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Nailing your colours to the mast...

Johnny J 27 Feb 13 - 04:28 AM
Will Fly 27 Feb 13 - 04:35 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 27 Feb 13 - 04:57 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Feb 13 - 05:11 AM
dick greenhaus 27 Feb 13 - 10:22 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Feb 13 - 10:24 AM
Will Fly 27 Feb 13 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,999 27 Feb 13 - 11:17 AM
kendall 27 Feb 13 - 12:55 PM
EBarnacle 27 Feb 13 - 05:23 PM
kendall 27 Feb 13 - 07:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Feb 13 - 07:56 PM
ollaimh 27 Feb 13 - 09:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Feb 13 - 09:39 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Feb 13 - 01:27 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 28 Feb 13 - 03:29 AM
breezy 28 Feb 13 - 05:24 AM
mayomick 28 Feb 13 - 10:49 AM
Will Fly 28 Feb 13 - 10:56 AM
mayomick 28 Feb 13 - 11:29 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Feb 13 - 11:37 AM
mayomick 28 Feb 13 - 12:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Feb 13 - 02:20 PM
The Sandman 28 Feb 13 - 05:16 PM
The Sandman 01 Mar 13 - 03:36 AM
The Sandman 01 Mar 13 - 03:42 AM
Will Fly 01 Mar 13 - 04:16 AM
Johnny J 01 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Mar 13 - 05:07 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Mar 13 - 05:48 AM
GUEST 01 Mar 13 - 06:16 AM
Johnny J 01 Mar 13 - 06:22 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Mar 13 - 06:26 AM
Will Fly 01 Mar 13 - 06:58 AM
MartinRyan 01 Mar 13 - 07:02 AM
The Sandman 01 Mar 13 - 07:32 AM
The Sandman 01 Mar 13 - 07:39 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Mar 13 - 08:00 AM
Charley Noble 01 Mar 13 - 08:10 AM
The Sandman 01 Mar 13 - 08:15 AM
Will Fly 01 Mar 13 - 09:50 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Mar 13 - 10:41 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Mar 13 - 11:05 AM
breezy 01 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Mar 13 - 11:12 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Mar 13 - 11:50 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Mar 13 - 02:50 PM
Mysha 01 Mar 13 - 02:57 PM
Charley Noble 01 Mar 13 - 09:57 PM
Doug Chadwick 02 Mar 13 - 02:48 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Mar 13 - 03:22 AM
GUEST,Johnny J 02 Mar 13 - 03:25 AM
GUEST,Johnny j 02 Mar 13 - 03:28 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Mar 13 - 04:55 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Mar 13 - 05:00 AM
Doug Chadwick 02 Mar 13 - 05:34 AM
Doug Chadwick 02 Mar 13 - 05:43 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 02 Mar 13 - 06:42 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 02 Mar 13 - 07:02 AM
The Sandman 02 Mar 13 - 02:41 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Mar 13 - 03:24 PM
EBarnacle 02 Mar 13 - 03:53 PM
MGM·Lion 02 Mar 13 - 06:50 PM
The Sandman 02 Mar 13 - 08:09 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 13 - 12:25 AM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 05:09 AM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 05:11 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 03 Mar 13 - 06:23 AM
Johnny J 03 Mar 13 - 06:40 AM
Johnny J 03 Mar 13 - 06:43 AM
Tattie Bogle 03 Mar 13 - 06:52 AM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 08:03 AM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 08:13 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 13 - 08:16 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 13 - 08:18 AM
Tattie Bogle 03 Mar 13 - 01:01 PM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 01:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Mar 13 - 02:25 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 13 - 02:38 PM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 03:47 PM
The Sandman 03 Mar 13 - 03:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Mar 13 - 04:19 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Mar 13 - 05:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Mar 13 - 06:53 PM
Tattie Bogle 03 Mar 13 - 07:53 PM
Johnny J 04 Mar 13 - 04:32 AM
mayomick 04 Mar 13 - 07:40 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 04 Mar 13 - 09:35 AM
The Sandman 04 Mar 13 - 09:47 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 04 Mar 13 - 09:50 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM
dick greenhaus 04 Mar 13 - 11:46 AM
The Sandman 04 Mar 13 - 12:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Mar 13 - 08:17 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 13 - 11:45 AM
The Sandman 05 Mar 13 - 01:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Mar 13 - 01:49 PM
The Sandman 05 Mar 13 - 03:33 PM
Allan Conn 05 Mar 13 - 05:23 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 13 - 06:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Mar 13 - 07:33 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 13 - 08:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Mar 13 - 09:29 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 Mar 13 - 04:18 AM
GUEST 06 Mar 13 - 05:25 AM
Johnny J 06 Mar 13 - 05:40 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Mar 13 - 05:53 AM
Johnny J 06 Mar 13 - 06:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 07:29 AM
The Sandman 06 Mar 13 - 08:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 09:27 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Mar 13 - 10:45 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Mar 13 - 10:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 11:34 AM
dick greenhaus 06 Mar 13 - 12:51 PM
The Sandman 06 Mar 13 - 01:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 02:06 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM
MGM·Lion 06 Mar 13 - 04:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 05:54 PM
The Sandman 06 Mar 13 - 08:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Mar 13 - 09:19 PM
EBarnacle 07 Mar 13 - 02:43 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Mar 13 - 07:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Mar 13 - 08:21 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Mar 13 - 09:15 PM
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Subject: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 04:28 AM

On another forum, there is a discussion regarding the lack of involvement by musicians and singers in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence.

I'm not particularly concerned about your views on the above matter or even any other specific topic. However, I don't particularly mind if you have any or wish to state them.
Goodness knows, I do on many an occasion. :-)

What interests me is why there often seems to be an expectation in many quarters that musicians and singers should declare their political beliefs and stance on all manner of things and use their music and performance opportunities to further these and/or encourage their audiences along the same lines.

This seems to be a particularly prevalent notion on the folk music scene and it's true there's always been a history of protest, political song, and debate involved.
However, the folk and traditional music scene is a very broad church indeed and much of what we play and sing has, at the very best, a very tenous link with politics and social issues. There are some songs and tunes, of course, which are very relevant to specific areas and matters but not necessarily to every issue.

Of course, many people on the folk scene are indeed very active in this field. We know and respect the work of such artists and enjoy their music and song while also respecting their right to voice their passionately held views on various matters. We may or may not always agree.... Sometimes, we may reappraise our views as a result while some others will "hang on their every word". Whatever the case, we *know* that this is part of the whole package and they do what "it says on the tin".

However, I don't believe that every musician or singer is required to voice his or her opinion on political matters no matter how significant they may appear to be. Also, while they may hold views privately or even express them publicly in other areas of their lives, it should not *necessarily* form part of their musical or performing career.

Just in case anyone gets me wrong, I have no objection to musicians or singers holding strong poliitical opinions and/or performing relevant songs or taking part in various projects. Nor, if they wish to make their opinions known at a gig etc. They have to make a considered decision on such matters and audiences will always respond accordingly depending on the circumstances.

What I don't agree with is the notion that musicians and performers should always be expected to "come out" and add their voices to every topical debate whether major or otherwise. That is surely their own decision.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 04:35 AM

My view as well.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 04:57 AM

Agree absolutely.

It must be a matter of personal choice. A singer/musician's job is to connect with and entertain his audience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 05:11 AM

Drift ~~ Induced by the thread title, which I thought might have some allusion to what that phrase actually means ---

Hope I shall not be denounced to the PC Police for recalling its use in a Cambridge Footlights Revue I reviewed once in the late 1960s when the late Jonathan James-Moore was a student. He did a number about   nostalgia for the Great Days Of Empah in which a red-coated officer carolled ~~

"Nail your colours to the mast
The wogs have pinched the string!"

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 10:22 AM

historical note-
In the closing days of the American Revolution, when the English were leaving New York, an enterprising Brit nailed the Union Jack to the top of a flagpole in Battery Park, and greased the pole on his way down. General Washington was waiting in what is now Union Square, for the colors to come down. He had a long wait. There's still a statue of him, mounted, in the Square, reportedly commemorating the incident.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 10:24 AM

A view as to the origin of the expression here http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/nail-your-colours-to-the-mast.html

I firmly believe that a singer ought to use his or her art to promote the causes he supports. It is that that makes those who do more than Bob Monkhouse or Rolf Harris "the all round entertainer".

I am not wholly clear about WIll's position but I note the OP says "Just in case anyone gets me wrong, I have no objection to musicians or singers holding strong political opinions and/or performing relevant songs or taking part in various projects. Nor, if they wish to make their opinions known at a gig etc. They have to make a considered decision on such matters and audiences will always respond accordingly depending on the circumstances."

Don's position however appears to reduce the "entertainer" to a cipher providing the opiate of the masses (another expression the view of which might have changed over the years).   To restrict oneself to such an anodyne role seems to me to reduce not enhance an artist.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 11:01 AM

I think what the OP is questioning is an assumption that a performer with political views is expected to promote those views as part of his/her public persona. As he says:

What I don't agree with is the notion that musicians and performers should always be expected to "come out" and add their voices to every topical debate whether major or otherwise. That is surely their own decision.

I would support JJ's view here. Just because someone is a well-known figure in one arena, or a performer, doesn't mean that they have a duty to make their personal views public on all and sundry to all and sundry. Some people are publicly "political" and others are not. I have all sorts of strong opinions on all kinds of topics, some of them very political, but I prefer to keep them separate from anything I do in public. How I debate them or promote them is my business.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: GUEST,999
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 11:17 AM

"What I don't agree with is the notion that musicians and performers should always be expected to "come out" and add their voices to every topical debate whether major or otherwise. That is surely their own decision."

It is, so don't dignify questions of that nature with a response.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: kendall
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 12:55 PM

To nail anything to the mast in a ship is bad luck. Remember the Pequod?


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: EBarnacle
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 05:23 PM

No surrender, ye rats! I'll go down with me colors aloft.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: kendall
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 07:39 PM

"I've not yet begun to fight." (John Paul Jones)


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 07:56 PM

If you've got strong opinions on any matter of public debate that is almost inevitably be reflected in the songs you sing, and refrain from singing, and the way you sing them.

As soon as you put words with the music it can't be just entertainment, it's also communication.   Which of course can include lying communication.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: ollaimh
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 09:12 PM

most folk people, whether traditional or not, are bourgeoise nowsdays. i used to believe thier progressive political rants but when any issue arises that even slightly challenges them or theirs they revert to suporting the established standard whatever that may be.

english pull their wagones in a circle when any imperoial atrocity is mentioned. north american likewise about any native issue, and both over slavery and the fight against discrimination.

folkies are progressive untill it causes them the slightest bit of inconvience then forget it. anglo bourgeoise values dominate, except in a veryy few cases, and those who raise reall issues are attacked constantly.

the violence racism and imperialism of the uk and the usa is not dead, not one bit.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Feb 13 - 09:39 PM

I've tried to think of any revolution which didn't have a very strong 'bourgeois" element among those most active. I couldn't manage to do so. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that revolution is a bourgeois activity. As is "folk singing" most of the time.

That's just an observation at large. Nothing particularly to do with the theme of the thread.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 01:27 AM

Indeed, McGrath. Revolutions are led by bourgeois [Cromwell, Robespierre, Lenin, Castro, Che] who contrive to convince the masses that they would be better off by being tyrannised over by their own bourgeois selves than by the, usually hereditary, ruling classes currently in control. "Popular" is what revolution never is.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 03:29 AM

""Don's position however appears to reduce the "entertainer" to a cipher providing the opiate of the masses (another expression the view of which might have changed over the years).   To restrict oneself to such an anodyne role seems to me to reduce not enhance an artist.""

My post allowed that some performers prefer not to force their political views on any audience regardless of whether the audience is interested or not.

Your stance seems to be that all should required to subscribe to the Richard Bridge philosophy of singing protest songs on all possible occasions, whatever the audience may be expecting, but of course only those songs which promote your own political views.

NO THANKS! you bore the arse off as many as you like. I prefer to leave them laughing.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: breezy
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 05:24 AM

Its the political and social comment,observations, contained within 'Folk' that lifts its songs to be entertainment and then somemore.

usually the songs scan and contain more substance and often well crafted.

as opposed to themass media drivvel that is fed to the masses purely for commercial gain while the vast majority blithely feast upon the offal offered and are brain dead to anything else.

They may 'hear' but do they 'listen'or do they turn away in fear ,turn a deaf ear!

Shit, just realised I thread-drifted I thought this was going to be about that man from the north=east as sung by Bob 'Reynard' Fox

Liked the flag pole tale ,is it true?

have a nice day one and all


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: mayomick
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 10:49 AM

I remember in the sixties seeing the songwriter ,Jackson C Frank stop in the middle of one of his songs to ask the twenty or so people attending his gig at a London folk club (Bunjies I think) what the hell they had done to end the Biafran war , which was raging at the time . It was like an inquisition from the stage , his eyes glared around at the audience . After a long silence somebody spoke up to say that he had written a poem about the war. "A poem, hmm I guess that's something" Jackson said contemptuously before getting back into his set. Everybody in that audience would probably have been just as opposed to war as the singer was - perhaps as an American Jackson C Frank wouldn't have been aware of that . The whole incident was really more embarrassing than anything.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 10:56 AM

I wonder how much Jackson C. Frank's song contributed towards ending the Biafran war. My guess is that, in most cases, such 'political' singers are preaching to the converted.

Perhaps he should have sung his song outside 10 Downing Street (you could in those days), rather than in Bunjies, to give it some real impact.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: mayomick
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 11:29 AM

You'd have thought so, but if you wanted to be as good as Bob Dylan in those days you had to take a sort of a Dylan-like attitude towards your audience .


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 11:37 AM

I am somewhat reminded of Dr Johnson on the role of the critic: "You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables."

So, you could be against the Biafran War without doing anything specific to stop it. It was not that fool Frank's audience's business to stop wars.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: mayomick
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 12:30 PM

Dr Johnson spot on again , but it might be better to steer clear of him on this particular thread given the country involved .

At one level we should all be doing our best to try to stop all war and generally make the world a nicer place for everybody to live in. Can a singer on stage say much more than that ?

Do benefit gigs for whatever cause you believe in . If you have a song about the cause you favour , all very well and good ; but you shouldn't compromise your musical style to fit any political agenda .


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 02:20 PM

You left out Washington, Jefferson and co in there MtheGM.

But the fact that bourgeois involvement seems to be a universal element doesn't. In any way stop a revolution from being properly described as popular. Wnat determines that is whether it has widespread support and involvement from the wider population.

And 'democracy' need not enter into it. It's quite possible, even common, to have popular dictatorships. Even popular hereditary monarchies.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Feb 13 - 05:16 PM

its great when we agree with the performers point of view, but let us take a hypothetical case, supposing a good singer and talented musician, suddenly started spouting fascist /racist views, what then, a lot of people would undoubtedly try and stop the performer?
   personally, i am only too happy to listen to pete seeger who was a great entertainer,and whose political opinions i agree with.
   some other performers whose political opinions i agree with, i find extremely tedious with their fanatical obsession with party politics, they are like record player with the needle stuck.
    the problem is the capitalist system and the idiot politicians who do not understand how the system works, we have a system here in ireland, two center right parties, the fat gut [fine gael] and the fat feckers, [fianna fail], they hate each other but both are the same thing. all the time people vote for these corrupt puppets, they are taking their eye off the ball, and not changing anything.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 03:36 AM

Mini Biography jackson c frank

The sad life of an influential folk singer began traumatically and ended in obscurity. Throughout his life Frank was haunted with misfortune and ignored tremendously. When he was eleven a furnace at Cleveland Hill elementary school in Cheektowaga, New York exploded, killing eighteen of his fellow classmates and leaving Frank with burns over his body. It was here while he was recovering from his injuries in a hospital, Charlie Casatelli, one of his school tutors gifted young Frank with his first guitar which sprung his passion for music.

Greenwich Village's coffeehouse folk scene in the early sixties drew Frank to New York. He met such names as John Kay, later of Steppenwolf. A large insurance settlement he received after he turned 21 enabled him to travel to London, and it was here he made his biggest impact.

He took up a flat with a then struggling folk singer Paul Simon in London, who later was impressed enough to produce ten of Frank's songs in a self-titled album. While Frank's voice was tremulously somber, the quality of the compositions was often impressive, with a reflective, melancholic touch that possibly influenced Simon himself and the likes of Sandy Denny and Nick Drake. Although his first album was well-received in the British folk community, he was unable to reproduce a similar quality of material and crippled any attempt for a follow-up. Combined with deepening depression, increasing stage fright, and an end to his insurance settlement that had allowed him to live freely, he decided a move back to the states in 1969, without releasing another album.

Frank took a slow slide into despair as his depression grew worse. Taking a bus to New York, he hoped to connect with Paul Simon again, but with little luck began sleeping on the streets. He became a ward of the state, and at times he was institutionalized. In 1977, with life looking better, Frank tried to release a new album, but was promptly dismissed by what publishers said was a lack of market appeal for his music. Again he fell into a deep depression, and the injuries from his childhood got much worse, once again he was hospitalized for both physical and medical reasons.

That is until Jim Abbott, a local Woodstock resident and sympathetic fan, rediscovered the aging singer from an inscription on an old album bearing his name in a record store. He successfully made contact with Frank and brought him out of a state housing project in the Bronx and into a senior center in Woodstock. He resumed songwriting and performing occasionally until his death on March 3, 1999.
   MGM before YOU dismiss Frank as a fool, you should perhaps read a little about his life, he was a good performer and a gifted song writer.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 03:42 AM

MGM said
So, you could be against the Biafran War without doing anything specific to stop it. It was not that fool Frank's audience's business to stop wars.
that reminds me of all the germans who stood by and did nothing when the jews were sent to the gas chambers, the heroes were those germans who did help the persecuted jews.
MGM you are jewish you should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting that political inertia is ok.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 04:16 AM

With respect, Dick, you're missing the point here. Which is that, just because someone is a performer - or a listener - why should their political/social opinions have to be placed before the public during the performing or listening experience.

I passionately support a couple of charities which I strongly believe in, but my music makes no mention of them - and why should it? And why should I expect my audiences to have the same priorities as me?

Michael may have very strong opinions on Jews and Jewishness - but you don't have the faintest idea how he may or may not support that Jewishness outside his music. We know him as a singer of songs - we don't know anything about his political inertia or lack of it. And it's an intrusion to suggest anything either way.

Public music-making and private opinions do not necessarily have to run in tandem.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM

Thanks for all the responses.

Most of you appear to concur with my views so far although there seems to be one or two with alternative opinions.

As I say, I am not concerned with performers having strong views on any matter or even expressing them directly or otherwise through their music. What concerns me is that there often seems to be an expectation that they should have views on certain subjects and that they are duty bound to express these at every opportunity.

After all, not all folk musicians are even singers although they could obviously help "worthy" causes in some other way, e.g. performing at benefit or fund raising gigs etc, or by offering support to singers.

As for the "germans standing by" analogy, I'd suggest that all the population of Germany at that time had an equal responsibility to speak out in whatever way they could although, understandably, many would have been reluctant to do so through fear.
So, the same applies to the rest of us today if we encounter anything about which we feel particularly strongly. It's not the job of musicians to articulate our views any more so than the rest of us. Unless they choose to do so, that is.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 05:07 AM

I am actually a convinced atheist who has been baptised and confirmed in the Church of England although Jewish by origin and family. This does not impact in any way on my musical tastes or performances. The fact that Mr Frank has had great misfortunes does not invalidate the fact that the remark of his quoted above was, to my mind, a very foolish one. There is all the difference in the world between standing out insofar as possible against abuses being committed in one's own country and community, and becoming one of those professional denouncers of abuses anywhere in the world. I repeat, it was not the trade of people living in Europe to be compelled to do anything specific to stop the war in Biafra, and it was a gross impertinence of this Franks fellow to try to make them feel guilty for not having done so; particularly, as Will so cogently observes, when his trade at that moment was to provide them with a musical experience for which they had paid, and for which he was being paid in his turn. In doing so, he grossly and irresponsibly abused his position of having the attention of an audience who were there for quite another purpose.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 05:48 AM

It's the easiest thing in the world to pick out a bad example to generalise - it really does work both ways.
MacColl, Seeger and Critics Group members were forever being asked by clubs that booked them not to sing political songs because "we don't like that sort of stuff here" or "please don't bring instruments or sing contemporary songs because we're a traditional club".
Singing songs of any type is simply passing on personal emotions, or expressing opinions or experiences - more or less what the tradition was all about.
Expressing opinions in song is not in any way forcing them down the throat of an audience any more than declaring your enjoyment (or remembrance) of sex via a song is, though both might give offence in certain circumstances.
God knows, the revival has become anodyne enough through singers being made feel uncomfortable by singing certain types of song, without erecting yet another hurdle.
We lost some of our finest songs because of this sort of censorship.      
Enuff's enuff.
I've said it before, political songs are among the oldest we have; see Thomas Wright's 'Political Songs of England From the reign of John to Edward II' - they've been around a little too long to start complaining now - or maybe is not so much their political nature but rather, the politics they are expressing that's the problem!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 06:16 AM

I refer everyone above to the life and works of Bruce "Utah" Phillips.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 06:22 AM

Of course, it can be suggested that many performers feel reluctant to voice their opinions in song or otherwise because of type of scenario to which Jim has described... i.e. they may think that it might affect their career(s) in that they will receive fewer bookings or deter audiences in general. However, that's a decision for them and it depends how true they wish to be to themselves.

I don't particularly like the idea of "Singers only" clubs or "no instruments, please" scenarios but I'm not in favour of entirely instrumental arrangements either although I appreciate that these do occur. It's only natural that people with similar interests will gravitate towards each other but I prefer it to happen on a "de facto" basis.
There are obviously events primarily intended for the benefits of singers and others for musicians and all manner of things in between. However, most of us know whether we should be there or or not and what is usually expected. For example, we know that a singaround is not the same thing as a pipe band or a Strathspey and Reel Society!

Most folk clubs will generally tend to cater for their regulars and members whatever their tastes may be but there's not necessarily rules set down in stone.
Our own local folk club actually books a wide variety of acts ranging from unaccompanied singers, to topical singer songwriters, traditional(Some purely instrumental) bands, blues artists, guitar virtuosos etc. Just about every area at some stage or other. Fortunately, we are in a largish catchment area and it doesn't matter if we don't attract exactly the same audience each week. Some nights are obviously busier than others but we usually "break even" at the end of each year. However, there is a good argument that we could be "more focused", in which case we would encourage a more loyal and regular audience. However, this would mean narrowing our musical output.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 06:26 AM

Jim ~~ I don't think anyone is objecting to the singing of songs representative of one's opinions. But the denunciation of one's audience, in speech, in the middle of a gig, for not having done anything positive against what the singer regards as an undesirable political situation in a far part of the world, is not in any way comparable to that, SFAICS. I just can't begin to understand what this Frank person thought that Biafra had to do with his audience in any way whatsoever. The fact that he had had misfortunes in his life seems quite irrelevant to me ~~ and in Dick's odd attack on me for not knowing this, as if I should have had more respect for the idiotic opinions expressed if I had known, seems to me an example of the same sort of confused thinking as Frank's own on that occasion.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 06:58 AM

Jim, I don't think we're talking about censorship of any kind here - quite the opposite: the assumption that folk singers should sing about current politics just because they're folk singers. Johnny quoted the "lack of involvement" of singers in the debate on Scottish independence - as though being Scots and being a singer implies that you must sing about it. I simply agree with his conclusions.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 07:02 AM

Surely the real problem, around here, is that when people look for singers to "nail their colours to the mast" they actually mean "nail their colours to MY mast".

Regards


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 07:32 AM

exactly martin, that was my point in the previous post., the same people would deny a fascist to put their political point., If a fascist did make his point without using racist words,I would try and counter his argument and if that was not feasible I would quietly leave the audience,   
now MGM, quote
and in Dick's odd attack on me for not knowing this, as if I should have had more respect for the idiotic opinions expressed if I had known, seems to me an example of the same sort of confused thinking as Frank's own on that occasion.
this statement tells me a lot about you Michael, you do not seem to realise that people are the way that they are because of what has happened to them in their life, this is a an analysis that Marxists who you attempt to ridicule] often use and they are correct, does it not occur to you, you booby[ to use one of your own phrases] that Frank may have wanted to right injustice, because he had suffered injustice himself, people that come from privileged back grounds only occasionally become aware of others suffering and injustice, because they are sometimes unaware.
   Michael it is you that suffers from confused thinking, you are happy for people to sing songs that endorse your political sentiments that praise the establishment, but you do not like it when someone makes a political statement , that you do not like , you then call them idiotic. if someone does not like something a performer says , then the only answer if one feels strongly about it is is vote with your feet


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 07:39 AM

Peter Bellamy, was the son of a FASCIST who was interred during the second world war, that does not mean that Peter was a fascist, but his child hood and early environment and the things that happened to him in his life have to play a part in his character, and to some extent his opinions views etc etc, that was my point about Frank.
people are the way they are as a result of things that have happened to them, therefore to understand Jackson C fRANK , IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HIS LIFE, do you understand this Michael or is that confusing for you.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM

"they may think that it might affect their career(s) in that they will receive fewer bookings"
You mean 'censorship for their own good - come ooooon!!
Whatever the Critics, MacColl and Seeger and others of that ilk might have been accused of, it certainly wasn't of not nailing their colours to the mast, if they were happy to let their political inclinations be known and to openly express them in song - it ends there; no club prepared to books them has any right to interfere with their choice of material - if you don't like what they do, don't book 'em - they are/were creative and interpretive artists, not juke boxes.
If the organisers feel that booking such people might harm the club – again, don't book 'em.
"But the denunciation of one's audience, in speech"
Totally agree - but have already pointed this out to be a not-very-common occurrence being used here to prove a generality.
I've only ever seen it happen once before; at a CND concert in Camden Town Hall, when a very well known American singer/songwriter harangued his audience for their opposition to nuclear weapons.
"I just can't begin to understand what this Frank person thought that Biafra had to do with his audience in any way whatsoever"
Can't you really, how odd! I'd have thought it was a subject that concerned every sentient human being and was well worthy of being brought to the attention of as many people as possible, an any shape or form.
Would your not understanding the expression of the horrors of war, Irish and Scottish independence, opposition to the enclosures (heard Harry Cox do that a lot), to the effect of class divisions on choosing suitors (Harry again), to conditions in the mines, mills, going to sea, public hangings, law breaking to feed starving families..... all subjects of songs?
Walter Pardon sang a number of family songs on the re-formation of the Agricultural Workers Union in East Anglia - were they no-go areas too?
Where do you stand on Guthrie songs like Tom Joad, or Plane Crash at Los Gatos, or Jesus Christ?
To what extent and to how far back does your "not understanding" go, I wonder; perhaps singing political songs should come with a cut-off point - no such songs to be sung more than 100 years old maybe?
I'm often curious how American Civil Rights songs feature in discussions like these - personally I never think of that period without remembering 'Back of the Bus' or 'Birmingham Sunday'. I'm quite sure these songs upset the rednecks who were still stringing up blacks, bombing churches and beating up would-be voters - again, all subjects of political songs.
I have heard the argument for restricting clubs to just traditional material, but I have always agreed totally with MacColl's argument that confining the revival to the past turns them into museums.
Unless that is what you wish to do, you have to accept any subject that concerns singers is fair game and to act otherwise is censorship.
Will:
"the assumption that folk singers should sing about current politics just because they're folk singers."
Something else I've very rarely encountered, certainly not since the 'flower power' days when 'peace' was probably the most meaningless word in the English language.
Lack of involvement for me is one of the common features of much singing today, irrespective of type of song, style rather than content seems to be very much the order of the day as far as I can see.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 08:00 AM

"no such songs to be sung more than 100 years old maybe?"
Sorry - should read ..... "unless they were more than 100 years old".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 08:10 AM

Of course the half-life of even a good topical song is fairly short.

Charley Noble, neither for or against topical songs


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 08:15 AM

To be attacked by MGM is similiar to being lambasted by a limp lettuce.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 09:50 AM

"the assumption that folk singers should sing about current politics just because they're folk singers."

My quote, but not my assumption either, Jim - just reiterating the point made by the OP.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 10:41 AM

"My quote, but not my assumption either, Jim"
Thanks Will,
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
"Of course the half-life of even a good topical song is fairly short."
You mean like Shoals of Herring, Manchester Rambler, Dirty Old Town, Freeborn Man, Willie McBride, So Long, It's Been Good To Know You, We Shall Overcome, Pastures of Plenty.......?
Have just re-started singing after thirty-odd years and am staggered at the interest shown by people who weren't even born when some of them were made - somebody asked me last night "what's a hippy or a beatnik?" and another asked me for the words of 'The Ballad of Sharpville' - very heartning.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 11:05 AM

The genocidal war on Biafra was very much a proper concern for people in Britain. THe British government was actively supporting the Nigerian regime in waging it, and doing its best to limit attempts to break the food blockade which caused the death of up to 2 million civilians.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: breezy
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM

Limp lettuce .


jack Crawford nailed the colours


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 11:12 AM

That last post of mine related to MtheGM's freeing to the war as "as an undesirable political situation in a far part of the world."   

Reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain's words in relation to Czechoslovakia - "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing."


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 11:50 AM

Charlie - apologies, I realise that some of those songs were on my list were contemporary rather than topical
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 02:50 PM

You're a nice fellow, Dick, and a very good singer. But you have your off-moments like everybody, and you are talking a whole load of silliness on this one. Do you really think one cannot regard something a person says as misguided unless one knows his entire biography, medical history, lifelong traumas? Come off it, do. Your arguments here are of much the same validity as "Hitler always loved dogs". Can you really not see that?

Luvya just the same ~~

MtheLimpLettuce

Apologies for breach of Godwin's Law.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Mysha
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 02:57 PM

Hi,

It would seem to me that ships that had their colours nailed to the mast (Hm, seems like a rather American expression, but I'll ask my colleagues.) would stand out more than the ships that silently floated away from the war zone, or simply played raft until the fighting stopped. The audience might get the impression that in pitched battle, it was normal behaviour for a captain to have his signals nailed to the mast, as the reports about Duncan and Nelson would be the most prominent, and their signals were nailed to the mast.

The audience might also get the impression that in a battle of social opinion a folk singer always takes part by singing songs. After all, they're likely to only see and hear a folk singer in the news when there's a demonstration or rally, and they will only know that it's a folks singer from the singing, and this will also be how the folk singer is reported as it makes for more attractive reports.

The other 99,99% of captains and folk singers probably don't, but that don't make good story, and so doesn't educate the people.


Still, as this is a music thread: Are there songs about the subject?

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Mar 13 - 09:57 PM

Jim-

Not to worry. This topic is far more complex than my cryptic post.

No, I still feel that many topical songs have a very short half-life but others endure because they are well crafted songs as well. Those you mentioned certainly have endured. But 90% or more don't survive the event, which doesn't mean that they shouldn't have been sung but that the composers should not be surprised that their songs didn't endure.

Who sings "The Ballad of Sherman Wu" nowadays?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble, composer of extinct topical songs


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 02:48 AM

Perhaps the lack of involvement by musicians and singers in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence is a political statement in itself. Although the SNP and the odd film star living in tax exile make a lot of noise, does the rest of Scotland really care?

DC


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 03:22 AM

Off topic, but I think related to an extent.
"I still feel that many topical songs have a very short half-life"
Since working on Irish songs I have been introduced to an aspect of the tradition that I believe to have been very much neglected by researchers - that of local songs.
This area (West Clare) has been extremely rich in traditional songs that were to be found in the national and international repertoire, particularly Child ballads.
These were collected assiduously by the late Tom Munnelly, who was generous enough to introduce us to many of his singers.
Alongside these were a large number of locally made songs, mainly anonymous, which dealt with local events and people, drownings, murders, local amenities like the West Clare Railway, political and military skirmishes during the War of independence..... even one song about a well respected priest moving on to another parish.
Because of their local nature many didn't enter into the national repertoire and, after the event, disappeared completely; in some cases we have no more than a report of their existence.
It is because of these songs that I am sceptical of claims of some to have discovered the origins of our traditional songs as being broadsides.
People in both Britain and Ireland have, I believe, always made songs on subjects that have interested them which the have felt worthy of creation and circulation, this very much includes political subjects and events. We know this to be true in Ireland, and among the Travelling communities, but I am not sure that those researching in other parts of the British Isles have paid the same attention to this shadow repertoire simply because this particular genre of songs did not fit into the recognised traditional repertoires.
I know that this is not the case in the U.S. - just been doing work on the magnificent album of West Virginian songs, 'Virginia Traditions', issued by the Blue Ridge institute of Ferrum College.
Sorry for the interruption.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: GUEST,Johnny J
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 03:25 AM

Aha.    Good point although many may disagree.


However, it does seem to be the politicians and chattering classes who are making the most fuss about it all.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: GUEST,Johnny j
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 03:28 AM

Sorry Jim.   Cross posted.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 04:55 AM

I also agree with the original post, tho' I feel some other posters here have missed some of the point he was making. My understanding of what he was saying is that there is now an expectation that folk musicians are under some sort of obligation to declare their political views publicly, whether they wish to or not.
There is a sort of implication that if you don't do this, you must be incredibly shallow, unfeeling, naive, etc, and I do not agree with this view at all.
In Scotland at present ( I'm being a bit tongue in cheek here!) this would of course include being well to the left of centre ( aren 't all folkies?) and definitely pro-independence. And it doesn't just extend to singing about it or pontificating about it on stage, it gets you writing long letters or " pieces" for national( regional?) newspapers. We even have the situation on the other forum that the OP referred to of people declaring other folks' politics for them!


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 05:00 AM

P.S. add to that (tongue in cheek again) that you can't possibly sing folk songs properly if you didn't come from a tough background. You have to have mining, fishing, travelling in the blood. My parents were teacher and insurance man, so what hope have I got?


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 05:34 AM

You have to have mining, fishing, travelling in the blood. My parents were teacher and insurance man, so what hope have I got?

At any folk gathering I have been to, retired teachers tend to be well represented and all will sing songs about mining, fishing and travelling. I know a retired librarian and someone who worked in an accounts department, both of whom write songs about trawlers.

I suppose the same must apply about politics. Just because someone sings a song about the hard working conditions of times gone by doesn't mean that they are nailing your colours to the mast as fighters for social equality. They may well be bourgeois capitalists, content to live of the backs of others.

DC


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 05:43 AM

……nailing your their colours……


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 06:42 AM

""God knows, the revival has become anodyne enough through singers being made feel uncomfortable by singing certain types of song, without erecting yet another hurdle.""

If any of us were saying that singers should be discouraged from singing those songs, your comment might have some point.

Since the responses are based in a belief that singers should not be required or expected to sing those songs, it does not.

Making special cases an argument for a generalisation works both ways.

Audiences for Ewan McColl, Pete Seeger and later Billy Bragg, were, and are quite aware that a program of political comment was and is assured.

They went in the full knowledge of that fact, to listen to that program.

A folk club organiser deciding to book McColl or Bragg should, if he knows his job, be aware of that and if his members don't like political content, he should have the sense, either to change his mind, or to find something else to do with his spare time.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 07:02 AM

""people are the way they are as a result of things that have happened to them, therefore to understand Jackson C fRANK , IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HIS LIFE, do you understand this Michael or is that confusing for you.""

What attention to the things that had happened in the lives of his audience did Frank give, before deciding that he had a right to harangue them for their inaction in respect of a situation that most of them knew little or nothing about, and for which none of them bore any responsibility.

Singing a song highlighting the tragedy of Biafra was fine. Breaking off in the middle to harangue the audience was not! NO ARGUMENT, it simply WAS NOT!.

Maybe fool is slightly too strong, but it wasn't exactly the action of an intelligent man who intends to pursue a career, to send an audience home feeling either bad about themselves, or mad at him.

A very good way to resign!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 02:41 PM

Jackson Franck is be criticised for something he said at a gig fifty years ago by people who were not even at the gig, give the fellow a break, he cant answer back,
Francks most famous song was recorded by paul simon, wizz jones, bert jansch.
One thing he has done is got people on this thread thinking about the Biafran war,so that is a positive.
perhaps, Don, he thought the Biafran war was more important than his career.
furthermore I think you make a mistake calling someone not intelligent, on the basis of one hearsay statement from 50 years ago, it seems he cared passionately about an issue, I respect that
a lot of folk performers today only care about networking and promoting themselves.
Vin Garbutt has been criticised for having certain views on abortion, they are not views I share, but he has aright to make those views and even harangue people should he so wish, if you dont like it leave the gig.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 03:24 PM

"If any of us were saying that singers should be discouraged from singing those songs, your comment might have some point."
That has been said here and has been a constant complaint throughout my half century in the revival - from some quarters anyway..
"why should their political/social opinions have to be placed before the public during the performing or listening experience."
Whatever the expectancy of the audiences, the choice of material has to be the performers', his/her job is, as far as I'm concerned, to have done enough preparatory work to give a presentable performance and to have understood and been in touch with the song to pass it on to the listeners.
If the song falls flat because a singer only feels he/she "should" sing it, then that's reprehensible, but that can apply to any type of song. Is it a problem - some of the most passionate singing I've ever hears was on the Aldermaston Marches, or during the miner's strike, or at the anti-Vietnam War concerts - likewise, one of the most electric audience responses I ever witnessed was at the N.F.T. screening of 'The Killing Fields' closely followed by the premier of 'Under Fire'.
"Entertainment" is an odd word; I'm entertained by John Grisham and Val MacDairmid, but I'm also entertained by Steinbeck and Hardy. I was highly entertained by 'The Hobbit' over Christmas, and I expect to be thoroughly gob-smacked by 'Mia Maxima Culpa' and 'No' next week.
I get as much pleasure learning the songs by lifting the corner to see what they bring with them as I do singing and listening to them.
You do the best you can in passing the songs over, but what is passed over to an audience is (hopefully) what I, or any other singer feels they want to pass over - the choice is theirs/ours.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: EBarnacle
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 03:53 PM

Going back to the citation about Washington's arrival in New York, I found this report: James Riker, "'Evacuation day,' 1783, Its Many Stirring Events: With Recollections of Czpt. John Van Arsdale (printed for the author, 1883), 14 - 18.

"The city's excitement turned to anger when they saw the Union Jack on the flagpole, and their anger became rage when they realized that the British had nailed their flag in place and greased the pole. After a few men tried unsuccessfully to scale the pole ande remove the offending symbol a call went out to gather saws wood, and nails. Cleats were affixed to the pole, and a young sailor started to climb, but before he got too far, a ladder arrived, which he used to reach the top, tear down the British flag, and replace it with America's colors, resulting in shouts of joy and a thirteen-gun salute." [punctuation not mine.]


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 06:50 PM

"Jackson Franck is be criticised for something he said at a gig fifty years ago by people who were not even at the gig, give the fellow a break, he cant answer back,"
.,,.,..,
It is well over 200 years since, to take one obvious example, Marie Antoinette declared that the French poor who could not afford bread should eat cake instead. Does the lapse of time make it any the less idiotic a riposte, Dick? She lost her head over it, so certainly can't answer back ~~ but then who can years later anyhow? So are all foolish remarks to be buried for ever? What a loss that would be.

Give it up, Dick. You really have lost it in this thread and are just making yourself look silly. Go on like this, and Catters in the 23rd Century will be quoting Dick's ne'er-to-be-forgotten posts from 200 years ago & falling about at the recollection.

〠 ☺ 〠 ☺ 〠 ☺ 〠


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 08:09 PM

I agree with Jim," any singer feels they want to pass over the choice is theirs/ ours".
THOSE WHO DO NOT LIKE WHAT A PERFORMER SAYS CAN LEAVE THE GIG, sorry michael cannot see anything silly about that.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 12:25 AM

Nothing silly about that, Dick; except the whole concept that everything will be OK if you just get out after the guy has said whatever he did, so that way you can pretend he never said it at all?

Stop digging, Dick.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 05:09 AM

I did not say that everything would be ok,.
I am saying that if people feel strongly about something they should be able to speak their mind, Franck may not have put it across in the best way, but by his action we are now talking and thinking about the Biafran war 50 years later.
I bet Franck was quite young at the time and possibly not all that experienced as a performer, I doubt if Pete.Seeger or MacColl would harangue his audience., but they get their point across in a more subtle manner.
I would agree that harnguing an audience is not something i would do, but I believe every performer has a right to talk and sing about matters they fell strongly about, the skilled performer can do it without haranguing an audience.
If people want bland, inoffensive performers on the folk scene , then god help the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 05:11 AM

so to get back to the OPS ORIGINAL QUESTION , THE ANSWER IS YES , BUT IT DEPENDS HOW IT IS DONE ,SOME OF THE BEST POINTS CAN BE MADE THROUGH HUMOUR.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:23 AM

""I am saying that if people feel strongly about something they should be able to speak their mind, Franck may not have put it across in the best way, but by his action we are now talking and thinking about the Biafran war 50 years later.""

With respect Dick, we are not talking about Biafra. We are discussing your incomprehensible stance on the subject of a performer so far forgetting his manners as to accuse, castigate and belittle his audience, for their (according to him) inaction on a situation which was nothing to do with his presence at a gig for which he was being paid.

As I said earlier, highlighting the situation in a song would have been fine, and probably appreciated.

I know a performer who has written a song about Darfur, which has achieved the desired end by mking people think about the situation.

His audiences went home talking about the situation in Darfur, rather than about the way they had been attacked.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:40 AM

"If people want bland, inoffensive performers on the folk scene , then god help the folk scene."

It's surely not necessarily all about what the audiences(the people) want but what the performers want to do or feel confident and comfortable enough to talk about...

If your main business is playing the fiddle, accordion, or even the concertina either solo or in a band, then you are not necessarily going to be that concerned with promoting your views on political and social situations. You may, of course, choose to do this elsewhere or help "the cause" by playing benefit concerts etc or as a supporting role to someone who more actively engaged in this process.

Also, you might even be a singer specialising in sea shanties or something along these lines and you may not consider it your place to comment on certain matters although you may wish to mention "fishing quotas", "cod shortages", working conditions at sea and so. However, you would probably have less interest in many other political topics including distant wars and so on.
On the other hand, if songs about political and social issues are "your bag", then fair enough.

I was in no way suggesting that performers should be "bland or innofensive" but only that they shouldn't be expected to speak out about every topical subject which happens to be in the news. The same would apply to less sensitive(or more sensitive depending on your point of view)subjects, i.e. you don't have to always crack jokes about horse meat in hamburgers and so on.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:43 AM

Oops, "inoffensive"... I meant to say.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:52 AM

The thing is too that when performers do decide to highlight - from the stage - some social or topical issue, they expect rapturous applause and confirmation from the audience that "of course" we all agree with the view expressed. Well sorry, if I don't agree, I don't applaud. I have seen some audiences vote with their feet for the door when there was too much pontificating too.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 08:03 AM

i agree with you tattie, but i am sure you will agree with me that they have the right to do it.
Johny j, my remarks ABOUT BLAND AND INOFFENSIVE were not aimed at you, but at Don t and MGM.
DON T, Francks actions 50 years ago, have cuased one person to mention in passing the biafran war, this has reminded many people about that subject, therefore Franck has achieved one of his objectives, he undoubtedly wanted and would have been pleased if people were talking about that war 50years later , now fofeck sake give Franck a break.
this business of Franck supposedly verbally attacking an audience 50 years ago is storm in a teacup.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 08:13 AM

my position is this, while i would not choose to harangue an audience its ok if someone else wants to do it, if people dont like it they can harngue the performer back or leave., its about time there was a bit more action and reaction in folk clubs.
the only thing in my opinion that is not acceptable is racially abusing someone and I have seen that happen [an anti french tirade], and the performer is still playing folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 08:16 AM

It is NO SUCH THING, Dick. It is absolutely basic to the whole gravamen of this thread, as to what is appropriate within the setting of a musical occasion in the way of propaganda or politically tendentious matter. The Frank occasion provides a particularly specific example of behaviour which most of us appear to consider inappropriate, so is no more a storm in a teacup within the context of this thread than is recollection of the Biafran conflict to whose perpetuation you appear for some reason so peculiarly dedicated.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 08:18 AM

Cross posted ~~ that in response to your penultimate post, obviously.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 01:01 PM

Performers can decide for themselves how much to say between songs or tunes: if they are going to wax political, then it should perhaps at least be vaguely relevant to what they are about to sing or play, and not just for them to get their own personal agenda aired in public.
As one club chairman said to a guest performer "We're paying you to sing, not to talk"!


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 01:31 PM

" is no more a storm in a teacup within the context of this thread than is recollection of the Biafran conflict to" whose perpetuation you appear for some reason so peculiarly dedicated.
   poppycock.
"As one club chairman said to a guest performer "We're paying you to sing, not to talk"!
yet more poppycock,
the answer to that is when they circumcised you mr chair they threw away the wrong bit[was the chairman legless?], when club chairmen starting getting jumped up notions and start telling performers what they should do IN PUBLIC, god help us all, club chairmen should know their place, sit quietly in their chair, and venture an opinion in the break ON A ONE TO ONE BASIS.
That club chairman was clearly a power maniac/control freak.
   I had a similiar situation in a folk club at Bicester in oxford , when this BOOR told me off for telling a joke, we pay you to sing not to tell jokes, IF HE DID NOT LIKE ME TELLING ThE OCCASIONAL JOKE, that was related to the song he should have approached me quietly in the interval and made clear how he felt in a private chat.
fortunately i have only met a few of these boors in folk clubs, most people are very pleasant.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 02:25 PM

The incident with Franck that MtheGM goes on about may have happened the way he describes it, or it may not. He wasn't there, and at this length of time even if he had been a subjective report at this remove would be pretty irrelevant.

I do remember that the general apathy about this genocide was pretty upsetting, including some pretty repulsive 'jokes' about starving babies. An angry response to that kind of thing would have been very understandable.

This thread seems to have shifted around a bit. Jhnny J's original point was about how silly it is if people expect that a singer should have a position on any and every issue that comes up in the media. Pretty self evidently that kind of expectation is silly.

But that seems to have shifted into an argument about whether they. Should feel entitled to express strong opinions where they do have them, and how best that should be done. Along with the related question whether they should feel obliged to come out and own up to whatever views they might hold, whether they want to or not.

Basically it comes down to freedom of speech - which includes freedom of silence.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 02:38 PM

I didn't 'describe' it in any way shape manner or form, McG. As you say, I wasn't there so how on earth can I be held to have described it in any sense whatsoever! I was simply commenting on how I viewed its propriety, assuming it to have occurred as described by whoever it was who did describe it.

Ho hum.

Think I'll go back to bed

☹ ☹ ☹ ☹ ☹ ☹ ☹ ☹


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 03:47 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY4Lr0sFQ4s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgY4GnLGsLQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgY4GnLGsLQ two clips of Franck and his music, this is the best way to remember him, through his music. please lets have no more of this pompous clap trap about something that allegedly happened once,50 years ago, this thread at times resembles the mad hatters tea party


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 03:55 PM

Nigerian Civil War
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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        This article is written like a personal reflection or essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (February 2013)
Nigerian Civil War
Biafra independent state map-en.svg
The independent state of the Republic of Biafra in June 1967.
Date         6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970
(2 years, 6 months, 1 week and 2 days)
Location         Nigeria
Result         Nigerian victory
Belligerents
Nigeria
United Arab Republic (air force only)[1]

Supported by:[1][2][dead link]
United Kingdom
Soviet Union
Syria
Sudan
Chad
Niger
People's Republic of China
Algeria
         Biafra
Foreign mercenaries

Supported by:[3][4]
South Africa
Rhodesia
Israel
France
Portugal Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Nigeria Yakubu Gowon
Nigeria Murtala Mohammed
Nigeria Benjamin Adekunle
Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo
Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser         Biafra Odumegwu Ojukwu
Biafra Philip Effiong
Albert Okonkwo
Jan Zumbach
Strength
80,000         30,000
Casualties and losses
200,000 Military and civilian casualties         1,000,000 Military and civilian casualties
1–3 million total dead
[show]

    v
    t
    e

Nigerian Civil War

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra. The conflict was the result of economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria.
Contents

    1 Background
    2 Military coup
    3 Counter-coup
    4 Breakaway
    5 Civil War
    6 Stalemate
    7 War's end
    8 Aftermath and legacy
    9 See also
    10 References
    11 Bibliography
    12 External links

Background
        This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2011)

As with many other African nations, Nigeria was an artificial structure initiated by former colonial powers which had neglected to consider religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences.[5] Nigeria, which gained independence from Britain in 1960, had at that time a population of 60 million people consisting of nearly 300 differing ethnic and cultural groups.

More than fifty years earlier, Great Britain carved an area out of West Africa containing hundreds of different ethnic groups and unified it, calling it Nigeria. Although the area contained many different groups, the three predominant groups were the Igbo, which formed between 60–70% of the population in the southeast, the Hausa-Fulani, which formed about 65% of the peoples in the northern part of the territory; the Yoruba, which formed about 75% of the population in the southwestern part.

The semi-feudal and Islamic Hausa-Fulani in the North were traditionally ruled by a feudal, conservative Islamic hierarchy consisting of Emirs who, in turn, owed their allegiance to a supreme Sultan. This Sultan was regarded as the source of all political power and religious authority.

The Yoruba political system in the southwest, like that of the Hausa-Fulani, also consisted of a series of monarchs being the Oba. The Yoruba monarchs, however, were less autocratic than those in the North, and the political and social system of the Yoruba accordingly allowed for greater upward mobility based on acquired rather than inherited wealth and title.

The Igbo in the southeast, in contrast to the two other groups, lived mostly in autonomous, democratically organised communities, although there were monarchs in many of these ancient cities such as the Kingdom of Nri. In its zenith it controlled most of Igbo land, including influence on the Anioma people, Arochukwu which controlled slavery in Igbo and Onitsha land. Unlike the other two regions, decisions among the Igbo were made by a general assembly in which men could participate.[6]

The differing political systems among these three peoples reflected and produced divergent customs and values. The Hausa-Fulani commoners, having contact with the political system only through their village head who was designated by the Emir or one of his subordinates, did not view political leaders as amenable to influence. Political decisions were to be submitted to. As with other highly authoritarian religious and political system, leadership positions were taken by persons willing to be subservient and loyal to superiors. A chief function of this political system was to maintain Islamic and conservative values, which caused many Hausa-Fulani to view economic and social innovation as subversive or sacrilegious.

In contrast to the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo often participated directly in the decisions which affected their lives. They had a lively awareness of the political system and regarded it as an instrument for achieving their own personal goals. Status was acquired through the ability to arbitrate disputes that might arise in the village, and through acquiring rather than inheriting wealth. With their emphasis upon social achievement and political participation, the Igbo adapted to and challenged colonial rule in innovative ways.

These tradition-derived differences were perpetuated and, perhaps, even enhanced by the British system of colonial rule in Nigeria. In the North, the British found it convenient to rule indirectly through the Emirs, thus perpetuating rather than changing the indigenous authoritarian political system. As a concomitant of this system, Christian missionaries were excluded from the North, and the area thus remained virtually closed to European cultural imperialism, in contrast to the Igbo, the richest of whom sent many of their sons to British universities. During the ensuing years, the Northern Emirs thus were able to maintain traditional political and religious institutions, while reinforcing their social structure. In this division, the North, at the time of independence in 1960, was by far the most underdeveloped area in Nigeria, with a literacy rate of 2% as compared to 19.2% in the East (literacy in Arabic script, learned in connection with religious education, was higher). The West enjoyed a much higher literacy level, being the first part of the country to have contact with western education in addition to the free primary education program of the pre-independence Western Regional Government.[7]

In the South, the missionaries rapidly introduced Western forms of education. Consequently, the Yoruba were the first group in Nigeria to adopt Western bureaucratic social norms and they provided the first African civil servants, doctors, lawyers, and other technicians and professionals.

In Igbo areas, missionaries were introduced at a later date because of British difficulty in establishing firm control over the highly autonomous Igbo communities.[8] However, the Igbo people took to Western education actively, and they overwhelmingly came to adopt Christianity. Population pressure in the Igbo homeland combined with aspirations for monetary wages drove thousands of Igbo to other parts of Nigeria in search of work. By the 1960s Igbo political culture was more unified and the region relatively prosperous, with tradesmen and literate elites active not just in the traditionally Igbo South, but throughout Nigeria.[9]

The British colonial ideology that divided Nigeria into three regions - North, West and East - exacerbated the already well-developed economic, political, and social differences among Nigeria's different ethnic groups. It has been described as a "deliberate ethnic and religious gerrymander to keep the nation weak, unstable and open to the plunder of its vast oil reserves by UK companies, led by British Petroleum (BP)".[10] The country was divided in such a way that the North had slightly more population than the other two regions combined. On this basis the Northern Region was allocated a majority of the seats in the Federal Legislature established by the colonial authorities. Within each of the three regions the dominant ethnic groups; the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo respectively formed political parties that were largely regional and based on ethnic allegiances: the Northern People's Congress (NPC) in the North; the Action Group in the West (AG); and the National Conference of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in the East. These parties were not exclusively homogeneous in terms of their ethnic or regional make-up; the disintegration of Nigeria resulted largely from the fact that these parties were primarily based in one region and one tribe. To simplify matters, we will refer to them here as the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo-based; or Northern, Western and Eastern parties.

During the 1940s and 1950s the Igbo and Yoruba parties were in the forefront of the fight for independence from Britain. They also wanted an independent Nigeria to be organised into several small states so that the conservative North could not dominate the country. Northern leaders, however, fearful that independence would mean political and economic domination by the more Westernized elites in the South, preferred the perpetuation of British rule. As a condition for accepting independence, they demanded that the country continue to be divided into three regions with the North having a clear majority. Igbo and Yoruba leaders, anxious to obtain an independent country at all costs, accepted the Northern demands.
Military coup
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On 15 January 1966, Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and other junior Army officers (mostly majors and captains) attempted a coup d'état. It was generally speculated that the coup had been initiated by the Igbos, and for their own primary benefit, because of the ethnicity of those that were killed. The two major political leaders of the north, The prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and The Premier of the northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello were executed by Major Nzeogwu. Also murdered was Sir Ahmadu Bello's wife. Meanwhile, the President, Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo, was on an extended vacation in the West Indies. He did not return until days after the coup. However, evidence exists to the contrary. For example, the coup was not only generally applauded in the Northern region, it was most successful there. The fact that only one Igbo officer, Lt Col Arthur Unegbe, was killed can be attributed to the mere fact that the officers in charge of implementing Nzeogwu's plans in the East were incompetent. The coup, also referred to as "The Coup of the Five Majors", has been described in some quarters as Nigeria's only revolutionary coup.[11] This was the first coup in the short life of Nigeria's nascent 2nd democracy. Claims of electoral fraud was one of the reasons given by the coup plotters. This coup resulted in General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo and head of the Nigerian Army, taking power as President, becoming the first military head of state in Nigeria.[12]

The coup d'état itself failed, as Ironsi rallied the military against the plotters. But Ironsi did not bring the failed plotters to trial as requested by military law and as advised by most northern and western officers. Ironsi then instituted military rule, by subverting the constitutional succession and alleging that the democratic institutions had failed and that, while he was defending them, they clearly needed revision and clean-up before reversion back to democratic rule. The coup, despite its failure, was wrongly perceived as having benefited mostly the Igbo because most of the known coup plotters were Igbo. However Ironsi, himself an Igbo, was thought to have made numerous attempts to please Northerners. The other event that also fuelled the so-called "Igbo conspiracy" was the killing of Northern leaders, and the killing of the Colonel Shodeinde's pregnant wife by the coup executioners. Despite the overwhelming contradictions of the coup being executed by mostly Northern soldiers (such as John Atom Kpera later military governor of Benue State), the killing of Igbo soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Unegbe by coup executioners, and Ironsi's termination of an Igbo-led coup, the ease by which Ironsi stopped the coup led to suspicion that the Igbo coup plotters planned all along to pave the way for Ironsi to take the reins of power in Nigeria. It also ignored the fact that the army was largely composed of Northerners at the private level, but Igbo at the officer level, and thus promotions would have to draw upon a large body of Igbo officers. As the officer corps of the army was dominated by the Igbos logic would have had it that mainly Igbo officers could have been killed in the coup if there wasn't an "igbo Conspiracy". On the contrary, the murdered victims of this coup were mainly northerners. The reason for this coup has never been made clear. If it was a revolutionary coup as some have claimed why were the prime minister and premier of the north killed? It has been proven that they both died with less than ten pounds in their respective personal accounts and with one village home each to their names. This was a young country trying to find its way and that way was abruptly scuttled by overzealous army officers numbering above twenty.
Counter-coup
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In the face of provocation from the southern dominated media which repeatedly showed humiliating posters and cartoons of the slain northern politicians, on the night of July 29, 1966, northern soldiers at Abeokuta barracks mutinied, thus precipitating a counter-coup, which may very well have been in the planning stages. The counter-coup led to the installation of Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, despite the intransigence of Mohammed who wanted the role of Supreme Commander for himself. Gowon was chosen as a compromise candidate. He was a Northerner, a Christian, from a minority tribe, and had a good reputation within the army. Ethnic tensions due to the coup and counter-coup increased and more mass pogroms in July and September 1966 took place. See large-scale massacres of Christian Ibo living in the Muslim north.[13]
Breakaway
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The military governor of the Igbo-dominated southeast, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, citing the northern massacres and electoral fraud, proclaimed with southern parliament the secession of the south-eastern region from Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra, an independent nation on 30 May 1967. Although the very young nation had a chronic shortage of weapons to go to war, it was determined to defend itself. There was much sympathy in Europe and elsewhere, yet only five countries (Tanzania, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia and Haiti) officially recognised the new republic.

Several peace accords especially the one held at Aburi, Ghana (the Aburi Accord) collapsed and the shooting war soon followed. Ojukwu managed at Aburi to get agreement to a confederation for Nigeria, rather than a federation. He was warned by his advisers that this reflected a failure of Gowon to understand the difference and, that being the case, predicted that it would be reneged upon. When this happened, Ojukwu regarded it as both a failure by Gowon to keep to the spirit of the Aburi agreement, and lack of integrity on the side of the Nigerian Military Government in the negotiations toward a united Nigeria. Gowon's advisers, to the contrary, felt that he had enacted as much as was politically feasible in fulfilment of the spirit of Aburi.[14] The Eastern region was very ill equipped for war, outmanned and outgunned by the Nigerians. Their advantages included fighting in their homeland, support of most Easterners, determination, and use of limited resources. The UK and the Soviet Union supported (especially militarily) the Nigerian government while Canada, Israel, and France helped the Biafrans. The United States seemed to be neutral but helped the Biafrans through the Red Cross.
Civil War

The Nigerian government launched a "police action" to retake the secessionist territory. The war began on 6 July 1967 when Nigerian Federal troops advanced in two columns into Biafra. The Nigerian army offensive was through the north of Biafra led by Colonel Shuwa and the local military units were formed as the 1st Infantry Division. The division was led mostly by northern officers. After facing unexpectedly fierce resistance and high casualties, the right-hand Nigerian column advanced on the town of Nsukka which fell on 14 July, while the left-hand column made for Garkem, which was captured on 12 July. At this stage of the war, the other regions of Nigeria (the West and Mid-West) still considered the war as a confrontation between the north (mainly Hausas) against the east (mainly Igbos)[citation needed]. But the Biafrans responded with an offensive of their own when, on 9 August, the Biafran forces moved west into the Mid-Western Nigerian region across the Niger river, passing through Benin City, until they were stopped at Ore (in present day Ondo State) just over the state boundary on 21 August, just 130 miles east of the Nigerian capital of Lagos. The Biafran attack was led by Lt. Col. Banjo, a Yoruba, with the Biafran rank of brigadier. The attack met little resistance and the Mid-West was easily taken over. This was due to the pre-secession arrangement that all soldiers should return to their regions to stop the spate of killings, in which Igbo soldiers had been major victims.[7][15] The Nigerian soldiers that were supposed to defend the Mid-West state were mostly Mid-West Igbo and while some were in touch with their eastern counterparts, others resisted. General Gowon responded by asking Colonel Murtala Mohammed (who later became head of state in 1975) to form another division (the 2nd Infantry Division) to expel the Biafrans from the Mid-West, as well as defend the West side and attack Biafra from the West as well. As Nigerian forces retook the Mid-West, the Biafran military administrator declared the Republic of Benin on 19 September, though it ceased to exist the next day.
Flag of the Republic of Benin.

Although Benin City was retaken by the Nigerians on 22 September, the Biafrans succeeded in their primary objective by tying down as many Nigerian Federal troops as much as they could. Gen. Gowon also launched an offensive into Biafra south from the Niger Delta to the riverine area using the bulk of the Lagos Garrison command under Colonel Benjamin Adekunle (called the Black Scorpion) to form the 3rd Infantry Division (which was later renamed as the 3rd Marine Commando). As the war continued, the Nigerian Army recruited amongst a wider area, including the Yoruba, Itshekiri, Urhobo, Edo, Ijaw, and etc. Four battalions of the Nigerian 2nd Infantry Division were needed to drive the Biafrans back and eliminate their territorial gains made during the offensive. The Nigerians were repulsed three times as they attempted to cross the River Niger during October, resulting in the loss of thousands of troops, dozens of tanks and equipment. The first attempt by the 2nd Infantry Division on 12 October to cross the Niger from the town of Asaba to the Biafran city of Onitsha cost the Nigerian Federal Army over 5,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured or missing.
Stalemate
Biafran soldiers defending Aba during Operation OAU

From 1968 onward, the war fell into a form of stalemate, with Nigerian forces unable to make significant advances into the remaining areas of Biafran control due to stiff resistance and major defeats in Abagana, Arochukwu, Oguta, Umuahia (Operation OAU), Onne, Ikot Ekpene, and etc.[16] But another Nigerian offensive from April to June 1968 began to close the ring around the Biafrans with further advances on the two northern fronts and the capture of Port Harcourt on 19 May 1968. The blockade of the surrounded Biafrans led to a humanitarian disaster when it emerged that there was widespread civilian hunger and starvation in the besieged Igbo areas. The Biafran government claimed that Nigeria was using hunger and genocide to win the war, and sought aid from the outside world. A Nigerian commission, including British doctors from the Liverpool University School of Tropical Medicine, visited Biafra after the war[17] and concluded that the evidence of deliberate starvation was overplayed, caused by confusion between the symptoms of starvation and various tropical illnesses. They did not doubt that starvation had occurred, but were unsurprisingly not clear of the extent to which it was a result of the Nigerian blockade or the restriction of food to the civilians by the Biafran government[14]
A child suffering the effects of severe hunger and malnutrition as a result of the blockade. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide.

Many volunteer bodies organised the Biafran airlift which provided blockade-breaking relief flights into Biafra, carrying food, medicines, and sometimes (according to some claims) weapons.[18] More common was the claim that the arms-carrying aircraft would closely shadow aid aircraft, making it more difficult to distinguish between aid aircraft and military supply aircraft.[18] It has been argued that by prolonging the war the Biafran relief effort (characterised by Canadian development consultant Ian Smillie as "an act of unfortunate and profound folly"), contributed to the deaths of as many as 180,000 civilians.[19]

In response to the Nigerian government using foreigners to lead some advances, the Biafran government also began hiring foreign mercenaries to extend the war.[citation needed] Only German born Rolf Steiner a Lt. Col. with the 4th Commandos, and Major Taffy Williams, a Welshman would remain for the duration.[20] Nigeria also used 'mercenaries', in the form of Egyptian pilots for their air force MiG 17 fighters and Il 28 bombers. The Egyptian conscripts frequently attacked civilian rather than military targets, bombing numerous Red Cross shelters.[18]

Bernard Kouchner was one of a number of French doctors who volunteered with the French Red Cross to work in hospitals and feeding centres in besieged Biafra. The Red Cross required volunteers to sign an agreement, which was seen by some (like Kouchner and his supporters) as being similar to a gag order, that was designed to maintain the organisation's neutrality, whatever the circumstances. Kouchner and the other French doctors signed this agreement.

After entering the country, the volunteers, in addition to Biafran health workers and hospitals, were subjected to attacks by the Nigerian army, and witnessed civilians being murdered and starved by the blockading forces. Kouchner also witnessed these events, particularly the huge number of starving children, and when he returned to France, he publicly criticised the Nigerian government and the Red Cross for their seemingly complicit behaviour. With the help of other French doctors, Kouchner put Biafra in the media spotlight and called for an international response to the situation. These doctors, led by Kouchner, concluded that a new aid organisation was needed that would ignore political/religious boundaries and prioritise the welfare of victims. They created Médecins Sans Frontières in 1971 (Doctors Without Borders).[21]

In September 1968, the federal army planned what Gowon described as the "final offensive." Initially the final offensive was neutralised by Biafran troops by the end of the year after several Nigerian troops were routed in Biafran ambushes. In the latter stages, a Southern FMG offensive managed to break through. However in 1969, the Biafrans launched several offensives against the Nigerians in their attempts to keep the Nigerians off-balance starting in March when the 14th Division of the Biafran army recaptured Owerri and moved towards Port Harcourt, but were halted just north of the city. In May 1969, Biafran commandos recaptured oil wells in Kwale. In July 1969, Biafran forces launched a major land offensive supported by foreign mercenary pilots continuing to fly in food, medical supplies and weapons. Most notable of the mercenaries was Swedish Count Carl Gustav von Rosen who led air attacks with five Malmö MFI-9 MiniCOIN small piston-engined aircraft, armed with rocket pods and machine guns. His BAF (Biafran Air Force) consisted of three Swedes: von Rosen, Gunnar Haglund and Martin Lang. The other two pilots were Biafrans: Willy Murray-Bruce and Augustus Opke. From 22 May to 8 July 1969 von Rosen's small force attacked Nigerian military airfields in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Benin City and Ughelli, destroying or damaging a number of Nigerian Air Force jets used to attack relief flights, including a few Mig-17's and three out of Nigeria's six Ilyushin Il-28 bombers that were used to bomb Biafran villages and farms on a daily basis. Although the Biafran offensives of 1969 were a tactical success, the Nigerians soon recovered. The Biafran air attacks did disrupt the combat operations of the Nigerian Air Force, but only for a few months.

One of the interesting characters assisting Count Carl Gustav von Rosen was Lynn Garrison, an ex-RCAF fighter pilot. He introduced the Count to a Canadian method of dropping bagged supplies to remote areas in Canada without losing the contents. He showed how one sack of food could be placed inside a larger sack before the supply drop. When the package hit the ground the inner sack would rupture while the outer one kept the contents intact. With this method many tons of food were dropped to many Biafrans who would otherwise have died of starvation.
War's end
Nigerians celebrating the war's end in Lagos

With increased British support, the Nigerian federal forces launched their final offensive against the Biafrans once again on 23 December 1969 with a major thrust by the 3rd Marine Commando Division the division was commanded by Col. Obasanjo (who later became president twice) which succeeded in splitting the Biafran enclave into two by the end of the year. The final Nigerian offensive, named "Operation Tail-Wind", was launched on 7 January 1970 with the 3rd Marine Commando Division attacking, and supported by the 1st Infantry division to the north and the 2nd Infantry division to the south. The Biafran town of Owerri fell on 9 January, and Uli fell on 11 January. Only a few days earlier, Ojukwu fled into exile by flying by plane to the republic of Côte d'Ivoire, leaving his deputy Philip Effiong to handle the details of the surrender to General Yakubu Gowon of the federal army on 13 January 1970. The war finally ended a few days later with the Nigerian forces advancing in the remaining Biafran held territories with little opposition.

After the war Gowon said, "The tragic chapter of violence is just ended. We are at the dawn of national reconciliation. Once again we have an opportunity to build a new nation. My dear compatriots, we must pay homage to the fallen, to the heroes who have made the supreme sacrifice that we may be able to build a nation, great in justice, fair trade, and industry."[22]
Aftermath and legacy

The war cost the Igbos a great deal in terms of lives, money and infrastructure. It has been estimated that up to three million people may have died due to the conflict, most from hunger and disease.[23] Reconstruction, helped by the oil money, was swift; however, the old ethnic and religious tensions remained a constant feature of Nigerian politics. Accusations were made of Nigerian government officials diverting resources meant for reconstruction in the former Biafran areas to their ethnic areas. Military government continued in power in Nigeria for many years, and people in the oil-producing areas claimed they were being denied a fair share of oil revenues.[24] Laws were passed mandating that political parties could not be ethnically or tribally based; however, it has been hard to make this work in practice.

Igbos who ran for their lives during the pogroms and war returned to find their positions had been taken over; and when the war was over the government did not feel any need to re-instate them, preferring to regard them as having resigned. This reasoning was also extended to Igbo owned properties and houses. People from other regions were quick to take over any house owned by an Igbo, especially in the Port Harcourt area. The Nigerian Government justified this by terming such properties abandoned. This, however, has led to a feeling of an injustice as the Nigerian government policies were seen as further economically disabling the Igbos even long after the war. Further feelings of injustice were caused by Nigeria, changing its currency so that Biafran supplies of pre-war Nigerian currency were no longer honoured, at the end of the war, only N£20 was given to any easterner despite what ever amount of money he or she had in the bank. This was applied irrespective of their banking in pre-war Nigerian currency or Biafran currency. This was seen as a deliberate policy to hold back the Igbo middle class, leaving them with little wealth to expand their business interests.[25]

On Monday 29 May 2000, The Guardian (Nigeria) reported that President Olusegun Obasanjo commuted to retirement the dismissal of all military persons who fought for the breakaway state of Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. In a national broadcast, he said that the decision was based on the principle that "justice must at all times be tempered with mercy.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 04:19 PM

"Assumed it occurred described"

That's quite an assumption when it comes to sounding off against a named person. Who is no longer alive.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 05:54 PM

Why? Follow that line of thought and no history about anyone no longer alive can ever be credited.

A nonsensical postulation.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 06:53 PM

If you'd been writing about an incident that you had actually seen, and using that as an illustration of a type of behaviour you wished to criticise, that analogy might have at least some validity, MtheGM.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Mar 13 - 07:53 PM

Threid deid as far as I'm concerned.
Bye!


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 04:32 AM

Well, it's certainly taken a strange turn....


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: mayomick
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 07:40 AM

MGrath of Harlow It was me ,not MGM, who got the dressing down from Jackson C Frank . I didn't want to make a big deal about the incident but it did happen .
GSS,I don't think that any democrat would want to deny performers the right to harangue his audience with dull political speeches from the stage. It's not the right to free speech that is the issue , but whether or not an audience should expect a performer to exercise that right at a concert.
A youtube clip of Jackson C Frank here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgY4GnLGsLQ


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 09:35 AM

""If you'd been writing about an incident that you had actually seen, and using that as an illustration of a type of behaviour you wished to criticise, that analogy might have at least some validity, MtheGM.""

So, I was born in 1941 and was four when WW2 ended, and anything that I might want to criticise about the behaviour of Germany is invalid?

Get real!!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 09:47 AM

yes we know that mick,
but MGM in a manner rather pompous called him a fool, and Don T sounded off about the importance of careers and described him thus "but it wasn't exactly the action of an intelligent man who intends to pursue a career,"
in my opinion that is what is partly wrong with the uk folk scene today, too many Michael Mainchancers whose only care is furthering their own career, these same people if they were a bit more intelligent should be playing the songs elsewhere on the pop scene where their desire to further their own careers would be more lucrative, and where their folky sounding pop music and attitudes belong, to quote Cromwell
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 09:50 AM

And Dick, do you really think anybody is actually going to read that massive cut 'n paste which contravenes everything that has been said by the thread owner and mods about the length of such?

You've known me for many years and you know that I am one of the most accepting folk club organisers you have ever dealt with, but any such behaviour as described would automatically place the perpetrator on my list of performers under the "DO NOT RE-BOOK!....EVER!" heading!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM

Well, there are ways of making your political point in a song that don't involve hitting your audience with it between the eyes. Woody Guthrie made many a hard-hitting political point by doing no more than describing, in his own brand of poetry, the lives of downtrodden people, not a hint of preachy bitterness in sight. I've been to the gigs of some pretty eminent "political" folk singers in my time whose views I entirely agree with but who had me gritting me teeth and clenching me buttocks at their clumsy lack of subtlety; of, er, artistry. I'm all for the killing off of capitalism but I don't want to hear that naked message thrown at me in a song. There are better ways. I'm against any kind of restriction at all on abortion and I don't want to hear someone's proselytising against it in a song, especially when it entails tugging at the heartstrings over little innocents, etc. There is a better way of making us think than chucking emotion in our faces. Yes, it's his gig, it's a free country, etc., but songs making debating points sung in front of an audience who can't debate back are not the right way of going about it. That is not legitimate, and of course we can walk out, but I reckon we should get our money back for that. Make the buggers listen to a Woody collection and learn the right way to do it. Here ya go:

Woody Guthrie, "Ludlow Massacre":

And the red neck miners mowed down them troopers
You should have seen those poor boys run


Christy Moore's interpretation of the same words:

And the red neck miners they shot the soldiers
You should have seen them bastards run


You decide who got the message right.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 11:46 AM

Wasn't it Theodore Sturgeon who described someone who had ..."sold his birthright for a pot of message...?


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 13 - 12:11 PM

yes, i know that don , thats why i do not do it, and as a matter of fact i agree with steve shaw, woodys approach was right, but i am all for other performers doing what they like, if i dont like it i leave.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM

I think there's a very big difference between someone trying to get people to look at an issue in a different way, and haranguing them because they don't. Vin Garbutt singing Little Innocents was doing the former; it's an emotional subject whichever way you see it.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 08:17 AM

Anyhow, singing is one thing, haranguing another. I don't think anyone writing on this thread would object to anyone singing a politically motivated song, however tendentious and/or unacceptable to them were the opinions expressed. They would regard it as part of the democratic give-and-take to be expected in a venue where such performance is an expected part of the proceedings. But reprimanding one's audience for not adopting a particular stance over a particular issue, and then for not doing anything actively to influence it, belongs in a political gathering convened for the purpose, not in a musical gathering; and is the action of a conceited, self-satisfied, priggish fool; which is precisely what this Frank fellow demonstrated himself to have been on the occasion under consideration. The fact that I was not there to witness it myself, and that he is no longer in a position to dispute as to his motivations, is neither here nor there. And if Dick objects to the vocabulary I have selected to express my opinion on the matter, then tough titty!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 11:45 AM

it's an emotional subject whichever way you see it.

It's actually a very practical issue that needs practical solutions. It's people who get all emotional about it, and that emotional energy merely hoodwinks people from looking for rational answers. An anti-abortionist singing to me in a gig about little innocents is no better than my singing that a foetus is just a ball of cells.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 01:33 PM

tough titty, ah Iam now being lambasted by a lithe lettuce, probably a cos.
"But reprimanding one's audience for not adopting a particular stance over a particular issue, and then for not doing anything actively to influence it, belongs in a political gathering convened for the purpose, not in a musical gathering; and is the action of a conceited, self-satisfied, priggish fool; which is precisely what this Frank fellow demonstrated himself to have been on the occasion under consideration. The fact that I was not there to witness it myself, and that he is no longer in a position to dispute as to his motivations, is neither here nor there"
ah MGM, Give it a break, he was a talented song writer who was young and was upset about the support England was giving In the murdering of innocent people, maybe he made a mistake in his approach, but he was no more a conceited priggish fool, than you are a bombastic pompous ass.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 01:49 PM

It's people who feel emotional about it; and of course it's people who write songs, and sing songs, and listen to songs. As with other matters involving life and death, such as war and capital punishment, it's never just "a very practical matter that needs practical solutions". We reach rational answers founded on what we believe to be true, and different people will reach different views in regard to all those things.

I agree with MtheGM in distinguishing between two things that can be confused. Attempting to argue for a point of view, or trying to persuade other people to share that point of view, or act in a certain way, is not the same as haranguing people for not being convinced or for not acting.

I think that directly arguing a case is not likely to be the best way of getting that case over, but that is another matter. As for haranguing in almost all situations it is likely to be a waste of energy - as Joe Hill might have put it, "Don't rage, organise".   But I don't think it is right to sneer at someone who might (or might not) have fallen into that trap in face of appalling events which have been largely airbrushed out of history.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 03:33 PM

100 ory leadfingers


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Allan Conn
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 05:23 PM

"Perhaps the lack of involvement by musicians and singers in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence is a political statement in itself"

I think though that everyone is taking it for granted that the suggestion that there is a lack of involvement is actually a true statement. I'm not so sure it is. Karine Polwart, Annie Lennox, The Proclaimers, Dick Gaughan, Dougie McLean, Pat Kane, Ricky Ross, Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Eddie Reader, Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro). Just a quick list of some who've said they support the yes campaign - some of them quite involved with it. I think it is true that there are no protest songs as such. Probably because there is nothing to protest at. No-one is being oppressed. Just a democratic choice to make. There are of course those who support the union too. Billy Connolly and james Macmillan spring quickly to mind. However I think that the artistic community (not just musicians) probably tend to be more supportive of independence than the population at large are.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 06:10 PM

We reach rational answers founded on what we believe to be true, and different people will reach different views in regard to all those things.

I'm not talking about reaching answers or views for ourselves. I'm talking about how to address a problem, in this case the problem of a high abortion rate. Whether you're pro-choice or anti-abortion, that's what we have to discuss. And I said discuss. An anti-abortionist singing an emotion-sodden anti-abortion song to an audience at a folk club is not part of any discussion. He's getting a hobby horse off his chest, that's all. As the Catholic church shows with its anti-abortion, pro-ignorance stance in Africa, preachifying moralistically about it, whether from a pulpit in the Church's case or a stage in the folkie's case, is solidly a part of the problem, not the solution. It's a free country, he can sing what he likes, we can walk out if we like, etc. I'll buy all that. But that doesn't make him any less wrong-headed. There are better ways.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 07:33 PM

Is there any way in which your views on this are any less "moralistic", or less impicitly "emotion-sodden", Steve? That doesn't imply anything about their validity. It just means that you hold them strongly.

When it comes to addressing the problem of a high abortion rate I doubt if there actually too much disagreement between your view and the one Vin Garbutt appears to hold, and that I personally hold - there need to be changes in society that would reduce the pressures that push many women into having abortions which they would choose` not to if they really had a free choice.

Ideas about changing the law to stop abortions are a red herring and an irrelevancy - aside from anything else, they wouldn't work. Truly free choice, I would argue, would mean far fewer abortions.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 08:30 PM

This is not a thread about abortion and we shouldn't turn it into one. We've homed in on it because Vin Garbutt is an example of a folkie who uses his gigs to propagate one of his views. His anti-abortion song employs a well-worn tactic oft used by the anti-abortion lobby (namely, the somewhat unsubtle appeal to emotions/sentiment). I utterly defend his right to sing it and for anyone who takes offence at it (not me - I have no right not to be offended so I don't bother to get offended) to walk out. But my contention is that he is wrong-headed, not because I disagree with him but because of the manner of his putting it across. People who disagree with his stance are hardly going to start a big controversy in the middle of the gig, he knows it, and he plays on it. If he made his points down the pub with his mates or on this forum he would get a bloody good argument going and he'd have to defend himself. That's what you get when you put forward a forceful view, but he's found a way of doing it without risk of express dissent. Instead of singing about little innocents he could tell a story in song (which he's good at) to get us thinking about his issue from a novel angle. Woody Guthrie gets us thinking about injustices meted out to people, not by preaching to us about how horrid the injustices are but by giving us a story and implicitly inviting us to see something we might not have thought of for ourselves. That is true artistry in folk song. Vin's stage is not his pulpit. I have no idea whether he allows for views other than his own, but he certainly doesn't allow scope for them to be expressed at the gig. Bit of an abuse, that, no? And remember what I said up the thread. Yes, I strongly disagree with Vin Garbutt about abortion, but I also criticised other singers for adopting a similar approach to issues that I happen to strongly agree with. You can be forceful without hitting people between the eyes who can't argue back at gigs. There is a better, more artistic way. There are even some rap singers who can be more subtle with their message than some of our lot.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Mar 13 - 09:29 PM

I agree that this thread isn't really the place to carry on with a discussion about abortion. In fact it diverts from the real topic, which is about the matter of a singer pushing a point of view. Perhaps Vin Garbutt singing about the terrorist Contra campaign sponsored by the Reagan administration, at the same concerts where he introduced Little Innocents, might be a better focus.

I'd argue that it is a perfectly legitimate thing for a singer to sing such songs. If they challenge the views of the listeners, there is plenty of time for the arguments to follow. It is always a good principle to hear out the position of someone we disagree with rather than to interrupt them and prevent them from explaining. After we have heard them out is the time to put our own views on the table. In the case of a singer on a stage, that would normally be likely to mean carrying on the discussion with others - or of course there is the possibility of doing it in song in some cases.

As for the suggestion that it's "risk free" for a singer in a concert situation, that just doesn't reflect the reality. In some ways Vin Garbutt torpedoed his career when he extended his views on Civil Rights into the context of abortion.

Directly arguing a point in a polemical way is of course only one way of doing it, and not one which is generally the best. Doing it through a story, as with Vin's Linda, is more likely to work better - though if anything that leaves a singer even more open to the accusation of tugging at heart strings and trying to manipulate the listeners' emotions.

But I believe that, whether in the folk club or the concert stage, or in the Mudcat, it is right that the songs should feed into the discussions, and the discussions should lead into the songs, and that it is right that songs are about real things much of the time.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 04:18 AM

In fact it diverts from the real topic, which is about the matter of a singer pushing a point of view.

No it isn't. The real topic, expressed in the opening post, is whether there should be

…… an expectation* in many quarters that musicians and singers should declare their political beliefs and stance on all manner of things and use their music and performance opportunities to further these and/or encourage their audiences along the same lines.

The right to hold strong opinions, and to express them if desired, was not in dispute.


DC

*my bold emphasis


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 05:25 AM

Doug is correct.

Singers and musicians can hold whatever opinion they want and choose to express it during their performances, in other public areas e.g. the media and press etc. They can also be politically activists or play a supportive role in any of the above.

I've no objection to them "haranguing" an audience or even singing about subjects which I may disagree with or find offensive as long as they are not doing anything illegal.
However, they do so at their own risk in that they may alienate audiences, club organisers who might later give them a booking and so on.
If something really annoys or offends me, I certainly won't be queing up for the next gig albeit, for the most part, I don't mind having my views challenged from time to time.

What my original post was about, and the thread has certainly drifted, is that no performer should necessarily be *expected* to hold strong views on a particular subject or obliged to act on any which he or she may have within the public arena whether at a gig or elsewhere.
My example above was in relation to the Scottish Independence Referendum but I also heard similar sentiments from various quarters at the time of the Iraq War and, in fact, many other major events.

There is diffence, in my opinion between asking questions such as "Why are there no protest singers these days?" or "Where are the protest singers?" as opposed to "What about all these singers? Why aren't they protesting?"


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 05:40 AM

Oops, the above post was from me. I wasn't logged in properly.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 05:53 AM

I'd argue that it is a perfectly legitimate thing for a singer to sing such songs.

I agree, but a wily fellow who has an eye on the possible outcomes of his singing will choose the subtle, more artistic approach, not the bludgeoning approach. That's the better way to get more people to consider your viewpoint. Show them a novel angle they might not have thought of.

Directly arguing a point in a polemical way is of course only one way of doing it, and not one which is generally the best. Doing it through a story, as with Vin's Linda, is more likely to work better - though if anything that leaves a singer even more open to the accusation of tugging at heart strings and trying to manipulate the listeners' emotions.

I'm not arguing against tugging at heartstrings in songs. A good song will always do that. I'm suggesting that a song that rattles on about little innocents, etc., is using a well-worn and unsubtle ploy oft resorted to by the kinds of anti-abortionists who help to get rows flaring up on forums by ignoring facts and preachifying instead. It's hackneyed and tiresome and there are better ways.

(And I know that pro-choicers are not always tactically squeaky clean either... ;-) )


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Johnny J
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 06:32 AM

To be fair on Vin Garbutt, he wrote this song many years ago when abortion had only just been legalised a few years previously. He was much younger and less experienced as a songwriter although he felt very strongly and passionate about the issues. However, it's not the type of song which he would write today nor, I believe, one which he includes in his repertoire these days.

At this time, most lay people hadn't had the opportunity to think things through in great detail and tended to fall quite firmly in one camp or the other.
Until I considered things more fully, I was very much against it myself mainly due to the more emotional, and sentimental aspects along with my previous religous upbringing such as it was.

While I am still uncomfortable about the idea, I can also understand why it is the only option for many women and that they, ultimately, should have the right to choose. As to when and where it is appropriate, advisable, or right, when it is really necessary or (Some might say)selfish to do so is a different argument or discussion as opposed to whether or not it should be legal or not. I don't intend to enter into that here.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 07:29 AM

I'd question whether Little Innocents actually matches that description Steve. It's unusual in being more directly polemical than most songs Vin has recorded, which generally take the more indirect illustrative approach, whatever the topic involved.

But of course what is even more unusual in the song song is the topic addressed and the viewpoint expressed. I couldn't find the lyrics anywhere online to check them, which in itself says something, I suppose.

While it's perhaps difficult to disentangle the subject of the song from the technique of the song I'd suggest it's worth doing that. While the direct polemical approach is one that should be used with caution, whatever the area of controversy, I think it has a place.

As for the just point that this thread has drifted from the original question raised, that is fair enough. But I don't think anyone has disagreed with the point raised, that people should never be put under pressure to express views about particular issues just because they have become matters of public controversy. So far as that particular issue goes there's a consensus of agreement.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 08:27 AM

singers should not feel under any obligation to have to comment on political subjects , if they want to that in my opinion is fine. i agree with steve that haranguing is not the best method .


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 09:27 AM

I've been trying to think of songs which rather than adopt a narrative structure have a directly persuasive approach, asking people to agree. Not that many came to mind, but the ones that did confirm me in my view that there is a place for them.

Which side are you on?
The times they are a-changing
H-bombs thunder
Burning times ("Isis, Astarte...")


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 10:45 AM

Well, I heard Vin sing that song four or five times in the 90s. I couldn't find the lyrics either, nor the lyrics of his other song on the subject (as I understand it), The Secret. Strange.

As for being for or against abortion (and here let's have a "man talking red alert"), I want all women to have the unfettered, total right to abortion. Yet I'm far more anti-abortion than any pope or priest or Vin Garbutt or Mother Teresa that I've ever come across. I hate it and I want there to be hardly any abortions. I think I'll write a song with that as its theme and let people work out how those apparently contradictory notions can be reconciled. People will walk out. Because of my singing, not the song.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 10:49 AM

The Times They Are a-Changing, eh? As I recall, there was some unsubtle, blunt-instrument bludgeoning in that song. "Don't criticise what you can't understand..." Silly.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 11:34 AM

True enough, it's a bit clumsy, like a lot of Dylan's songs. But it worked well as a song and as a persuader.

Having a place needn't mean top place. Assuming there's some kind of ranking competition involved.

I'd add the Marseilleise to my list. Once again not all the words bear too close inspection, but so what?


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 12:51 PM

"Which Side Are You On"? Subtle?
"You either are a union man or a thug for J. H. Blair"
Seems pretty direct to me.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 01:24 PM

the times are a changing, at the time seemed important, it may have a few weaknesses, but it also had power.
paul macCartney is [imo] technically a very good lyrics writer, use of meter, internal rhymes, use of assonance,but he does not bother much about trying to change the world.,
but shes leaving home has a power and an empathy that a lot of people understand.
dylans best song imo here, may have a couple of technical weaknesses, but it is still powerful





Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.
verse 3 ends with dylan sort of enigmatic rubbish,[ like i see through etc] but despite that it is still a great song that uses a trad tune,
so a great song can still have a few flaws


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 02:06 PM

Not particularly enigmatic, just a fleshed out version of ."I can see through you", which is what anyone might say faced with someone they believe to be dishonest.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM

Way back upstream in this thread, MtheGM told us, quite rightly:

I am somewhat reminded of Dr Johnson on the role of the critic: "You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables."

That reminds me of a comment by some writer back in Victorian times, to the effect that "The art critic's position with regard to artists and their work is like that of the astronomer as to the stars and other heavenly bodies. The astronomer has the privilege of telling the populace where the stars are and what they are doing, but he has no business and no power to tell the stars what to do."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 04:45 PM

A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
                      Kenneth Tynan 1927-80


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 05:54 PM

A satnav, in other words...


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 08:11 PM

"Technique is really personality. That is the reason why the artist cannot teach it, why the pupil cannot learn it, and why the aesthetic critic can understand it. To the great poet, there is only one method of music -- his own. To the great painter, there is only one manner of painting -- that which he himself employs. The aesthetic critic, and the aesthetic critic alone, can appreciate all forms and all modes. It is to him that Art makes her appeal.
Oscar Wilde, ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE THAT HAD SOMETHING BOTH AMUSING AND SENSIBLE TO SAY


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Mar 13 - 09:19 PM

Sometimes. But too often he was just playing - and he said as much. I doubt if he particularly believed what he says here, which is a very partial truth.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: EBarnacle
Date: 07 Mar 13 - 02:43 PM

Here's Tom Russell doing this well, both in commentary and song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mDHjsNJKUk&list=PLBEC359532E91A320


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Mar 13 - 07:45 PM

Here's a cracking song with a hard-hitting message done with sheer poetry. A real thought-provoker. That's what I'm on about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mmflP04lBI


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Mar 13 - 08:21 PM

Google Bugger the Bankers (I'm doing this on an ipad, and it's temperamental about putting in links) Not too much poetry about this one, but it's enormous fun, which isn't true of too many hard-hitting songs.

In one sense I suppose you could call it haranguing, if you were a banker. Serve em right.


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Subject: RE: Nailing your colours to the mast...
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Mar 13 - 09:15 PM

I resort away from my iPad to do this and towards my laptop.


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