the early Bob Dylan, Utah Phillips, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others. Whatever entertainment value these performers provided they also spoke to and prodded our political development. They did have a message and an agenda and we responded as such. That these musicians’ respective agendas proved inadequate and/or short-lived does not negate their affect on the times.

As I have noted in my review of Dave Van Ronk’s work when I first heard folk music in my youth I felt unsure about whether I liked it or not. As least against my strong feelings about The Rolling Stones and my favorite blues artist such as Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James. Then on some late night radio folk show here in Boston I heard Dave Van Ronk singing "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" and that was it. From that time to the present folk music has been a staple of my musical tastes. From there I expanded my play list of folk artists with a political message.

Although I had probably heard Woody’s "This Land is Your Land" at some earlier point I actually learned about his music second hand from early Bob Dylan covers of his work. While his influence has had its ebbs and flows since that time each succeeding generation of folk singers still seems to be drawn to his simple, honest tunes about the outlaws, outcasts and the forgotten people that made this country, for good or evil, what it is today. Since Woody did not have a particularly good voice nor was he an exceptional guitar player the message delivered by his songs is his real legacy.

Woody’s relationship with the American Communist Party while no secret is not widely known. Even Bob Dylan, a worshipper of Woody’s in his youth, was not aware of it or at least that is his claim. What is interesting is that the subjects of his songs fairly closely reflect the party line as it changed to reflect the winds blowing from Moscow. Woody’s best work is reflected in the Popular Front-style lyrics of, for example, " This Land is Your Land" when the party developed its class-collaborationist policy with the Rooseveltian Democratic Party and accordingly all liberals were good fellows and true. The Hitler-Stalin Pact was obviously not good news for his lyrical style. Still, listen to his recordings and learn about hard times and struggle.”

This film documentary, narrated by Billy Bragg, is a welcome addition to the Woody Guthrie archival materials both for the nice array of photographs and film clips of various aspects of Woody’s life from an early age in those hills of Oklahoma through the 1930’s, on to his period of fame and then to his decline due to his physical disabilities (due to degenerative Huntington’s disease). Moreover, it is enhanced by the commentaries of Woody’s co-worker, the venerable folk singer/historian Pete Seeger, Woody’s daughter, Nora, who seems to have made a conscious and well-thought out effort to preserve his work for future generations, and by his son Arlo, a well-known folk musician in his own right. I would just add that if you only have time for one piece of Woody Guthrie biographical work then this is the one to get- it will stand as the video monument to his life and work. Kudos.


This Land Is Your Land

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

So Long, It's Been Good To Know Yuh (Dusty Old Dust)

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the place that I lived on the wild windy plains,
In the month called April, county called Gray,
And here's what all of the people there say:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

A dust storm hit, an' it hit like thunder;
It dusted us over, an' it covered us under;
Blocked out the traffic an' blocked out the sun,
Straight for home all the people did run,
Singin':

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

We talked of the end of the world, and then
We'd sing a song an' then sing it again.
We'd sit for an hour an' not say a word,
And then these words would be heard:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

Sweethearts sat in the dark and sparked,
They hugged and kissed in that dusty old dark.
They sighed and cried, hugged and kissed,
Instead of marriage, they talked like this:
"Honey..."

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

Now, the telephone rang, an' it jumped off the wall,
That was the preacher, a-makin' his call.
He said, "Kind friend, this may the end;
An' you got your last chance of salvation of sin!"

The churches was jammed, and the churches was packed,
An' that dusty old dust storm blowed so black.
Preacher could not read a word of his text,
An' he folded his specs, an' he took up collection,
Said:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

Pretty Boy Floyd

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Once Again Haunted By The Question Of Questions-Who Represented The “Voice” Of The Generation Of ’68 When The Deal Went Down-And No It Was Not One Richard Millstone, Oops, Milhous Nixon




By Seth Garth

I have been haunted recently by various references to events in the early 1960s brought to mind by either seeing or hearing those references. First came one out of the blue when I was in Washington, D.C. on other business and I popped in as is my wont to the National Gallery of Art to get an “art bump” after fighting the dearies at the tail-end of the conference that I was attending. I usually enter on the 7th Street entrance to see what they have new on display on the Ground Floor exhibition areas. This time there was a small exhibit concerning the victims of Birmingham Sunday, 1963 the murder by bombing of a well-known black freedom church in that town and the death of four innocent young black girls and injuries to others. The show itself was a “what if” by a photographer who presented photos of what those young people might have looked like had they not had their precious lives stolen from them by some racist KKK-drenched bastards who never really did get the justice they deserved. The catch here, the impact on me, was these murders and another very disturbing viewing on television at the time, in black and white, of the Birmingham police unleashing dogs, firing water hoses and using the ubiquitous police billy-clubs to beat down on peaceful mostly black youth protesting against the pervasive Mister James Crow system which deprived them of their civil rights.
Those events galvanized me into action from seemingly out of nowhere. At the time I was in high school, in an all-white high school in my growing up town of North Adamsville south of Boston. (That “all white” no mistake despite the nearness to urban Boston since a recent look at the yearbook for my class showed exactly zero blacks out of a class of 515. The nearest we got to a black person was a young immigrant from Lebanon who was a Christian though and was not particularly dark. She, to my surprise, had been a cheer-leader and well-liked). I should also confess, for those who don’t know not having read about a dozen articles  I have done over the past few years in this space, that my “corner boys,” the Irish mostly with a sprinkling of Italians reflecting the two major ethic groups in the town I hung around with then never could figure out why I was so concerned about black people down South when we were living hand to mouth up North. (The vagaries of time have softened some things among them for example nobody uses the “n” word which needs no explanation which was the “term of art” in reference to black people then to not prettify what this crowd was about.)
In many ways I think I only survived by the good graces of Scribe who everybody deferred to on social matters. Not for any heroic purpose but because Scribe was the key to intelligence about what girls were interested in what guys, who was “going” steady, etc. a human grapevine who nobody crossed without suffering exile. What was “heroic” if that can be used in this context was that as a result of those Birmingham images back then I travelled over to the NAACP office on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston to offer my meager services in the civil rights struggle and headed south to deadly North Carolina one summer on a voting drive. I was scared but that was that. My guys never knew that was where I went until many years later long after we had all gotten a better gripe via the U.S. Army and other situations on the question of race and were amazed that I had done that.         
The other recent occurrence that has added fuel to the fire was a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition where they deal with aspects of what amounts to the American Songbook. The segment dealt with the generational influence of folk-singer songwriter Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ as an anthem for our generation (and its revival of late in newer social movements like the kids getting serious about gun control). No question for those who came of political age early in the 1960s before all hell broke loose this was a definitive summing up song for those of us who were seeking what Bobby Kennedy would later quoting a line of poetry from Alfred Lord Tennyson call “seeking a newer world.” In one song was summed up what we thought about obtuse indifferent authority figures, the status quo, our clueless parents, the social struggles that were defining us and a certain hurried-ness to get to wherever we thought we were going.
I mentioned in that previous commentary that given his subsequent trajectory while Bob Dylan may have wanted to be the reincarnation Plus of Woody Guthrie (which by his long life he can rightly claim) whether he wanted to be, could be, the voice of the Generation of ’68 was problematic. What drove me, is driving me a little crazy is who or what some fifty plus years after all the explosions represented the best of what we had started out to achieve (and were essentially militarily defeated by the ensuing reaction before we could achieve most of it) in those lonely high school halls and college dormitories staying up late at night worrying about the world and our place in the sun.
For a long time, probably far longer than was sensible I believed that it was somebody like Jim Morrison, shaman-like leader of the Doors, who came out of the West Coast winds and headed to our heads in the East. Not Dylan, although he was harbinger of what was to come later in the decade as rock reassembled itself in new garb after some vanilla music hiatus but somebody who embodied the new sensibility that Dylan had unleashed. The real nut though was that I, and not me alone, and not my communal brethren alone either, was the idea that we possessed again probably way past it use by date was that “music was the revolution” by that meaning nothing but the general lifestyle changes through the decade so that the combination of “dropping out” of nine to five society, dope in its many manifestations, kindnesses, good thought and the rapidly evolving music would carry us over the finish line. Guys like Josh Breslin and the late Pete Markin, hard political guys as well as rabid music lovers and dopers, used to laugh at me when I even mentioned that I was held in that sway especially when ebb tide of the counter-cultural movement hit in Nixon times and the bastinado was as likely to be our home as the new Garden. Still Jim Morrison as the “new man” (new human in today speak) made a lot of sense to me although when he fell down like many others to the lure of the dope I started reappraising some of my ideas -worried about that bastinado fate.  

So I’ll be damned right now if I could tell you that we had such a voice, and maybe that was the problem, or a problem which has left us some fifty years later without a good answer. Which only means for others to chime in with their thoughts on this matter.         

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- For Bob Dylan -As The 1960s Folk Revival Turns 50- “Folk Song America: A 20th Century Revival”- A Review

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Hedy West performing "Cotton Mill Girl" on Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Quest". That show and this performer are prime examples of the 1960s folk revival down at the base of that revival.


CD Review

Folk Song America: A 20th Century Revival, 4 CD set with booklet, Smithsonian Collection Of Recordings, 1991


In various parts of America this year (2009) marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of many of the folk song societies that, organizationally, drove the folk revival of the early 1960s. That, I know is true for New England, although the genesis of such groups in other sections of the country I am not as sure of. The CD under review, Folk Song America: A 20th Century Revival, was produced and released by the Smithsonian Collection Of Recordings in 1991 and therefore is not directly related to any anniversary celebrations. It nevertheless, in spirit, represents that same long ago taken on ambition by the various local folk song societies to chronicle the history of roots music in America. Forty plus years on we just have a wider selection of items to pick and choice from.

And that is the rub. This 4 CD set has attempted to do two things, and I think has done so successfully. First it has highlighted the starting of roots music with such early influences as The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Buell Kazee, John Jacob Niles, Leady Belly, The Almanac Singers (that included Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger among others), John and Alan Lomax and others who were uncovered in some very strange and interesting ways. Then the set moves on to the interim post World War II figures of Pete Seeger, The Weavers, The New Lost City Ramblers and the like. Those two influences then got assimilated and extended by the early 1960s folk revivalists whose work makes up the bulk of the material here. Such names as Peter Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band and many others who I have reviewed in this space over the past couple of years and who now get a new life here as “the old fogies” that will influence the next generation of folk revivalists.. To finish off this series there are several later post folk revival tracks from the likes of Taj Mahal, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Magpie.

The second task of the series is to act as the magnet for any future interest in folk music. To aid that task, as is to be expected from the Smithsonian as a premium historical music collection provider, there is an incredibly informative booklet available by Norm Cohen. Hey, I know a lot about and lived through most of the 1960s folk revival and I still learned a lot of stuff from this booklet. But here is the really nice part. In the future there will be no need of some young musicologist like Alan Lomax, Harry Smith or Pete Seeger to go into the field to recover our common roots music. This is now your first stop. That will leave more time for singing and creating new songs. Nice, right?

Below is sampler of the lyrics to some folk songs in this set.

"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 theyre forever banned?
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.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before its washed to the sea?
Yes, n how many years can some people exist
Before theyre allowed to be free?
Yes, n how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesnt see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind,
The answer is blowin in the wind.



Misc, Big Rock Candy Mountain Tabs/Chords
Looking for Misc Lyrics? Browse alphabet (above).

Artist: Misc
Song: Big Rock Candy Mountain Misc Sheet Music
Misc CDs


Send “Big Rock Candy Mountain” Ringtone to Cell Phone


Peter Lurvey had requested this song. I don't know if it's the same one,
because this is an old one that my sister, Val Heiserman, transcribed MANY
years ago. I don't know who the original artist was, and since I haven't
seen the movie that it's in now, I don't know who's doing it now. Anyway,
here goes.

"Big Rock Candy Mountain"-Harry McClintock
C F C
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there's a land that's bright and fair,
F C Am G7
For the doughnuts grow on bushes, and there's lots of cookies there,
C F C
For the dogs and cats are happy, and the sun shines every day,
F C F C
There are birds and bees, and the bubble-gum trees,
F C F C
by the lemonade springs, where the whippoorwill sings
G7 C
in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the houses are built of blocks
And the little streams of sody pop come trickling down the rocks,
The soldiers there are made of lead, and they are very brave,
There's a lake of stew, and ice cream too
You can paddle all around in a paper canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the frogs have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth,
and the hens lay hard boiled eggs
There's chocolate pie in all the trees, and jam in all the lakes,
Oh, I'm going to go where the wind don't blow,
there's a big free show, and candy snow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

RAMBLIN' BOY

Tom Paxton


He was a man and a friend always.
He stuck with me in the bad old days.
He never cared if I had no dough,
We rambled round in the rain and snow.

So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.
So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.

In Tulsa town we chanced to stray,
We thought we'd try to work one day.
The boss said he had room for one,
Said my old pal we'd rather bum.

So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.
So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.

Late one night in a jungle camp,
The weather it was cold and damp.
He got the chills and he got 'em bad.
Try took the only friend I had.

So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.
So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.

He left here to ramble on,
My rambling pal is dead and gone.
If when we die we go somewhere,
I bet you a dollar that he's rambling there.

So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.
So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.

Once Again Haunted By The Question Of Questions-Who Represented The “Voice” Of The Generation Of ’68 When The Deal Went Down-And No It Was Not One Richard Millstone, Oops, Milhous Nixon




By Seth Garth

I have been haunted recently by various references to events in the early 1960s brought to mind by either seeing or hearing those references. First came one out of the blue when I was in Washington, D.C. on other business and I popped in as is my wont to the National Gallery of Art to get an “art bump” after fighting the dearies at the tail-end of the conference that I was attending. I usually enter on the 7th Street entrance to see what they have new on display on the Ground Floor exhibition areas. This time there was a small exhibit concerning the victims of Birmingham Sunday, 1963 the murder by bombing of a well-known black freedom church in that town and the death of four innocent young black girls and injuries to others. The show itself was a “what if” by a photographer who presented photos of what those young people might have looked like had they not had their precious lives stolen from them by some racist KKK-drenched bastards who never really did get the justice they deserved. The catch here, the impact on me, was these murders and another very disturbing viewing on television at the time, in black and white, of the Birmingham police unleashing dogs, firing water hoses and using the ubiquitous police billy-clubs to beat down on peaceful mostly black youth protesting against the pervasive Mister James Crow system which deprived them of their civil rights.
Those events galvanized me into action from seemingly out of nowhere. At the time I was in high school, in an all-white high school in my growing up town of North Adamsville south of Boston. (That “all white” no mistake despite the nearness to urban Boston since a recent look at the yearbook for my class showed exactly zero blacks out of a class of 515. The nearest we got to a black person was a young immigrant from Lebanon who was a Christian though and was not particularly dark. She, to my surprise, had been a cheer-leader and well-liked). I should also confess, for those who don’t know not having read about a dozen articles  I have done over the past few years in this space, that my “corner boys,” the Irish mostly with a sprinkling of Italians reflecting the two major ethic groups in the town I hung around with then never could figure out why I was so concerned about black people down South when we were living hand to mouth up North. (The vagaries of time have softened some things among them for example nobody uses the “n” word which needs no explanation which was the “term of art” in reference to black people then to not prettify what this crowd was about.)
In many ways I think I only survived by the good graces of Scribe who everybody deferred to on social matters. Not for any heroic purpose but because Scribe was the key to intelligence about what girls were interested in what guys, who was “going” steady, etc. a human grapevine who nobody crossed without suffering exile. What was “heroic” if that can be used in this context was that as a result of those Birmingham images back then I travelled over to the NAACP office on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston to offer my meager services in the civil rights struggle and headed south to deadly North Carolina one summer on a voting drive. I was scared but that was that. My guys never knew that was where I went until many years later long after we had all gotten a better gripe via the U.S. Army and other situations on the question of race and were amazed that I had done that.         
The other recent occurrence that has added fuel to the fire was a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition where they deal with aspects of what amounts to the American Songbook. The segment dealt with the generational influence of folk-singer songwriter Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ as an anthem for our generation (and its revival of late in newer social movements like the kids getting serious about gun control). No question for those who came of political age early in the 1960s before all hell broke loose this was a definitive summing up song for those of us who were seeking what Bobby Kennedy would later quoting a line of poetry from Alfred Lord Tennyson call “seeking a newer world.” In one song was summed up what we thought about obtuse indifferent authority figures, the status quo, our clueless parents, the social struggles that were defining us and a certain hurried-ness to get to wherever we thought we were going.
I mentioned in that previous commentary that given his subsequent trajectory while Bob Dylan may have wanted to be the reincarnation Plus of Woody Guthrie (which by his long life he can rightly claim) whether he wanted to be, could be, the voice of the Generation of ’68 was problematic. What drove me, is driving me a little crazy is who or what some fifty plus years after all the explosions represented the best of what we had started out to achieve (and were essentially militarily defeated by the ensuing reaction before we could achieve most of it) in those lonely high school halls and college dormitories staying up late at night worrying about the world and our place in the sun.
For a long time, probably far longer than was sensible I believed that it was somebody like Jim Morrison, shaman-like leader of the Doors, who came out of the West Coast winds and headed to our heads in the East. Not Dylan, although he was harbinger of what was to come later in the decade as rock reassembled itself in new garb after some vanilla music hiatus but somebody who embodied the new sensibility that Dylan had unleashed. The real nut though was that I, and not me alone, and not my communal brethren alone either, was the idea that we possessed again probably way past it use by date was that “music was the revolution” by that meaning nothing but the general lifestyle changes through the decade so that the combination of “dropping out” of nine to five society, dope in its many manifestations, kindnesses, good thought and the rapidly evolving music would carry us over the finish line. Guys like Josh Breslin and the late Pete Markin, hard political guys as well as rabid music lovers and dopers, used to laugh at me when I even mentioned that I was held in that sway especially when ebb tide of the counter-cultural movement hit in Nixon times and the bastinado was as likely to be our home as the new Garden. Still Jim Morrison as the “new man” (new human in today speak) made a lot of sense to me although when he fell down like many others to the lure of the dope I started reappraising some of my ideas -worried about that bastinado fate.  

So I’ll be damned right now if I could tell you that we had such a voice, and maybe that was the problem, or a problem which has left us some fifty years later without a good answer. Which only means for others to chime in with their thoughts on this matter.         

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *Poet's Corner- Bob Dylan's "Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie"

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Bob Dylan Doing His Tribute To Woody Guthrie-"Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie"

Guest Commentary

LAST THOUGHTS ON WOODY GUTHRIE

Words and Music by Bob Dylan
1973 Special Rider Music


When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine

Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm talking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding


And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club

And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache«
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of rnoney and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that

Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty
THAT STUFF AINĂ•T REAL"

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs

You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in the Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- Happy Birthday Woody Guthire The Father We Never Knew -Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part One-The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Cisco Houston

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Cisco Houston performing "New York Town".

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001



"Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD. Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc One; Woody Guthrie on “Hard Travelin’”, Big Bill Broonzy on “Black , Brown And White”, Jean Ritchie on “Nottamun Town”, Josh White on “One Meat Ball” Malvina Reynolds on “Little Boxes”, Cisco Houston on “Midnight Special”, The Weavers on “Wasn’t That A Time”, Glenn Yarborough on “Spanish Is A Loving Tongue”, Odetta on “I’ve Been Driving On Bald Mountain”, The New Lost City Ramblers on “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”, Bob Gibson and Bob Camp on “Betty And Dupree”, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on “San Francisco Bay Blues”, Peggy Seeger on “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, Hoyt Axton on “Greenback Dollar” and Carolyn Hester on “Turn And Swing Jubilee”."

Cisco Houston on “Midnight Special”. Two comments will be enough here. One Cisco was Woody Guthrie’s traveling buddy (and Merchant Marine shipmate during World War II) so you know that he was the real thing. Second, this Lead Belly tune was hit and he rocked the house with it. The song gets a very different look from the interesting voice of one Cisco Houston.



Midnight Special lyrics

Well you wake up in the morning, hear the ding dong ring,
You go a-marching to the table, see the same damn thing
Well, it's on a one table, knife, a fork and a pan,
And if you say anything about it, you're in trouble with the man
Let the midnight special, shine her light on me
Let the midnight special, shine her ever-loving light on me

If you ever go to Houston, you better walk right, you better not stagger, you better not fight
Sheriff Benson will arrest you, he'll carry you down
And if the jury finds you guilty, penitentiary bound
Yonder come little Rosie, how in the world do you know
I can tell her by her apron, and the dress she wore
Umbrella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand
She goes a-marching to the captain, says, "I want my man"
"I don' believe that Rosie loves me", well tell me why
She ain't been to see me, since las' July
She brought me little coffee, she brought me little tea
Brought me damn near ever'thing but the jailhouse key
Yonder comes doctor Adams, "How in the world do you know?"
Well he gave me a tablet, the day befo'
There ain't no doctor, in all the lan'
Can cure the fever of a convict man


New York Town: Lyrics
As performed by Cisco Houston
Woody Guthrie


I was standing down New York town one day
I was standing down in New York town one day
I was standing down in that New York town one day
Just singing "Hey hey hey hey"

I was broke and I didn't have a dime
I was broke and I didn't have a lousy dime
I was broke and I didn't have a dime
Every good man gets a little hard luck some time

Every good man gets a little hard luck some time
Every good man gets a little hard luck some time
Every good man gets a little hard luck some time
When he's down and out and ain't got a lousy dime

What you do woman, that sure don't worry me
What you do woman, Lord, that sure don't worry me
What you do woman, that sure don't worry me
I got more women than the Civil War set free

And I can get more women than a passenger train can haul
I can get more women than a passenger train can haul
I can get more women than a passenger train can haul
Just singing "Hey hey hey hey"

I'm gonna ride that new morning railroad
I'm gonna ride that new morning train
I'm gonna ride that new morning train
And I ain't a-comin' back to this man's town again

I ain't a-comin' back to this man's town again
No I ain't-a comin' back to this man's town again
I ain't comin' back to this man's town again
Just singing "Hey, hey hey hey"

Singing "Hey hey hey hey"
Just singing "Hey hey hey hey hey"
Singing "Hey hey hey hey hey"
Just singing "Hey hey hey hey"

****
Of note:

A long (for Cisco) and sparkling guitar solo in this performance, combines with some of Cisco's finest singing to redeem the frightfully non-PC lyrics. And it doesn't sound as if they enjoyed New York City much. Listen for yourself right Here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- *Those Oklahoma Hills Back Home- The Lyrics Of Woody Guthrie

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Woody Guthrie Doing "This Land Is Your Land".

Guest Commentary

There is a representative sampling of Woody Guthrie's lyrics. For more google "Woody Guthrie's lyrics or go to link at the right hand side of this page.

"This Land Is Your Land"-Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?

Words by Woody Guthrie and Music by Martin Hoffman
© 1961 (renewed) by TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc.

Hard Travelin'

I've been havin' some hard travelin', I thought you knowed
I've been havin' some hard travelin', way down the road
I've been havin' some hard travelin', hard ramblin', hard gamblin'
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been ridin' them fast rattlers, I thought you knowed
I've been ridin' them flat wheelers, way down the road
I've been ridin' them blind passengers, dead-enders, kickin' up cinders
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard-rock minin', I thought you knowed
I've been leanin' on a pressure drill, way down the road
Hammer flyin', air-hose suckin', six foot of mud and I shore been a muckin'
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been hittin' some hard harvestin', I thought you knowed
North Dakota to Kansas City, way down the road
Cuttin' that wheat, stackin' that hay, and I'm tryin' make about a dollar a day
And I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been working that Pittsburgh steel, I thought you knowed
I've been a dumpin' that red-hot slag, way down the road
I've been a blasting, I've been a firin', I've been a pourin' red-hot iron
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been layin' in a hard-rock jail, I thought you knowed
I've been a laying out 90 days, way down the road
Damned old judge, he said to me, "It's 90 days for vagrancy."
And I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord

I've been walking that Lincoln highway, I thought you knowed,
I've been hittin' that 66, way down the road
Heavy load and a worried mind, lookin' for a woman that's hard to find,
I've been hittin' some hard travelin', lord



Ludlow Massacre

It was early springtime when the strike was on,
They drove us miners out of doors,
Out from the houses that the Company owned,
We moved into tents up at old Ludlow.

I was worried bad about my children,
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge,
Every once in a while a bullet would fly,
Kick up gravel under my feet.

We were so afraid you would kill our children,
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep,
Carried our young ones and pregnant women
Down inside the cave to sleep.

That very night your soldiers waited,
Until all us miners were asleep,
You snuck around our little tent town,
Soaked our tents with your kerosene.

You struck a match and in the blaze that started,
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns,
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me.
Thirteen children died from your guns.

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner,
Watched the fire till the blaze died down,
I helped some people drag their belongings,
While your bullets killed us all around.

I never will forget the look on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day,
When we stood around to preach their funerals,
And lay the corpses of the dead away.

We told the Colorado Governor to call the President,
Tell him to call off his National Guard,
But the National Guard belonged to the Governor,
So he didn't try so very hard.

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes,
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart,
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back,
And they put a gun in every hand.

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corners,
They did not know we had these guns,
And the Red-neck Miners mowed down these troopers,
You should have seen those poor boys run.

We took some cement and walled that cave up,
Where you killed these thirteen children inside,
I said, "God bless the Mine Workers' Union,"
And then I hung my head and cried.

1913 Massacre

Take a trip with me in 1913,
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country.
I will take you to a place called Italian Hall,
Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball.

I will take you in a door and up a high stairs,
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere,
I will let you shake hands with the people you see,
And watch the kids dance around the big Christmas tree.

You ask about work and you ask about pay,
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day,
Working the copper claims, risking their lives,
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air,
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere,
Before you know it you're friends with us all,
And you're dancing around and around in the hall.

Well a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights,
To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet,
To hear all this fun you would not realize,
That the copper boss' thug men are milling outside.

The copper boss' thugs stuck their heads in the door,
One of them yelled and he screamed, "there's a fire,"
A lady she hollered, "there's no such a thing.
Keep on with your party, there's no such thing."

A few people rushed and it was only a few,
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you,"
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down,
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor,
The gun thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.

Such a terrible sight I never did see,
We carried our children back up to their tree,
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree,
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

The piano played a slow funeral tune,
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon,
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned,
"See what your greed for money has done."

Oklahoma Hills

Many a month has come and gone
Since I wandered from my home
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.
Many a page of life has turned,
Many a lesson I have learned;
Well, I feel like in those hills I still belong.

'Way down yonder in the Indian Nation
Ridin' my pony on the reservation,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.
Now, 'way down yonder in the Indian Nation,
A cowboy's life is my occupation,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

But as I sit here today,
Many miles I am away
From a place I rode my pony through the draw,
While the oak and blackjack trees
Kiss the playful prairie breeze,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

Now as I turn life a page
To the land of the great Osage
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born,
While the black oil it rolls and flows
And the snow-white cotton grows
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.



Words and Music by Woody Guthrie and Jack Guthrie
© Copyright 1945 (renewed) by Woody Guthrie Publications , Inc.
and Michael Goldsen Music Inc / Warner-Chappell Music


Pastures Of Plenty

It's a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed
My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road
Out of your Dust Bowl and Westward we rolled
And your deserts were hot and your mountains were cold

I worked in your orchards of peaches and prunes
I slept on the ground in the light of the moon
On the edge of the city you'll see us and then
We come with the dust and we go with the wind

California, Arizona, I harvest your crops
Well its North up to Oregon to gather your hops
Dig the beets from your ground, cut the grapes from your vine
To set on your table your light sparkling wine

Green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground
From the Grand Coulee Dam where the waters run down
Every state in the Union us migrants have been
We'll work in this fight and we'll fight till we win

It's always we rambled, that river and I
All along your green valley, I will work till I die
My land I'll defend with my life if it be
Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free

Pretty Boy Floyd

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Union Maid

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

For Bob Dylan *Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part One-The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Ramblin' Jack Elliott performing Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues".

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001


"Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD. Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc One; Woody Guthrie on “Hard Travelin’”, Big Bill Broonzy on “Black , Brown And White”, Jean Ritchie on “Nottamun Town”, Josh White on “One Meat Ball” Malvina Reynolds on “Little Boxes”, Cisco Houston on “Midnight Special”, The Weavers on “Wasn’t That A Time”, Glenn Yarborough on “Spanish Is A Loving Tongue”, Odetta on “I’ve Been Driving On Bald Mountain”, The New Lost City Ramblers on “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”, Bob Gibson and Bob Camp on “Betty And Dupree”, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on “San Francisco Bay Blues”, Peggy Seeger on “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, Hoyt Axton on “Greenback Dollar” and Carolyn Hester on “Turn And Swing Jubilee”."

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on “San Francisco Bay Blues”. Jack made this Jesse Fuller classic practically an Elliott national anthem on his endless traveling. I have recently written much about his role in the very early folk revival as a transmission belt (maybe THE transmission belt) for Woody’s Guthrie’s work as it passed to the new generation. He was the true believer, but I think, at least from the film documentary “Ballad Of Ramblin’ Jack” that his estranged daughter did about his life and times, that he never really moved beyond that. He might have been ticked off at Dylan for not staying at Woody’s shrine but the rest of us should be glad, glad as hell, that Dylan moved on while still paying his respects.


San Francisco Bay Blues- Jesse Fuller

Lyrics as performed by Bob Dylan on East Orange Tape, Feb-Mar 1961.
Transcribed by Manfred Helfert


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I got the blues when my baby left me
By the San Francisco Bay,
Ocean liner, gone so far away.
Didn't mean to treat her so bad,
Best girl I ever has had.
Made me cry, like to make me die,
Wanna lay down and die.
Ain't got a nickel, ain't got a lousy dime,
If she don't come back, Lord, I think I'm gonna lose my mind.
If she ever comes back an' stay,
Be another brand new day,
Walkin' with my baby down by San Francisco Bay.

Sit down, lookin' through my back door,
Wonder which way to go.
That woman I'm so crazy about,
Lord, she don't want me no more.
Think I take me a freight train
Cause I'm a-feelin' blue,
Ride on up to the end of the line
Thinkin' only of you.

Just about to go on a city (?),
Just about to go insane,
I think I heard that woman
Cry the way she used to call my name.
If she ever come back an' stay,
Be another brand new day,
Walkin' with my baby down by San Francisco Bay.

Meanwhile at another city (?),
Just about to go insane,
I think I heard that woman
Cry the way she used to call my name.
If she ever come back an' stay,
Be another brand new day,
Walkin' with my baby down by San Francisco Bay, hey,
Walkin' with my baby down by San Francisco Bay.

Once Again Haunted By The Question Of Questions-Who Represented The “Voice” Of The Generation Of ’68 When The Deal Went Down-And No It Was Not One Richard Millstone, Oops, Milhous Nixon




By Seth Garth

I have been haunted recently by various references to events in the early 1960s brought to mind by either seeing or hearing those references. First came one out of the blue when I was in Washington, D.C. on other business and I popped in as is my wont to the National Gallery of Art to get an “art bump” after fighting the dearies at the tail-end of the conference that I was attending. I usually enter on the 7th Street entrance to see what they have new on display on the Ground Floor exhibition areas. This time there was a small exhibit concerning the victims of Birmingham Sunday, 1963 the murder by bombing of a well-known black freedom church in that town and the death of four innocent young black girls and injuries to others. The show itself was a “what if” by a photographer who presented photos of what those young people might have looked like had they not had their precious lives stolen from them by some racist KKK-drenched bastards who never really did get the justice they deserved. The catch here, the impact on me, was these murders and another very disturbing viewing on television at the time, in black and white, of the Birmingham police unleashing dogs, firing water hoses and using the ubiquitous police billy-clubs to beat down on peaceful mostly black youth protesting against the pervasive Mister James Crow system which deprived them of their civil rights.
Those events galvanized me into action from seemingly out of nowhere. At the time I was in high school, in an all-white high school in my growing up town of North Adamsville south of Boston. (That “all white” no mistake despite the nearness to urban Boston since a recent look at the yearbook for my class showed exactly zero blacks out of a class of 515. The nearest we got to a black person was a young immigrant from Lebanon who was a Christian though and was not particularly dark. She, to my surprise, had been a cheer-leader and well-liked). I should also confess, for those who don’t know not having read about a dozen articles  I have done over the past few years in this space, that my “corner boys,” the Irish mostly with a sprinkling of Italians reflecting the two major ethic groups in the town I hung around with then never could figure out why I was so concerned about black people down South when we were living hand to mouth up North. (The vagaries of time have softened some things among them for example nobody uses the “n” word which needs no explanation which was the “term of art” in reference to black people then to not prettify what this crowd was about.)
In many ways I think I only survived by the good graces of Scribe who everybody deferred to on social matters. Not for any heroic purpose but because Scribe was the key to intelligence about what girls were interested in what guys, who was “going” steady, etc. a human grapevine who nobody crossed without suffering exile. What was “heroic” if that can be used in this context was that as a result of those Birmingham images back then I travelled over to the NAACP office on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston to offer my meager services in the civil rights struggle and headed south to deadly North Carolina one summer on a voting drive. I was scared but that was that. My guys never knew that was where I went until many years later long after we had all gotten a better gripe via the U.S. Army and other situations on the question of race and were amazed that I had done that.         
The other recent occurrence that has added fuel to the fire was a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition where they deal with aspects of what amounts to the American Songbook. The segment dealt with the generational influence of folk-singer songwriter Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ as an anthem for our generation (and its revival of late in newer social movements like the kids getting serious about gun control). No question for those who came of political age early in the 1960s before all hell broke loose this was a definitive summing up song for those of us who were seeking what Bobby Kennedy would later quoting a line of poetry from Alfred Lord Tennyson call “seeking a newer world.” In one song was summed up what we thought about obtuse indifferent authority figures, the status quo, our clueless parents, the social struggles that were defining us and a certain hurried-ness to get to wherever we thought we were going.
I mentioned in that previous commentary that given his subsequent trajectory while Bob Dylan may have wanted to be the reincarnation Plus of Woody Guthrie (which by his long life he can rightly claim) whether he wanted to be, could be, the voice of the Generation of ’68 was problematic. What drove me, is driving me a little crazy is who or what some fifty plus years after all the explosions represented the best of what we had started out to achieve (and were essentially militarily defeated by the ensuing reaction before we could achieve most of it) in those lonely high school halls and college dormitories staying up late at night worrying about the world and our place in the sun.
For a long time, probably far longer than was sensible I believed that it was somebody like Jim Morrison, shaman-like leader of the Doors, who came out of the West Coast winds and headed to our heads in the East. Not Dylan, although he was harbinger of what was to come later in the decade as rock reassembled itself in new garb after some vanilla music hiatus but somebody who embodied the new sensibility that Dylan had unleashed. The real nut though was that I, and not me alone, and not my communal brethren alone either, was the idea that we possessed again probably way past it use by date was that “music was the revolution” by that meaning nothing but the general lifestyle changes through the decade so that the combination of “dropping out” of nine to five society, dope in its many manifestations, kindnesses, good thought and the rapidly evolving music would carry us over the finish line. Guys like Josh Breslin and the late Pete Markin, hard political guys as well as rabid music lovers and dopers, used to laugh at me when I even mentioned that I was held in that sway especially when ebb tide of the counter-cultural movement hit in Nixon times and the bastinado was as likely to be our home as the new Garden. Still Jim Morrison as the “new man” (new human in today speak) made a lot of sense to me although when he fell down like many others to the lure of the dope I started reappraising some of my ideas -worried about that bastinado fate.  

So I’ll be damned right now if I could tell you that we had such a voice, and maybe that was the problem, or a problem which has left us some fifty years later without a good answer. Which only means for others to chime in with their thoughts on this matter.