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Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion

Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 08:36 AM
olddude 30 Jul 09 - 08:39 AM
Beer 30 Jul 09 - 08:54 AM
olddude 30 Jul 09 - 09:11 AM
Wesley S 30 Jul 09 - 10:20 AM
EBarnacle 30 Jul 09 - 10:33 AM
pdq 30 Jul 09 - 11:09 AM
Art Thieme 30 Jul 09 - 11:25 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM
Amos 30 Jul 09 - 11:32 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 11:46 AM
John MacKenzie 30 Jul 09 - 11:55 AM
pdq 30 Jul 09 - 12:02 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 12:38 PM
John MacKenzie 30 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM
John MacKenzie 30 Jul 09 - 01:02 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 09 - 01:14 PM
John MacKenzie 30 Jul 09 - 01:17 PM
Amos 30 Jul 09 - 01:22 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 09 - 01:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 30 Jul 09 - 01:34 PM
M.Ted 30 Jul 09 - 01:55 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM
Amos 30 Jul 09 - 02:09 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM
Azizi 30 Jul 09 - 02:28 PM
Maryrrf 30 Jul 09 - 02:49 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jul 09 - 03:03 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 03:03 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Jul 09 - 03:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 03:16 PM
Azizi 30 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM
Ernest 30 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 03:41 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 03:42 PM
Azizi 30 Jul 09 - 03:49 PM
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PoppaGator 30 Jul 09 - 04:00 PM
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Spleen Cringe 30 Jul 09 - 04:10 PM
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Spleen Cringe 30 Jul 09 - 04:17 PM
Amos 30 Jul 09 - 04:19 PM
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Art Thieme 30 Jul 09 - 04:42 PM
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M.Ted 30 Jul 09 - 05:15 PM
Acorn4 30 Jul 09 - 06:00 PM
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Midchuck 30 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM
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Midchuck 30 Jul 09 - 08:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Jul 09 - 09:45 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM
Amos 30 Jul 09 - 10:19 PM
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Lizzie Cornish 1 31 Jul 09 - 07:30 PM
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M.Ted 31 Jul 09 - 11:45 PM
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Amos 02 Aug 09 - 11:59 PM
Kent Davis 03 Aug 09 - 01:24 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 03 Aug 09 - 07:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Stringsinger 03 Aug 09 - 03:06 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 03 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Aug 09 - 06:58 PM
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Jim Carroll 04 Aug 09 - 03:32 AM
Sailor Ron 04 Aug 09 - 06:14 AM
The Sandman 04 Aug 09 - 07:14 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Aug 09 - 04:57 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Aug 09 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 05 Aug 09 - 11:08 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM
Goose Gander 05 Aug 09 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 12:52 PM
PoppaGator 05 Aug 09 - 12:52 PM
The Sandman 05 Aug 09 - 01:10 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM
The Sandman 05 Aug 09 - 02:27 PM
stallion 05 Aug 09 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Aug 09 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 03:28 PM
Goose Gander 05 Aug 09 - 03:59 PM
beardedbruce 05 Aug 09 - 04:07 PM
John P 05 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 10:36 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 04:16 AM
The Sandman 06 Aug 09 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,The Folk entertainer 06 Aug 09 - 08:27 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 09:07 AM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 06 Aug 09 - 09:57 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM
Elmore 06 Aug 09 - 10:40 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 11:41 AM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 11:59 AM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 12:07 PM
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Amos 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 09 - 12:36 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 06 Aug 09 - 01:08 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 01:22 PM
Amos 06 Aug 09 - 01:40 PM
The Sandman 06 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
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stallion 06 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM
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John P 06 Aug 09 - 04:01 PM
Elmore 06 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM
M.Ted 06 Aug 09 - 04:10 PM
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John P 06 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Aug 09 - 07:09 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 07:25 PM
Emma B 06 Aug 09 - 07:34 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 09 - 04:33 AM
theleveller 07 Aug 09 - 06:55 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 07:04 AM
Taconicus 07 Aug 09 - 07:58 AM
Desert Dancer 07 Aug 09 - 10:53 AM
Stringsinger 07 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM
Elmore 07 Aug 09 - 11:04 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 12:38 PM
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Subject: Us and Them
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:36 AM

Given a choice, would you rather be one of "us," or one of "them?" If you're one of us, you reinforce everything we believe in. You agree with us. That's very comforting. It's good to know that you're right. If you're one of them, you're misguided at best. More likely, you're looked upon as insensitive (in contrast to how sensitive we are,) selfish and downright delusional. You aren't logical. Given a choice, I'll take neither of the above. I've never been much for group-think.

It really doesn't make much difference what the criteria are for being one of "us." It can be being a Christian, being a Liberal (which is code for Democrat, as we all know Republicans can never have a liberal thought in their head.) gay or straight. The important thing is that you are not one of "them." I find all of this extremely stifling. When I am on a Christian web site and someone starts ranting about homosexuals, I quietly exit stage left.
When people seem to be talking to hear themselves talk rather than to carry on a respectful conversation, I make for the nearest exit, left or right.
When people on here talk as if you have to be a Democrat and be in lock step with every Liberal position to like folk music, I think of the wonderful friends I have who are thoughtful, generous, loving and socially responsible who are Republican, including some who used to frequent Mudcat. Just when did folk music become the property of Democrats?

People bemoan the fact that folk music isn't as popular as it was in the 60's (or claim that it is.) For the brief moment that folk music had national popularity in the fifties and sixties, it was folk music, not Democrat music. Sure, there were important political songs that fueled great movements in helping to forge alliances for social change. But if you look at the body of folk music, only a small percentage of it is political. When you have to be a card-carrying Democrat to be welcomed into the folk community you immediately eliminate half the folk.

Many years ago when I was running a folk concert series I noticed when I booked a bluegrass group, I got a completely different audience. At the end of a bluegrass concert, I asked the audience to tell to me on the way out why they never came to the folk concerts. The most common complaint I received was, "I don't want to sit around all evening listening to someone complain." I protested strongly that folk music is not primarily protest music, but to no avail. Like most perceptions about the difference between "us" and "them," "Them" was stereotyped in the most negative, simplistic way. I wrote an article titled Rednecks versus Protest Singers with tongue in cheek that was a collection of quotes of cliches and judgments I'd heard from the folk and non-folk communities. They sounded as simplistic and inflexible as those I hear about gays and non-gays, Christians and non-Christians, Liberals and non-liberals.
The minute you define yourself as not being someone else, you get intellectually lazy. So, do you want to be an intellectual, or a non-intellectual.

And the game goes on.

There's a much better choice than "us" or "them." It's called "we."
This country has gotten into the mess we have in large part because
"us" and them" has become "us" versus "them."

I bet Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a Republican. He was a lawyer, for God's sake! The only work he ever did with his hands was sticking them in someone else's pockets. Sounds stupid, don't it. And it is.
But no more foolish than the endless quest to divide people into warring factions.

What do you think?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: olddude
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:39 AM

beautifully said my friend


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Beer
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:54 AM

Good stuff Jerry. Work use to be much the same. Management was as ways referred to as them up there. They make the decisions, they are to blame and so on. Then one day I heard a Senior manger make the same comment so I said to this person, "But you are one of them, those that subordinates referee to.". That was about 10 years ago and she still doesn't speak to me. And I'm just a happy as I have been retired since 2001.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: olddude
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 09:11 AM

I lost a friend recently and it was one that I knew for years. He calls himself a Christian but everyday would send me and a host of others these non stop railings against gays, and against liberals and against women and the list goes on an on. I repeatedly tried to explain to him that it was not welcome, not productive and not the right path in life to pass on articles that do nothing but peddle hate. I finally lost it and told him he cannot ever email me or call me again. I just could not take it any further.   I only mention Christian because of this issue. I hear it from all types of people, those I have worked with, neighbors etc from all types of belief systems to no belief systems. I don't know when people will wake up and realized we are all in this boat called life. Unless we all start paddling, we are going to all sink ... you said it beautifully Jerry .. I have read no greater truth than what you just wrote.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Wesley S
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:20 AM

Ex-Speaker of the House Jim Wright once told me that in his day that Democrats and Republicans could argue all day about politics but still share a beer after it was all over and talk about other things. I'm afraid that just doesn't happen anymore. Until we can get back to that way of thinking I'm afraid that we're just going to butt heads and go nowhere.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: EBarnacle
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:33 AM

Jerry, you may have inadvertently raised another issue. Several times during your post you used the word "Democrat" in its Newspeak sense to refer to people who are Democratic or members of the Democratic Party.

I believe that this is something introduced by the Republicans several years ago to lessen the verbal relationship between Democrats and Democracy. Democrat, as in Democrat Party sounds more like an expletive than a descriptor.

On your main topic, I agree with you. There are far too many people and interest groups who use language to slice and dice us into easily managed, unthinking units.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: pdq
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:09 AM

A member of the Democratic Party is called a Democrat. Always has been.

It would sound silly to say "John Ewards is a Democratic".

Jerry Rasmussen did not use the term in any way except the normal one. Please re-read his post.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:25 AM

Mostly, in-groups exist to be recognized by out-groups. It does seem to validate them on one level or another.

Politically, the system comes down to doing and saying just about anything to secure the all-powerful individual's VOTE in a given election. If ten million people vote for a stupid and completely wrong-headed thing, and 1000 people make the intellectually proper assumption, the people who are wrong get their way---and it IS the law.

Both, or all, of the various positions taken represent the the heartfelt feelings -- of one WE or another!

'Tis a quandary decidedly NOT to be wished---on anyone. And still, it is the best of all possible options if FREEDOM for the various peoples involved is to be respected and taken into account as the ideal for all.

Watch out for the tyrany of the WE!!

Just a thought or two.

Art


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM

And then of course, the terms Democrat, Republican, Conservative and Liberal mean very different things in other countries. Rest assured, every country has labels to use to castigate each other.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:32 AM

I think there is such a thing as a true We, which is the fundamental madcap dance that sweeps us all up, no matter which corner of the ballroom; and then, there is an endless roster of pseudo-groups, false groups, and artificial categories provided by others in an effort to keep life under control. The two versions of "We" are very different; one derives its existence from natural affinities and co-existence. The other depends for its being on a "Them" to resist, usually.

There is no "they" there.
E.C. Jessup, 1975


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:46 AM

We is all the "us"s and "Thems" rolled together. We's seek commonality despite the differences.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:55 AM

Sorry, but this belongs below the line folks.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: pdq
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 12:02 PM

Perhaps the Left-leaning folkies should take a hint: their material has a short shelf life.

I still love to listen to Doc Watson, Burl Ives, Ian & Sylvia and the original Kingston Trio lineup with Dave Guard.

There may be a few song by these people that are vaguely political, but they are timeless.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 12:38 PM

Hey, John:

I'll let Joe make that call. I guess I started this because of the uproar about whether or not Johnny Cash and/or Arlo Guthrie are really Republicans. The Us and Them principle is much more universal than music, but it rears it's head on this site, even being as homogeneous as it is. Above or below... makes no difference to me.

So what do you think about the topic, John?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM

I, unlike some I could mention ;), refuse to comment on things about which I know little or nothing Jerry, and I know SFA about US politics.

John


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:02 PM

BTW, I do admire the sneakiness of the clone who changed the title for you, to make it fit above the line.
It must be wonderful to be one of the in-crowd. :)

JM


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:14 PM

John was right in saying that a thread with a non-specific title like "us and them" probably belongs in the non-music section. We require thread titles to reflect the contents of the thread, so I changed the title, and asked Jerry to approve it or suggest another.
But let's stick with the topic of the discussion:
I think I once read that the UK folk community thrived and the US folk community died, because the UK folkies kept politics out of their music. I don't know that I'd say that folk music in the land of Ewan MacColl is universally non-political, but perhaps there is some truth in the contention.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:17 PM

Most UK folkies are left wing, so they don't meet many of the opposition on folk clubs.
J


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:22 PM

Perhaps; but our folk music here in the U.S. has been political, topical, AND sentimental ever since the first lyrics to "Yankee Doodle" were penned. The themes that are sounding in the back of my mind just now are "We Shall Overcome", "This Land Is Your Land", "Oh. Freedom!", "The Universal Soldier", "Lay Down My Sword and Shield", and many others. All of these reflect the core concern of plain people addressing their nature as groups and communities, and the politics is a natural extensionn of that.

As for the UK's folk music being non-political in nature, I think it could be argued that "Lili Bulera", "Kevin Barry", and "The Campbells Are Coming", to name just a few quick items, are very much evidence to the contrary.

It would be a sorry thing indeed to see the amorphous and dynamic term "folk music" being pinned down like a dead butterfly to the narrow boundaries of love, horses, individual passions, trains, ships and bank-robbery. Woodie would be spinning in his grave.


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:27 PM

Still, I'd say that political conservatives probably feel more comfortable in old-time music circles, where music is chiefly non-political. Among those that call themselves folk musicians in the US and the UK, there is enough music that is political and distinctly liberal in nature, that I think a conservative would feel uncomfortable in their midst. In the 1960s, American folk music was much more uniformly liberal in its political outlook. Now there seems to be room for non-political music.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:34 PM

I bet Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a Republican.

Actually, it seems to me he was a Democrat. A Southern Democrat, mark you. Which is not all that far from Republican, on some issues.

He was a lawyer, for God's sake! The only work he ever did with his hands was sticking them in someone else's pockets.

That's an invidious misapprehension, and I think you should be abashed to say it. Despite fashionable and cynical popular beliefs, lawyers are all over the lot, Some fall in the lawyer-shark category you seem to be referring to, and some are purely technicians who do office-type things like write wills and contracts, and some are save-the-world types who devote their lives to low-paid jobs for charities and community organizations, just to illustrate the range.

And as to Bascom Lamar Lunsford, he put in what must have been thousands and thousands of unpaid hours toward the organization and running of the famous folk music organization he started (whose name escapes me just at the moment).

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 01:55 PM

I might have called this thread "Music is NOT the Universal Language", because of the often extreme reaction people often have to styles of music that are foreign to them--

Music has always been one of principle activities that people share, and is a way that people identify themselves as a group. That makes it easy for people outside the group to identify them, too, and so musical genres can be easily identified with the racial/ethnic stereotypes--

It isn't socially acceptable for people to say, "I don't like African-Americans" anymore, but no one bats an eye if you say, "I hate Rap and Hip-Hop." And of course, when a song by Jennifer Lopez or Shakira comes on, and someone says, "They play way to much of that..."
it is a socially acceptable way of saying "There are too many of "them" in this country."


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM

Sheesh, Dave: Read my post:

"I bet Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a Republican. He was a lawyer, for God's sake! The only work he ever did with his hands was sticking them in someone else's pockets. Sounds stupid, don't it. And it is.
But no more foolish than the endless quest to divide people into warring factions."

I said it was stupid because it's the kind of stupid stuff you hear people say. I have the greatest admiration for Lunsford. I have no idea whether he was Republican or Democrat. I could care less. Or is it I couldn't care less? I could never get that one right. The object of my whole post was that I think it's immaterial whether or not a folk musician is Republican or Democrat, wealthy or poor. They're all folks, sure enough.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:09 PM

In Peekskill, in 1949, a stone the size of a softball was hurled through the window of Pete Seeger's car as he drove to a concert, nearly hitting his baby son. There was a riot around the concert grounds, with angry "conservatives" wielding fenceposts and throwing stones at "the communists". (Paul Robeson was the primary target of the attack, but he didn't go to the concert, having been tipped off).

Pete has the softball-sized stone cemented into his fireplace chimney to remind him of the intersection between folk music and conservative politics, according to "How Can I Keep from Singing" By David King Dunaway. A fascinating read, the book can be found here in Google Books; the concert story is on page 13.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:13 PM

With all due respect to Jerry, what a pile of sentimentalised old poppycock! Yes, I'll happily sit down and play a few folk songs with a conservative if they share my musical tastes. But when it comes to the truly important issues in life - like when they want to decimated my health service or cut the funding to educate my kids or spend my taxes on building up an even bigger stockpile of guns and bombs or ostracise and exclude my gay friends- I'll fight the buggers tooth and nail all the way.

Some things are more important that friggin' folk music


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:28 PM

The object of my whole post was that I think it's immaterial whether or not a folk musician is Republican or Democrat, wealthy or poor. They're all folks, sure enough.
-Jerry Rasmussen

I strongly second what Spleen Cringe wrote and I wonder Jerry, if you are saying that a folk singer's political views never matter-especially in light of the Folk Against Fascism threads such as the one that I've hyperlinked.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Maryrrf
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:49 PM

MTed - So as far as you're concerned, people who don't care for Rap or Hip Hop, or for the pop music of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira - are racist? I think you're way off base there. That's an absurd assumption.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:03 PM

Hmmm... I think M Ted has got a point. I don't for a minute think that everyone who doesn't like rap or r&b is a racist, but nonetheless there's an awful lot of coded messages out there...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:03 PM

Interesting discussion. If I'm going to hear a folk concert I don't check to see whether the musician is a Democrat or a Republican, or what their stance is on gay marriage. It's not that those issues aren't important. I'm just not likely to let political affiliation determine whether or not I enjoy a folk musician. I'm not even all that interested in knowing what it is. I will admit that if Rush Limbaugh did a concert I wouldn't go...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:08 PM

Party politics aside, if the accepted and widely documented definition is right doesn't that make folk music the historic voice of the working people. The subject matter and social setting of most of the songs, and the social background of most of the carriers of these songs would suggest so.
"Bascom Lamar Lunsford"
Is my memory playing tricks or wasn't it Lunsford who had a Guthrie concert cancelled because he was a 'Commie'?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:16 PM

Republicans work.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:22 PM

So Jerry, are you saying that you don't agree with the efforts in Great Britain to stop fascists from expropriating British folk music? And are you saying that you would attend concerts that included singers/musicians who supported Nazi organizations and you would befriend or continue to be friends with people who hold fascist beliefs?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Ernest
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM

The working people - but not some self-appointed leaders of them.

The working people do include a lot of middle class people. Small craftsmen, farmers or merchants for instance also working.

In fact most of the population is working. And about half of them is voting liberal /left while about the other half is voting conservative.

So I am wit Jerry in this issue.

Admittedly Spleen Cringe has a point too. Being conservative I don`t have any problems sharing a song or tune with someone tending to the left but this won`t change my mind on political issues - unless they have very good arguments.

Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:41 PM

Of course I'm not, Azizi. I'm also not saying that I'd knowingly go to hear a musician who was a child molester. I was very specific in saying that I don't need to know whether they are a member of the Democratic or Republican party, not whether they are Nazi's or Fascists.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:42 PM

Some of my best friends are liberals. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:49 PM

And some of my best friends are White people.*

:o)

* I know that has nothing to do with the topic of this thread. But it is a play on the "some of my best friends" saying.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:51 PM

My Grandfather Rasmussen was a staunch Republican. He worked for a sand and gravel company, doing manual labor. But then, he was a Chicago Cubs fan, too. He was definitely working class. One of my Mudcat buddies on here is a Republican and he's a dentist. I wouldn't even bother to defend him. He's a fine, caring man who loves folk music and dislikes big government. I'd consider him working class, too. He gets up every morning and heads off to work. He doesn't dig for coal. He digs for cavities.

Jerry

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:55 PM

Lol, Azizi. One of my favorite lines was from the tenor in my quartet, who is black. He said he couldn't tell one white person from another because they all look the same to him... a spin on the reverse.

Actually all of this has to do with the "us" and "them" question, musically or otherwise.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:00 PM

I'm offended ~ just slightly ~ to be categorized as a "Democrat." I'm much farther left that that! Now, I do vote regularly, usually viewing the matter as a choice between the lesser of two evils, and until a decade or so ago, I sometimes found Republican candidates who I was able to support. None recently, though ~ in fact none since about 1980...

Does anyone rememeber Phil Ochs? And his song "Love me, love me, love me, I'm a Liberal"? Back then, if "liberal" was a dirty word to anyone, it was to the young "New Left," who viewed the established Democratic-party professional liberals as accomodationists, as too far right. I'm thinking of Democrats like LBJ and Robert McNamara...

Now, the word "liberal" has been transformed into a dirty word denoting folks who are too far left on the political spectrum.

I have to second the thoughts expressed above by Spleen Cringe and Azizi. I would love to feel brotherhood with one and all, and on one level, a very far-removed spiritual level, I do. I'm just tremendously saddened that so very many people have been convinced to believe that just because they work in an office and not a coal mine, that they're not exploited workers, and that they somehow have more in common with the 2% of the population who are fattening themselves at everyone else's expense than with other hurting working folks. They allow themselves to be persuaded that they themselves are somehow "better" than the scapegoated minority populations a rung or two below them, when they themselves are not that far from the bottom of the ladder.

With the current hugely-financed propaganda push against a humane healthcare system, we're hearing more and more of the old argument that the reason that you and I are hurting financially is because the poor people are getting all the money! What a load of hogwash! This kind of thinking could never exist in a heterogeneous society like Japan, where virtually everyone is of the same ethnicity. Only in an diverse and open society like the US could such an opinion take hold, that groups even less privileged than oneself's could be blamed for the obscene and ever-increasing impoverishment of the vast middle-class majority.

In current-day America, it's Blacks, Latinos and gays. Not long ago, it was Jews in Germany and Catholics in occupied Ireland. I truly want to belive in the universal Brotherhood of Man, but it's difficult to do so when so many of my would-be brothers and sisters allow themselves to be persuaded to bear such irrational hatred against certain designated groups of others.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:07 PM

Excellent post, Poppagator. Are liberal Republicans to the right or left of conservative Democrats? I'm getting confused. You're right, Poppagator. Not all Democrats are liberal. Most people aren't liberal or conservative on every issue. I'm not. I try to deal with issues on an individual basis, not worrying about labels.

The true test is how good a singer they are.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:10 PM

The true test of how good a singer they are is how good a singer they are.

The politics are something else...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:12 PM

You got that right, Spleen.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:17 PM

...and whether, ahem!, back when they were young, they could get down home with a secret life of a handful of songs...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:19 PM

I think it must be the 401Ks, Poppa--Makes 'em feel they're riding the same wagon as the Wall Street crowd, even if they are just pushing carbon copies in a nuts and bolts warehouse...

A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John P
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:19 PM

It looks to me like there are two different questions here. Are we all people? and Are folk musicians generally left-wingers? I don't really see the connection between the two.

On the Us/Them question: It is really too complicated to sum up in a sentence. Yes, we are all people, with many, many common concerns. In that way, there is no us and them. When you start talking politics, however, there are definitely us and them. People who start wars, discriminate against gay folks, deregulate business to the point where they are allowed to ruin our lives and our environment, or insist that everyone around them conform to their religious ideas are definitely "them" to me. I don't see any reason why I should lump myself together with folks who are violent, unethical, greedy, and want to tell me how to live my life. My general response to them is "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

When it comes to music, if they aren't trying to tell me what or how to play, I'll sit and jam with anyone and have a great time doing so. People who mix politics in with their music are being political, not musical. Or at least the politics are more important than the music. There have been lots of political songs written from both the left and the right, and I usually don't like any of them.

If the idea of this thread is that folkies are mostly left wingers, Democrats, liberals, or whatever, I don't care. That's a gross generalization, and only applies to people who think the political message of their song is more important than the musical nature of the song.

As for whether or not right wingers are welcome at Mudcat, why shouldn't they be? If we're talking about music, their politics don't matter. If we're on a political thread below the line, of course there will be arguments. But I don't see that having anything to do with making or talking about music.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:35 PM

Good post, John. I too don't want to have anything to do with folks what try to turn one group of people against another for personal profit. There are a LOT of folks I don't want to be around. I don't want my presence to give the impression that I accept what they are doing. I marched in anti-Vietnam War parades and wrote protest songs against the war, and would do it again if I felt strongly moved to protest the country's actions. I see folk music as much more small "d" democratic. Music can be a powerful force for change, or just enjoyed because it is entertaining. I can understand the resentment if a political party usurps a song to give a message that was never intended.

It was his old blue chip
The stock he used to love

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:42 PM

Hi, Jerry,
I've heard that John Wayne Gacey put on a real fine clown show for the kids. But hindsight (no pun in-ten-did) is always twenty-twenty. Still, if I was the guy controlling the electricity to ol' John's chair, I would gladly say (and I paraphrase George Burns): "Say goodnight, Gacey!!!"

Art Thieme ;-)


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Paul Burke
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:43 PM

I find right-wing songs offensive, I find right-on songs (usually) embarrassing. But traditional folk is a bit like religion- people take out of it what they bring into it. So I'll certainly put a leftish spin on songs that I do sing if I want, and expect others to do the same. Sometimes people with politoics different from mine bring up valid points (in song or otherwise)- and that's to be addressed, and mulled over, and a better point made (in otherwise or song), I don't just call them a Cameron. But some people - people- Al Q, BNP, Scientologits, ETA et al- there's no arguing with them in any way, so I don't. And playing bluegrass, or Irish, or Swedish tunes, who's to know what you think?

Nigel as usual has the British left-ish view well put.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 05:15 PM

Spleen Cringe got what I meant, Maryrrf--but I'll say it again in another way--different genres of music are often strongly associated with certain minority ethnic/religious/social communities, and, while it is now "politically incorrect" to express contempt for the minority group directly, people can do the same thing in a veiled way, by expressing contempt for their music.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Acorn4
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 06:00 PM

If only people would think for themselves and do as I say!


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 06:19 PM

I sincerely believe that the people who actually benefit from right-wing ideology are very few and far between, and that the large numbers of people who support rightist causes are actually acting against their self-interest, but unfortunately are pitiable victims of lavishly-financed corporate brainwashing.

This means that I love my fellow-man, for the most part, but also that I'm condescending, even arrogant. So be it.

That's why I keep my opinions under my hat in most situations. The loudmouth rabblerouser you know here at Mudcat is actually pretty meek and quiet in most areas of the public arena.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 06:29 PM

Nice post, PG. I think I share your arrogance!

Paul, you got me bang to rights...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:17 PM

One honest concern of most Republicans which on some level I share is that government can't do everything. I'm glad that the Republicans are trying to slow down the speed and scale of some of the things that Obama is trying to do. I wept tears of joy when Obama was elected and I agree full-heartedly in principal with all he is trying to do. That said, I think brakes are a good thing. Without them, we'd be crashing into lamp posts or swerving off the road. I'm not sure I want the Democrats (being a lifetime one, myself) careening forward with no one to try to slow things down a little. I mention this only because I think it's unjust to say that those who support Republican policies are doing so only out of self-interest, or that they are brainwashed. Wasn't that John Kerry?

My father never voted Republican and was very proud of that. I told him that he, like most people, end up voting their pocket book. If he'd suddenly inherited a million dollars, I think he'd have become an instant Republican. :-)

None of this has anything to do with music.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Midchuck
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM

He was a lawyer, for God's sake! The only work he ever did with his hands was sticking them in someone else's pockets.

Okay, Jerry. You have chosen to make a categorical statement about all lawyers, even the ones who are folk musicians as well, like me and 'ol Bascom.

Well, you've just lost a former admirer.

I hope you're proud.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Maryrrf
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:04 PM

I agree with PoppaGator.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:07 PM

My brother in law, who I love dearly, is a lawyer. He would broadly agree with Jerry's tongue-in-cheek assessment. Stand up now, you diggers all!


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Midchuck
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 08:34 PM

My brother in law, who I love dearly, is a lawyer. He would broadly agree with Jerry's tongue-in-cheek assessment.

Oh, so would I. The trouble with the legal profession is that the crooked ones ruin it for the other ten per cent of us. But it's like a white man using the "N" word as opposed to a black man using it....

Peter


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 09:45 PM

I wanted to offer an apology here. I gave the offensive example of bigoted statements about Good Old Bascom Lamar and the legal profession to make a point... generalities about people are stupid. I though I stated that clearly, but apparently I didn't. I've apologized by PM to a member who was offended, and I extend this apology to anyone else I might have insulted. Here's what I wrote:

"It seems that I have expressed myself poorly. I thought that I made it clear that I thought the statement was stupid... the kind of thing that I've heard people say about lawyers. "Sounds stupid. And it is." I hate generalities about groups. Any groups. Please accept my apology if I have offended you. I worked for many years with the Board of Directors at the Stamford Museum, in Connecticut. My most beloved friend on the board who I admired like few people I've ever met was a lawyer. I could never be half the man he is.

I'm sorry if I've hurt anyone's feelings. The statment about lawyers is the kind of thing I've heard people say and I find it repulsive.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM

And Midchuck, be aware that you are very highly regarded around here.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:19 PM

Wal, I have found exceptions to the same generality, Jerry; but I have also met many of the prototypes for the paradigm, so to speak, those who embody the worst characteristics.   Of course partly it is an occupational hazard, just as seeing a lot of criminal life makes a cop grow hard, in many cases. The ones who are the exception are saints, IMHO, but it can be fairly said as Peter does, that the bad apples spoil the reputation of the barrel. So don't beat yourself up.

Blonde jokes, now, are an entirely different thing, for which there is NO excuse.


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:24 PM

There is a kernal of truth in every lie, Amos. That's why they are so insidious. I just don't like judgmental statements about groups of people. So much for tongue in cheek. More like foot in mouth.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Midchuck
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 10:56 PM

Yeah, well, I overreacted. I do that. Try being married to me for 42 years. It has been done.

But I do wonder why some minority groups are ok to pick on when the rest aren't.

I suppose it could be worse. I could be a blonde lady lawyer who plays banjo.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:18 PM

Jerry:

With all due respect to Midchuck, do NOT try being married to him. It would be a lot more trouble than it would be worth, methinks...


;>)


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Mike in Brunswick
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 11:41 PM

There's a book by Bill Bishop called The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart. I haven't read it, but from the following reviews - taken from the Amazon.com site - it seems to be relevant to this thread. Nothing about folk music, though, as far as I know.

Mike

From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize–finalist Bishop offers a one-idea grab bag with a thesis more provocative than its elaboration. Bishop contends that as Americans have moved over the past three decades, they have clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs, and in the end, politics. There are endless variations of this clustering—what Bishop dubs the Big Sort—as like-minded Americans self-segregate in states, cities—even neighborhoods. Consequences of the Big Sort are dire: balkanized communities whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible; a growing intolerance for political differences that has made national consensus impossible; and politics so polarized that Congress is stymied and elections are no longer just contests over policies, but bitter choices between ways of life. Bishop's argument is meticulously researched—surveys and polls proliferate—and his reach is broad. He splices statistics with snippets of sociological theory and case studies of specific towns to illustrate that while the Big Sort enervates government, it has been a boon to advertisers and churches, to anyone catering to and targeting taste. Bishop's portrait of our post materialistic society will probably generate chatter; the idea is catchy, but demonstrating that like does attract like becomes an exercise in redundancy.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* How did zip codes become as useful to political activists as to mail carriers? In the relatively new cultural dynamics of political segregation, Bishop discerns a troubling transformation of American life. Complex and surprising, the story of that transformation will confound readers who suppose that recent decades have made American society both more diverse and more tolerant. Pinpointing 1965 as the year when events in Vietnam, Washington, and Watts delivered body blows to traditional social institutions, Bishop recounts how Americans who had severed ties to community, faith, and family forged new affiliations based on lifestyle preferences. The resulting social realignment has segmented the nation into groupthink communities, fostering political smugness and polarization. The much-noted cartography of Red and Blue states, as Bishop shows, actually distorts the reality of a deeply Blue archipelago of urban islands surrounded by a starkly Red rural sea. Bishop worries about the future of democratic discourse as more and more Americans live, work, and worship surrounded by people who echo their own views. A raft of social-science research underscores the growing difficulty of bipartisan compromise in a balkanized country where politicians win office by satisfying their most radical constituents. A book posing hard questions for readers across the political spectrum.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 12:03 AM

If that's what the book is really about (and book reviewers have been known miss the point) a silly theory--even if people did move into communities where they felt like people agreed with them, either politically, religiously, or on the basis of lifestyle, the one truism of life is that, the more you get to know people, the more differences you find--


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Paul Burke
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 01:58 AM

The fact is, of course, that everybody is different. Except for me.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: glueman
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 03:02 AM

Brits find the American's fondness for politics and politicians charming if naive. Most people over here think there isn't a spoon long enough to sup with any of the devils whatever party mask thy wear.
Knowing what's best for everyone else would be a pathological condition with a range of medication and enforced confinement if it didn't come with a smiley face and shiny shoes.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:39 AM

I don't mind songs, and singers, expressing political views - that's part of the function of folk song, and always has been. I find it tedious when singers assume that everyone in the audience shares those views. I find it objectionable when people refuse to allow that alternative views may be perfectly valid and try to stop others singing about them.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: cetmst
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:35 AM

For many years I kept in my desk drawer a memorandum, "There are more of them than there are of us." I suppose if people put me in a pigeon hole it would be labeled "Affluent, male, WASP physician," but there are some fuzzy borders on that definition. A genealogically minded kinsman has raised the question of some Indian, excuse me, Native American, branches on the family tree. Lineage is primarily from the British Isles but there is at least a
quarter German.
Affluence is being eroded recently but there are more in poverty than those living comfortably. There are more women than men. There are more non-whites than whites though those differences are becoming more and more artificial. There are probably more Catholics world-wide than Protestants and certainly more Muslims.
There are more patients than physicians can adequately care for and more with illnesses or ailments than those in good health, whatever that is. However we categorize ourselves we are in a minority and the trick is to try to find ways to live harmoniously.
In addition there is a moral imperative (what are its origins?) to
improve human conditions. One of the most powerful tools along with other arts and sciences is music. There is a large literature on the influemce of music on health and on religion and a growing literature on the use of music, and especially folk music and topical song-writing, on social and political issues. You folks who have the talent for this, keep on.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM

People gathering together into ethnic communities has been going on since the discovery of America. Discrimination and prejudice as much as common interests have kept enclaves of ethnic and racial communities together, although if anything I've seen a major breakdown of that process. When I was growing up in southern Wisconsin, no black person would have dared to shop in any of the stores. It wasn't until I was in senior high school before there was a rumor that a black person was living in Janesville. Trying to spot them was looking for Bigfoot. If the rumor was true, I didn't know anyone who'd actually seen a black person in town, even passing through.

The first time my wife Ruth and I went to visit my family, I did it with complete confidence. We had the double whammy of Ruth being black and our being an inter-racial couple. In the 50's we might have been tarred and feather. Our visits there have been completely uneventful and we've been welcomed everywhere. Better than that, we haven't been treated any differently than if we were a white couple.

This here computer has brought people of common interest together into communities (like Mudcat) far more than geography does. When Ruth and I chose where we wanted to retire, we didn't look for a community where folk music was alive, or Jazz, or Pittsburgh Pirate fans. We both have always enjoyed diversity. For me, it's the same with music. I went to the first Woodstock, and when I was living in New York City I hung out big time in Greenwich Village, but I didn't just listen to folk music. I went to the Village Gate and the Blue Note to hear jazz, and occasionally enjoyed opera (very occasionally) and classical music (more frequently.) Each type of music draws its own crowd, as you'd expect. I never felt like I was a part of the group. I was just a friendly visitor who enjoyed the music (whatever it was) and the people I met. Common interests are fine. That's why I'm in here. And why I'm a member of blackgospel.com, faithwriters, and Blindman'sblues forum. It's a pleasure sharing a common love. I just start to have a problem with it when that common interest is looked upon as superior to other forms of music, worship or ways of living.

Different strokes for different folks.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 01:14 PM

Back to lawyers and lawyer jokes:

A few years back, when the big new aquarium on the New Orleans rverfront was newly opbrand-newen, then-Mayor Sidney Barthelemy slipped and almost fell into the shark tank during some kind of ribbon-cutting ceremony.

When asked if he had been frightened, Hizzoner replied, "Not at all; I'm a lawyer, so I knew the sharks would extend me professional courtesy."


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 02:07 PM

What hath I wrought? Here I am trying to get beyond us and them, and I've spawned lawyer jokes?

rrrrrippppp ... the sound of me ending my garments.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 03:18 PM

Political songs have been with us for a long time - someone mentioned Lilibulero - the song that in 1689 was said to "have sung a king (James II) out of three kingdoms" - probably the most influential song ever composed.
Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (Scottish patriot and anti-Unionist - 1655-1716) had it right when he said in 1704:
"If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation".
In my experience the only political songs people really object to are the ones they disagree with.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 05:11 PM

The thing about the Mudcat so far as I am concerned is that it is a collection of people drawn together by a love of folk music of one sort or another. That's the "us" and the "we" that defines it, and defines us, I hope.

Of course we disagree about lots of things - both above and below the line. That's the fun of it, you can have an argument with someone here in the knowledge that you've got a lot in common about something that matters to all of us.

I get a bit irritated sometimes about Mudcatters who just seem to be here for the non-music styiff, and don't give any indication of havong any interest in music or song or folklore. But when it comes to disagreeing with people, that's a big part of what other people are for. If we only got along with the people whose political views we share I suspect that most of us wouldn't get along with too many people.

It seems there may be a significant difference here on the two sides of the Atlantic atv present. Over here we generally don't have the real battle-line between adheets or quasi-adhewrents of the main parties (more inside them, actually, most of the time). That's aside from the British Nazi Party on the fringe, which is something else, and serves to unite the rest of us in contempt.

Maybe the problem is that something akin to the extremisam and basic nastiness that characterises the BNP seems to have infiltrated one of your main parties in the States, and this has managed to sour the tone for the arguments.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: EBarnacle
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:16 PM

pdq, he used the word in the context as "the Democrat Party." If you read his initial post, he made no discrimination between Democrat and democratic, independent of part of speech.

What I was objecting to is that too many people, use the shortened version, Democrat, for both the person and the party. Yes, x is a Democrat is correct. No, x votes Democrat is not. They are different parts of speech.

There was book a couple of years ago in which the person who, as a hired gun for the Republican party explained how he created language, both subtle and in yer face, in order to strengthen wedge issues. This is a subtler version of the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:44 PM

If someone who backs the Democratic Oarty is cirrectly called a Democrat, why isn't someone who backs the Republican Party a Republic?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 07:30 PM

but what if God was one of Us?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,stringsinger
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:09 PM

Hi Jerry,

"Given a choice, would you rather be one of "us," or one of "them?"

Us and Them is a huge problem. It starts wars.

" It can be being a Christian, being a Liberal (which is code for Democrat, as we all know Republicans can never have a liberal thought in their head."

Liberal no longer means Democratic Party any more. Too many
conservatives are now there.


"I find all of this extremely stifling."

Yes. It can be. That's why it's very important to understand what
each individual means by these classifications.


" Just when did folk music become the property of Democrats?"

Historically, what we know of the folk music revival in the US came from the American Left. The Right was not interested with a small exception of some folk music organizations in the Southern US. These small groups did nothing to furthur the folk music revival. That came from Lefties (at the time) such as Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Kenneth Goldstein, Alan Lomax, Carl Sandburg, People's Songs, Leonard Berstein, Woody Guthrie, The Almanac Singers, Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Richard Dyer Bennet, Tom Glazer, The Weavers, Cisco Houston, Sing Out! magazine, People's Artists, Paul Robeson and the list could go on.

"For the brief moment that folk music had national popularity in the fifties and sixties, it was folk music, not Democrat music."

It would not have happened had it not been for the American Left.
They did the spadework. The CPUSA under Earl Browder emphasized the idealization of the American Worker and the songs were encouraged as a symbol of their "struggle".

" But if you look at the body of folk music, only a small percentage of it is political."

I don't know. It depends on how you define political. But many songs are not part of the American Left historically. Any song can be made to fit into a political or propagandistic framework. Many traditional songs were rewritten for this purpose. Woody, Pete, Lee Hays and Almanacs did this intentionally.

"Many years ago when I was running a folk concert series I noticed when I booked a bluegrass group, I got a completely different audience. At the end of a bluegrass concert, I asked the audience to tell to me on the way out why they never came to the folk concerts. "The most common complaint I received was, 'I don't want to sit around all evening listening to someone complain.'"

The bluegrass style is relatively new and an outgrowth of stringband music from the 20's and the 30's. It has become watered down with
trite lyrics and many Right Wing Southerners with a political agenda which involves alienating African-American people from their concerts and participation in their music. If a musician of the stature of Taj Mahal or any good jazz musician would become interested in bluegrass, they could contribute so much to the development of bluegrass. You have to ask yourself why more black people aren't interested in bluegrass. It's a revealing question.

"I protested strongly that folk music is not primarily protest music, but to no avail."

It depends how you define protest. The Dylan genre became commericalized quite easily. Blues, plaints from Appalachia,
early 20's country music, even earlier from the Fifteenth century which gave us "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" were protest songs of a sort.
Chain gang songs protested their conditions. Uncle Dave commented on the coal miner's strikes. It's hard to generalize about this.

"Like most perceptions about the difference between "us" and "them," "Them" was stereotyped in the most negative, simplistic way."

This has always been true. It's called propaganda.


"The minute you define yourself as not being someone else, you get intellectually lazy. So, do you want to be an intellectual, or a non-intellectual."

Today in the US there is an anti-intellectual disease afoot. Somehow, being intellectual is derogated by ignorance propated by
major media propaganda. Public Education is a casualty of this attitude. W was the symbol.



"There's a much better choice than "us" or "them." It's called "we."
This country has gotten into the mess we have in large part because
"us" and them" has become "us" versus "them.'"

This is true. Unfortunately there are those in government and in the corporate private sector that use divisiveness toward their own ends.

"I bet Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a Republican. He was a lawyer, for God's sake! The only work he ever did with his hands was sticking them in someone else's pockets."

Bascom was a bigot. Probably a racist. He was rude and uncharitable
to "outsiders". (This is my personal experience). He was to the Right of Attilla the Hun. He was snide and mean to those he didn't trust. He was the antithesis of Southern Hospitality. He was also a great folk singer.


"What do you think?"

I think your thesis is correct. Folk music should rightfully be a vehicle for bringing people together in harmony. There are tribal divisions in folk music and the "us" and "them" are exacerbated by
those who have a "dog in that hunt". There are those who want folk music to be their private little sinecure and exclude "outsiders".
There are those like the BNP or some factions of the bluegrass scene who use the music to furthur their political and ethnic prejudices.
Then there are folk snobs. (Oh yes there are!)

Music ideally is the language of healing as Tommy Sands says so beautifully in his song. There are those who have been at the forefront of this ideal such as Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and others who are lesser known. I think Jerry that this is what has connected us to folk music, that it is the music of the human condition, that we can accept emotionally, psychologically and in other ways. It's about people and those who really get it have a reverence for human life.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:52 PM

Wonderful post, Frank:

The problem with us and them is that you're an "us" to the people you identify with and a "them" to those you don't. When you can find some commonality between the "us"s and the "thems", that's when you have "we"s.

I must admit that I've found the bluegrass community about as closed as you can get. Talk about "us"s. Of course, there are exceptions. I smile, thinking of a time back when I was playing fiddle (and not particularly well.) I was playing Forked Deer and someone got very upset. It wasn't that I was butchering the tune. I no longer remember what key I was playing in because it's been close to forty years ago, but I was playing in the key I could play the tune in. Someone came up to me and said, "Why are you playing that tune in D? NOBODY plays it in D!" "I do," I said. Without realizing it, Rigor Mortis had set in.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Midchuck
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 10:18 PM

I've had similar experiences with the bluegrass community. But are you suggesting Folkies Would Never Do Anything Like That? Or am I misreading you yet again?

Surely you've been told at some point that you were singing the Wrong lyrics to a song, because they weren't the ones printed in Rise Up Never-To-Be-Sufficiently-Damned Singing?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 11:28 PM

Actually, Peter, it was a folkie who told me I couldn't play Forked Deer in that key. He didn't even like the way I pronounced it Fork-ed Deer. :-)

As for folkies, we're all subject to getting a little uppity. A folk singer I knew said to me in a conversation, "I only sing universal songs." Well, aren't we precious.

And Frank, you're absolutely right on several points. Yes, I think it was the Democrats, left-wingers, working class folks, whatever you want to call them that kept folk music alive and we are deeply indebted to you and many others.

I was using the term "protest song" in the way it was commonly used in the 60's, strongly influenced by Dylan, Ochs and others. You're also right, Frank, that a good song can be many things to many people. An example: I've loved and played Penny's Farm since the early sixties. I grew up in farm country and though I didn't live on a farm, most of my Uncles had small farms. I knew how hard the work was. One thing you never did in high school was pick a fight with a farm kid. He'd throw you across the room like you were a bale of hay.
I sang the song because it's a great song, and I still love to sing it. Last night I watched Grapes of Wrath. It's one of the greatest movies of all times in my eyes. You can respect it as a great piece of art, or a protest movie, just as I Was a Fugitive From A Chain Gang was a great movie that caused widespread reform in the prison system. But back to Penny's Farm. Like many of the folk songs I sing, in the right setting they could function as a protest song. Singing Penny's Farm to a room full of tourists come down to see the hippies in Greenwich Village is world's away from singing it at a saturday night barn dance for tenant farmers. My oldest sister loves Penny's Farm more than any other song I do, and tried to learn how to play banjo with a banjo I left back home, using the Pete Seeger instruction book (good luck with that...) My sister who loves Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme, singing Penny's Farm...goes to show what a great song does to people. It can be a rallying cry, or just a terrific song for a big band era bobby sox crooner fan.

The common thread is that it's a great song. Use it as you wish.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 11:45 PM

I want to know when I am am going to be able to buy a book that pulls together and fills out all these little bits and pieces that you have passed on to us over the years, Frank. I will buy it in hardcover, and pay the full cover price, and I may even buy a box of them to give out.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 03:23 AM

"There are those like the BNP or some factions of the bluegrass scene who use the music to furthur their political and ethnic prejudices."

I'm not taking sides here, but isn't that exactly what the Left did?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,stringsinger
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 11:32 AM

Hi Jerry and Ted.

Reason I'm a guest is because I'm away from my home computer on vacation. In two days, I will be Seventy-Five years old. I look at
pictures of myself and say "who is that old fart?"

Jerry, Penny's Farm is indeed a classic. I remember Bascom telling us (Jack Elliott, Guy Carwan and I) that it was originally called
"Robertson's Farm" and they like the "nigras" around here. Yeah, sure! But we have Penny's. Thanks Pete.

I love Tony Bennett and Sinatra too, Jerry. And Penny's Farm.

I love the opening of Grapes of Wrath which is Red River Valley on the Hohner Echoharp. It is a perfect setup for the movie.
Steinbeck complained because Woody captured the story in his song
in a few seconds and it took Steinbeck so long to write it.

M Ted, I am most grateful and I now consider it an obligation to piece together my eratic life in print. Thank you for your kind
encouragement. I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the folk music revival and scene for over Fifty years, now and to know a lot of the folks that have been influential. I recently saw Joan Baez when she was in Atlanta. Her next CD is produced by Steve Earle
who I really think is as close to Woody as I remember him in Topanga Canyon California (circa early 50's) as anyone. Woody would have loved his songs, I feel sure about that. BTW Joan's concert was lovely. She had Dirk Powell, one of the best of the younger breed of traditional country singers, players, banjo pickers, fiddlers, and is a "ragin' Cajun" with his accordian also. He is a kinda' folk genius and may become another Doc. Then she had John Doyle who is an amazing guitarist, mandolist from Ireland whose rep preceeds him in the States.

I see this as a very rich time for folk music.

My old buddy, Spanky MacFarland has just reorganized Spanky and Our Gang and is playing folk festivals throughout the country. She sounds as good as ever.

I don't get this talk about the demise of folk. It's here and it's great.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,stringsinger
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM

Azizi, you bring up an interesting point. Should we support people who carry ideas such as fascism and racism into their concerts? It's a tough call. My inclination is no but we listen to early recordings of such folks as Hobart Smith who Alan Lomax said was overtly racist but enjoyed picking guitar with (I think it was) Furry Lewis, the eminent black folk singer. I know what Bascom said and felt. We were immediately "communists" and introduced as such on his Folk Festival in Asheville. (Jack Elliott called him "Bastard Lampoon Lunchfart".) Yet, here was a great folksinger and cared about the tradition of the Appalachians.

Maybe the answer is to balance out the acts that are overtly racist with other performers with another point of view. (The Hobart Smith/Furry Lewis model).

Louis Armstrong never went back to his hometown New Orleans because it had become too racist. After he was crowned King of the Krewes, he left for good and never looked back.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 01:09 PM

Frank, Happy Birthday!

I also look forward to reading any book you would write about your life and musings about folk (meaning "people" and not just the music people make and share).

Here is my response to the comment that you addressed to me:

I know next to nothing about either Hobart Smith or Furry Lewis. Perhaps those two musicians decided to ignore everything but the music to perform together. But I wonder in his heart of hearts if Furry Lewis could truly ignore Hobart Smith's racism-even if Smith treated him as "the exception to the rule". It's difficult for me to imagine that Lewis wasn't bothered by Smith's racism. Perhaps Lewis truly liked the music that he and Smith made together, but his decision to play with a man who was a known racist was driven by the economic and socio-political realities of that time.

I know in the past Black musicians even had to blacking up (wear black cork/paint) to perform. And I assume that it was economics and socio-political realities that drove that decision. Sometimes you do what you have to do to get over. But, I would hope that times have changed for the better since then.

In today's 24 hour media world where even what brand of beer famous people drink is heavily scrutinized, I think that if a Black person or another Person of Color teams up (as a musical act) with a known racist or a known fascist, his or her doing so would be used to aid & comfort racist or fascist positions. And I believe that including separate acts (performing groups or individual performers) who are known to be racist or fascist in a concert or other programming events such as a television show would give too much publicity to those performers and their causes. I also believe that doing supporters of known racist or fascist organizations would use the inclusion of people of their persuasian as publicity for their views and would push the view that the sponsors of that concert or programming are supportive of their racist/fascist positions.

I think that it's not just about the music anymore-if it ever was just about the music.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 05:34 PM

Stringsinger sez: "There are those like the BNP or some factions of the bluegrass scene who use the music to further their political and ethnic prejudices."

Howard Jones sez: I'm not taking sides here, but isn't that exactly what the Left did?

Joe Offer sez: Well, no. We of the Left use music to express our political ideals.

[uncomfortable grin...]


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 02:59 AM

But Joe, as you seem to be acknowledging, one person's principles are another person's prejudices.

I share the concern over the way the BNP seems to be trying to subvert the music I love to promote its obnoxious political ideals. But if you celebrate the involvement of the Left in folk music, and for using folk to promote its political views, it's then difficult to object to others using music to promote their views, just because you disagree with them.

At the extremes, I for one find it difficult to tell the extreme Right and extreme Left apart.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 09:43 AM

In relation to a society where racist structures and assumptions are virtually universal - which I understand to be the situation in the American South at the time someone like Hobart Smith grew up (born 1897) the expression "a known racist" is perhaps a bit unfair.

"In 1911, an African-American fiddle player named Jim Spencer began lodging at the Smith house, and taught Hobart how to play the fiddle. Impressed with the African-American style, Hobart and his cousin, John Galliher, began sneaking over to the segregated side of Saltville to hear black musicians" - that's a quote from Wikipedia, which isn't the most academicallly reliable source, but if that's a distortion it would probably have been corrected."


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 09:52 AM

Here is Hobart Smith playing Cripple Creek And here is Furry Lewis. Easy to see why they might have liked to play together, even aside from "economics and socio-political realities".


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM

In relation to a society where racist structures and assumptions are virtually universal - which I understand to be the situation in the American South at the time someone like Hobart Smith grew up (born 1897) the expression "a known racist" is perhaps a bit unfair.

McGrath of Harlow, I accept your point. To clarify, in the context of American racism then (and now), what I meant by a "known racist" was a person who-apart from his musical interactions with African Americans- was belligerant and insulting toward them and who advocated and participated in violence toward them (such as those who did so and still do so as part of the KKK).

I use past tenses but I know from personal experience that there are still some White people who accept Black people on stage (and in the work place) but will have nothing in them off-stage and outside of the work place.

[My experiences with this occurred outside of the work place and not off-stage, since I'm not a professional performer.]


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Azizi
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 11:07 AM

And let me add this-although I can't put myself in the hearts and minds of anyone living in the late 19th century, it would seem to me that it also would hurt to see racism occur all around you and know that the White person you taught musical techniques and songs to and/or played with on stage might be doing nothing about that racism. (I'm talking about the over-all institutions of racism and not just personal racism). Of course, I'm speaking in generalities here, since it's possible that Hobert Smith did do somethings privately or publicly to attack racism.

Also, it seems to me that it would hurt to know that the person you are teaching musical techniques to, and perhaps even playing with on-stage can benefit from that racism and make it in that society while that society's racism holds you down and might even kill you or members of your family or friends.

All of this to say that I don't doubt that most Black people during the 19th century and now think in terms of Us and Them. Given racism in the USA then and now, we are forced to do so.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Peace
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 03:48 PM

In order to sing a song (I think) it would have to resonate well with the singer's ideals, thoughts, etc. That would include the political aspect of "socially-conscious" people. For better or worse. Sometimes the song picks the singer, a not uncommon experience for people seeking material they can present well.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 04:58 PM

Last fall (shortly before the election), astro and I went to a concert by Sara Grey and Kieron Means in L.A. They were wearing "Obama" buttons -- expressing a sentiment with which I heartily agreed. However, their program of traditional songs and commentary during the program had nothing to do with current politics (and little to do with historical politics, either, if I recall correctly).

They said that at a previous event, a presenter had asked/told them to remove their buttons. And, at some point in this concert (it was a small, close-in audience), an attendee said he was disturbed by their buttons. This was the same audience member whose opposing political views were audible in the chit chat during the break.

I felt that it was silly to feel so strongly about the buttons when the performance itself was a-political. I think (speculating here) that if I'd attended a comparable concert with performers with "McCain/Palin" buttons, I'd have shaken my head about the performers as individuals, but still enjoyed the music, and not felt any need to protest their buttons. I've got a good friend locally who I feel about that way...

But, if I knew that the performer was off the deep end politically -- the other end from me -- I might feel more strongly about whether I wanted to share my ticket money with them -- would the trade-off of some good music outweigh my personal distaste? Certainly not if I felt that their performance really was part of any political campaign...

I have no problem with political music and I'm happy to support it when I agree with it. In my experience, I don't have a problem with performers who bring up their political views onstage - but, that could have lot to do with the fact that I don't think I've run into any that I disagree with. I suppose it would be an uncomfortable situation to be in if the performer assumed I and the rest of the audience agreed when I didn't... maybe that's why I feel sort of uncomfortable in bluegrass crowds...

I don't agree with those who say there should be "no politics no how" onstage. I presented a concert where a couple left at the break because they disagreed with the performers' politics, and I remember feeling that their huffiness was out of place. I guess I feel that there's room for all sorts, and you buy your ticket and you take your chances. (I guess that whole discussion was in a Rabbi Sol post-house concert thread not long back.)

As to interactions in the community -- it's part of growing up to realize that not everyone thinks the same way you do, and that beyond that you may still have things in common that are worth sharing. Both aspects frequent reminders... hopefully, they're not unpleasant wake-up calls.

As a dance caller, a job description I'd describe as "facilitating social fun for a roomful of folks", I'm trying to be more conscious of the various aspects of diversity in my audience and to not inadvertantly make people uncomfortable from my position behind the mic. Not everyone behind a mic has the same job...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 05:04 PM

Oops - that should read:

Both aspects usually require frequent reminders... hopefully, they're not unpleasant wake-up calls.

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 06:11 PM

Buttons wouldn't bother me. I don't expect everyone to think the way I do, and buttons are a very quiet way of expressing an opinion.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:06 PM

Isn't Buttons Michael Jackson's monkey? He's not been bothering you again, has he? That monkey...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:11 PM

Bubbles, that was Bubbles.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:13 PM

And Bubbles was a chimpanzee. Monkeys have tails.

~ (biologist pedant hat on)


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:18 PM

Damn. I was nearly trying to be funny, too ;-)

So who on earth was Buttons?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: pdq
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:45 PM

Red Buttons?

He caught a tree full of monkeys.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 07:45 PM

Buttons?


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 08:01 PM

cross-posted with pdq, above!


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 09:06 PM

Ah, some welcome relief. Praise thread drift! I have my mother's button hook. It's hard to believe that I am only one generation removed from using button hooks to button your shoes. I think it's a Democrat (or is it Democratic) button hook. You use it with your left hand.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Kent Davis
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 10:51 PM

As a socially conservative, economically libertarian, Republican, I regret the assumption that "folk = left/liberal/Democrat".

It's an odd assumption. Given that a conservative is a traditionalist, and given that folk music is traditional, it is exceedingly odd.

I certainly appreciate the work of many leftists, Pete Seeger for example, in preserving music that would otherwise have been lost, but his politics do not come from the music, nor does the music come from his politics. I appreciate everyone who, in the '60s, collected, revived, and popularized the music of an earlier time. We owe them a great debt and, without a doubt, many of them were leftists.   

Yet there is nothing INHERENTLY leftist about folk. "Barbara Allen" is not an arguement for socialized medicine, nor is "John Henry" an arguement against free trade. For every song with a "progressive" agenda, there is probably another with a socially conservative agenda. We've got "More Work in a Day" supporting traditional gender roles, "Cocaine Blues" supporting abstinence from illicit drugs, "Fair and Tender Ladies" supporting sexual abstinence, "The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn" supporting hard work and self-reliance, "What Wondrous Love" supporting theism, and so on and on. My point is NOT that these are right-wing conservative Republican songs. They are not.

They are songs of the folk, and that is all of us.

Even us Republicans.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Amos
Date: 02 Aug 09 - 11:59 PM

Well said, Kent.

I guess the liberal folksingers see the liberal side of all those things, and perhaps the conservative do the conservative side as well. O don't by the way consider hard work and self reliance a conservative virtue--its the only way to a fully successful life. The difference is in the fruits of the hard work. The consequences of the actions taken. This is especially important when one's efforts get multiplied by financial success.


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Kent Davis
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 01:24 AM

Amos,

I agree. I don't suppose self-reliance, or hard work, or ANY virtue belongs exclusively to conservatives, or exclusively to liberals. There is a difference, though, in which virtues each group tends to emphasize.

Appreciation for diversity is, for example, a virtue not limited to liberals, yet it is a virtue that liberals especially praise. I realize that real liberals don't always possess that particular virtue, just as I realize that conservatives don't always live up to their ideal of self-reliance.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that liberals aren't self-reliant or hard-working. That would be silly, as silly as if, for example, someone were to imply that conservatives didn't care about the poor.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 07:01 AM

For most people folk music is music folks sing. It doesn't have an agenda. I don't sing Down on Penny's Farm (as my example) because I am speaking for downtrodden tenant farmers, or small farmers who are being plowed under by large corporate conglomerates. I don't march around the coffee house carrying a placard saying Mister Penny Unfair To Tenant Farmers. I wouldn't sing Bay Rum Blues to protest the increase in tax on liquor, either. The only songs I've ever sung that had an agenda are ones I wrote during the Vietnam War. I wouldn't even include the gospel I sing and write as having an agenda, as I am not evangelizing. I'm just singing what I feel and what I enjoy singing. I think that's true of most people. But not all. I've also written lines like "An honest day's work for an honest day's pay was enough for a hard-working man."

All that said, Folk music (I think) has much more often been used as a means of drawing like-minded people together to rally for improved working conditions (ever hear one used as a rallying cry for Bosses unite?)or to rebel against unjust wars or social injustice. It is a powerful tool, and has been used for positive change in this country. And is still being used for good.

I could probably do an evening of folk music and believe that I didn't sing a single "protest" song, while someone else with a different mind frame would think that most of the songs I sang were protest songs.

And good on you Kent, for your post. The one point I'd add is that songs that no longer are sung as protest songs may well have BEEN protest songs at the time they were written. Now they're more of a window to the past.

And a hell of a lot of fun to sing. Whether you're liberal or conservative.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM

Point of information Buttons is a friend of Cinderella especially in pantomime versions.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,Stringsinger
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 03:06 PM

At the inception of the Old Town School of Folk Music, we found that folk music transcended politics, religion or any of the issues. It brought people of various persuasions together in harmony and it still does.

The "Us and Them" problem isn't just folk as we know. It's a terrible mindset that eliminates sharing of information and discussion. I don't think that folk music can be used for persuasion of any kind. People believe what they want regardless of what they sing.

Today, I think the bias factor politically doesn't work at all. That goes for Right or Left. Historically, there have been protest songs of the Left that is a small part of the body of folk music. It's harder to find a Capitalist song that extols the virtues of the stock market unless it's a parody. Any song can be used as a doctrinaire interpretation of its meaning just like the Constitution or the Bible.

Labels are increasingly losing their meaning. Many Democrats today are no longer "liberal". What does it mean to be a Conservative? If you care about the environment and global warming, you are a conservative as conservationist. If you believe that bailing out large banks without regulations is foolhardy, you might be a conservative or liberal.

The labels were more sharply defined in earlier times more than they are today.

I don't know too many of those who admired the Kingston Trio who thought of them as a "liberal" group. Even Walter Progressive Party Candidate, Walter J. O'Brien of the M.T.A. was expunged in favor of a fictitious George so as to not cause controversy.

I'm "beating a dead horse" here. Folk music will always transcend any political, religious or ideological point-of- view.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM

I couldn't agree more, Frank:

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 06:58 PM

I don't think that folk music can be used
for persuasion of any kind.


If that were true it would mean that folk songs were a pretty unusual use of language. We use words to influence other people all the time, and just because we sing them they don't somehow lose that power.

So much for love songs...


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Aug 09 - 07:53 PM

Love songs, eh? I think of them as an expression of love, not a means for persuading someone you love them. Maybe I never got it right? I never loved a woman with black hair. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 03:32 AM

"I don't think that folk music can be used for persuasion of any kind."
Not sure about that, but it certainly can introduce people to an alternative point of view even if it doesn't persuade them. Many of the songs exposed the atrocities in Viet Nam and encouraged the setting up of across-the-board organisations as Folksingers For Freedom in Viet Nam.
It can also serve as a tremendous morale booster - kept many of us going on the long miles from Aldermaston to London.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 06:14 AM

" I don't think that folk music can be used for persuation of any kind" don't forget that it was said that "Lilly bolaro" 'sang' James the second from three thrones.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 07:14 AM

I'm "beating a dead horse" here. Folk music will always
transcend any political, religious or ideological point-of-
view.
[QUOTE Frank Hamilton]absolutely correct,but it can also include it,here are two examples of songs that fall into both categories,Polly Vaughan or Tam lin,and in the other category,Which side are you on and Joe Hill.
there will always be people whose minds are made up and whose political views are intransigient,but there will also be people who are more receptive to different ideas,and who are open to changing their views.
Folk music can and does include songs that are capable of political persuasion,it also includes FOLK SONGS that are very good stories,Tam Lin,is one such example,a song that does transcend ,political and religious and ideological points of view.
so both Frank and Jim are correct,even if they disagree with each other.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 04:57 PM

Many of our traditional songs rose out of political situations.
In Ireland there are thousands of songs which were made as a direct result of the the Irish struggles for independence from Britain - 1798, 1876, 1916 to 1922.
The emigrations following the Famine produced, and are still producing the second largest section of the Irish repertoire (the first being love songs).
The jewel in the crown of the British repertoire (IMO), the transportation songs came into being from a situation caused by the siezure of common land by the English aristocracy.
The Jacobite wars produced its own Scots repertoire.
The Chartist movement led to pages of songs being published weekly in political journals of the time.
The Industrial Revolution gave rise to many songs about conditions in the mills and mines, at sea, in the armed forces.....
Political events throughout the 20th century produced songs on nuclear disarmament, South African aparthied, Viet Nam, Cuba, Chile, the miners, Turkey, Chile, Thatcher....
I haven't started on the hom-grown US repertoire, - the War of Independence, The Civil War, the dust bowls, the unionisation of the mining industry...... let's face it - folk song has always covered politics to one degree or another.
The very fact that our folk songs are the direct creation of working people - a class that, up to fairly recently, has been said to have no creative culture of its own, is a political statement in its own right.
Having said that, there is another side to the argument.
We (2 Brits) were visiting this part of the west of Ireland throughout the latest 'troubles'. At the time that Bobby Sands and the hunger strikers were dying we arrived to black flags draping the streets of Miltown Malbay. Everywhere we went we heard support for the strikers and contempt for the Thatcher Government for allowing such an atrocity to take place.
We never once met with hostility and were welcomed as friends.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Aug 09 - 07:14 PM

I should have added that one of the first assembled collections of songs was 'The Political Songs of England' (from the reign of John to that of Edward II) by Thomas Wright, half of which were in Latin.
As I said, political songs have been with us for a long time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 11:08 AM

During World War II many young officers were killed or wounded, creating leadership vacancies instantly. As a result, numerous enlisted men in battlefield conditions thus found themselves the recipients of "battlefield commissions," instantly transforming "one of us" into "one of them." If ever there was an illustration of the fact that there is really no "them" and no "us," that was it. Whether in war, sports or politics,only those who understand "we" will ultimately prevail.

By the way, that distinction is also at the root of most musical "artistic differences" that doom so many talented groups to failure and breakup.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM

"If ever there was an illustration of the fact that there is really no "them" and no "us," that was it."
Funny you should say that. At this present moment we are in the midst of an economic crisis caused largely by avaricious bankers and property speculators, ably assisted by (at best) incompetent and (more likely) corrupt politicians. The 'them' who got the world into this mess with their greed and incompetence are being rewarded with large bonuses and golden handshakes, while the 'us' who, by and large have had little to do with the mess we are in are being punished with redundancy, cuts in wages, privileges and benefits and a massive downgrading of our stadard of living and our security - now tell me how this no 'them and us' works again.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Goose Gander
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 12:29 PM

In that case, Jim, the Us and Them is fairly easy to distinguish (though plenty of 'us' weren't complaining during the boom years).

But it's not always so simple. One example: this laudatory review of Something's Rising - dealing with mountaintop removal in Appalachia, featuring Jean Richie among others - that was printed in the very conservative Washington Times . . . .


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 12:52 PM

Folk Music was made popular in the 1950s and early 1960s not by the Left, but by Folk Music Entertainers like The Kingston Trio, The Highwaymen, New Christy Minstrels, Brother Four, etc. These people were musicians and entertainers, not driven by politics. Their music was widely accepted and not challenged by the masses who enjoyed folk music for what it was: Good music that entertained. That is why they had hit records. A lot of that has been lost. Political folk music is devisive, folk music that entertains is still loved by many. The elitist, political folk singer is scorned because many are incapable of acknowledging that first, and an audience second.

Believe me when I tell you that is the truth that most certainly always has and always will annoy the political, trying to save the world folk singer vs the folk singer who sings what is entertaining and offensive to no one. It's why groups like The Kingston Trio, even in their 21st century incarnation, still fill concert halls.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 12:52 PM

Those of us who find value in music and in singing together do have something very important in common, despite whatever other differences we might have. Even the most belligerent know-nothing xenophobes and racists see themseves and their friends as downtrodden common working-folks ~ they simply misidentify their enemies when they buy into the ridiculous idea that their problems should be blamed on some other downtrodden group, usually folks even less privileged then themselves. ("We're broke because the poor people got all the money.")

If there is an actual "Them," it's the coldhearted servants of Mammon who don't care who and how many they trample upon to enrich themselves.

I don't think there are very many mergers-and-acquisitions specialists, investment bankers, Ponzi schemers, etc., who enjoy community singalongs.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 01:10 PM

folk entertainer,you have missed out the Weavers and PeteSeeger and Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie,as I said before,folkmusic includes both songs that are intended to persuade politically,and songs that are just veey good stories and even: love songs.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM

"(though plenty of 'us' weren't complaining during the boom years)."
Don't know how you fared during the 'boom' years Michael. I worked (as an electrician) and earned a modest living.
All that has changed is that, because of the state of the economy, brought about, as I said, by greedy financiers and incompetent and corrupt politicians, my standard of living is quite likely to plummet. Recently my local hospital closed its A&E department, so I now have to survive a 60 mile ambulance ride if I (or any belonging to me) have an accident, any small savings I have is under constant threat because of the possibility of the bank going under, my pension for a lifetimes worth is diminishing in value daily....... 'Us' bear the brunt of a recession and gain little from a boom. On the other hand, life appears to go on as usual for 'them' (who got us where we are at present).
I live in the west of Ireland, where it is virtually imossible to find a family that hasn't been affected down the years by emigration. Now, it appears, the youth of this country (at least, the children of 'us') will be taking to the boats again in order to earn a living.
Folk entertainer:
The music industry capitalised on folk music, which had been put on the map by pioneers like Guthrie, The Weavers, Alan Lomax, Ewan MacColl, Bert Lloyd..... left wingers all.
The industry exploited it when it was profitable and discarded it when it ceased to be so. You are, of course right, they were not driven by politics, but by profit, and the music was no more than a commodity to be sold on the market.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:27 PM

how right you are, Jim.
I was in Bantry,yesterday.
there was a Queue outside the dole office of forty people.
I dont have a pension.
I am lucky I am still playing now and again.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: stallion
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:44 PM

guest TJ, about battlefield promotions and rank, WWII pilots from the "right background" were pilot officers the "wrong sort" were seargent pilots. Anyway, this has been discussed in a way before, it's about empathy, can anyone sing a song about a life of begging when they have never been a beggar themselves, so if, by and large, republicans are richer maybe they don't feel inclined to associate with the views expressed in a lot of the songs in the folk genre, like exploitation, anti war, anti establishment, poaching, tresspassing and romanticising the fellons.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM

Captain Birdseye, The Weavers were popular, but as a general rule were dead as far as folk music entertainers go by the time Tom Dooley and the big folk boom hit. I left them out because it was ultimately their politics and their involvement in politics led to their popular demise. Pete Seeger was popular to many for his folk music, but again was extremely political on stage. There are those who like to hear Pete's music, but not his preachy rants. Bob Dylan came after the folk artists I mentioned, but many of his songs became hits by others, and his audience still wants his "hits" in concert. Woody Guthrie I could never really consider a folk music entertainer in the same sense. Agenda trumps entertainment. Not always disagreeing with that approach. But the fact is, folk music as entertainment has always been more popular than political folk music.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 03:10 PM

Folk Entertainer - you seem to be confusing the terms 'popular' and 'good' - the two are not the same.
The stars of the folk boom were performing an erzatz, watered down version of folk music, and were dressed up in monkey suits and Aran sweaters by the industry in order to do so. What they gave the audiences had little to do with real folk music. I treasure a comment by Tommy Makem's mother Sarah - one of the finest traditional singers Ireland ever produced, who, when asked about her son's popularity said, "Our Tommy can't sing".
Dylan is a wonderful example of somebody who milked folk music, then moved off to fresh fields and pastures more profitable when the cow ran dry.
Those you named distinguished themselves not only as great singers and musicians, but also people who stood up to be counted; they rose far above the description 'entertainer'. Didn't Senator Mac. put Pete Seeger in the slammer for his courage in saying no to the witch-trials?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 03:28 PM

Jim Carroll, there are many, many who would care to differ with your opinion and believe that folk music does not have to just be performed by the toothless or poor to be considered "real" folk music. There are many, many fans of the popular folk music by the entertainers I mentioned and scoff at the elistist and snobbish definition of what kind of folk music they listen to for musical enjoyment only. They do not want agendas. They want music. Basically, they want you to shut up and sing.   Tommy Makem was a superb folk music entertainer who played to huge audiences. People liked his music and could care less about his politics. Believe it.

This is an age old arguement. It is also as devisive as politics itself. There is nothing wrong with folk music with superb instruments, smooth harmonys, nice clothes, and actually for entertainment. Perhaps some folk musicians should concern themselves more for what an audience actually wants to hear. Too many think it is just about themselves.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Goose Gander
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 03:59 PM

Jim -

My comment about 'us' and the 'boom' years was parenthetical to my point about the inadequacy of left/right, liberal/conservative divisions. As an illustration, I posted a conservative writer's positive review of an excellent book 'of the people' that many observers might pigeon-hole as a 'left-wing' analysis. I thought my meaning should have been fairly obvious, but perhaps not.

During the 'boom' years, I worked as a school teacher, warehouse worker, and 'temporary office worker', and I currently work in a bookstore. So I obviously am a fat-cat priest of Mammon, worthy only of immolation by an angry mob.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE FOLK SONG ARMY (Tom Lehrer)
From: beardedbruce
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:07 PM

THE FOLK SONG ARMY
(Tom Lehrer)

We are the Folk Song Army,
Ev'ryone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs,
But we regard them with scorn.
The folks who sing 'em have no social conscience
Why, they don't even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away,
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don't have to be clever,
And it don't matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English,
And it don't ever gotta rhyme---excuse me---rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John P
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM

Do folk singers who write songs about politics do so because they are trying to persuade, or because they write about whatever they are thinking about?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE ONE ON THE RIGHT IS ON THE LEFT
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:41 PM

Johnny Cash knew what he was talking about when he sang this ringingly true parody written by Cowboy Jack Clement. Remember, there are plenty of people like me who love folk music, but we prefer to have a full set of teeth in our mouth, work in a decent paying job, drive a car, actually respect authority, and heaven forbid, might just vote for a Republican if he is the right candidate and makes more sense.

"THE ONE ON THE RIGHT IS ON THE LEFT"

There once was a musical troupe
A pickin' singin' folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land

They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver's license

Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear The folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all

Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy in the rear, said, "Oh dear"

Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don't go mixin' politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself

Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right's an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 10:36 PM

Guess I made my point. Everyone quit and went home. Oh well......


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:16 AM

"the toothless or poor to be considered "real" folk music."
I always find people who decide what and why others (of whom they know absoltely nothing) like and dislike have usually run out of honest arguments and thrash around for stereotypes and infantile slogans - who said that folk music has to "be performed by the toothless or poor to be considered "real" folk music." I certainly didn't, nor do I believe it to be so. I do find your summing up of the people whose generosity gave us many of our traditional songs both taseless and offensive, but that seems to go with the territory nowadays. I don't know how old Tommy Makem was, nor do I know if he still had all his teeth, but he had reached an age to fit neatly into your somewhat unwholesome description. Whether he was "superb folk music entertainer" is purely a matter of opinion - I'm one of those odd people who choose my music by what I hear rather than by the fact that they 'play to huge audiences' otherwise I would spend my time listening to Amy Winehouse and Madonna.
It really isn't up to you or anybody else to decide whether or not I listen to or sing political songs - on the contrary, anybody who tells me I can't is little more than one of those 'folk police' I keep hearing about.
Ewan MacColl sang his political songs to capacity audiences right up to his death. I understand Christie Moore and Dick Gaughan have been known to sing one or two political songs in their time - but then again, mabe they choose to sing what they consider worth singing rather than the ones that bring in the big bucks- it's know as 'artistic integrity'
Describing political songs as 'preachy' is rather like my describing all 'snigger snogwriters' as navel gazing introspectives - while some of them are, I'm sure that others are not.
"Everyone quit and went home."
Surprisingly enough, not all of us sit crouched over our computers waiting for the next pearl of wisdom to drop. I (unwisely no doubt) left mine alone and unattended and went out to enjoy a wonderful night of song and music in my local pub, hence the delay in responding.
Michael:
Sorry if I misunderstood your point. As far as I'm concerned the divisions in our society have little to do with schoolteachers who are forced to work in their holidays to make up their rather crappy remuneration, and why I should consider one such as a "fat-cat priest of Mammon" is utterly beyond me.
As I said, my particular 'them and us' are 'they' who have milked our society dry and 'us' who are expected to pick up the tab.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 06:32 AM

well said Jim,I switched off my computer and spent the evening making music.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: GUEST,The Folk entertainer
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 08:27 AM

Well I guess the truth is too much for some to hear. Your head in the sand is a normal reaction when all you can say is you are offended.

Try listening to an old Kingston Trio record and smiling for a change. Folk music can actually make you happy.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 09:07 AM

"Well I guess the truth is too much for some to hear. Your head in the sand is a normal reaction when all you can say is you are offended."
Is that all I said ? I seem to have taken an awful long time to say it.
"Try listening to an old Kingston Trio record and smiling for a change. Folk music can actually make you happy."
There you go again telling us what we should and shouldn't be listening to, and what makes and doesn't make us happy - now you really are beginning to sound like a George Orwell character.
I once listened to everything The Kingston Trio ever recorded - then, like Topsy, I just growed.
Now go and direct some traffic constable!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: theleveller
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 09:48 AM

"Well I guess the truth is too much for some to hear. "

I, for one, am at a loss to understand what "truth" you are referring to. Nothing you have said has any ring of truth for me - it's just a load of opinionated twaddle. I firmly believe that social and political issues always have been, and always will be, an intrinsic part of folk music. If you choose to ignore that well-established and vital part of the genre, fine, but there are those of us who never will. Try taking off your rose-tinted spectacles once in a while.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: GUEST,The Folk Entertainer
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 09:57 AM

I'm not telling you what to listen to. As a performer, I listen to what my audience wants to hear and respect them. Politics in folk music has always been about ego. I would merely suggest folk music performers consider that people actually like to be entertained and not preached to.

Now get off your high horse and quit trying to save the world.
Sing a song that people actually know for a change. Maybe more will listen.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM

There's dissension among the Us's. Could it be possible that a Them has snuck in? :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Elmore
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 10:40 AM

I'll always be thankful to the Kingston Trio for leading me to real folk music, be it political or traditional.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM

"I listen to what my audience wants to hear and respect them"
Why not please yourself and sing what turns you on - or stop singing and put in a juke box. The singer should decide what to sing; not the audience.
"Politics in folk music has always been about ego."
No, performance has always been about ego - politics is about comittment.
"Sing a song that people actually know for a change. "
Do you know what I sing - or listen to - if so, how?
This is all becoming very childish.
"I'll always be thankful to the Kingston Trio"
I got a great deal of pleasure out of The Kingston Trio at one time - then I discovered that there was much more.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: theleveller
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 11:41 AM

"Now get off your high horse and quit trying to save the world.
Sing a song that people actually know for a change. Maybe more will listen. "

There speaks the true voice of ignorance and indifference.

BTW, I can't recall a single song that The Kingston Trio sang... they never grabbed my attention.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 11:59 AM

Jerry, you've said beautifully and eloquently what I've felt (and tried to say, usually unsuccessfully) for a long time. Much of what passes for folk music is (has been since the 1960s at least) actually of the "protest song" genre. These songs generally have one characteristic in common: they cast scorn, derision, mockery, anger and hatred against another person or group of people whose beliefs or politics the singer does not like. In short, they are mean-spirited. Whether you like a particular protest song will depend on whether you agree with the message or whether you feel yourself in the group that the singer obviously despises.

The songs are great for "we're all in this together" gatherings of like-minded people to raise their passions, but in a general audience, especially in today's America which is so terribly polarized, you are going to alienate about half the audience. Notice I said "in a general audience" -- obviously an audience that came knowing what kind of music they were going to hear will be more uniform in their beliefs and therefore you'll alienate fewer people.

I have become sick of mean-spirited speech and songs and therefore I, like many people, no longer listen to or sing protest songs outside of political gatherings. In today's America, for someone on the wrong side of the singer's politics, a songfest can seem like a hate-fest. Jerry, you said beautifully and eloquently what I've felt (and tried to say, usually unsuccessfully) for a long time. Much of what passes for folk music is (has been since the 1960s at least) actually of the "protest song" genre. These songs generally have one characteristic in common: they cast scorn, derision, mockery, anger and hatred against another person or group of people whose beliefs or politics the singer does not like. In short, their mean-spirited. Whether you like a particular protest song will depend on whether you agree with the message or whether you feel yourself in the group that the singer obviously despises.

The songs are great for "we're all in this together" gatherings of like-minded people, but in a general audience, especially in today's America which is so terribly polarized, you are going to alienate about half the audience. Notice I said "general audience" -- obviously an audience that came knowing what kind of music they were going to hear will be more uniform in their beliefs and therefore you'll alienate fewer people.

In today's America, a songfest can easily seem like a hate-fest to someone on the wrong side of the singer's politics. I myself have become sick of mean-spirited speech and songs and therefore I, like many people, no longer listen to or sing protest songs, or any song that mocks politicians or other groups of people, outside of political gatherings.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:07 PM

EBarnacle, you've touched on a contentious (and you're right, a completely different) topic. Depending on one's political affiliation, one can believe (as you do) that saying "Democrat Party" is "something introduced by the Republicans several years ago to lessen the verbal relationship between Democrats and democracy," or that this is something introduced by Democrats to more closely associate their party with democracy.

In truth, it's simpler than that: Republicans don't believe that the "Democratic Party" is democratic, and therefore refuse to give tacit agreement to the descriptive adjective "democratic" when referring to that party. Saying "Democrat Party" is at least more polite than saying "the so-called Democratic Party."

I say "Democrat Party" because it's more honest linguistically. There are (at least) two types of adjectives: descriptive adjectives (hot, blue, beautiful, effective, etc.) and noun-adjectives (for example cat in "cat house," post in "post office," book in "book club," etc.) The difference is, noun-adjectives can always be used individually as nouns. Descriptive adjectives cannot.

Some words are both descriptive adjectives and noun-adjectives, or more precisely, they are descriptive adjectives that are spelled the same (i.e., homographs) as related nouns. In each case, you can use the word as a purely descriptive adjective, and can also use the word separately as a noun. These words include, for example, liberal, conservative, republican, and communist. Since each can be used separately as a noun (he is a liberal, he is a communist, he is a conservative, he is a Republican, etc.) they can be used as noun-adjectives to describe parties: Liberal Party, Conservative Party, Republican Party, Communist Party, etc.

But Democrat is a noun, and you cannot use it grammatically as a purely descriptive adjective. You cannot say (correctly) "...democrat form of government." The related descriptive adjective is "democratic" ("...democratic form of government"). Likewise, the descriptive adjective "democratic" cannot be used as a noun. You cannot (correctly) say "he is a Democratic." The noun form is Democrat. Therefore, using correct English the name of the party should be Democrat Party.

That said, of course people can name their political party whatever they like, I suppose. You could start a political party and call it the "Righteous Party" or the "Godly Party." But then you'd have to admit that you're using the word descriptively as part of the title, and you'll be opening yourself up to witty epigrams by opponents, who might say, for example, "the Democratic Party isn't democratic."


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:13 PM

Addendum: Descriptive adjectives can sometimes be used as nouns, but only in a certain way. For example in the phrases "only the good die young"; "none but the brave"; "the wise know better"; "the depression is always hardest on the poor"; etc.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Amos
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM

The Folk Entertainer, while I have no problem singing songs people actually know, and enjoy, and so on, I wonder why you feel you need to make the point with such arrogance and acidity?

The Kingston Trio were highly polished, commercialized renders of folk-song, and perfectly enjoyable as what they were--commercialized--but that does not mean they were authentic, genuine, or even representative of the roots from which they drew their material.

There is a LONG discussion to be had about the relative virtues of the two sides, the Huddy Ledbetter vs. PP&M divide. But I don't see any basis in the discussion for the kind of antagonism you seem to bring to the thread.


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: theleveller
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM

There seems to be a dichotomy here between the USA and Britain. In Britain there is a long, honourable, effective and ongoing tradition of left-wing protest, which is also an active part of folk music. Far from being mean-spirited, it is concerned with exposing and getting rid of oppression, greed, self-interest and indifference. The music is vibrant, enjoyable and often amusing. Many of the performers are in the mainstream of British folk music and their popularity is shown by their sell-out concerts and presence on the bill of just about every folk festival in the country.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:36 PM

Amen, Amos.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 12:51 PM

Amos, the OP was posting an opinion about a certain type of "folk music" and was not attacking any particular person, especially not any particular person participating on this forum or this discussion. it was a discussion about folk music performance in general.

You however, in saying "I don't see any basis in the discussion for the kind of antagonism you seem to bring to the thread" have directly attacked the OP, and as such have brought this into the realm of personal attack. This is no longer rational discourse about the topic itself, but an attack on the OP for having had the temerity to have brought the subject up. I suggest the management close this thread before the flames start flying in earnest.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 01:08 PM

For those who challenge my thesis that there really is no "us" or "them," only "we," I offer this. The greedy avaricious types to which one responder referred, could not consistently benefit from their wrongdoing without our being willing to turn a blind eye, so long as our own ox is not being gored. "We" elect bad politicians, then allow them to stay in office. When someone offers a product or service "too good to be true," "we" quickly buy it. The late Walt Kelly's character Pogo, summed it up with "We have met the enemy and he is Us."

What some characterize as bland and inoffensive, or non-controversial, entertainment is popular because of human nature - people generally don't like to have another person's view of "truth" or "reality" thrown hard in their face when they come to be entertained. We need truth and reality and plenty of it, but those whose music is challenging to the listener in that way should probably not expect to be considered "mainstream," though Dylan and a few others have managed to come close.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 01:22 PM

I'm totally with the leveller on this one.
I can't speak for the US, things appear to be very different there, but far from being 'mean-spirited' the political songs I have been listening to have been uplifting and inspring commentaries and judgements on what goes on around us.
As an 'ordinary citizen' I have very little say in what is done by our 'betters' on our behalf.
If my Prime Minister (as he did) wants to wage an illegal war against a third word country and send our young people to be killed and maimed, I have no say in the matter.
If an American President (as several of them did) wants to napalm and Agent Orange a nation 'back to the Stone Age' the man and woman in the U.S. street cannot influence that decision to any effective degree whatever.
At least by making and singing songs about what goes on in our name, we are able to make our view known.
By suggesting that we should not be doing this is, as far as I'm concerned, siding with the most repressive regimes in history in attemptng to silence the voice of the ordinary man and woman - shame on the lot of you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Amos
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 01:40 PM

Taconicus:

There's some sort of over-sensitivity in play here. I was merely commenting on one person's tone of combative arrogance, not about a subject. Surely this distinction is clear?

I don't know what "OP" stands for.


A


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM

the point that folk entertainer misses,is that a song can be politically persuasive and entertaining,in fact it doesnt have to be humourous to be entertaining,although entertaining songs are often humourous.
Leon Rosselson,is an example [imo]of a performer who is both entertaining and politically persuasive.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 02:04 PM

Once again, the relevant "us" for the Mudcat is that we are here because we like folk music of various sorts, and we like to be able to talk about it, and also to be able to talk about lots of other things with people with whom we may disagree strongly, but with whom we share that fundamental bond.

It's rather like the "us" of people who speak the same language. That doesn't mean they won't disagree and have arguments - in fact it means they can disagree and have arguments in ways which aren't available to people who don't share a common language.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: stallion
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM

I think that what ever your persuasion, bent, whatever, every now and then someone comes up with an interpretation of a song and it pins your ears back, nails it, the mood, the message, everything. Now what makes the difference is understanding the sentiment of the song and then delivering it. So many times one hears songs and the message isn't there, I remember in 1972, as a floor singer,being bollocked by M.C. for not understanding the song I sang, I now concur!
Truth is, if we bring our own agenda to the songs then we will see and read into them what we want to see, and sometimes, by zerendipity maybe, someone gets it right.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 03:33 PM

Sorry, OP means Original Poster. Amos, I see the distinction, but I don't think the OP was trying to be combative or arrogant, though you may have heard it that way; he was just giving his opinion. I know you have written many political opinion posts on these forum, and probably they may sound combative or arrogant to some others (especially to those who disagree with you), but I doubt you felt you were being combative or arrogant when you wrote them, just giving your opinion--which I think is great. Remember, we can't hear tone of voice or facial expression in these posts, but human nature being what it is, we often tend to make assumptions as to what they are. That can lead to ill feelings, when people feel they are being unfairly misunderstood. Better to argue the merits of the position, I think, and not the perceived intent of the poster.

Jim Carroll, I don't think anyone is trying to silence anyone. The point is, you have to realize that when you sing songs of a political nature you are going to alienate and/or hurt the feelings of people who believe the opposite. Certainly speak your mind, but if you're going to sing those protest songs, just realize that's going to happen. If you don't mind losing that part of your audience, there's no reason not to go ahead and sing them anyway. But it's just as wrong to try to silence those who speak their mind about how those songs affect them.

Now maybe it is different in Great Britain, or maybe it's just because the circles you travel in are more unified as to their political beliefs, but here in the US there are many people who love folk music but whose political beliefs are different from yours. Given what you say about your political beliefs, I'm sure you don't see anything other than uplifting and inspiring commentaries in protest songs against the wars in Iraq and Vietnam (which I guess is what you're talking about). Now the Vietnam war is far enough in the past that songs about it are not likely to raise any controversy, but if there are any people in your country who don't happen to think that the Iraq war is illegal, but who think that it is in fact a noble cause, then I don't think they're likely to find the same kinds of songs uplifting and inspiring, no matter how much they love folk music. Again, if you want to use music to proselytize go right ahead -- I wouldn't want to try to stop you. But if people want to say that they'd prefer to hear non-proselytizing music, they should be able to say so as well, without being put down for their opinions (and no, I'm not saying you're putting anyone down).


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John P
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:01 PM

The point is, you have to realize that when you sing songs of a political nature you are going to alienate and/or hurt the feelings of people who believe the opposite.

Another point is that most protest songs are protesting some form of repression -- economic, political, social, military, racial. Of course the people who are doing the repressing are going to be put off by the music. Boo hoo.

In the example given, anyone who is a war monger and supports wholesale killing should expect to get grief for it, even if they have somehow convinced themselves that it's a noble endeavor.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Elmore
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM

Taconius: What you just wrote makes no sense to me. Generally people go to a concert knowing what the performer is all about. I've attended hundreds of concerts where portions of the evening included topical songs. The performers were alwys well received, often lovingly so. Where in the USA do you find these hordes of right wing folk music enthusiasts. I fear the thread has taken a strange turn.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:10 PM

The Folk Entertainer talks about respecting the audience--the reality is, in the US at least,
folk audiences tended to be strongly connected with the Civil Rights Movement, The Anti-War Movement, and the Labor Movement. All three of these extremely political movements used folk music, and songs based on folk music, as organizing tools and to create solidarity among it's members. There's even a song about it. That's the core audience.

If someone wants to talk about the truth about folk music, that would be the place to start.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:20 PM

Well Elmore, I don't know what concert the original poster was talking about. I agree with you about "big name" performers. When I go to a Judy Collins or Tom Paxton concert I certainly know what types of music I'm going to hear. On the other hand, there are also open mic and community get-togethers of people who just love folk music. And yes, those who take the opportunity to sing a protest song dumping on George W. Bush or Barack Obama (the usual targets these days) or some controversal topic are well received as well, but a number of people in the audience are going to have their feelings hurt. Does that mean those songs should not be sung? No, it doesn't. Would I rather be a recreational event where half the audience doesn't get their opinions or heroes dumped on? Yes, I would. There's enough discord going around without that. But that's just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: John P
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM

My truth about folk music is that I've been playing folk music in the US for 30 years, have never done an overtly political song, and have never noticed my core audience to be concerned with anything except having a nice evening.

I agree that left-wing political movements have made wide use of folkish music, and that most folkies are left wing, but I don't think the core audience for folk music shows up for any political reason, and most musicians don't engage their audiences on a political level. The political music is a minute part of the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM

"Jim Carroll, I don't think anyone is trying to silence anyone. The point is, you have to realize that when you sing songs of a political nature you are going to alienate and/or hurt the feelings of people who believe the opposite."
A question (no, sorry, a number of questions);
I believe killing animals for pleasure is obscene; for me, it shows the darker side of humanity - does that give me the right to object to hunting songs (they abound in the UK)
Some years ago the womens movement here moved in on what they considered male chauvanist songs; it became a regular practice that women in some audiences would shout down singers who were singing such songs - result, many singers I know dropped these songs from their repertoire. Is this behaviour acceptible?
In numerous clubs I have been involved in people have objected to bawdy and erotic songs (these make up a considerable part of the English language tradition) and have on occasion protested loudly and walked out in the middle of a performance - is this grounds for dropping such songs?
I know of people who objct vehmently to whaling songs - should they be allowed at our clubs?
In the light of events coming to light at present in Ireland relating to the physical and sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy, many of us have an issue with religion - would we have a point in objecting to religious songs?
What makes politics so special?
It seems to me that if we respond posetively to any or all of these objections we would be left with a repertoire so anodine that we may as well confine ourselves to the sanitised songs published by Sharp in the early days of the 20th century.
I'm afraid that silencing people on the question of politics is exactly what you are proposing; nothing new there - all repressive regimes have behaved exactly the same.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 07:09 PM

A stick points both ways, and so can a song.

Hunting songs, whaling songs, war songs, all kind sof other songs - they may have been made up to celebrate the activity they are dealing with, but there can always be another way of reading them.

Typically it's not the overtly political songs that back the most powerful punch when it comes to getting over a point of view.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 07:25 PM

A supplementary point.
Probably one of the greatest political events in US history was the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 20th century, a time for America to be proud (and ashamed).
The songs that were made and sung to inspire and to record the events are, to those of us who were around at the time and who supported the aims of the movement, inseparable from the struggle: We Shall Overcome, Oh Freedom, Back of The Bus, Birmingham Sunday......... If it can ever be claimed that songs had an influence in political events, surely it was then.
I wonder how many of you can say (with a straight face) that these songs didn't give offense to millions of Americans who opposed the movement? We saw the films of the black children running the gauntlet in order to end the segregation in your schools, the result of the church bombings, the baying mobs of segregationists opposing the black vote - of course the songs gave offence, and almost certainly still do in some quarters.
But that's ok - you've just confined them to the dustbin of history with one stroke of your censors blue pencil - well done folks!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Emma B
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 07:34 PM

The first book of American Folk song I bought (12/6d old money!) in the mid 60s was 'We Shall Overcome' compiled for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee

I still have it


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:33 AM

Depends on what you consider political.

For instance the sonngs that begin "Come all you young fellows / maidens" followed by a story with a message concerning matters of love and power...politics is simply a subcategory of the things folksong deals with.

There is much subversion (Matty Groves, Willy o' Winsbury)in which we are clearly invited to align ourselves with one side or the other - generally the underdog whose native wit or corage confounds the rich and powerful. It is not courtly music, or aristocratic music or the music of an elite. Unless you count some individuals who measure their importance by the length of their beards....


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:55 AM

There are some things which I have spent many years opposing that leave you open to violent reprecussions. For example, opposing the National Front (or BNP as it is now called), fox hunting, dog fighting, etc. There comes a time in your life when age prevents you from taking an active part and that is when, as I do now, I tend to sit on the sidelines and voice my opposition in songs. If this offends people then I am pleased because it means they have taken note.

As with anything I say on message boards like this, what I say in a song I am always willing to say face-to-face to anyone.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:04 AM

I agree with 'im again.
If songs 'offend' people enough to make them want to think about the subject and discuss it - good; they are doing a positive job. To adapt an old saying "far better to sing-sing than to war-war!" (or let the subject fester in silence).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:58 AM

Jim Carroll, all of your rhetorical questions (except for the ones about repression and outlawing and songs not being tolerated, etc. which have absolutely nothing to do with the topic since nobody here is advocating censorship, repression, or anything else like it) can be answered the same way: if you don't like listening to a certain type of song, don't listen to it. If you sing songs that some people don't like to listen to, they won't come listen to them. There are degrees to everything. There are political issues and causes that are still being discussed rationally, and there are issues so contentious that they can inspire hatred in some and make others feel as though they're being spat upon. If that's what you want, go for it.

If a community is deeply divided and polarized over a particular issue and you sing songs demeaning half of them, or denigrating politicians or parties that half your potential audience has voted for, then half your community is not going to want to come hear your songs. It's as simple as that. If your purpose is to proselytize, "raise awareness," etc. then of course sing your protest songs. If you're there to provide pleasant entertainment then it's a different type of event. You can do battle with music, or you can entertain -- sometimes both. It's all up to you.

That's all I'm going to say about it. We seem to have gotten to the point where people are talking past one another, getting on their high horses and pontificating in indignation over things that haven't even been said.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:53 AM

Umm... speaking of high horses...

Taconicus wrote on 06 Aug 09 - 12:51 PM:

Amos, the OP was posting an opinion about a certain type of "folk music" ...

You however, in saying "I don't see any basis in the discussion for the kind of antagonism you seem to bring to the thread" have directly attacked the OP...


[OP is an abbreviation for Original Poster, i.e., the one who started the thread; Jerry Rasmussen, in this case.]

But, Amos had written 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM:

The Folk Entertainer, while I have no problem singing songs people actually know, and enjoy, and so on, I wonder why you feel you need to make the point with such arrogance and acidity?

["Guest,The Folk Entertainer" was someone who came in sounding like his word was final and no one else had anything to contribute, and then went away. I thought Amos exercised admirable restraint in his comment. :-) ]

But, that said, on the thread subject, I generally agree with you, Taconicus.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Stringsinger
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM

I think Jim Carroll raises an important point. Censorship in song material is never a way
to reach people. The best way I have found is to present songs in . History serves as a way. Also, express views about the song if it is found to be offensive to some.

I have sung "The Unreconstructed Rebel" in to show another side of the issue
of the American Civil War. I don't agree with the sentiments of the song but it's instructive to see what songs were sung when and why. I would contrast it to "Battle Cry of Freedom",
"Marching Through Georgia" or "We Shall Overcome".

I sing the anti-coal mining union "Flag of Blue, White and Red" in with "Miner's Lifeguard", a pro-coal mining union song to show historical contrast.

I haven't yet decided to sing "The Wesselhorst Song" in conjunction with "Zog Mit Kenymol", however. A strong concert would have to be prevalent to do that.

Songs are revealing, both positive and negative. Combined, they make the statement that
you want to present in again .

The tenor and presentation of songs in display the views of the performer
far better than censorship of specific songs which may be offensive out of .

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Elmore
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:04 AM

I question Taconius' knowledge of topical songs.People like Eric Bogle,John Mccutcheon, Fred Small, Judy Small, etc. have been writing songs subtle enough to make a point without upsetting anybody. The previously mentioned Tommy Makem's "Four Green Fields" was his best known song.Taconius, something tells me you're debating a subject about which you have very little first hand knowledge.If I'm mistaken, forgive me.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 12:38 PM

If this is not about censorship, what is it about?
At one point in the miners strike here in Britain, the country could be said to be equally divided between support and opposition - does this mean there should have been a blanket ban on the writing of songs on the subject for fear of upsetting one side or the other COME ON!!!!
The Viet Nam war produced some of our best contemporary songs - should they not have been written for fear of upsetting our American cousins and the people in Britain who supported the war.
I said right at the beginning that the making of political songs was part of our tradition and nobody contradicted me. it would appear that, to some - THE TRADITION STOPS HERE
Not as far as I'm concerned; I have no intention of giving up any of the miniscule say I might have in what happens in this world in deference to a handful of sensitive souls who object to my having my say, and I see no reason (certainly not presented here) why anybody else should
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 01:05 PM

{{I question Taconius' knowledge of topical songs.People like Eric Bogle,John Mccutcheon, Fred Small, Judy Small, etc. have been writing songs subtle enough to make a point without upsetting anybody. The previously mentioned Tommy Makem's "Four Green Fields" was his best known song.Taconius, something tells me you're debating a subject about which you have very little first hand knowledge.If I'm mistaken, forgive me.}}

Well of course I forgive you, Elmore--except that there's nothing to forgive. I don't see anything in your post that argues with anything I've said, but it does make me wonder just what you think it is I'm "debating."

Moving on, I certainly agree with you that it's possible -- more than possible -- to make a political, moral, or ethical point without demonizing people. I like those songs, songs that make me think, even if I disagree with the singer on the topic. I don't think that's what the OP was talking about, and it's certainly not what I was talking about.

{{If this is not about censorship, what is it about?}}

Well it certainly seems to be what you're talking about, but if there was anyone in this thread advocating censorship of unpopular (or popular) political speech, I must've missed it.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Taconicus
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 01:11 PM

PS. I didn't realize Amos was responding to "The Folk Entertainer" (whose post I must've missed). Sorry Amos, and thanks Becky.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:30 PM

If I have misunderstood the intention of this discussion, I apologise, but if that is the case, where does political song differ from any of the other categories I mentioned? Surely the answer Taconicus gave applies to all songs, political ones included; "if you don't like listening to a certain type of song, don't listen to it".
The political songs I am familiar with in no way fit the description "cast scorn, derision, mockery, anger and hatred against another person or group of people whose beliefs or politics the singer does not like. In short, their mean-spirited." Are these the songs that came out of the Civil Rights Movement, or the Peace Movement, or the anti-facist campaigns? Not in my experience. Even those that arose in response to the brutalities of the Viet Nam war confined their attacks to the atrocities of the war and the people who caused it.
If what Taconicus describes is what is happening in the US today I would suggest that the problem is a far deeper one than just singing a few songs.
Of course sensitivity should be applied to the singing of all songs that may cause offence; I would guess that the people who sing these songs have been around long enough to be more than aware of this and do not need reminding.
Throughout the years I was involved with Ewan MacColl and The Critics Group he and other performers were constantly being booked at clubs where they were asked not to sing political songs - now that is what I call offensive.
Why should one section of a singers repertoire be singled out for special treatment?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Elmore
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:53 PM

Arrgh! For fifty years I've been attending concerts and festivals (mostly in the USA), thinking I was with like-minded people. Now (according to Taconius} I find out that 50 per cent of them were faking it. How depressing.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasi
From: Stringsinger
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 05:39 PM

Songs are not likely to persuade anyone politically. They may reinforce positions already held but will not change anyone's mind.

Why not sing anything you want? If you choose to sing something offensive or tasteless,
it's your prerogative to do so and mine not to listen. That's why I generally click AM radio station music off.

I will listen to what I agree with. I will not support artists that I disagree with politically or in other ways. That's my choice.

I don't listen to hate radio so I don't care what they say.

I don't listen to songs that I disagree with unless they are presented in context or in a neutral fashion as part of a historical program.

A topical song is intended to be persuasive though it reinforces the views held by the listener. I have no problem with that.

A song is not a gun.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:36 PM

Elmore, I think that's the point - there's often a lazy assumption that everyone in the audience is like-minded. Except at an explicitly political event, that's unlikely to be the case.

I doubt that the others have been "faking it", more likely they recognise that everyone is there to listen to music and not enter into political debate, so they don't challenge it. It's uncontroversial for those who agree with the singer's sentiments to show their support, whereas to show the opposite could be seen as confrontational - and probably not appropriate to the situation.

However this is not always the case - I have for example heard singers heckled for singing anti-foxhunting songs, just I as I have heard other singers heckled for singing pro-hunting songs.

It's also easy to assume that some issues are left or right wing, when often they're more complex. Opinions on foxhunting, or abortion, or even the Iraq war can't easily be divided on ideological lines.


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Subject: RE: Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM

"even the Iraq war

Especially the Iraq war. For example the big March in London on the ever of the war which brought a couple of million on the streets against the war included people stronly in favour of banning hunting, and people strongly against any ban, as well as those similarly divided in regard to abortion.


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