Monday, July 16, 2007
Some Political Musical Thoughts
This past Sunday, if you tuned in to TRADITIONS you heard 2 separate interviews. One featured the great Noel Paul Stookey (via phone), Annie Dinerman, and Arlon Bennett. Two wonderful composers that were finalists in the Foundation that Mr. Stookey has created from the proceeds of his memorable compostion--The Wedding Song.
Should you like to listen to this interview with these talented artists just go to Annie's Website and click on the podcasts portion. It is archived there.
Speaking of archiving. The interview with Clay Eals is archived on his website
Additionally, in the 4 PM hour Modern Man was featured. Well, 2/3 --David Buskin and Rob Carlson. Geo. Wurzbach's spirit hovered over the proceedings. Sort of a seance.
Those of you who tuned in might remember both conversations and the music that was featured. Which, finally, brings me to the title and the Political Musical Thoughts referred to.
As they say in radio, TV, and in print---the thoughts and opinions expressed do not reflect those of the station or the artists.
To start with one has to ask the question if music can change the course of events. If so, how can it do that. Hosting a program that plays much topical and political material it is not being a heretic for me to say that in most cases it CANNOT. What it can do, however, is to bring awareness to people.
Now we have to ask ourselves how that can best be done. Frankly, anthemic music can do such things. Think of the Civil Rights Era and "We Shall Overcome", think of Viet Nam and some of the Phil Ochs anthems, think of the anthems of Pete Seeger, Pat Humphries, and many others.
In our discussion with Noel Stookey, he made the point, as well, about anthemic music. My feeling on that is---music that can get your blood boiling, music that can make you say---"hey, I need to take a stand". Far be it from me to now list the songs that I think do that since different songs do that for different people. Yet, those that can be hummed, sung with, and (as the expression goes, "create a worm in your head) are the ones that will help to make a change. I think that there is a great place for songs of subtlety. They show insight and understanding. Will they rouse the masses? Best you think about that one.
Which brings me to the music an conversation with David Buskin and Rob Carlson where, after much banter and some truly wonderful music from their new CD (ASSISTED LIVING) we got down to a bit of politics after playing their brilliant satirical piece about "Abdul, the Reluctant Martyr" (He's not your average Gaza Stripper).
The point was made with humor that was not all that subtle. Well, may be it was. Rob Carlson made a few truly valid points about the British honoring Salman Rushdie with a Knighthood and now those in the Middle East want to honor Bin Laden==="because look what the Brits have done". As Rob said--"how do you compare a murderous thug to a brilliant writer"---and to lighten the moment David Buskin commented about a book Rushdie is now (allegedly--according to Buskin) writing about Big Fat Buddha---so--"..Rushdie is in it for the bucks". Some fun was had with these comments, but the point is humor and some subtlety got a point across and brought us back to, as they say, the entertainment portion of the program.
Was any of this anthemic--NO. Did it make people think a bit? Hopefully. Was there another purpose? Sure---to show the other side of a comedy team and also show the subtle influences of our other guests that day.
One last thought about MODERN MAN on TRADITIONS. They are planning a "blog"---some dialogue follows:
Rob Carlson: I hope other people are as interested in me as I am.
Bill Hahn: Well, I wonder, on these blogs, how many people really want to hear about someone's bowel movements.
David Buskin: Hey, That was my lead article.
Following this topic to a, sort of logical, finish I have to add that I know that when one reviews music, film, or any media a problem arises. If you do it for a general publication (i.e. NY Times, LA Times, etc) you can give an objective and critical review. When you review for a trade publication (music industry, recording, Sing Out, etc;) only a positive review is printed. Or there is no review.
This brings me back to blogs. While it is now July---and some people talk of Christmas in July I will speak of New Years Resolutions in July.
I resolve to review CDs or books that come my way and give an honest opinion---yea or nay. Or any stops in between. Now, I know that I am not the only judge of quality or content but only one person giving an opinion---who never ever mentioned his bowel movements (constipation can make you cranky and pan submissions---David Buskin notwithstanding). That said, I hope it was noticed that I am truly enthused about Clay Eals book on Steve Goodman. There were other things that came in (CDs) that, frankly, I did not mention due to my negative feelings about them. There were positive ones that I did mention if you check the massive archives of this vast collection of pomposity that is now engulfing us.
Hereafter, good and bad in my humble---OK---not so humble opinion. More like Ebert---praise it or knock it and you decide. Seems like the honest and fair way to go.
A few recommendations then (positive):
Rowan and Navarro
Modern Man (Assisted Living)
Eric Bogle (Other People's Children)
Arlon Bennett (Summer's Voice)
Kate Campbell (you pick)
It seems that I should also add one that I did not play on the air and played an earlier version by this wonderful---and I mean that--wonderful artist who, I believe, truly, overdid this with production and pomposity---Arlo Guthrie.
His newest CD is : "Times Like These". Recorded with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Many of the songs there---"Last Train" is an example, sound a lot better with less production. "City of New Orleans" (by Steve Goodman) also seem overdone. Frankly, there are voices and personas (Judy Collins comes to mind) that can pull of a recording with a symphony orchestra. Arlo, to me, cannot. He is best with less production ---like his father.
As to archival material suggestions:
just leave requests and e mail addresses.