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Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'

Desert Dancer 19 Nov 12 - 12:27 AM
Henry Krinkle 19 Nov 12 - 02:00 AM
Charley Noble 19 Nov 12 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 19 Nov 12 - 08:04 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Nov 12 - 09:16 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Nov 12 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 19 Nov 12 - 09:40 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Nov 12 - 09:56 AM
SINSULL 19 Nov 12 - 10:12 AM
Greg F. 19 Nov 12 - 10:24 AM
Desert Dancer 19 Nov 12 - 10:34 AM
Desert Dancer 19 Nov 12 - 10:43 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Nov 12 - 12:34 PM
Henry Krinkle 19 Nov 12 - 12:50 PM
Henry Krinkle 19 Nov 12 - 12:57 PM
catspaw49 19 Nov 12 - 02:27 PM
Desert Dancer 19 Nov 12 - 03:55 PM
catspaw49 19 Nov 12 - 04:10 PM
Bill D 19 Nov 12 - 04:45 PM
open mike 20 Nov 12 - 02:51 AM
Desert Dancer 20 Nov 12 - 11:52 AM
Ebbie 20 Nov 12 - 04:46 PM
Don Firth 20 Nov 12 - 05:49 PM
Desert Dancer 20 Nov 12 - 06:01 PM
Ron Davies 20 Nov 12 - 06:33 PM
BrooklynJay 20 Nov 12 - 07:05 PM
Bill D 20 Nov 12 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 20 Nov 12 - 08:32 PM
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Subject: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:27 AM

Ken Burn's latest big documentary for PBS is "The Dust Bowl", on tonight and tomorrow night, for a total of 4 hours. I just finished watching the first episode.

He's got the usual atmospheric assortment of folkie tunes in the background, some correct to the period and some contemporary tunes -- I heard Larry Unger's "Two Rivers" waltz, for example.

Woody Guthrie makes his first appearance at the end of episode 1, with "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You". More to come tomorrow night. Online, there are these two videos available:
= Woody Guthrie: The Great Dust Storm - In the introduction to episode two Woody Guthrie sings "The Great Dust Storm" as historians and survivors talk about the conditions of living in the Dust Bowl during the Depression.
= Woody Guthrie: Okies - No matter their state of origin, all newcomers were dubbed Okies when they crossed the California border. Woody Guthrie talks about the extreme poverty he had seen across the country and sings "I Ain't Got No Home (In This World Any More)".

The music credits given are a bit sketchy, I have to say. There are separate pdfs for episode 1 and 2, and for episode 1, only the music editor is listed. There's no credit for Larry Unger's original tune. :-(

Music Editor
CRAIG MELLISH
Instrumentalist and Studio Arrangements
BOBBY HORTON
Traditional Music
JACQUELINE SCHWAB, piano
Music Recorded at
SOUNDESIGN RECORDING
Brattleboro, VT
Music Engineers
BILLY SHAW
ALAN STOCKWELL

These credits are given for the website:

Email Postcards (links to mp3 audio):

"Bringing in the Sheaves" written by George Minor (music), Knowles Shaw (lyrics). Performed by Jacqueline Schwab.
"Carousel" written by Will Duncan (ASCAP)
"Higher Ground" written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. and Charles H. Gabriel
"When Tomorrow Comes" written by Dayton Duncan (ASCAP)

Watch Videos:

"Dust Storm Disaster (The Great Dust Storm)"
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
WGP/TRO-©Copyright 1960 (Renewed)
1963 (Renewed) Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
& Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY (BMI)
Administered by Ludlow Music, Inc.
Used by permission
Performed by Woody Guthrie
Courtesy of RCA Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

"I Ain't Got No Home (In This World Any More)"
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
WGP/TRO-©Copyright 1961 (Renewed)
1963 (Renewed) Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
& Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY (BMI)
Administered by Ludlow Music, Inc.
Used by permission
Performed by Woody Guthrie
Courtesy of RCA Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

Aside from the music... An intense story. Wonderful to have the people they have giving their personal stories.

Our local PBS affiliate, Arizona Public Media, based at the University of Arizona, had its own 50-minute program on the dust bowl from the Arizona perspective. Many Okies either came to Arizona or passed through on their way to California. They did a good job using vintage and field recordings through the program, and also had a segment with a UA ethnomusicologist talking about the music -- the traditional music brought by the Okies, and the topical songs that were written. The title of the program, Lessons Lost, refers to the many parallels between issues then and now, such as racism.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 02:00 AM

One more time the bankers and speculators wrecked the economy and environment.
=(:-( ))


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 07:30 AM

Managed to catch about 30 minutes last evening. It seems to be a very good production, as one might expect from Ken Burns et al.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 08:04 AM

I must confess I find the dust bowl a bit of an overworked subject for yet another documentary. However, being by Ken Burns it's got to be worth seeing. His massive series on the history of jazz was broadcast in Britain a few years, and it was basolutely stunning.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:16 AM

I saw the last half of part 1 last night and thought it was powerful, horrifying, edifying. The hour ended with Woodie Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You" as mentioned above.

What brings me to post, however, is the credit (above) of Woodie's song "I Ain't Got No Home (In This World Anymore)." I just finished adding a song to our Shaw Family Songbook last night called "This World Is Not My Home" credited to Albert E. Brumley.

Turns out this is the same melody, same idea in the title, but different lyrics. Woodie and Brumley both apparently got the tune from a much earlier source in the African-American spiritual tradition, according to one source.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:23 AM

Source for my last comment above:
http://homeschoolblogger.com/hymnstudies/708480/


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:40 AM

I don't know where Brumley got the tune from, or whether he may have written it, or possibly have plagiarised an earlier song. However, the Carter Family recorded it in 1931 as I Can't Feel At Home in This World Anymore.

Woody merely took the Carter version of the song and rewrote it as an expression of his disgust at the conditions which the Okie migrants were having to endure.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 09:56 AM

Thanks, Fred. I have a complete set of Carter Family recordings (from CAMSCO, by the way!) so I'll go look for their version. I just wanted to comment on the note above that claims words and music by Woody Guthrie.

The segment in the program about Woody's family's migration from Texas during this period was well done. Puts some of his songs in great context.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:12 AM

Saw the two hour program and it wore me out. What a mess- the destruction, not the program. But Henry's comment about bankers and speculators holds no water. Maybe he needs to watch Burns' story or read a book about the Dust Bowl years.
I was a little confused at some of the tunes. I heard Shenandoah, Hard Times, Bringing in the Sheaves,and some other tunes I recognized as nautical. But the tunes could have been other songs as well.
babbling. Need my coffee.
This is not one of Ken Burns' best but worth watching. Two hours of watching people battle dirt and dust with almost no reprieve is a tough slog. As someone already pointed out - this has been done before and I saw nothing new in this series.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Greg F.
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:24 AM

. But Henry's comment about bankers and speculators holds no water.

This is a surprise? When have any of Krunkle's comments about anything whatsoever held any water?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:34 AM

Just to highlight this beautiful tune...

Larry Unger's "Two Rivers" (not Jay Ungar, of Ashokan Farewell, in case you were understandably confused), as played by Eden Macadam-Somer on fiddle and Larry on guitar. (In this duo they are Notorious.)

Larry playing it on clawhammer banjo: clicky. A New England-y approach to clawhammer. Larry writes wonderful tunes on banjo and guitar that translate beautifully to fiddle or free reeds.

Ken Burns bought this one for the special on the US National Parks. So no credit here?

[Sure hope I'm not wrong about which tune that was!]

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 10:43 AM

Oh, so sorry, the first video may or may not have Eden on the fiddle - there were a few fiddlers on that cd. (I'll check the cd notes when I get to Long Beach tonight!) If you like waltzes, Waltz Time I and Waltz Time II are fantastic. My husband learned to waltz with me to those tunes. :-)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:34 PM

Editing would have helped. The introductory material was good, but the scenes of dust, dust, dust was too much- important to show it, but after a while, the eyes glazed.
Desert Dancer, thanks for the notes on the music. I found myself asking "what is that" a few times.

I was in my pre-teens and teens at the time. In the Rocky Mountain portion of New Mexico, we didn't experience the devastation, but I remember the displaced coming by and asking for handy work in order to buy food.

I found myself humming, "Hard Times, Come Again No More," at times.
We are still mis-using the land- greedy farmers and developers, biofuels the latest scam putting into production land that should remain grassed, and using land that should remain devoted to food.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:50 PM

I can't believe you didn't know that overfarming, fueled by speculation in grains caused it....Tractors were fairly recent innovation..they ran them 24 hours a day....haven't you seen this documentary before??? It's all spelled out for you....
=(:-( 0)


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 12:57 PM

Dust Bowl Here:


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 02:27 PM

It had the look and sound of Ken Burns but lacked the "feel" of a Burns documentary. Maybe the narration threw me off. Peter Coyote......... just sounded wrong in the role.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 03:55 PM

I admit that I had my laptop out and was not continuously focused on the program, so survived the long slog that way. I was surprised that 2 hours were spent on the program before anyone started heading west (that's for the 2nd episode), but found that it reinforced the idea that this was not a short-term disaster. It went on for 10 years that way, in reality. No wonder people went mad. I also found that I liked it better than some Ken Burns productions -- maybe it was because there were people there to tell their own stories, so fewer actor voice-overs.

No, it is not a new story. (In fact, there was another PBS documentary just over a year ago.) And many mistakes contributed to the disaster (not the film, but the events). It brought it over to me differently somehow. Again, stretching it out gave a different sense of the intensity of the experience.

Spaw, were you missing David McCullough? I was really glad it was someone else, although Peter Coyote is getting overused, too.

Unfortunately, it looks like I'll miss episode 2 tonight since I'm still not on the road to Long Beach yet, so I'll get there late. (Discovered that a brake job would be a good idea before hitting the highway). It doesn't look like they're putting it online for viewing. I hope one of the LA area channels will give me a second chance at it this week.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 04:10 PM

I'm liking Mike Rowe a lot Becky. He's getting a bit overused too but something about Peter Coyote just didn't fit for me.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Nov 12 - 04:45 PM

My father set poles and strung wire for the Western Union Telegraph Co. in those days... and in those areas. After the first 2-3 years, they sent him 'mostly' to Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico because so little could be done in Oklahoma and Kansas. After 1941, when the war started, he was back in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas working long hours.

He told stories... some about the dust, but also about grasshopper swarms eating what little crops were there. He said that on a few days, the little railroad 'motor car' they used couldn't get enough traction to run.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: open mike
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 02:51 AM

There was an interesting story in the local paper...(it did not mention the dust bowl program ) there was a picture taken by Dorothea Lange (wife of Maynard Dixon, artist) which was called "Migrant Mother"
and it featured a woman who lived in Oroville (and other places in California) after having come here from Oklahoma.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 11:52 AM

Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" image was discussed in the program. Here's the LOC page about it -- and the other images she took at the time: Migrant Mother.

Here's an interesting Wikipedia page Florence Owens Thompson, the subject of the photo.

It's an iconic photo of the time, there's lots written about it.

[By the way, the fiddler on my first YouTube link to "Two Rivers" is indeed the fantastic Eden Macadam-Somers.]

I did miss the second episode of the show. The preview for it features the grasshopper plague. Episode 1 included the jackrabbit plague. What a time.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Ebbie
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 04:46 PM

I am watching the series with great interest. I had seen many photos and documentaries, et al, before, but this is the first one that brings home to me what my mother experienced. She never forgot it. I think that the dust storms and the Great Depression came hand in hand in her memories.

She had 7 kids before I came along in 1935. In 1936 they gave up the struggle in North Dakota and moved to western Oregon where my mother had grown up.

Mom said that in Dakota during those years the only year they didn't lose money was the year she persuaded Dad not to plant anything.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 05:49 PM

I watched the whole four hours.

Horrifying! But there it was. It happened!

And NO, it was NOT the bankers and speculators who caused it! They were just as ignorant of the consequences as everyone else; even moreso that the homesteaders and farmers who were on the scene and still didn't anticipate the consequences of their actions.

When they started plowing the land and breaking up the buffalo grass that held the soil in place despite the frequent relentless winds, there were Indians (Native Americans, if you insist) who said, "Don't do it!" No historical record, but they may have done it long before and knew what would inevitably follow.

I don't know how anyone can watch this, or be aware of the Dust Bowl horrors and what caused it, and have any doubts that humans have it within their power to cause environmental calamities of an unprecedented magnitude.

It was the government, headed up by Franklin D. Roosevelt, that brought it to an end and saved the lives of many thousands who would have starved to death or died of "dust pneumonia" had it not been for the government programs—including teaching about "contour farming"—that finally brought the disaster—and the Great Depression—to an end.

All the time, of course, he was being called a "socialist," a "communist," and worse by—the usual suspects!

I was living in Pasadena, California and barely more than a rug-rat at the time, but I remember a fair amount about the news stories on the radio, and the "Okies" coming into California looking for refuge and work.

Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" should be Must Seeing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 06:01 PM

Interview with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan by Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress.

In making this film, they put out a call for recollections and materials and greatly added to the archives on this period.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 06:33 PM

Saw the second part.

Did everybody catch the part toward the end about the Oglalla Aquifer?-- now, it seems, about half drained already.   The prediction given was that at the current rate of consumption, it will be gone in about 20 years.

Plus ca change... (need French diacritical marks)


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 07:05 PM

Saw both parts and found it shattering. Even if it's arguably not one of Ken Burns's "best" (and I won't get into that argument here), it was, for me, very affecting.

The personal recollections are what makes a Burns documentary so watchable, particularly the second part. I was quite drained by the end of it all; especially moving were the recollections of one family's long trek to California, with their father meeting them there. I think the saddest thing for me was how many of those interviewed died before the show was broadcast.

My only regret is that my old, creaky VHS machine recently broke down and I haven't yet found someone to repair it - so I couldn't record the shows. Perhaps when they're rebroadcast... (DVD's? What are those??)


Jay


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 08:03 PM

I learned about the Ogalallah aquifer in 1970.... they were 'mining water' way before that. Wichita, Kansas used to get almost all of its water from the Equus beds, but had to find other sources when levels dropped too low. Studies being done to see if it can be replenished.

We learn pretty slowly, and often, only when forced to.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns's 'The Dust Bowl'
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 20 Nov 12 - 08:32 PM

I was in a conference today on devising solutions water deficits in our state, and there was for once some good news-- about irrigation methods being used in Nebraska & other Great Plains states. Seems there are now a whole array of techniques that can cut down water use by 30% or better, some damn simple and cheap to implement, if the farmers can be persuaded to do them, and that one problem is the lack of manpower of trained people to go out and help people learn and implement.

It was eerie to hear the same cycle having to be repeated, like the way the Dust Bowl farmers had to start contouring and stop plowing up every acre possible. And hearing that WPA employed 8 MILLION people. We could certainly use at least a few thousand fanning out to start working on our water problems.


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