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Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?

Fred McCormick 28 May 10 - 06:35 AM
Boho 28 May 10 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,Kevin Sheils 28 May 10 - 07:05 AM
Fred McCormick 28 May 10 - 12:02 PM
Fred McCormick 28 May 10 - 12:07 PM
Joe Offer 28 May 10 - 02:35 PM
Fred McCormick 28 May 10 - 03:30 PM
Effsee 28 May 10 - 04:06 PM
GUEST 29 May 10 - 07:02 AM
Susanne (skw) 30 May 10 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Saoirse 30 May 10 - 01:43 PM
Fred McCormick 30 May 10 - 03:05 PM
Joe Offer 30 May 10 - 04:19 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Jun 10 - 06:43 PM
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Subject: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 28 May 10 - 06:35 AM

Contempt is a song which grew out of the McArthyite era in the USA. Given one or two possible alterations on my part, the text is as below. Does anyone know who wrote it?

Build high build wide your prison walls
That there be room enough for all
Who hold you in contempt, build wide
That all the land he locked inside.

Though you have seized the valiant few
whose glory cast a shade on you
How can you now go home with ease
Jangling your heavy dungeon keys.

The birds that still insist on song
The sunlit streams still running strong
The flowers blazing red and blue
Oh all are in contempt of you.

When you have seized the moon and sun
And trapped the poems one by one
And jailed each trouble making breeze
Then you can throw away your keys.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Boho
Date: 28 May 10 - 07:03 AM

http://www.susanives.com/columns/may1703.html

"The song "In Contempt," by Aaron Kramer and Betty Sanders, was first published in "Sing Out!" magazine in October, 1950."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: GUEST,Kevin Sheils
Date: 28 May 10 - 07:05 AM

This song was written in the early 1950s as a response to the political machinations of the un-American Activities Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy which persecuted people for supposed left-wing views. First published in the American folk magazine Sing Out, the original words are by Aaron Kramer. Len has added his own words and Gerry [O'Beirne] composed the air. 'In Contempt' remains relevant to the position of prisoners of conscience throughout the world. (Notes Skylark, 'All Of It'),

forgot to add the link http://www.mysongbook.de/msb/songs/i/incontem.html

The Len referred to being Len Graham


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 28 May 10 - 12:02 PM

Thanks, Kevin and Boho. I had quite forgotten about the Skylark version. Presumably, by Gerry O'Beirne you mean Garry O'Brian, who played frets and keyboards for Skylark.

Just to clarify the question of who wrote the tune, and because I'm too lazy to get the record off my shelf, I recall that Skylark used a different melody to the one with which it is usually sung. That, I guess, is what is meant by the sleevenote comment about Garry composing the air.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 28 May 10 - 12:07 PM

Just an afterhought. I heard that Aaron Kramer wrote the words after somebody (Kramer himself?) took a section of the American constitution onto the streets of New York and tried to get people to sign it as a petition. They refused, saying it was unconstitutional.

Does anybody know whether that story is true?


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Subject: ADD: In Contempt (Kramer/Sanders)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 May 10 - 02:35 PM

Your memory is amazing, Fred. You're missing one verse, and have a word or two juxtaposed, but otherwise your transcription is exact.


IN CONTEMPT
(Aaron Kramer & Betty Sanders)

Build high, build wide your prison wall
That there be room enough for all,
Who hold you in contempt. Build wide,
That all the land be locked inside.

Though you have seized the valiant few
whose glory cast a shade on you,
How can you now go home with ease,
Jangling your heavy dungeon keys.

The birds that still insist on song,
The sunlit stream still running strong,
The flow'rs still blazing red and blue,
All, all are in contempt of you.

The parents dreaming still of peace,
The playful children, the wild geese
Who still must fly, the mountains too,
Like fists, are in contempt of you!

When you have seized the moon and sun
And jailed the poems one by one,
And trapped each trouble-making breeze
Then you can throw away your keys.

(repeat first verse at the end.)


Words by Aaron Kramer
Music by Betty Sanders
Arranged by Raina Hayim.
Copyright 1950 by People's Artists, Inc.

From Lift Every Voice! (the Second People's Song Book) (1953), page 53

You'll find a recording sung by Betty Sanders on Sing Out!: Hootenanny with Pete Seeger and the Hooteneers. I also found a very nice recording by Ross Sutter on his Over the Water album.
Lyrics can also be found in The Ballad Of America; The History Of The United States In Song And Story


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 28 May 10 - 03:30 PM

Joe, I once signed up for an educational course on poetry, which took the form of group discussion of individual poems. If you've got a good memory and a stackafacts then there's no telling what you're likely to uncover when you start alanysing poetry. As the term progressed, I interpreted various poems in the light of Marxism, evolutionism, Irish nationalism, second sight and the devil knows what. In the end the lecturer turned to me and said "You're a positive mountain of knowledge". Then she added, "I suppose it must all connect up somewhere".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Effsee
Date: 28 May 10 - 04:06 PM

Peggy Seeger sings it on :-

(1968) Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger ? The Angry Muse
A Selection of Some British and American Protest Songs (1689 ? 1968)

Argo issue number: DA 83 (mono), ZDA 83 (stereo); re-released May 1972 as ZFB 65; released in USA June 1969.


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 10 - 07:02 AM

Yes Fred I just cut and pasted from the website and hadn't noticed the wrong Gerry!

Although I think it's O'Briain, I've seen plenty of different spellings.

I suffer from the same.


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 30 May 10 - 12:50 PM

The notes in the My Songbook entry were copied from the Skylark album. As I haven't got it I can't check whether I took the name down wrong, but I will. Thanks for pointing it out, Fred.


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: GUEST,Saoirse
Date: 30 May 10 - 01:43 PM

Gerry O'Beirne and Garry Ó Briain are two very different people, though both play the guitar. It's quite possible that the former composed the air.


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 30 May 10 - 03:05 PM

Right. I've just been downstairs and lugged the Skylark PRC off the shelf, which is what I should have done in the first place, except I forgot In Contempt was on it. Here's what the relevant sleevenote says.

In Contempt
This song was written in the early 1950's as a response to the political machinations of the unAmerican Activities Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy which persecuted people for supposed left-wing views. First published in the American folk magazine Sing Out, the original words are by Aaron Kramer. Len has added his own words and Garry composed the air. In Contempt remains relevant to the position of prisoners of conscience throughout the world.

That, I think pretty well settles the matter.


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 May 10 - 04:19 PM

Mudcatter susanne(skw) is one of the people who run mysongbook.de. Here's what I wrote to Susanne:

    Hi, Susanne -
    Can you take a look at this thread and this page in "mysongbook.de"?
    We think you're wrong in attributing the tune to Gerry O'Beirne. It seems more likely that the tune was written by Garry O'Brian, who played frets and keyboards for Skylark.
    It does seem true that the original tune was written by Betty Sanders, but later recordings have a different tune.
    Alles gute.

    -Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: In Contempt. Who Wrote It ?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:43 PM

Joe, I didn't get that email. But I'll ask Henry to correct the attribution.


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