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Lyr Add: Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie (B Bragg)

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McGrath of Harlow 28 Mar 06 - 05:03 PM
michaelr 29 Mar 06 - 12:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Mar 06 - 08:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Mar 06 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,no cookie 29 Mar 06 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Woody 29 Mar 06 - 12:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Mar 06 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Woody 29 Mar 06 - 06:07 PM
Flash Company 30 Mar 06 - 06:12 AM
GUEST 30 Mar 06 - 06:14 AM
Wolfgang 30 Mar 06 - 06:24 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Mar 06 - 06:38 AM
Janice in NJ 30 Mar 06 - 08:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Mar 06 - 12:00 PM
Wolfgang 30 Mar 06 - 12:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Mar 06 - 02:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Mar 06 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Woody 01 Apr 06 - 04:04 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Apr 06 - 04:24 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: LONESOME DEATH OF RACHEL CORRIE (B Bragg)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Mar 06 - 05:03 PM

Today's Guardian carries this song Billy Bragg wrote about Rachel Corrie, a recasting of Dylan's Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.
And there's a link to a download of him singing it on the Guardian page with the story about it.

I thought I'd post it here so anyone who might feel like singing it would have the words handy:

An Israeli bulldozer killed poor Rachel Corrie
As she stood in its path in the town of Rafah
She lost her young life in an act of compassion
Trying to protect the poor people of Gaza
Whose homes are destroyed by tank shells and bulldozers
And whose plight is exploited by suicide bombers
Who kill in the name of the people of Gaza
But Rachel Corrie believed in non-violent resistance
Put herself in harm's way as a shield of the people
And paid with her life in a manner most brutal

But you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears.

Rachel Corrie had 23 years
She was born in the town of Olympia, Washington
A skinny, messy, list-making chain-smoker
Who volunteered to protect the Palestinian people
Who had become non-persons in the eyes of the media
So that people were suffering and no one was seeing
Or hearing or talking or caring or acting
And the horrible math of the awful equation
That brought Rachel Corrie into this confrontation
Is that the spilt blood of a single American
Is worth more than the blood of a hundred Palestinians

But you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears.

The artistic director of a New York theatre
Cancelled a play based on Rachel's writings
But she wasn't a bomber or a killer or fighter
But one who acted in the spirit of the Freedom Riders
Is there no place for a voice in America
That doesn't conform to the Fox News agenda?
Who believes in non-violence instead of brute force
Who is willing to confront the might of an army
Whose passionate beliefs were matched by her bravery
The question she asked rings out round the world
If America is truly the beacon of freedom
Then how can it stand by while they bring down the curtain
And turn Rachel Corrie into a non-person?

Oh, but you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: michaelr
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 12:57 AM

Great take on the brilliant Dylan song from reliable rabble-rouser and Woody Guthrie composer Billy Bragg.

It's time Rachel Corrie was honored with a song. She truly is a mrtyr for a noble cause.

Mudcatter robomatic had the unfortunate bad taste to refer to her in a recent thread as "Dozer Diver Diva". It appears to me that is symptomatic of the attitude of the right, and indeed much of the midle, here in the US.

Even though she was an American, somehow her life and her sacrifice are seen to be less valuable because she was defending Arabs and defying Israelis.
The fact that she was murdered in cold blood by the IAF Caterpillar driver, who made sure she was silenced by backing up over her, is conveniently ignored. I despair of America.

Michael


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 08:50 AM

There are already songs about Rachel Corrie. We've had a couple posted by Mudcatters.

One thing I like about this is that, as with Dylan's original, the focus in the end isn't about the crime itself, it's about the failure of rewponsibility on the part of what can be called "the establishment" - th ejudge handing down a token sentence to Hattie Carroll's killer, the theatre chickening out on putting on a play. "Trahison des clercs" is the old word for that kind of thing.

We all know bad things are going to happen from time to time. That's a reqason to feel sad. But we lke to tell ourselves that a kind of justice is going to follow. When that doesn't happen, that's when sadness turns to shame.

Worth listening to the song on that link I gave. Worth singing it too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 08:57 AM

There are already songs about Rachel Corrie. We've had a couple posted by Mudcatters.

One thing I like about this is that, as with Dylan's original, the focus in the end isn't about the crime itself, it's about the failure of responsibility on the part of what can be called "the establishment" - the judge handing down a token sentence to Hattie Carroll's killer, the theatre chickening out on putting on a play about Rachel Corrie. "Trahison des clercs" is the old word for that kind of thing.

We all know bad things are going to happen from time to time. That's a reason to feel sad. But we like to tell ourselves that a kind of justice is going to follow. When that doesn't happen, that's when sadness turns to shame.

Worth listening to the song on that link I gave. Worth singing it too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: GUEST,no cookie
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 09:59 AM

Two of the best songs are "Rachel Corrie" by Mike Stout and "The Death of Rachel Corrie" by David Rovics, both Americans. Neither gets much radio airplay, if any, in the United States.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 12:35 PM

The 'song' reads and sounds like a newspaper report set to Dylan's pattern. Absolutely nothing original.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 05:23 PM

By modelling the song on Dylan's - including the "newspaper report" style - the effect is to refer listeners back to Dyolan's song, and to the period when it was written, the time of the Freedom Riders mentioned in Bragg's text, and the anti-war movement of the period.

Being "original" isn't the point here. Being relevant, and prodding people into making connections, that's the point.

And in fact setting out to try to achieve "originality" has never been too much of a priority in folk music. Originality is something that creeps in while you are concentrating on trying to get a song or a tune, and sometimes a point of view, across to people who are hearing what you are doing. In fact there are times when singers and musicians are trying hard not to be original in some ways.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 29 Mar 06 - 06:07 PM

Gees, M of H, what a cop out. Braggs's effort was to try and be be seen and heard as a writer and he failed miserably. Your sad response really shows you agree as you didn't defend him intellectually. If he can't be original why bother? We've all read the 'papers and know how brave the poor girl was.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: Flash Company
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 06:12 AM

I'm not sure I could have sung it in my performing days, I never could do Dylan style, but I sure as hell think Billy was right to write it and perform it.
The Broadsides of the past were, after all, newspaper reports set to music, and usually to the same music as the last one!

FC


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 06:14 AM

It seemed to me that this question of "originality" is an interesting one that merits discussion in a wider context than this particular somg - so I've started up a thread about it - Should we try to be 'original'?

As for Billy Bragg's song, as I indicated, it seems to me that there were valid reasons for him to use Dylan's song as a close model, and they had nothing to do with any inability on his part to write a very different song if he'd chosen to.

There's really no point in dropping stuff like "your sad response" into a discussion.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: Wolfgang
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 06:24 AM

Rachel Corrie (link to Wikipedia article)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 06:38 AM

That post by GUEST 30 Mar 06 - 06:14 AM was me, with a temporarily crumbled cookie. (I thought I posted saying this already, but it hasn't come up yet.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 08:01 AM

Billy Bragg simply did what Dylan had done many years earlier by using the melody, the musical structure, and even some of the words of an existing song. Recall, for example, how Dylan borrowed heavily from The Patriot Game to create With God on Our Side.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 12:00 PM

It occurs to me that categorising this as "like a newspaper report" or as "journalistic", and seeingthis as a critcisim in itself miss teh point.   One strong element of the folk tradition does encompass songs which are essentially a kind of journalism, reporting current events, or commenting on them. Dylan's song was very much in that tradition, and so is Billy Bragg's reworking of it.

Incidentally, the tune of the chorus is very similar to the tune of Mary Hamilton.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: Wolfgang
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 12:17 PM

And it just isn't 'like a newspper report', rather like a comment, for it isn't balanced and unpartial and just-the-facts like old broadsheets sometimes tried. It is a song that takes a position, that only tells a selected part of the story, one of many possible ways to tell it.

That too, is not a criticism, for songs have to take sides and to make a point and to be unbalanced. If they weren't they couldn't be good. Imagine the "Manchester rambler" with a verse from the POV of the land owner in between, or "Pound-a-week rise" with a verse about the hardship of the international competition, just for the balance.

For the reporting we now have better media than songs. What we look at is a form a art. Very subjective, as it has to be.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Mar 06 - 02:50 PM

Newspapers and reporters take sides too sometimes, for good or ill. Sometimes it's "propaganda" and sometimes it's "crusading journalism" and it's not always too clear where to draw the line between those two things. But it's an honourable tradition, and there are journalists who have literally given their lives in carrying it on. (And songwriters too - Victor Jara comes to mind.)

"For the reporting we now have better media than songs." But even when it comes to getting out the facts (whether accompanied by an interpretation or not) it's still true that a song can sometimes get them out to places where the normal media would never reach. How many people would ever have heard of Hattie Carroll or Rubin Carter without Bob Dylan's songs.

I suspect that Billy Bragg's song will point a fair number of people into trying to find out more abouit Rachel Corrie, for example by following up that link Wolfgang gave, or the links from that BBC page.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Mar 06 - 02:55 PM

As I looked through the excellent Wikipedia link that Wolfgang gave, this passage struck me, resonating with the way Billy Bragg closed his second stanza:

The Observer wrote that: "On the night of Corrie's death, nine Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, among them a four-year-old girl and a man aged 90. A total of 220 people have died in Rafah since the beginning of the intifada. Palestinians know the death of one American receives more attention than the killing of hundreds of Muslims."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 04:04 AM

The song should be called 'The Observer's report on Rachel Corrie with apologies to Bob Dylan.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Billy Bragg's Rachel Corrie song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Apr 06 - 04:24 PM

The interesting thing is that precisely the same criticism - that he was just writing editorials and presenting them as songs - was made of Dylan at the time. And with some justice - a song such as the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll was indeed a form of journalism, and so is Billy Bragg's reworking of it in this song. Good journalism, and part of what song-writing has always been about.

And of course, as has been pointed out, lifting tunes and building songs on the foundations of existing somngs, was something Dylan did constantly, and he was attacked for that too. With more justice, in a way, since his typical audience would, often enough have no idea of the songs that were used in this way. In contrast in Rachel Corrie Billy Bragg is clearly writing and singing in the assumption that the listeners will have Dylan's song in their mind as they hear the new song.


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