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Has anyone the courage now? (Moses Asch)

Roger in Baltimore 04 Apr 99 - 09:44 PM
Chet W. 04 Apr 99 - 08:07 PM
katlaughing 04 Apr 99 - 07:51 PM
Ethan Mitchell 04 Apr 99 - 07:10 PM
LEJ 04 Apr 99 - 04:29 AM
MAG (inactive) 03 Apr 99 - 05:33 PM
Ethan Mitchell 02 Apr 99 - 04:22 PM
Chet W. 26 Mar 99 - 08:05 PM
AlistairUK 26 Mar 99 - 12:22 PM
Art Thieme 26 Mar 99 - 11:43 AM
Art Thieme 26 Mar 99 - 11:38 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 26 Mar 99 - 01:34 AM
Art Thieme 25 Mar 99 - 11:19 PM
Anne 25 Mar 99 - 09:13 PM
Pete M 25 Mar 99 - 07:20 PM
Anais 25 Mar 99 - 04:22 PM
Bert 25 Mar 99 - 02:35 PM
AlistairUK 25 Mar 99 - 02:24 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 25 Mar 99 - 02:47 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 06 Sep 98 - 03:23 PM
The Shambles 24 Aug 98 - 08:09 PM
Chet W. 24 Aug 98 - 05:49 PM
BSeed 24 Aug 98 - 02:13 AM
BSeed 24 Aug 98 - 02:11 AM
northfolk 23 Aug 98 - 11:53 PM
Chet W. 23 Aug 98 - 04:57 PM
Chet W. 23 Aug 98 - 04:56 PM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 98 - 06:06 AM
BSeed 22 Aug 98 - 09:10 PM
Barry Finn 22 Aug 98 - 05:20 PM
Chet W. 22 Aug 98 - 04:56 PM
Barry Finn 22 Aug 98 - 04:49 PM
Chet W. 22 Aug 98 - 11:45 AM
Barry Finn 22 Aug 98 - 12:20 AM
Chet W. 21 Aug 98 - 06:09 PM
Big Mick 21 Aug 98 - 02:12 PM
Animaterra 21 Aug 98 - 11:28 AM
BSeed 21 Aug 98 - 01:44 AM
Chet W. 20 Aug 98 - 07:15 PM
BSeed 20 Aug 98 - 04:29 PM
Jon W. 20 Aug 98 - 01:22 PM
northfolk 20 Aug 98 - 11:58 AM
BSeed 20 Aug 98 - 03:35 AM
20 Aug 98 - 12:27 AM
Chet W. 19 Aug 98 - 08:47 PM
Zorro 18 Aug 98 - 09:11 PM
Pete M 18 Aug 98 - 08:50 PM
Barry Finn 18 Aug 98 - 08:14 PM
BSeed 18 Aug 98 - 08:00 PM
Frank in the swamps 18 Aug 98 - 06:51 PM
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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 09:44 PM

At Chet's suggestion, I have started a new thread Has Anyone the Courage Now II. As threads get as long as this one, it takes a long-time to load and many posters have read the previous posts. So please, post on the new thread.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 08:07 PM

I have stood for every philosophy, movement, etc. that supports the idea of equality and equal opportunity for all, as long as I can remember. In fact, these ideas had a lot to do with my becoming a musician, listening to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and later Joan Baez and on and on. I even chose to devote my working life to educating the poorest of the poor, in every sense of the words, in the South Carolina Juvenile Justice system. There have been many times, this being South Carolina, when such beliefs were, and are, not popular, and negative attention was and is aroused. What gets to me these days is that even movements toward equality have become fragmented. A longtime friend of mine recently told me, in all seriousness, that she no longer believed there were any good male humans in the world. I have come to believe, unpopularly among my own chosen culture, that there is no virtue in fighting only for your own rights. When we sing and march and vote and teach or whatever we do, we're either in it for all of us or else we're on some kind of self-centered trip with no real goal. In other words, after all these years, we ain't learned nothing yet. I hope this hurts nobody's feelings. If we want to continue this discussion, maybe we could start a newer, shorter thread.

Chet


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 07:51 PM

My Motto: QUESTION AUTHORITY!


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Ethan Mitchell
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 07:10 PM

Agreed, agreed. Perhaps the problem is that anarchism is not usually pointed out, except by Johnny Rotten, and Johnny Rotten doesn't speak (or think) for all that many people. But that doesn't mean that anarchist principles aren't out there. I think this is particularly true of folk music (this is, like, a discussion about folk music, right?). When we sing 'before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave' or any of its ten thousand synonymous lyrics, what are we asking for? Representative democracy in a limited capitalist system of free enterprise with a partial safety net for the poor? Is that it? Because based on the lyrics alone, it sounds like we want the whole schmeer. Admittedly, some songs are very movement-specific, but a lot of political folk music is just saying we shall overcome, and not saying *what* we shall overcome. I would say that basically that's an anarchist sentiment, no matter who its coming from or what its called. Yeah, LEJ, a lot of anarchists are undiscliplined and uninformed. A lot more are so informed and discliplined that they can't do anything but talk your ear off...probably just as bad...


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: LEJ
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 04:29 AM

My biggest complaint about avowed anarchists is that too many of them lack either intelligence or self-discipline, the two things that would be required of those living in an anarchistic society.I am certainly excluding present company, Ethan, as your post shows you to be an intelligent and thoughtful person. I believe that one person existing alone sets his own moral and ethical limits and boundaries. Two people living together must agree on a compromise of rules and behaviors that allow them a maximum of personal freedom while discouraging destructive or injurious actions. A society is a simple outgrowth of this relationship, and a government a manifestation of the ruling beliefs of that society, formed for mutual benefit. If a government fails to properly represent those beliefs, it should be overthrown. But it should not, will not be replaced by a vacuum...Lonesome EJ


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 05:33 PM

How did I mis this thread before?? and is it OK to bring it back to the music at hand?

What works to raise spirit and what doesn't? Tom Paxton's song about Steven Biko depresses me while Sweet Honey's is a clarion call to action.

As a feminist, I can say to the politics: you can put your muscle into being a handmaiden to the Democratic Party, or by taking your turn at monitoring Domestic Violence court.

Mary Ann


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Ethan Mitchell
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 04:22 PM

Anarchism as a politico-social theory is funny because it has some of the msot eloquent proponents out there: Lao-Tsu, Kropotkin, Proudhon, Bakunin, hell, Tolstoy. At the same time it has some of the worst press (from non-anarchists) of any serious ideology. Most people hear the latter (eg Joseph Conrad) and not the former (eg Tolstoy). So there's this general sense of anarchy as a sort of worldwide free-for-all with cherrybombs: the Hobbesian holocaust. This is obviously not what anyone is suggesting. Most anarchists have been pacifists or near-pacifists. The bomb-throwers, very clearly, are statists of various persuasions...it will take many, many bomb-throwing anarchists to equal Hiroshima. So the question is not 'What happens when one a system whose moral code tolerates homicide is located adjacent to one who does not?' That is already the case...the government tolerates homicide (for their own purposes), most individuals do not. The question is, what do we do about it? The traditional anarchist response to 'What do replace government with?' is 'What do you replace cancer with?'........OK, I'll shut up. Point is, it's easy to set up a straw-man of anarchist theory and then tear it down. I'm unclear if this thread is the place for in-depth political theory...I'm at tr11@sover.net, I'm an anarchist, I have a decent grasp of the literature, and I'm happy to answer questions although my aren't (and can't be) authoritative.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 26 Mar 99 - 08:05 PM

Have to ask; would the various individual systems, each with their own moral code, be located amongst each other, or physically separated somehow. If they are not separated, then what happens when a system whose moral code tolerates homicide is located adjacent to one who does not? I am curious about this philosophy.

Chet


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: AlistairUK
Date: 26 Mar 99 - 12:22 PM

haha give a push and we get a discussion. Personally I believe the only real way re-distribute wealth and production is anarchy. Set up your own systems and live by your own moral codes. Sounds kooky doesn't it? Your own rules, your own laws. Hey, we could all be raving megalomaniacs, psychotic serial killers and nazi aryan societies. Yes that is the problem with anarchy, the freedom for extreme groups to go it their own way. But the systems needs a fundamental cjhange because of the inequalities that we see today. The only change is fundamental.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Mar 99 - 11:43 AM

Seems that my nose (see above) got a bit out of joint.

Art


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Mar 99 - 11:38 AM

_ _
0 0
V
\__/

Yes, I was joking! But estrogen produces courage too, don't it?

Art


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 26 Mar 99 - 01:34 AM

"Balls!" said the queen. "If I had two I'd be King."

"Balls!" said the king, not because he wanted to, but because he had two.


The possession of testosterone-producing testes does not guarantee courage, nor does not possessing them forestall courage. I'm sure you were just joking, Art, but it comes across as rather sexist. --seed (NOI)


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 11:19 PM

I haven't looked in here since last year. It's still going strong. I think we've had the O.J. trial, the entire impeachment and we've bombed 3 different countries since I was here last. I give US (as Pogo said) the COURAGE AWARD. Courage; that's what the Cowardly Lion was searching for too. And all he really needed was a testamonial. And the root word for "testamonial" seems to be "testosterone". Might be that we've found out where courage comes from...

Art


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Anne
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 09:13 PM

Hi all Want to know where the songs are? Check out www.mpg3.com You'll find the songs, on private labels. This org is scaring the music industry. It's a great site for the unsigned artist. Less bull****--more music!

Anne


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Pete M
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 07:20 PM

Well Alistair, as a socialist I want common ownership of the means of production, and I suppose fucking can be defined as a means of production, so I suppose I must be a loser?

Actually I'm not sure what your point is, I too was a union rep (unpaid) at various levels from local branch to national, over twenty years, and one thing I never expected was for union members to be saints. However, for a lot of people, the union movement is or was, about hope.

I say 'was' because the tactics of the 'New right' have succeeded, at least in NZ and I believe in the UK, in changing perceptions to the point where an "us and them" situation is seen as the only valid viewpoint, a situation which the establishment knows it can win. Working class people are no less selfish than any others, but if we are to prevent future generations from having to "..take up a gun a protest the injustices that are perpetrated everyday by corporate bloodsuckers and (their) parasites.." we have to find other ways of re-distributing wealth and power and the union movement for all its faults is I believe the best we have got.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Anais
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 04:22 PM

I'll try not to waste valuable thread-space on naivete, but here goes, going back a ways:

So why ISN'T political music popular music? 'Cause it sure as hell used to be in the sixties and seventies, didn't it? I work at a little deli where one of my managers insists on playing that sort of station where you hear the top five songs over and over during your shift. And the music is absolute fluff, like sometimes you can't extract any meaning at all from the lyrics. But this other mangager always plays a classic rock station and those lyrics usually have plenty to say, politically. Yep, it sucks; the manager always gets to choose the station. And so maybe it's all about the fact that, back then, the social and political injustice going on was just way more obvious, and for that reason people everywhere could write songs about it. Whereas today what's going on is less apparent (especially to me in Whiteville U.S.A.) and so people don't want to hear about it. Which brings me to another question: Would people just rather hear fluff? Monica Lewinsky fluff, N Sync fluff? Or is that just what they're feeding us 'cause that's what they want us to hear? Could someone respond? (Sorry, more middle-class liberalism) Anais


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Bert
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 02:35 PM

AlistairUK,

As you say, we should get out and do something.
In the second post to this thread I mentioned that Max did just that with DT. The previous host had been scared off by threat of legal action. Max picked up the ball with the attitude 'let them sue me'. Since then he has persuaded ASCAP to give us a licence for free and is currently trying to negotiate a similar deal with BMI.

But often, in our workaday lives, there is little that we can do except give some moral support to causes that we believe in.

We all hope for a better future, but as my Gandma used to say "Wish in one hand...."

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: AlistairUK
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 02:24 PM

Obviously Barry wants to keep this thread from dying so I'm gonna stick my oar in. I hate middle class liberalism. There I said that I have said it before and I will probably say it again. I hate middle class liberalsinm because it's all mouth and no trousers. How do I know? Because I was involved in it for a long time. I saw many of my friends working off some guilt trip through some half arsed political cause, ask them to march and they happily went out with their bobble hats and placards. Ask them to get down and dirty and they suddenly had other things to do. I've read through most of this thread and I take my hat off to you guys because most of you have got 'down and dirty' that's cool. Mick. your story about the jobs programme was inspiring. And Chet, I wouldn't do your job for all the money in the world, mainly because I probably be a complete failure at it. You guys put your money where your mouth is. I was a union rep for a few years for the local TGWU in Luton. I was never more disgusted with the labour set up as I was with the Union, backhanders and favours and screw your workmates. Same with the Labour party, anybody who describes themselves as a fucking socialist is a loser. Hope is the inspiration for us all. Hope for the future, hope that there is a fairer distrubution of wealth and resources. Hope that my daughter or my son won't feel the need to take up a gun a protest the injustices that are perpetrated everyday by corporate bloodsuckers and the parasites that cling to them...which includes unions.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 25 Mar 99 - 02:47 AM

refresh.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 06 Sep 98 - 03:23 PM

I'm pleased see, Barry, that Newfoundlanders now consider themselves Maritimers. We may get them onside yet, after near fifty years. Normally they are quite sticky on that point.Maritimes = PEI, NB, and NS. Atlantic Provinces = all of those plus Newfoundland.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Aug 98 - 08:09 PM

Hello and thank you to all the contributors to this gripping thead. The common thing about all of you is that in the face of all of the horrors mentioned you still have hope and believe that things can be made better. The generation we are talking about don't have any hope. The point was made by Barry that in education lies some future but what do we mean when we talk about education? Do we mean the present systems which seem from a certain age, to decide that the aquisition of knowledge should cease and be replaced by the pusuit of general certificates of education, which are devalued when too many people obtain them, and are then succeeded by higher levels, which are in turn devalued and so on. We have know reached the point were you have to obtain qualifications before you can get educated, or obtain further training, let alone obtain employment! We have got ourseves in a muddle over this issue. In order to protect children from exploitation we pass laws to compel them to attend schools. We seem to have accepted that the main purpose of education is to enable people to obtain work to enable them to obtain material things. That is the only sense of value that we seem to have given our children and it is no wonder that they see that they are being prevented from working, to obtain the things we advertise to them, by having to attend schools. If that is the main purpose of education then why don't we just let them work? No wonder they are mad at us. Of couse it is not the main purpose of education, it also serves as an institution that looks after our children while we go out to work, to obtain the material things that we give them, to make up for the guilt we feel at not satisfying their other needs, when we are too exausted after working to supply their material needs. Is it not about time also that we stopped the competitve aspect of education? Winners or losers they are still going to be making up our society. If we take our children away from the people who should be preparing them for the world and place them in institutions, shouldn't those institutions be the place where they can learn the skills they need to live? Where else can they find them,the streets? Our generation had our dreams and we could sing about them, their generation has no dreams only nightmares and their music reflects this. Sail on


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 24 Aug 98 - 05:49 PM

see Courage II.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 24 Aug 98 - 02:13 AM

Maybe we ought to continue this on a new thread. It takes forever to find the bottom of this one. --seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 24 Aug 98 - 02:11 AM

Chet, I just finished writing and had clicked to post a response when aol dumped me off line, claiming some kind of server problem. I'll see how much of it I can remember:

For a long time I have found rap unmusical and offensive in message and particularly in attitude--the medium is the message, indeed. Where I differed with you is in whether the message was political or not, and that's a semantic difference, at most. But you did bring me to the realization that I was probably identifying too strongly with my students in their anger at a system which serves them not, strongly enough that I--at least on one level--accepted rap and hip-hop culture as being valid expressions of their feelings and their experience. I couldn't listen to it, but I couldn't strongly oppose it, either.

Rappers and hoodlums are definitely not romantic outlaws, they're robber barons, taking whatever they can squeeze out of their communities, just as did Rockefeller and Morgan and their ilk, and just as do their contemporary equivalents, the multi-nationals, which derived their capital more from the brains and sweat and blood of the workers they abandon than from their investors, the only ones to whom they feel any responsibility.

But I got a bit carried away in my last posting: folkies aren't going to have much influence in the inner city. We speak a different language. We aren't loud enough. I've never heard a boom box or a car's big subwoofer throbbing with the sound of banjos and mountain dulcimers, and I don't think I ever will. Or would ever want to.

If our music is going to have an effect, it's going to be with people who like the sound of it: we know the country and the world are full of people who are afraid of their futures, afraid for their children, appalled at their governments' cozy relationships with the scum of the world for the sake of helping the multinationals make a buck. Maybe our music can persuade a voter here and there to ask what their representatives stand for before giving them their votes, and persuade a non-voter or two to vote.

And Art, I don't think I have read a posting to this thread which is calling for a communist revolution. I think most of us would like to believe our governments and political parties have our best interests in mind, rather than those of whoever can slip them the most soft money; we'd like to believe our leaders could stop supporting the most repressive governments for the sake of stability for corporate exploitation of third world labor and mineral resources; we hope that our governments and the corporations come to recognize that the world is all too finite, that the ecosystems cannot continue to absorb all the poisons we dump into them, that the air we breath needs refreshing via photosynthesis provided by rain forests and ocean algae...I do tend to ramble.

--seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: northfolk
Date: 23 Aug 98 - 11:53 PM

Thank You all. I have been away for a few days, and returned to find this topic a beacon.... Many of you, I suspect are aware of a quote by Frderick Douglas, that I will paraphrase as, without struggle nothing changes. Your comments, and your willingness to share your thoughts on the raw edges of the human condition, your concern, make it easier to get up each day, and struggle. Art, I am not a Utopian, but will remain a socialist. I am not a whore, don't think I'll ever have to worry about becoming a capitalist, wasn't born with it, won't steal it. (like Yogi Berra said, If I find a million bucks, and find out it belonged to a poor person, I'll give it back.) I might consider giving it to Dave Siglin at the Ark, with the requirement he bring all of you guys in for a well paid gig.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 23 Aug 98 - 04:57 PM

Art, I'm not talking about capitalism vs. communism. It's been shown very clearly that neither of them work. Seed, I thought I was putting myself in a place to make a difference when I became a teacher, especially when I started working at Juvenile Corrections. But the administrators, large and small, make our job next to impossible. So once the kids are on the gangsta track, the huge majority of them are lost. Barry was right when he said that it begins prenatal. The preponderance of research now shows that personality traits related to character are well established by age 1, 2 at the latest. I guess if we are to do anything as a nation or society, we have to fix the communities first. But for Gods sake lets not let this job be taken up by the social workers. Many of them are fine people and competent, but overall the ones Ive dealt with do almost as much harm as the administrators. Their message seems to be, everything is somebody elses fault, end of story. I am also something of a blues artist. Im thinking of Rev. Gary Davis, who sang Death Dont Have No Mercy In This Land. I think if theres hope it will come from us one at a time, but finding new ways to get the real message out. The children have to be saved early, by whatever means, or they wont be saved at all. I have to admit I was in Quebec recently on a trip with my wife, and I had a strong urge to stay there, both for the general civility of the people and the opportunity for finding a little place where nobody will bother you. There was one village, actually very near the border, called Notre Dame des Bois, that was so beautiful I think Ill go there when I die if not before. I also have to say, seed, that if I helped convince you that the gangstas are not the same as the Robin Hoods, I am grateful for that.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 23 Aug 98 - 04:56 PM

Art, I'm not talking about capitalism vs. communism. It's been shown very clearly that neither of them work. Seed, I thought I was putting myself in a place to make a difference when I became a teacher, especially when I started working at Juvenile Corrections. But the administrators, large and small, make our job next to impossible. So once the kids are on the gangsta track, the huge majority of them are lost. Barry was right when he said that it begins prenatal. The preponderance of research now shows that personality traits related to character are well established by age 1, 2 at the latest. I guess if we are to do anything as a nation or society, we have to fix the communities first. But for Gods sake lets not let this job be taken up by the social workers. Many of them are fine people and competent, but overall the ones Ive dealt with do almost as much harm as the administrators. Their message seems to be, everything is somebody elses fault, end of story. I am also something of a blues artist. Im thinking of Rev. Gary Davis, who sang Death Dont Have No Mercy In This Land. I think if theres hope it will come from us one at a time, but finding new ways to get the real message out. The children have to be saved early, by whatever means, or they wont be saved at all. I have to admit I was in Quebec recently on a trip with my wife, and I had a strong urge to stay there, both for the general civility of the people and the opportunity for finding a little place where nobody will bother you. There was one village, actually very near the border, called Notre Dame des Bois, that was so beautiful I think Ill go there when I die if not before. I also have to say, seed, that if I helped convince you that the gangstas are not the same as the Robin Hoods, I am grateful for that.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 98 - 06:06 AM

Has anyone the courage now???

YES !!

Times are different now---as they always are...but...

As I said before, under capitalism, man exploits man ! Under communism, it's just the reverse ! At first that just sounds clever maybe---but where PEOPLE are involved, that does seem to be the case---and the gist of just about ALL the words here in a nutshell. Art


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 09:10 PM

Chet,
I have two bumper stickers side by side on the back of my car: The one on the left says "In the US, one percent of the population owns 34 percent of the wealth," (an old bumper sticker: it's more than 40 percent, now); the other says simply "Robin Hood Was Right."

A while back I wrote that like rap, many folk songs also romanticize the outlaw life. In thinking about this over the last few days, I was forced to recognize that the folk hero outlaw and the gangsta have little in common: the songmakers, at least, saw the outlaws as, if not in all cases stealing from the rich to give to the poor, at least stealing from the rich. But the gangstas prey upon their own community, most of their violence is directed at their own neighbors, they are dragging children into their world. I have to agree: they are degenerates, throwbacks, befouling their own nests.

But what can we do about it? Can we turn our feelings into a message which might reach some? Any blues artist on this thread? Is there hope there?
--seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 05:20 PM

I wish I were Chet but I've lived it, it not only starts before 10 it's begins with pre-natal care. I live nowhere near the city now. Years back I'd be with my wife & I'd spot a covert drug transaction or a pimp or a hooker at work & I'd start to nearly cry because I'd recognize one as someone I knew when I was a kid or a teen. To see someone you know that's a 40 or 50 year old hooker or junkie & has been in that trade all their life is about the saddest sight, I sometimes think seeing them dead would be the only time I'd have seen them smile. I'm staying away from this thread now. Barry


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 04:56 PM

I hope you're wrong, Barry, but I can't say that you are.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 04:49 PM

Chet W, you're right, there is no political motivation here, it's self promotion & preservation. It's very close to what was witnessed in parts of the Middle East, home rule by the war lord, only here it hasn't (yet?) spun out of control to the same degree. Yes they're mad about absent or single parents that haven't the time or are busy hustling for junk. Do you think we care, we run guns for drugs, we harbor former Nazis who aided us, we install puppet goverments that oppress, are we a better example than Gangstas or are we just better at what we do? When the Mafia polished up their image & went Corporate they were still ruthless & we still dealt with them on a business level. The point being is they have no hope, so why care, why not just compete, why say NO. If there's no education the family situation won't change & neither will their morals, desires, dreams & hopes. Slavery turned around to bite us on the ass, so won't this. Barry


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 11:45 AM

I agree with much of what you say. I can only help by saying that most of my students get into the criminal lifestyle and its processes well before age 10 (usually quite experienced by age 12). This, I think, is long before they begin to think about the oppressions and failures of our society and government. Of course they're mad, but what they're usually mad at is the fact that they've had no family. Mother is a crackhead and/or has many other children to house; Father, often a different one for each sibling, has never been there. Many are being raised by grandmothers and aunts. When they're older (fifteen is pretty old in the gangsta culture) they're still mad about that but they've also bought into this manufactured culture (please look closely; this is nothing like the reaction of oppressed people anywhere or anytime in history) and also realize inside that they've made themselves, with some help, completely unemployable. The gangsta culture, if you ask anyone except the social workers at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, is very clearly completely free of politics. They are not armed and criminally active to claim freedom or civil rights. They are in pursuit of BMW's and jewelry and expensive clothes. I missed by a few minutes last Fall being present when three young teenagers, in the process of stealing Tommy Hilfiger clothes from Macy's in Atlanta, shot a security guard three times with a 9 mm handgun (he lived, they were caught). This is not the Black Panthers, not the Molly Maguires, not the labor unionists, and certainly not the loving path of Dr. King. May God damn whatever made them this way, but a great many of my students are ruthless, dedicated criminals whose only cause is to make money. There is no interest in politics or social injustice. I am losing heart in this struggle. It is so difficult to make even the enlightened and caring among us understand what's going on. I'll continue to try as long as I can, but I don't expect to reach retirement age in this profession. Please accept the possibility that it is very different now.

Chet W.


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Subject: Lyr Add: No Tomorrow for the Poor^^
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Aug 98 - 12:20 AM

No Tomorrow For The poor by Barry Finn Tune: Virginia Lags, Traditional

Inside the ghettos dwells the greatest of crimes,
Where kids with no hope are serving their time,
Where they're shocked into feeling that life has no price.
They live and they die no tomorrow.

With no higher learning, no place they can turn,
They see daily the wealth from crime they can earn.
They're under the gun every time that they turn,
And we ask why they have no values.

Their language is foreign., their culture is strange.
There's slight chance for survival outside of a gang.
To get life from drugs beats the pain of no change.
There's no light at the end of their tunnel.

There's abuse of all kinds that runs rampant with rage,
And the cycle runs deeper with each passing age
Until "Lock them away" is all we can say.
They've been locked away all of their young lives.

We'll draw cheap labor from them that'll slave,
And watch while we help the rest into the grave,
Keep them from good health, good schools, and good wage,
And hope that there isn't a backlash.

So now let us finish and shake hands with our fate,
And don't be surprised when you're a victim of hate.
What they've been robbed of, to you they'll relate.
You'll be hunted as prey by your victim.

Copyright, Barry Finn 1997

I thought I'd toss this out here, seeing as this discussion is so close to home for me, it was my envionment until adutlhood. 40 years back the only difference was the lack of the term "Gangsta", we had gangs & gangsters, we had no hope & to this day I am positive that there's a political purpose for keeping a percentage of the population under thumb. Be it a cheap labor pool to draw from to a group that can be manipulated or used to be pitted against another group or to have control over a gene pool to give a goverment agency a reason for being or just a reason to give another population fabricated jobs controling the social rejects. Am I way off base? I can't for the life of me figure out way a goverment would want to be a world leader in infant mortality, or have it's majority of people under educated & unhealthy when it's within their means to change this. How many of you out there who had a decent education & came from a healthy eviorment still know the people you grew up with & can say most are doing ok. The kids you're talking about here, if they make it to my age (47), may look around them as I do & find that most of those I knew are dead the few alive are long time cons, & most of the rest that might have survived have been struggling to keep their heads above water since day one. The only other difference I see between my day & today is that these kids know right off what their chances are, they have every right in the world to be mad, they've never known what rights are, they've lived with wrongs for so long. Should society continue to corral or enslave them because they offend us with their lack morals or maybe society should start to offer an education which might be the fist sight of light they've ever known. 'm am not sorry for going on like this , I'm just sorry that this goes on. Barry


HTML line breaks added. -JoeClone 12-Feb-2001.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 06:09 PM

Mick, Extremely well-said. I'd love to hear more about how you developed your successful interactions.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Big Mick
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 02:12 PM

I have not entered much into this thread after my last rambling discourse, primarily because I have simply been awestruck by the intelligent, caring, and brutally honest sharing of thoughts here. We have some very wise people as part of our online community on the "Cat". Your realistic yet compassionate discussion does you all credit.

I taught in the Job Corps program for five years. Many of these young people we are discussing were my students. They came from the gangsta culture we are discussing. I was overwhelmed at first by the task of a middleaged white guy trying to relate and teach these young people. I tried talking like them, being hip in a way that I thought would cause them to think well of me. I failed miserably until it came to me that these very savvy, street smart young (16-21) gangsters had come to the program for one reason. Hope. As successful as they were at the life they had in the 'hoods they came from, they had come to the program to find a better way. It was a revelation that I never failed to pass on to them. When they would start to challenge my rules, or do self destructive things, or listen to messages that hurt their chances of success (which were limited at best), I would point out to them that that was acceptable only if they wanted to return to that from which they had come. And I would send them back if they continued. I challenged them to live honorably no matter where they were or what they faced. They absolutely understood the philosophy of a code to live by. I did not try to impose my code, rather to impose honor and the sense of the right thing to do. I did not save them all, nor did all of them save themselves. But they left my life with a sense that there is a way to walk honorably through life, and a method to enhance their odds of success based on their own measure. One of them told me that she noticed that I had never used the word fair with them. She took that to mean that things are inherently unfair. That it wasn't about the possibility of getting knocked backwards, that was a certainty. It was about the certain struggle, and always carrying it on no matter what. That young woman had a wisdom that bowled me over. I learned more from these young people than I ever taught them. They turned me into a realistic liberal. Our job as a people is to provide hope. Our job as bards is to inspire hope. If we do, I have great faith that this generation will rescue itself. Our failure as a society as testified to by the gangsta culture, is that we have been enablers in our treatment of most of the rap message. We have treated it as a movement instead of a symptom. We have honored it instead of used it to determine what the ills are.

Music, as pointed out by a philosopher, is moral law. That is an ageless, and still relevant view.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Animaterra
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 11:28 AM

It seems to me that never before in the history of the world has a generation (say, age 12-20) been so disenfranchised and cut off from the rest of society. This is in part due to the media who view them as a commodity. These kids are virtually raising themselves and look to one another for community, ritual, etc. Look at "Lord of the Flies" for how well that works. There must be some way to unify the generations. Music can be a great unifier, but we may have to go more than half way in our willingness to meet them. I teach 5-12 year olds in the bucolic Monadnock region of NH and even here and at this age can see the effects of disconnection and disenfranchisement. They love to sing, and that's my hope.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 01:44 AM

Chet, I wish you the best, and I can't see that we really disagree about much of anything. I'll keep looking for you on the threads, and for all the other great people on this one, Art and Big Mick and Pete M. and Northfolk and Barbara and Barry Finn and DoctorJohn and Roger and Tim and Jenny and Frank in the Swamps and everybody else. I love you all. --seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 07:15 PM

I'm with you all the way on this one, seed. If we define political acts as casually as did Pete Seeger (who has always been a hero of mine), then I guess anything is political (and I do see the rationale behind that definition). BUT, I think this is one of those cases when we are in danger of letting our liberalism and compassion (mine are strong) overtake our wisdom. If the Gangsta culture is indeed political and a culture, I think we can agree that it is a despicable, degenerate one, that in my opinion does not deserve our support. The "songs" that are not about the glory of crime are often about incredible violence toward women. I think that this would not be tolerated if the "artists" involved were not part of a minority that truly is done poorly by the larger society. A close friend and colleague of mine is dealing with having had her 18 year old son disappear Sunday night with her car. He had previously stolen a car from his father in another state. It's tearing her apart, wondering what she could have done to keep that from happening. He's into the gangsta music; I think there's some connection, if only indirect. As for kids like my students who get into trouble with the law; nationally, half of them will be dead or in prison for life before they're 25. As of last year, 82% of them will return to prison within 2 years. At age 15, 25% of them are parents already, but the thought of actually staying with the mother or taking any part in the raising of their children is an alien concept to them, as it is to the mothers themselves. Shooting people dead from a moving car is considered a heroic act. This culture did not derive from that of their parents; They are just as mystified by it as we are. It must have been created in part by media. What other source? I could tell you first-hand stories much more horrible, but it just keeps getting more unbelievable in a numbing sort of way. I just want it to stop. I want my students to have some kind of chance at a life, and they're not going to get it standing behind the gangsta flag as if it truly were a social movement. Im willing to try anything. If I thought their shoes were trashing their chances as much as the media is, I would lobby against their shoes. I want everybody who makes a mistake to have a second chance, but there are some mistakes you just can't make a complete return from. Once you do serious physical violence to another person, there is a part of your life that is gone forever. And none of this has any bearing on our being left or left-wing in our own thoughts. I am and will always be. But this is an unprecedented crisis. We have pretty much lost an entire generation and the next one is in serious danger. It is time for an unprecedented response by the enlightened among us, before the usual enforcers finish establishing the heavy hand. I appreciate your writing back, and hope that you will consider the thoughts I've written here. We're all confused.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 04:29 PM

I just read my submission from last night and found a spot I would have corrected before posting if one of my former students who has me on his chat line hadn't cut in just as I was finishing it (at 12:30 a.m., no less). Anyway, in the second paragraph there's a sentence that ends '...what violence there is is within." It should have ended "...is mostly within ethnic groups, not racially motivated."--seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Jon W.
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 01:22 PM

"Where there is no vision, the people perish"--Proverbs 29:18


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: northfolk
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 11:58 AM

Some time ago Art Thieme answered one of my postings, a question about a fairly political, black folk duo from Chicago, named Inman and Ira, by saying that they were the first rappers. (that's not a perfect quote). I don't listen to much youth culture music, but I have nephews who are assimilating into this culture, including the alienation. Both are involved in petty crime, but one is on the verge of being deemed incorrigible. These are not bad kids, and I suspect they are not terribly different than the kids we often see in the media. I think that the music is political, at least in the sense that Pete Seeger has been quoted as saying that if you get together with your friends to watch football, it's a political act. Are these kids brave? No, that's the tragedy, they are resigned to a life of failure, they have no vision. Which brings me full circle, much of what I love about Folk music, especially the ballads and broadsides, are that they portrayed a vision. Sometimes it was of a new life, or a new land, or a life after this one. Sometimes it was of new love. Sometimes it was of a political utopia. But a vision, something very much lacking in any form today, especially among our young.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 03:35 AM

Chet, Sorry to be so late responding. I've been thinking a lot about our earlier exchange. Your point about the similarity between the southeast LA post King trial riot and the Detroit NBA championship riot was well taken...much of the action seemed to have little political content--the looting, and in LA in particular, the violence: the near lethal beating of the truck driver who was dragged from the cab, and in particular the image of one attacker doing a joyful dance after he had dropped a rock on the driver's head. The only meaningful political act connected with that incident was that of the driver, who forgave his assailants. I think, however, it's hard to draw a direct causal relationship between rap and these acts: both come from the same source, the loss of hope in the community and the rejection of a social contract that doesn't seem to benefit the inhabitants of the community. Rap certainly helps to communicate this despair and alienation and the rage it engenders, and romanticizes the gangsta lifestyle (as did Brecht and Weill in Threepenny Opera, and as do numerous folk songs--Whiskey in the Jar, Jesse James, Pretty Boy Floyd, and so on).

Actually, my high school isn't exactly inner-city: we have a lot of kids with gang attachments or gang sympathies, Black, Chicano, S.E.Asian, and some white kids who are drawn to the styles, the music, the posing, and so on. But we also have a large middle/upper middle class population (maybe 30 percent of our school population of 3000). Sometimes there is tension between the groups, sometimes violence. A few years ago we had a rash of "punch-outs," the victims white, the assailants black. We also had a pair of white brothers who one afternoon started punching out any kids they thought might be homosexual. But mostly school is relatively quiet and safe and what violence there is is within. It's just that there always seem to be so many black male students who are lost or damned near lost--less than half the black males who enter as freshmen are still around to graduate. There's a pretty high drop-out rate for Chicano males, too, but they seem more likely to drop out for a job.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I still think rap is political, sometimes passionately so, and sometimes even in service to ends other than self gratification as a response to a society which devalues its underclass. The communities the rappers and gangstas come from are certainly more sinned against than sinning.
--seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From:
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 12:27 AM

One person who spoke volumes to me courage and a love of the country in which he was raised. That was Phil Ochs. He wrote songs of injustice,(Here's to the State of Mississippi) anti-war,(Draft Dodger Rag, I Ain't Marching Anymore) and speaking out,(When I'm Gone). I know this thread is about at its end, but I just felt he should be remembered. Craig


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Chet W.
Date: 19 Aug 98 - 08:47 PM

I have to say that I am grateful for the enlightened thought that has gone on in this thread. Rarely get to participate on this level except at home with my wife. I know there's a lot to be discouraged about, but I guess there really are some things we can't do much about. But please let's don't take the political content out of music. When you play at a bar, and certainly at parties, nobody listens to you anyway. Only once did a woman get really angry at me, and that was when I sang a song called "Free Nelson Mandela" at a boutique opening. This was before he was freed and she lectured me and my mates severely saying we just didn't know what it was like over there. Didn't let it bother me. Other places people loved the song. What I was saying earlier about gangsta rap, however, I stand by. What has happened is that a whole lot of nutcases with no politics other than their pocketbooks have created a transparent "cause" out of thin air and attracted an awful lot of that block of people who don't vote. My students (in juvenile prison) seem to think it's a cause, but it's just not (much discussion of the primal nature of politics, crime, and causes might now ensue), and many of my students have and will continue to pay the ultimate price for the greed of these corporate pigs. My professional and much-considered advice: Keep it out of the hands and ears of YOUR children. The destructive force of this created culture is easy to underestimate. Which side am I on? Before I'll be a media slave I'll be buried in my grave. And be free.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Zorro
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 09:11 PM

Tommy Sands, the very fine "political" folk singer from Northern Ireland said that music has the power to bring folks together. That is why, in history England outlawed songs and tunes in both Ireland and Scotland, outlawed bag pipes, hymns, .... all because they had, and have the power to unite folks. Tommy said that music can "lift" us above our political beliefs. Many of his songs, (see the thread on There were Roses) echoed his feelings. None, I believe, says it better than his song, When the Music Starts to Play. If you watched the Graceland concert from South Africa, you saw blacks dancing together. Several years ago, when rock musicians went to Russia to perform with Russian musicians... Tears were shed as they were boarding the plane to return to the U.S. For my money, we should be singing songs that unite rather than songs that stress our differences. I feel, like Tommy Sands, that music may be the last hope for unification. It's a universal language and indeed it has charms "to sooth the savage breast." That's my input. I have to call my daughter in Denton. good night.


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Pete M
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 08:50 PM

Kynoceph,

Like Mick, Frank and others, I am saddened by your despair. I think we all feel that way at times, I know I do, but at the end, if I did not believe in the need and ability to change things then I really don't think there would be any point to human consciousness.

You say that you don't want to sully music with politics, well I'm biased because my interest in folk music is largely due to the political stand for the rights of the common man that runs through all English folk music from "when Adam delved etc" through the industrial revolution to MacColl, Guthrie, Seeger et al and on to the present.

I do not believe that anyone can disassociate themselves from politics, not voting is a vote for the status quo, and you only have to listen to the cries from politicians that the "The Church" (or other group) should "stay out of politics" to realise that they are scared of the potential threat to the power elite a successful attempt to unite popular opinion would represent. Certainly, there is no easy answer, or a guaranteed result, as you say, a boss is a boss is a boss, but lets not underestimate the gains made by the Union movement, the social services provided by Government, and even the changes in corporate behaviour brought about by environmental activists. In all these, art music/song not being the least, played an essential role in forming and supporting public opinion. As Frank says, I don't believe that a good song will cause a monetarist to suddenly recognise the importance of increasing taxation to fund social services, but they can do what any good art does, throw into relief the essence of an ideal uncluttered by "facts" or "logic", and it as often if not always more important to raise public awareness of alternatives than to achieve converts.

My feeling is that although we may eschew proselytising, if we are true to ourselves, what we sing or play will reflect our beliefs and hence our politics, and as Paul Robeson said "The artist must elect to fight for Freedom or for Slavery." There is no neutral ground.

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 08:14 PM

Bseed, go on you're already part way there. Barry


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: BSeed
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 08:00 PM

I don't know if songs can win converts or not, but they can cerrtainly inform the uninformed in an exciting way--here's an idea for a song for somebody: I heard an interview on KPFA with a couple of Australian journalists who had witnessed the massacre of hundreds of East Timorese outside a church. The massacre took place shortly after Jimmy Carter visited Suharto (did Carter assure Suharto that the US wouldn't object to Indonesia's annexation of E. Timor?). Someone could find that interview, or the book or articles the journalists wrote and the pictures they published upon their return to Oz. Write a narrative ballad using the words of the witnesses, the images from their film, and a bit of history. But keep it very personal: "I saw the trucks roll up; I watched the soldiers raise their guns, I ducked into the church when the firing began..." As I recall, one of the reporters described the events in much that way. --seed


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Subject: RE: Has anyone the courage now?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 06:51 PM

Kynoceph, Much of what you say is true, there's always gonna be another batch of pigs in every generation, but the bosses today are a lot weaker than the bosses at the start of this century because people fought against unimaginable odds. As to the music, I don't believe movement songs have the power to win converts, I think they serve to galvanize people who are already banded together for a purpose. You're probably right about Sam Cookes' song having a greater than recognized impact. A song that is going to enact change within an individual is one that has to make a deep personal connection, while topical songs, no matter what their merit, tend to more objective than subjective.

Frank.


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