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Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion

McGrath of Harlow 09 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM
Howard Jones 08 Aug 09 - 07:36 PM
Stringsinger 08 Aug 09 - 05:39 PM
Elmore 07 Aug 09 - 05:53 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 03:30 PM
Taconicus 07 Aug 09 - 01:11 PM
Taconicus 07 Aug 09 - 01:05 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 12:38 PM
Elmore 07 Aug 09 - 11:04 AM
Stringsinger 07 Aug 09 - 10:55 AM
Desert Dancer 07 Aug 09 - 10:53 AM
Taconicus 07 Aug 09 - 07:58 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 07:04 AM
theleveller 07 Aug 09 - 06:55 AM
GUEST 07 Aug 09 - 04:33 AM
Emma B 06 Aug 09 - 07:34 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 07:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Aug 09 - 07:09 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM
John P 06 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 04:20 PM
M.Ted 06 Aug 09 - 04:10 PM
Elmore 06 Aug 09 - 04:03 PM
John P 06 Aug 09 - 04:01 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 03:33 PM
stallion 06 Aug 09 - 03:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Aug 09 - 02:04 PM
The Sandman 06 Aug 09 - 01:48 PM
Amos 06 Aug 09 - 01:40 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 06 Aug 09 - 01:08 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 12:51 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 09 - 12:36 PM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM
Amos 06 Aug 09 - 12:26 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 12:13 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 12:07 PM
Taconicus 06 Aug 09 - 11:59 AM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 11:41 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM
Elmore 06 Aug 09 - 10:40 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 06 Aug 09 - 09:57 AM
theleveller 06 Aug 09 - 09:48 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,The Folk entertainer 06 Aug 09 - 08:27 AM
The Sandman 06 Aug 09 - 06:32 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Aug 09 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,The Folk Entertainer 05 Aug 09 - 04:41 PM
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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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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 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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 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 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: 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 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: 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: 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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