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Where Have the Protest Songs Gone?

August 22, 2006

We got an E-mail to this week that intrigued us. It was from a singer/songwriter who was promoting the fact that he had a song on Neil Young's new Living With War site. There are more than 300 songs on the Songs of the Times page - music written in response to the fact that the U.S. is battling endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, moving troops into Lebanon and embroiling the fighting forces of nations who used to think highly of us.

And, Linda asked me, "Is this all there is? Why isn't every songwriter producing protest songs - like they did in the '60s?" Which raises several questions: are they out there, but we're not hearing them?; were there really tons of protest songs being written in the '60s?; are we afraid of controversy because we've been programmed to be uber politically correct?; have we all gotten weak with acceptance over the situation in the Middle East? I don't have the answers. I was a kid in the '60s. I listened to the Beatles and learned all the words to "These Boots are Made for Walking." Pete Seeger I knew, but only because he recorded children's music. So, tell us, what happened then and what's happening now?

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at August 22, 2006 11:24 AM


Two of the four songs I submitted to Neil Young's Living With War site were accepted. Mine are more of a general protest against immorality and self-absorption, less against the reigning president of the U.S. My songs are spiritual and didactic and I make no apologies for that. I am making my contribution to world peace in my own way. I have some very fine collaborators who provide to me beautiful, inspirational, healing soundbeds. Some of these collaborators are in Europe and the Middle East. I think artists can transcend petty and death-dealing party politics and help to get the world tuned to a spirit of sharing and brotherhood. Gee, that sounds all soft and fluffy, doesn't it?

Hollow Ones (w/Gomez from Spain)

In their hollow shell of being
they have lost the art of seeing
gift of life that simply is.

In the absence of the Spirit
they are not disposed to hear it:
Word of God that says "just be".

Grows the lust of humankind.
Stuff to fill our empty minds.
It's the quest of Hollow Ones.

Hollow! Hollow be thy name
when you're known by all your rivals.
Hollow! Hollow be thy fame
when you've sold a million platters.
Hollow! Hollow be thy game
when you've climbed the highest ladder.
Hollow! Hollow be thy claim
to possessions that don't matter.

In their hollow shell of being
they have lost the art of seeing
gift of life that simply is.

In the absence of the Spirit
they are not disposed to hear it:
Word of God that says "just be".

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 22, 2006 1:32 PM

What happened then:
First, we see the past “through a glass darkly”. As I think back, it seems to me that it’s clear that “everyone” wasn’t writing protest songs. The tow guys who seem to be remembered for writing the largest number, Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, were really prolific guys who wrote lots of stuff. Ochs always seemed a little more political and radical than Dylan, though it’s hard to beat Masters of War for scathing vitriol.

Other than Ohio, few “protest” songs from the 1960’s and 1970’s seem to have survived and get much airplay, have they? Partly the fickleness of radio, partly the lack of topicality for today’s radio audience, but as I think critically also partly due to the fact that lot’s of the protest songs sucked, they just weren’t good tunes that would stand over time.

As I think back, it seems the really good protest songs didn’t get played much, and many of the ones that did get played just weren’t that good. Check out Steve Goodman’s Ballad of Penny Evans, it’s just darned good song writing. The popular Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag was a fun tune, but doesn’t carry much weight after a listen or two. Penny Evans is well crafted, tells a great story and can be just as relevant today as when it was written. Compare Tom Paxton’s Jimmy Newman to Eve of Destruction. Eve is pretty trite and the rhymes are strained, Paxton’s song tells a really good story, is written and performed well. Would Give Peace a Chance have been played as much if Lennon hadn’t written it, would it even have made it on record if penned by someone else? Unfortunately, just like today, the best tunes back then often weren’t played.

What’s happening now:
I think some songs “made it out” into distribution and radio play because rock and FM radio were younger then, willing to take more chances, and because the main audience for both rock and FM radio was young and pretty solidly against the war. So there were folks on the “supply side” who were willing to take some risks and record, distribute and play tropical and protest songs, and a pretty big audience with a built in reason to like the message these songs offered. Face it, back in the 1960’s if you were like most males of draft age you were against the war for very real and very personal reasons. That’s not the case now. Without a draft, without a direct personal link to the conflict, most young folks (still the largest audience for popular music) simply aren’t going to care enough to be interested in protest songs. It’s tough for any new artist to get radio play or a solid record deal, and there isn’t a large, relatively solid audience against the war. Add to that the scathing criticism artists seem to get these days when they have the temerity to question the current Washington regime, and you don’t have much of a push for protest songs. Let’s not discount the fact that there is a concerted effort to keep us dumb and happy regarding the war. News is suppressed; that news that gets out is spun so that its own mother wouldn’t recognize it; there is no more real public access to officials, and any criticism of government actions or policies is branded as unpatriotic much more convincingly and powerfully than what was done during the Vietnam days. So, it’s pretty darned hard to get much real consideration for a widespread anti-war or other protest message.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at August 22, 2006 1:44 PM

Joni Mitchell didn't see the point of protest songs, "Those who like your songs agree with you. Those who don't, won't listen."

"I've written only one protest song. That was Urge for Going, which was a protest against winter. And it certainly isn't going to stop winter."

just a thought...

Posted by: Jeff St.clair at August 22, 2006 2:19 PM

Forgot about that line from Joni Mitchell, always thought she hit the target there.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at August 22, 2006 2:26 PM

Vietnam was a draft, Iraq and Afghanistan are not. Vietnam only had rubber plantations, Iraq has oil wells. Two huge differences right there.

As to the surge in the antiwar movement (and thus a choir to sing to) in the 1960s, the KGB funded quite a few of the root organizations behind the Vietnam protests as a matter of state policy (read Oleg Gordievsky's "KGB" but take some of it with a shaker of salt). Apparently this included paid agents of influence, funding for publications, and training in effective propaganda techniques. This foreign influence is lacking today, unless you count Berkeley and Malibu as foreign entities.

No state currently seems to support an American antiwar movement as an integral part of its covert foreign policy, with the possible exception of Iran. Any Al Qaeda or Baath Party monies are scrutinized too closely to assist in widening the effort, and both American political parties are too enmeshed in economics and realpolitik to want our troops out of the region just yet.

What a mess.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 22, 2006 2:34 PM

what happens when you try to protest these days? YOu get shouted down by people who insist that you (we) "support the troops" and don't let them be treated like the VietNam vets. That was MY generation's war.

I haven't been able to come up with an answer to that one yet - since it is mentioned above that today's conflicts are staffed by volunteers.

Posted by: Lynn Oatman at August 22, 2006 2:39 PM

My first thought is that there were fewer voices, fewer venues from which to be heard, so when they were heard - most everyone could hear them, but they seemed to all be the same, few songs. Perhaps there was a tighter grass roots movement, and many people were living with fewer everyday life stresses, which made for more free time to realize self-expression, or just to go downtown with the gang, placard in hand, to join in on the party.

Nowdays, it seems the only way to effectively be heard is to ride the coat tails of a major recording artist or actor if and when they decide to make a push for or against some issue. Still, I suspect that they are using their established promotional machine to get publicity and exposure for their particular protest effort. They have great opportunity there.

I like to see when a protest movement has a positive plan for a solution. Well, a partial solution anyway - it's very difficult to affect total change.
I'm really liking listening to Mark Erelli's "Here and Now". It asks hard questions, but gives hope, and hope is what motivates me to change and to make a difference.

Does anyone remember James Burke's "Connections" - that weekly, 30 minute, prime time BBC science show series (1972-1976)?
Something tells me that this subject is going to be similar to that thing leads to another, which connects to an "oh, by the way" other thing, which requires explanation of another....all connected in one, long, stream of consciousness dialogue to get us to where we are today.

Perhaps a brief historical overview of Protest Songs might be in order here...

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 22, 2006 2:50 PM

You must be listening only to the many "stars" out there that may not want to risk careers for a political stand. I hear PLENTY of protest songs that are currently being written. There seems to be a wave of them right now, but the writers are mostly unknowns. Most of the songs I have heard recently are not particularly good, but there have been a few gems.

I agree that very few protest songs survived the 60's mostly because they were not that good, or else they were never given airplay which limited their longevity. Anyone remember the FISH Cheer by Joe MacDonald? I remember him speaking and singing at Willamette University when I was in high school. They let us out of class if we said we were going to the protest rally at the university.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 22, 2006 2:55 PM

I agree with Jim K. that college students were a lot more vocal when it was their butts on the actual line. The same can be said for today's congress - how many of them have sons or daughters who volunteered for the military? And all of those small towns who have lost their fire and police departments to Iraq. Our national guilt over Vietnam translates into an inability to look right or left.

The only recent anti-war songs that I can think of were all written about the Civil War. I guess we can extrapolate.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 22, 2006 2:56 PM

The protest songs of the 1960's were commercially acceptable. Therefore, protest songs got airplay on commercial radio and sold records.

In 2006, commercial radio is controlled by a shortlist of owners that do not want controversy. Hence, protest songs are relegated to public radio and Rap. Mainstreaming politically incorrect music might put you on a collision course with Homeland Security. What if Jefferson Starship were to re-release Blows Against the Empire or the the Kinks, Preservation Act 1?

The songs will come as soon as the general population wants to hear about change instead of how we were protected from a fate worse than death.

We are so glad
Our government saved us
From the anger
Of our enemies.
We really love
Sending our soldiers
To get those creeps
And teach them well our ways!

Now they're so glad
Our government showed them
How to cure the anger
Of their enemies.
Now they can too
Send out their soldiers
To get those creeps
And teach them well their ways!

Posted by: Charlie Koester at August 22, 2006 3:00 PM

But Jack, what good do protest songs do if no one hears them? And, like it or not, the kind of pop culture world we live in demands that stars are listened to as if they know more than the rest of us. At least Bruce is pushing the envelope (he must have a great 401K). The Dixie Chicks will never recover from one minor comment (professionally - personally, they're fine and all about childraising).

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 22, 2006 3:02 PM

My worst nightmare was when I came home from University one time, all hot and bothered with the energy to make effectual change in this world, and what did I find? The establishment was at home watching..."LoveBoat".

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 22, 2006 3:20 PM

I don't put too much stock in current assessments of the effectiveness of foreign influence on the Vietnam era protests. I’m sure it happened, but the bulk of folks protesting the war had plenty of reasons to do so, without any help from anyone in the background! Again, there is in our current wars no clear, personal reason for most young men or women to carry signs, or write songs, or listen to someone else’s songs stirring them to action. Clearly this is the one compelling reason that the Bush administration has not started a draft, to do so would put lots of students in the streets, and perhaps even more effectively on the web, protesting the war. The tools available to organize protests in the 1960’s included telephones and mimeographed fliers handed out on corners, imagine how Hoffman and Rubin would have used cell phones, text messaging and the internet! There is reason for the administration to fear a young population mobilized by fear of a draft, using today’s communication tools.

With all of our own government’s actions to quell protest and squelch free speech, it’s a wonder that any anti war songs are making it out to the public at all.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at August 22, 2006 3:34 PM

There are protest songs of the interior, and of the exterior. The one encourages change from within, and the other from without.
I personally think that the former leads to the actions of the latter.
It takes a bold soul to turn the finger pointing from "them" to "me".

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 22, 2006 3:35 PM

Ann - maybe you could start a new monthy listing of "New Protest Songs for (insert month here)".

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 22, 2006 3:42 PM

I'm particularly fond of this one at the moment.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 22, 2006 3:54 PM

Isn't Tim gonna be playing in your neck of the woods this week, Linda? Any chance y'all can snag him for a Folk Alley spot??

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 22, 2006 4:04 PM

Jim, actually, yes -- I believe he's at the Rock Hall (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum) tomorrow night, then in Columbus on Thursday. Unfortunately, we're pretty swamped this week to schedule an in-studio. We'd love to have him drop in some other time though.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 22, 2006 4:18 PM

Tim's tune is indeed a good one, and I fear one not likely to get much airplay outside of 89.7. If the Dixie Chicks were pilloried for taking on the president, just imagine the backlash for taking on the messiah. Lennon tried that once himself.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at August 22, 2006 4:21 PM

Ann, I agree with you, but I am saying there are people out there performing their songs every night and there are also people out there listening. I am sure they would like to have airplay, and all that, but the business is not conducive to that happening.

The bigger problem is that the focus on American life in this day and age is all about "me", so there are not so many people out there willing to do any more than nod their heads knowingly and order another drink.

There is at least one website out there with internet broadcasts dedicated only to protest music. How many people listen to it, I have no idea.

It seems to me that there has been no single individual who has spoken up with a focused agenda of protest for people to latch onto and get excited about. The current line is basically "down with Bush", but that is not enough of a protest to fire anyone up. We all know he will be out at the end of his term in office and someone else will come along and inherit the war, so that protest is feeble at best and does not touch on a lasting commitment to change. Wait until enough people come back from the war and want to voice the horrors and futility of war and see what happens. Then people will begin to have a more focused point of view.

The Vietnam War was filled with draftees and I partially agree with some earlier comments, but I also remember that the anti-war movement was years in the making and did not begin to sweep across the country until the body counts got high enough and the veterans against the war began speaking out. That was when the real "****" hit the fan. I still have vivid memories of standing on the state capital steps in Salem, Oregon when a Vietnam vet stood face to face with a WWII vet, both ex-Marines, both volunteers, both screaming into each other's faces. The picture of that moment was published and seen around the world. The cameraman took the picture over my left shoulder.

Jim, if I remember correctly from a class that studied Vietnam in depth, the Gulf of Tonkin was considered a major potential source of oil in the 1950's.

I live in Oak Park which is a liberal enclave and there certainly are activists here, but it is nothing like it was in the 60's and early 70's. As more and more families experience loss, the tide will turn. Or, maybe we have all become so inured to violence from video games and smart bombs that graphic news accounts of death and destruction have a diminished affect on people today.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 22, 2006 4:44 PM

Jack may be correct about the number of folks out there performing, it's hard to tell here in Cleveland since there are so few venues for local folks to play and hear original music (but that's likely another topic). The 60's and 70's were times when the businesses of recording, distributing and broadcasting music was less bound by formulas and corporate dictates, so protest songs got some airplay and saw some album sales.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at August 22, 2006 4:55 PM

I hear a lot of protest music, but only at live venues. Since I never listen to the radio, I couldn't say whether protest music is getting airplay or not.

One thing is for certain, we are a far different nation now than we were in the 1960s, and it isn't just the music!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 22, 2006 5:18 PM

Open Mic has some jaw-dropping antiwar songs, pretty much falling through the cracks -- Tom Harrison's "Unknown Soldier" to name just one. It's been there for awhile, I happened on it by random chance last week, and it needs to be heard.

Some of those young fools laughing along to "Hadji Girl" today might contribute hard-won perspective to the dialogue in another decade or four.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 22, 2006 6:20 PM

Try for some right up to the minute protest songs. I've submitted my song "Rockets Over Babylon" which you can find on here which is my attempt to tell the Iraq story.

Posted by: Tom Fairnie at August 22, 2006 7:44 PM

Listen to the cd "Falling Water River" by Switchback. It is the haunting story of the life and death of a young American Marine, William Henry, in Iraq. It tells us about his fears, then his death and journey back home. It tells us how his family tries to come to terms with the war, and their greatest loss.
The cd puts a name and a face on the numbers we hear about on the news each evening. One line in the title song, "Falling Water River" makes this very clear: "Private William Henry made it on the evening news. By the morning he's forgotten by the likes of me and you."
This cd does not call for the impeachement of the President, it does not call for the removal of troops in the Middle East, it does not place blame for the carnage being witnessed every day. It introduces the listners to a young man who dies for no apparent reason. It opens eyes to the "human toll of war", which leads to only one conclusion- this mindless killing must end.

Posted by: Christine Knapp at August 22, 2006 10:06 PM

I see this as two interrelated issues;

1. Are there protest songs being written and/or sung today? Yes -- tons -- from traditional songs in every culture to new pieces by folks such as Jack Hardy, Rod MacDonald, Robin Greenstein, David Roth, etc., etc.

2. But are these songs given commercial exposure, and are these songs capturing the spirit and imagination of young people worldwide as they did in the 60's? No! At least, not in the same way. And I don't think it is possible today. Can't speak for other countries because I don't fully know what happened 40 years ago in places other than the U.S. But I can tell you this: in the U.S., we had a unique nexus of forces coming together in a short period of time in the 1960s in a way that made protest music vital to masses of people -- we had a postwar America with a fine economy (if you were white), an awe-inspiring civil rights movement, women's movement, various "back to the earth" environmental movements, and huge numbers of young (white) baby boomers relative to the general population with lots of time and money on their hands from Daddy's rise in the corporate cultures of IBM, Dow Chemical, and big engineering firms like Foster Wheeler. Then you add to this mix the Bach, Beethovan and Mozart of our times: Dylan, the Beatles, and Motown, combined with new technologies (particularly the rise of FM radio), and it was explosive, like a comet, racing across heaven and burning out in front our eyes. This unique mixture will not, I believe, ever cross our path again. So that's why we need to support our Folkalley and its many sisters and brothers in the small folk venues worldwide. And we have to support them all. In fact, the courage to keep folk alive is, in itself, an insistent protest against the forces that want to rob each of us of our unique and solitary voice, of our own soul, of our own personal vision and place in the chorus of humanity.

Posted by: Penny Stanton at August 22, 2006 10:14 PM

Maybe because those of us that were there at the time saw a perfectly good anti-war movement get hijacked into a propaganda tool for a movement that eventually turned our stomachs.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I for one will not be fooled again.

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 23, 2006 12:48 AM

I submitted "Wouldn't It Be Something" on the open mic. Can't say it's the best produced song out there as my recording gear is limited. Some friends in America have called it an anthem. Thanks friends, but it's just a song, echoing Joni Mitchell, you'll either like it or not.

Protests come in many shapes and sizes. Personal protests against one's one lonliness, poverty, heartache, etc. Social and political protests against war, racism, high gas prices are another thing, but often connected. Certainly there's a cause and affect on our lives.

I heard on the news about the going on in Utah. I read surveys and polls how divided America is on some pretty important issues. My friend who works in a State prison tells me even the prison population is divided nearly 50-50 on these things. I've asked myself, "how could they be?" and also, "why shouldn't they be?"

Reflecting back to a 1960's mantra of ,"America, love it or leave it." Well it saddens me great to say, I'd rather be here than where you are. But this doesn't exclude to need to protest the shennagans taking place here as well.

Posted by: Joshua Brande at August 23, 2006 4:18 AM

Don't know why so many of us seem to be associating protest songs primarily with anti Vietnam war sentiment in he 1960's, and anti Iraq war now.

As I tried to explain above, protest songs had a preeminent place in the 1960's United States because it spoke to longings and issues tied to many movements that uniqely came together and thrived concurrently: most notably, civil rights, women, and environmental, in addition to anti-war.

And we did great things in the 1960s -- just hecame there were some excesses doesn't nullify what we did. Great strides were taken toward the goal of black folks and white folks sitting at the table of brotherhood. And women could be seen as people, not just breasts, but friends, workers, artists, scientists, mothers, daughters, and everything else. And we have the Clean Air Act. And we have the Sloop Clearwater. And we have warnings on cigarette packs. And we brought down a President.

And alot of those changes initiated then have changes the world we're in today, for the better.

And protest music was a big part of it -- it crystallized the sentiment, it brought us together, it nurtured our spirit, and still does.

Posted by: Penny Stanton at August 23, 2006 7:09 AM

It was easier to put what I felt into a protest song back when I was in school. The issues seemed a lot more clear-cut than they do now, plus the executive functions of my brain hadn’t quite grown in. I didn’t have to think so hard to define my position, even if the campus politicos did seem profoundly simplistic and dictatorial. Now I hate that my neighbor’s kid left one of his legs in Afghanistan, but any anti-war thing I wrote would just piss him off. It feels like, for reasons that won’t go away, the West is in a profound, intractable and widening conflict with radical Islam. The things that set it in motion aren’t going to squeeze back into the bottle, and I have no feel for how it will play out. It’s very easy not to know what I’d do if I were in charge. I might have an idea what I’d try first, just not what I’d do next if that didn’t work. The natural next step for a songwriter is to individualize the issue, something like how I personally iinteract with the environment, but that’s too depressing to dwell on for very long at a time. I’m part of the overall problem if I drive a long way to work, whether in an SUV or an econobox. Most of us don’t change residence every time we change jobs, and for now I am very much part of the problem. Some of this finds its way into my songs, but they wouldn’t qualify as protest songs and there’s nothing anthemic about them.

Okay, swing-state voter suppression is clear-cut enough issue to treat with the broad swipes of a protest song. But most of the other stuff: Even if you’re quite sure how you feel and what you think, once you’ve boiled it down to a singalong it feels, well, simplistic and dictatorial.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 23, 2006 9:59 AM

Back in the 60s, the problem was "them".

Now, the problem is "us".

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 23, 2006 10:09 AM

I seem to remember Pogo's observation from back in the 60's or early 70's "we has met the enemy and the enemy is us," or something like that. I guess most of us didn't recognize it as clearly as Pogo back then.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 23, 2006 10:13 AM

People who are unrespected and unfamed get tread upon by the high and mighty. It's that simple. Melt the cold heart. Embrace the concept of casteless, colorless brotherhood. Surrender your earthly lust to a higher order. Fight the devil.

Filet of Soul

The devil is no longer
a welcome guest.
I'm bound and most determined
to excise him from my breast.
The rancid, smelly vapor,
the awful stench of death,
the devil has for too long been
a wicked, deadly pest.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 11:16 AM

It is that simple. If you can be positive that you're being guided by your higher self and not your ego, you might be on the side of the angels. I'm almost never positive about that one, though, and many people whose aims and methods are completely at odds with mine seem completely positive. It doesn't seem to be part of the recipe for a stand-down.

Was Yeats right about how the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity?

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 23, 2006 12:21 PM

I'm just not good at political protest. I feel real inadequate in that department. I don't know truth from lies. I am a common man in the dark. I'll withdraw from this thread.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 2:32 PM

Yeats was maybe overstating it, but that's what it often takes to come out with a memorable line.

Richard - just withdrawing long enough to catch your breath I hope. I might or might not be the only poster to this thread who went from English major to protest singer to technical writer to Defense contractor. More a Minion of War than a Master I think, but that's what they all think. Living in a glass house makes it hard to take a shower.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 23, 2006 2:40 PM

I hear ya, Joan. Just catching my breath.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 5:01 PM

You know what? Let's all do that.... IN... OUT... IN... OUT. Think peaceful thoughts.

We now return you to our regular discussion.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 23, 2006 5:07 PM

When the Beast owns all of the major radio and TV networks, and is growing fat on music as soft porn, why in the WORLD would it want to allow protest songs over its airwaves?

The protest songs are still being written, still being performed, but you can't ask a pimp for directions to the monastery.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 23, 2006 5:31 PM

OK, Jim. Let's storm the Bastille!

How do we do that? I have written protest songs about the Music Barons but nobody is listening. How do we reclaim the airwaves?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 6:10 PM


Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 6:11 PM

Maybe we should all do a big Art Bell groupthink at midnight to topple the impregnable fortress.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 23, 2006 6:13 PM

How do we storm the Bastille? By promoting live music, supporting alternative venues, encouraging new songwriters, and getting involved in some sincere helpful work in our spare time that is our business alone, not a shallow attempt at marketing.

That would be a start.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 23, 2006 6:29 PM

“…to the monastery” Jim…you make me laugh!

There are places a vibrant live-original music scene can be found. I have spent the last four years driving an average of three hours (monthly or more) to participate in it. It was worth it. The last two shows I went to had a commercial radio station broadcasting on site. Not around here…I have heard them broadcasting from “Home and Garden” Shows, malls and beer sponsored races of some kind, but not music. Humm…

A good friend of mine once said of those who are offensive in their dogma- “The louder you profess your faith, the greater the risk of exposing your hypocrisy.” I have it written down as a reminder for myself. I protest the hypocrisy of injustice. Those who think nothing of the voice or welfare of the “Us” or “Them” people. Fill in the blanks. I do wonder about the “us” and “them” that Jim mentioned- who (or what) is the problem when both think you’re with the other?! Talk about being politically incorrect!

As far as the lack of modern protest songs- I have a very limited awareness of them. Though I was not around yet to experience the songs from the 60’s- I think they are just as pertinent today. And, thankfully are still played on “oldies stations.” I still blame television for the lack of anger, sadness- …emotion about the world events. People are numb. I don’t think they question much…from the garbage on TV, to the ingredients in their food- let alone the spoon fed junk on the radio. (There goes my hypocrisy!) -When I was younger, I remember hearing the song say “C'mon people now, smile on your brother, ev'rybody get together- try and love one another right now.” I assumed the love that was being sung about was all around- I was so optimistic (naive). Protesting war today is a rotten, lonely and cold place to be.

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at August 23, 2006 7:46 PM

I don't think that topical songs necessarily have to be songs of protest. But I suppose it could be argued that any topical song is inherently a protest song depending on where you or I might fall on some pre-determined political spectrum. Sometimes, as one of the writers above has reminded us, it is a matter of saying what has happened in a way that reminds us of our shared humanity.

Richard Shindell's song "Reunion Hill" is a good example of what I'm trying to say. It's about, I think, the emptiness we are left with in the the aftermath of armed conflict. The woman who douses for her husband's face is all of us who must grieve. The way a soldier is turned into gun fodder really doesn't matter. Join or get drafted dead or maimed is still dead or maimed.

As human beings who think, know and feel, we share the emptiness of the vacume each death or maiming creates, yet as a species we continue to think war will solve today's problems in the name of some unpredictable future. As writers and performers, we have to keep searching for ways to remind our neighbors that war is always stupid and wrong no matter how its particular history is written and for whom.

I think the songs are being written today, but the current political climate, based upon the premise that if you are not with us you are against us, has dulled the senses of the sensless who program today's pop radio for the mindless and the indifferent folk among us. When it's all about money, any hope for authenticity is blown away.

Thank the muse for places like Folk Alley where songs of conscience can still be heard, and discussions like this one can take place. If we have to preach to the congregation, so be it. Each song is or can be a hymn to what is best in all of us. And, yes, a varied musical diet is a good thing too.


Posted by: Laddie Melvin at August 23, 2006 10:17 PM

In the '60s, protest was marketable. You could sell records with it, and therefore the A&R men wanted more and more of it.

Pretty soon, the self-parody aspects of music came to the fore, and we got Sonny & Cher and Barry McGuire doing stuff labeled "protest" but which was in actuality watered down pap.

Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 24, 2006 12:15 AM

I'm convinced that a multitude of artists are writing an eclectic array of war protest songs -oh the luxury of a Neil Young budget to record, release, and promote them.

Ironically, my 2 most recent songs include one for the children of the Middle East and a tribute to the 800,000 Rwandans massacred over the course of 100 days in 1994 ~ as the developed world stood idly by (no resources).

I perform them live to date and they shall be recorded:)
~ Barry

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 24, 2006 12:25 AM

There is a modern day Abolitionist Movement afloat
to rid the world of the trade in human slavery. Here's one 14 year old who is doing something about it:
Many bands have gotten involved in this effort, and I'm sure that there must be a few songs out there about this topic. Like any good activists, they are willing to go the extra mile and not just sing about it, but to band together and actually DO something about it.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 5:01 AM

I should say that this effort is made worldwide, regardless of the politics of the regions, and it's really good to see this young generation fresh with resolve and purpose to act.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 5:04 AM

We must be doing something right!

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 5:05 AM

Barry, I was in D.C. in '94, staying at a Bed & Breakfast when a Journalist, who had just returned from the hot zone in Rwanda, sought refuge at the same place, owned by some friends of his. He spent the entire week or so cloistered in his room down the hall, with instructions not to be disturbed. He had to decompress from all that he had seen, and try to get some perspective. Given the statistics in both human cruelty and suffering there, I don't even see how that is possible!

I'm really glad you're writing these songs.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 5:23 AM

Richard - the "Fortress" is here in San Antonio, Texas over by the Quarry, not too far from here, if you want to go storm it. Fine with me! Tommy Lee Jones did a wierd portrayal of the man in APHC though. I keep thinking, what was the real "man" thinking when he set out to rule the airwaves with replicant pablum...was it merely a good business move in his mind's eye? What was his vision? Did he grow up in a vacuum?

Btw, I absolutely love Jesus, and I absolutely love and agree with the song Linda brought to light a few rat tails up:
That is a very fine song!
I try my very best not to become like those people from whom he is asking protection, and do appreciate when someone challenges my ideas with theirs in a thoughtful way. Sometimes that helps me to better define why it is that I believe what I do, and helps me to burn off the dross.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 5:44 AM

Comment: when writing/performing protest songs about the Middle East, just remember one thing:

If the Arabs put down their arms, there would be no more violence.

If the Israelis put down their arms, there would be no more Israel.

Posted by: Penny Stanton at August 24, 2006 7:07 AM

JL & Linda-
I LOVE the song you mentioned. It's so true.

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at August 24, 2006 9:53 AM

The same song would apply to Mohammed, Yahweh, Buddha, Confucius, Zarathustra, Mithras, Odin...or The Party.

May we all be protected from pigheaded ignorance and cynical manipulation, wherever they rear their ugly heads.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 24, 2006 10:21 AM

Tim's song might even be "sticky" in the Tipping Point sense. I'm working it up, along with maybe a handful of others on Folk Alley who wouldn't have heard of it except for this thread. And who are real glad to know about Neil Young's site. Latter-day protest singers might not have the cooperation of commercial radio, but the 60s singers didn't have the Internet.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 24, 2006 10:30 AM

It's understandable that we sometimes see things through newspapers, television etc that leave us feeling impotent - I can empathise with Barry and his Rwanda songs. A few years back I saw a documentary about the street children in Brazil and felt so powerless to help their plight, so I turned to the only "weapon" I have which is my music. The song "Companions" posted on here was a result of that anguish and although it can't directly help those poor little children, it can at least raise awareness that they are there and not ignored. Perhaps that's what we musicians do best, make the world listen!

Posted by: Tom Fairnie at August 24, 2006 2:23 PM

Tom, I do not know if my Scotish friend, Nyree, from Erskine knew of your particular song about the street children of Brazil, but she was moved to go there to live amongst them for a year or two and to help them. (Perhaps she had seen that same documentary.)
She would send back stories of joy and of anguish, requesting much prayer for her work with these little forgotten ones. I believe she was able to make a difference there.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 3:28 PM

And, yes...if there were no one to spotlight these issues through song or media of some sort, how are the rest of us to know about them?
Thank you.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 3:30 PM

Protest songs are necessary not in order to change people's minds, but in order to reinvigorate the protesters. That's a noble goal. Joni's remark is off target. She may be right in a way, but then the people who listen to Joni Mitchell are by and large people who like Joni Mitchell's music. Anyway, check out for the real deal.

Posted by: Tom Mueller at August 24, 2006 4:35 PM

I started looking for sites that feature music that is protest/political last night. I thought this site looked interesting.

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at August 24, 2006 7:49 PM

Shannon - yet another high schooler speaking up!

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 24, 2006 11:07 PM

This is boring. When there is truly a need for more protest songs there'll be more protest songs. Until then we're stuck with naval-gazing songs, I guess.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 24, 2006 11:27 PM

"Two of the four songs I submitted to Neil Young's Living With War site were accepted. Mine are more of a general protest against immorality and self-absorption, less against the reigning president of the U.S. My songs are spiritual and didactic and I make no apologies for that. I am making my contribution to world peace in my own way. I have some very fine collaborators who provide to me beautiful, inspirational, healing soundbeds. Some of these collaborators are in Europe and the Middle East. I think artists can transcend petty and death-dealing party politics and help to get the world tuned to a spirit of sharing and brotherhood. Gee, that sounds all soft and fluffy, doesn't it?"--Richard Schletty

It's all about YOU, isn't it? Maybe if you spent a little less time bloviating and a little more time listening to music you might actually write a song that actually scans. Bad songs are bad songs no matter what the subject matter. You need to spend some time studying the masters' work, but I doubt that your ego (obviously the size of the known universe) would let you.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 24, 2006 11:38 PM

I hear you Penny ~ no sides taken.

My war protest song implores children of the Middle East to forgive our generation's actions and urges them to neither follow our footsteps nor blame God for the apocalyptic outcomes of man's inhumanity to man, woman, and child.

No sides to humanity ~ Barry

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 25, 2006 1:34 AM

Indeed Joan, W.B. Yeats was prophetic:

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

It appears that the "falcon no longer hears the falconer's cry". Did the falcon hear it and sing it in the 60's?

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 25, 2006 1:53 AM

"A New Law" - Derek Webb

"Don't teach me about politics and government
Just tell me who to vote for

Don't teach me about truth and beauty
Just label my music

Don't teach me how to live like a free man
Just give me a new law

Don't want to know if the answers aren't easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me

I want a new law
I want a new law
Just give me that new law

Don't teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice

Don't teach me about loving my enemies

Don't teach me how to listen to the Spirit
Just give me a new law

I don't want to know if the answers aren't easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me

I want a new law
I want a new law
Just give me that new law

'Cause what's the use in trading a law you can never keep
For one you can that cannot get you anything

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Ohh, do not be afraid

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 25, 2006 5:00 AM

Lucky - Have you written a good song you'd like to share with us here? I'm sure we'd all be willing to give it a listen... How might you credit it then?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 25, 2006 5:05 AM

Lucky: Does this song scan?

Look What's Comin'

Finished it up today just as I was being dissed for not listening to the masters.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 25, 2006 5:52 AM

Richard, I especially like the single siren/horn left solo at the end. Very appropriate I thought. Nice graphic design to go along with it too.
Also liked your dedication and you attitude. (^;
Good man.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 25, 2006 6:20 AM

Richard "finished it up today just as I was being dissed for not listening to the masters" Schletty:

Exactly. What kind of line is "don't teach me about truth and beauty / just label my music"? Good God! That would get you a D in freshman creative writing, but only if it didn't get you kicked out of the class and back to metalworking where you belong.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 25, 2006 9:06 AM

This is not productive, LG - if you just want to slam people, aspiring writers are an easy target. If you have constructive advice, offer it. If not, save your heckling for a more appreciative audience.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 10:26 AM

I second Jim's motion ~ therefore, be it resolved.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 25, 2006 10:39 AM

I have often said to others that writing a good protest song is not easy. To write lyrics that capture something that many different listeners can be drawn to... accessable but no overly preachy or ranting (sometimes saying less is saying more)... to write music that is just plain enjoyable to listen to. Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" comes readily to mind.

Well, I have written a song that fits the anti-war genre. I don't claim it meets the above criteria. I submitted 2 demos about a month ago. Today I have posted the final version with some parts redone and newer parts added. It is by no means CD ready, but I am kind of happy with it. T If you are inclined, tell me what you think.
Keep On Running (new final)

Posted by: Jack Miller at August 25, 2006 11:28 AM

God forbid that someone's feelings might be hurt. I'm so sick of the terminal niceness that seems to pervade the folk scene these days. Just because you can play three chords and have a rhyming dictionary isn't enough. You have to have a sense of history as well as some sense, period. Heaven forbid that I didn't say it in a nice way. That doesn't make it any less true. As far as something constructive, I'll just say this to Richard: Don't quit your day job.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 25, 2006 11:32 AM

Way up above JL Braswell suggested this conversation may branch and extend similar to the Connections show. Good call!

JL, in the same posting you asked for a brief historical overview of protest songs. It seems to me the best overview I've ever read are the liner notes that accompanied Pete Seeger's mid-60s "Dangerous Songs!?" album. He explores protest songs through time and makes some unexpected but famous observations such as "In the long run, the most truly dangerous songs of all may prove to be love songs and lullabyes."

Throughout the 60s I sang protest song without end and smugly assumed my generation just had to be the best ever at composing them. It was humbling to learn later that we didn't hold a candle to either side in the Jacobite wars.

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 25, 2006 11:47 AM

The same situation but even more disturbing could be said around protest in general. There were lots of kids in the streets screaming about Vietnam... The government and the media have done a wonderful job of othering the whole Middle East, which probably wasn't that hard... let's face it, it would have been a challenge to make a bunch of Buddhist kids seem like they deserved to have Napalm raining down on them.

I'd say if they reinstated the draft some of today's apathy would go away. That's one of the insidious things about a volunteer army - everyone says "ah, hell, they wanna be over there anyway".

Posted by: Joe Tennis at August 25, 2006 12:03 PM

I think for a protest movement to grow, it has to be "for" something, not just "against". A strong opposition leader with a clear vision seems to be lacking, and we Americans are all about personalities.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 12:39 PM

It's all about YOU, isn't it? Maybe if you spent a little less time bloviating and a little more time listening to music you might actually write a song that actually scans. Bad songs are bad songs no matter what the subject matter. You need to spend some time studying the masters' work, but I doubt that your ego (obviously the size of the known universe) would let you.

And tell me, where are the excellent songs that YOU have written?

Oh, I see. Those that can, do. Those that can't, slam the people who can.

Posted by: Lynn Oatman at August 25, 2006 12:46 PM

What I do or don't do has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not his art is good. Furthermore, I don't slam people who can, I slam people who can't. Or shouldn't. I'm sure you think "his heart is in the right place" or some equally inane load of crap. Any art has to stand on its own and be judged by its audience.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 25, 2006 1:07 PM

Ralph, Seeger's "Dangerous Songs?" album was one of the first albums I ever listened to all the way through as a kid. And it is true - some of the most insidiously effective songs are the simplest. One of the most valuable lessons we can teach our children about fighting tyranny is a healthy contempt for cruelty, and they can start learning that right off.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 1:34 PM

Well good! As a sports fan this answers the question I've long pondered: What ever happened to Roger Maris' old fan club?

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 25, 2006 1:35 PM

This is what happens when comments are sent simultaneously. My Maris observation deals not with Jim's fine words, but the word immediately preceding.

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 25, 2006 1:36 PM

But Lucky - does it mean it's not art just because you don't like it? Appreciation of music, like fine art, is subjective. Some people are drawn to heart and spirit and some to technical perfection. How do you judge the judges?

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 25, 2006 1:44 PM

LG- The point might be that "slamming" one who can or can't isn't doing or saying a whole lot. Offering reasons for the negative opinion re: Richard's music based on the quality of the music, the quality of his vocals, the production quality, as well as his lyrics seems required if you're going to say something is crap... especially when many others are saying the opposite.
It's obviously fine to not like someone's songs. You don't need to be a musician to offer a valid critique... why not do it? Otherwise what's the point?

Posted by: Jack Miller at August 25, 2006 1:51 PM

There's critique, and there's heckling. If Paul wants to get involved with music at a professional level, he's going to have to deal with both. Now, can we get back to Ann's original string?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 2:01 PM

I meant Richard, of course. So many blogs, so little time!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 2:02 PM

Thank you Paul, Jim or whoever. There is an admittedly minor point, but still one worth adding to the original observation about the protest songs of the 60s. By and large, or largely large, the well known songs were ones that spoke up in favor of civil rights or in opposition to the Vietnam war - the left position if I may call it that. But I distinctly remember the folk song and protest song modes being used by the right as well. Some might have been attempts to make money; for example, after Barry McGuire came out with "Eve of Destruction" which was banned on many radio stations, the Spokesmen came out with "Dawn of Correction" which the same radio stations gobbled up. But beyond that, I distinctly remember John Birch-type groups coming out with 45s with folk-styled songs that talked about the dangers of a bad bear (the Russkies of course) and that sort of thing. It was a failed attempt at swaying opinion, so poorly executed that it almost had to be FBI-initiated. You had to look hard to find the music, but it was such a hoot to hear that it was worth the search. Does anyone else remember this stuff?

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 25, 2006 5:33 PM

Jim wrote "I meant Richard, of course. So many blogs, so little time!"

I thought it was John... or was it George. I always get those three mixed up.
And speaking of John Lennon... although many don't tend to immediately think of his song "Imagine" as an anti-war song, of course it is. Written at the height of anti-Vietnam War era, it is one of a small number that is positive and inspiring, not to mention written broadly enough that it appeals to different cultures and different generations.

Posted by: Jack Miller at August 25, 2006 6:21 PM

John Gorka and Bruce Cockburn come to mind, though they have different approaches. John tweaks your conscience - Bruce sticks his thumb in your eye. Neither get NEARLY enough radio play, but that is one fatal flaw in the American Folk scene. Radio support is dedicated - but small and seemingly smaller every year.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 6:48 PM

Sergeant Barry Sadler, think his albums had FBI backing? Its profits could have funded the ones that didn't quite take off. I kind of love the idea of the FBI getting into the folk record-selling business -- a little like the KGB trying to harness ESP. It could be the basis for a wicked-smart mockumentary. Bob Roberts meets J. Edgar Hoover?

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 25, 2006 6:49 PM

Yes, Jim... Bruce Cockburn. Good mention.

Posted by: Jack Miller at August 25, 2006 6:58 PM

Joan, when I wrote about the right wing folk music I was perhaps too harsh on the FBI, but as I was writing I flashed back to those times and how incredibly inept J. Edgar's boys were - so in synch with the Janet Greene approach to folk. I think you are onto something with your film concept, so please remember me as you're walking up the red carpet on opening night.

I doubt if Sgt. Sadler needed FBI backing when he had the entire defense industry supporting him. Incidentally, although I was on the other side of that issue, I acknowledge that I enjoyed that song and appreciated him as a "singer" simply because he projected a sincerity and commitment that I could respect. (No, this did not extend to John Wayne in the song-based film.)

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 25, 2006 8:34 PM

Sadler, man what a tragic and strange story that one is. Did they ever find out anything more about his shooting in Guatemala?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 8:50 PM

Apparently it was a targeted assassination by the local leftist revolutionaries. Pity, because his "Casca" books are works of art. I would have liked to see tham continue. The man had a real talent for writing.

Say, Jim, do you think I should post "Me And My 30'06" for diversity sake? ;-)

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 25, 2006 10:59 PM

Sure Joe, why not?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 25, 2006 11:57 PM

I think, Ann, that the boy must have gotten bored and left. He was starting to miss some details anyway...Richard Schletty didn't write those words:
"don't teach me about truth and beauty / just label my music"...that was Derek Webb. :o)

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 12:37 AM

So it was Derek Webb in the machine shop with the synthesizer? Or are there more suspects?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 26, 2006 1:00 AM

Bruce Cockburn and Richard Shindell both poke my eyes out regularly, Jim.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 1:39 AM

Yeah, Jim...pretty dang good artist metal worker, if you tell me! That song is about as deceptively simple as you can get, yet shoots an arrow (thwwwwack!) stright through the conscience. Ouch.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 1:56 AM

That's what I like about those "simple" songs...they kind of sneek up on you and take you by the throat and before you know it, you're gasping for air! You can never think about those particular issues in quite the same lase fare way again.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 2:01 AM

OK Jim, there it is ......

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 26, 2006 2:35 AM

Joe, the data's missing...didn't load properly.
Again, please?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 2:40 AM

Sorry about that. Window$ strikes again. This is the Real Thing. I hope.

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 26, 2006 3:03 AM

Armstrong Poe has a little song called, "The Condition" which reminds me, perhaps, of the motivation for that little side bar scuffle which took place lastnight. ;o)
Linda and Ann - you're sweet for not doing a seek and find search on the person, although I know you could if need be. It would still be refreshing to hear a valid, constructive and informed critique on the writers music here (or in the blog: "Enter at Your Own Risk").

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 2:42 PM

Hey Folks,

Below is a letter that came to us yesterday, I assume in response to this Blog thread. I guess they didn't want to actually be involved in the conversation, but I think the point made is worth discussing...

{{All bigots always sincerely believe their hate speech is different because it is based on reality and the target of their contempt is, unlike all the innocent victims of hatred through the ages, deserved of hate.

This includes Liberal Democrats.

I invite you to join me in not confronting blind hate, neither comforting nor rewarding it, but simply walking away ...}}

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 26, 2006 2:44 PM

But what if it follows you and jumps on yer back? THEN can you put a boot to its head?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 26, 2006 3:03 PM

"How many years must a people exist before they're allowed to be free?" - Bobby D

I accept your invitation Linda. Partisan psychology and apartheid practice fuel, breed, and sustain blind hate. 20/20 love for humanity, though cliche, is the sole destroyer of blind hate.

Such wisdom inspired Jesus to teach "Turn the other cheek" and inspired King "Jr" and Gandhi to practice without putting the boots to anyone's head.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 26, 2006 4:21 PM

This is a ticklish question. I realize that I might be missing the whole meaning of that statement, as I'm still glomming onto one particular point still, and might not be seeing the whole picture..forest for the trees syndrome, you see -

When I was chased and harassed and teased by a boy in school, I was informed by a wise woman that it was only because he liked me that he would want to tease me so. At the time this made absolutely no sense to me, but I took her advice to simply ignore him and to walk away. It was explained to me that
without response, he'd not glean any pleasure from it and would (eventually) go away and leave me alone. It worked.
It worked so well, in fact, that that boy sheepishly dropped his head each time we'd pass throughout our school years - not exactly the result I had been hoping for, as I may have missed out on an interesting friendship eventually.

Disdain and contempt, however are entirely different things - sometimes based on jealousy, sometimes on ignorance and fear and sometimes that "us vs. them" mentality of imagined righteous indignation.
And sometimes the attacks become so personalized and harmful that a mediator is needed to step in and put a stop to the inevitable fray. This can happen on a small, very personal scale, or on a larger, more global field, involving more affectees than just us.
I say that the best thing is to try first to walk away, then if that doesn't work...

I keep thinking of the statement that "all it takes for (evil) to triumph, is for good men to stand by and to do nothing."
The frustration is that it is nearly impossible to reason with someone clutching blind hatred to his bossom. It's a bit like trying to dig holes in dry sand.

The pity is that we may be missing out on someone's unique perspective and personality which could open up whole new avenues for discovery, but because of this blindness, we'll never get to experience that.
We learn to cut and count our losses, and move on.

Diligence is necessary to check ourselves, though, for this same kind of bigotry and developing disdain leading to hatred leading to actions of force. It's a delicate balance, and rarely a comfortable experience.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 4:46 PM

I wouldn't accuse King "Jr" nor Gandhi of "standing by and doing nothing". Though, I don't think that's what you are suggesting. In fact, your childhood example is wonderful. As T.S. Eliot observed: "It takes a genius to see the obvious" You and Linda appear to see it. I had a professor who tended to direct, and advised the guys to direct, the deepest questions to the the gals in the classroom ~ deeper insight. There's a lot to be said for matriarchal solutions at home and in the world. The Grandmas of AIDS ridden Africa are the boldest heroes tending to their parentless grandchildren. Tragically, the matriarchal Aboriginal models of social order were turned upside down with the patriarchal introduction of Christianity. Man became head of the home and society in a heartbeat. I wonder what Jesus' real relationship was with Mary Magdalene?

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 26, 2006 5:01 PM

Personal opinions allowed here...
He was fully God and fully Man, and the question may be redirected as to how he treated and related to him Mama. That's most likely where he learned his Earth-culture based view of how women are to be treated and responded to. Plus, since I think that he was part of the whole, long, drawn out creation of mankind thing - he may have had a different intention of how we are to interact with one another actually, as he knows how we're built from the inside out, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and all that good stuff. I cannot imagine that he would have seen some of the crap being levied upon women of his day, and not find the need to stand in the gap, so to speak. He drew a line in the sand with the whole Mary Magdalene stoning thing....gave her the opportunity and huge second chance to determine her own future! No wonder she changed her whole pattern and stuck close.

I think what many folks might not realize is that it still is mainly a Matriarchal's just more subtle and more difficult to see from the outside looking in. This is how the whole of nature is - why should we be any different?
And, speaking as a woman, I can tell you that it is a much more difficult and creative thing than it may appear to negotiate through the maze of many of our masculine co-partners' attitudes.

Each of us (male and female) has such wonderfully specialized strengths that, if coordinated well, can help move the whole of mankind forward. Team work is a wonderful thing. It can be, in any case.

It should be note here that those wonderful Grandmamas who are the best and greatest activists in their cause, are post menopausal, thus having that extra boost of testosterone, and a lessening of estrogen. I understand that men, as well, the older they get, have a dip in that testosterone level, so theoretically, we eventually become more equalized in some areas.
Only, our brains are still built differently, which still brings to the fore those wonderful and marvelous specialized strengths I was talking about.

(pant-pant) Forgive me! I cannot believe I'm chatting on and on about hormones in a blog about "Protest Songs"!

Thank you, Barry, for your recognition of the (and I say this with tongue FIRMLY planted in cheek) "weaker sex's" ability to cut to the chase of an issue. My Grandmother, a widow, was one of the most able-to-get-things done, fully feminine, one women shows I'd ever seen. I should have such fortitude of spirit!

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 6:56 PM

And no, Matin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi are two of my heros. They did more than to sit by. I agree - it doesn't take violence to make a point and to raise the consciosness of a people.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 6:59 PM

Christianity came into existence only about 2000 years ago, but patriarchal society seems to be closer to 9000+ years old. It was ushered in during the transition that used to be referred to in textbooks as the Proto Indo-European culture. The artifacts from this transitional period indicated a distinct shift from from matriarchal influence to a patriarchal society.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 26, 2006 7:01 PM

So, Jack, do I understand that the Matriarchal was earlier, then there was a shift at about the Proto Indo-European period, then no other major shift after that, except for small, isolated groupings here and there?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 7:12 PM

What do the artifacts tell us...what was the casue of the shift..had there been martial squables brewing for some time or what? Is it possible to determine?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 26, 2006 7:15 PM

Artifacts tell us that 'earth' women were burned at the stake as 'witches' and matriarchal cultures were labelled as 'pagan'. I have many Ojibway and Cree friends whose parents and grandparents were scooped up as children, disconnected, and forced by law to attend residential schools operated by the Catholic and Anglican churches. Native languages were not spoken, culture was dehumanized, and traditional spiritual practices were deemed Satanic. The matriarch was pounded.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 26, 2006 7:39 PM

Yes, there seems to be early evidence of a more matriarchal influence in culture going back at least 15-30,000 years and possibly further. No one has a definitive answer because anthropologists can only look at objects without any text to explain their meanings, so they conjecture on their ultimate meanings. If you are interested in a better understanding of my discussion you might read "The Language of the Goddess" by Marija Gimbutas. It presents a very strong argument for the matriarchal
influence in the pre Proto Indo-European culture.

I believe the cause of that shift has always posed a mystery. I have never seen any overly convincing argument to explain it, although there are some theories out there. It was a period of major cultural shift because it was the period when cultures were beginning to develop larger fixed communities. The first real cities began to appear and agriculture became more significant in the development of societies. I do have my own theory, but they are merely the conjecture of a layman.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 26, 2006 7:39 PM

Bruce Cockburn has been in tune with the silenced matriarch from the beginnings of his rural Christian journey through the wonders of his urban secular quest ~ for the elusive holy grail. The matriarch perhaps.

"If I had a Rocket Launcher" is quite the enraged protest song.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 26, 2006 7:58 PM

"And the female of the species is more deadly than the male" (some dead white guy named Rudyard Kipling)

I find it interesting that the Aramaic for what is usually translated as "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit" is apparently a feminine noun.

But before we get all grainola here, remember that many Goddess forms were quite bloodthirsty indeed.
"Matriarchical" does not equate with "Peace" by any means.

And if anyone is interested in the killings of witches, I am engaged in an on-going project in that line at

Posted by: Joe Bethancourt at August 26, 2006 9:05 PM

There was an article in Newsweek, I think, a few months ago that featured some strong matriarchal leaders in Africa. I'm glad to see these women trying to bring order and love to broken societies.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 26, 2006 10:19 PM

Joe Bethancourt Wrote:
I find it interesting that the Aramaic for what is usually translated as "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit" is apparently a feminine noun.

Gosh, that is good to know, and it would make sense. I have not ventured to study Aramaic, but I have done some study on this theory. And I really wish I had the resources to find out the truth. I am particularly interested in the creation story. In the first two chapters of Genesis, God is referred to as “God”, and in chapter 2, it says God ended his work, and blessed the 7th day and He rested. THEN, I find it interesting that in verse 4, it says this is the history of how the heavens and the earth were created: and the creator is referred to as “Lord God.” That is the first time “Lord” is used in the creation story. I read that the Hebrew translation for this text is “self existent” or “eternal”. Then the ‘Lord God’ created the garden and the animals and the (flesh of) man. Note: verse 1:26 God said: Let US create man in OUR image….both male and female.
When I have asked people that would be considered “experts” of the scriptures, I am given a canned answer- “That’s just the way it is written.”
Responding to Barry’s question about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, I do know Jesus so highly regarded her, that he chose her to be the first person to appear to in ascending state (she hardly recognized him.) She was the first person to tell the others. Also, I have read there were other key women as disciples, but information about them seems to be limited.

Posted by: H.A. West at August 26, 2006 10:43 PM

H.A. ~ a gospel according to Mary Magdalene was written but not included in the Bible along with a series of other gospels. Mary's writings is a recent discovery I understand. I'd love to read her story and then compose a "Holy War" protest song.

"Holy" and "war" - such diametrical opposites ~ rationalized by the boy's club through a "Just War Theory".

Where have all the flowers gone?

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 26, 2006 10:50 PM

I have seen the Gospel and it looks fascinating. I have not studied it (yet) - Quite a different approach in language and concept from what I did see. Not contrary to what the words in red say though. It was buried along with a few other gospels, as you probably already know.
Ahh…the flowers.

Posted by: H. West at August 26, 2006 11:13 PM

Oops, I see you mentioned the gospels that were excluded.

Posted by: H.A. West at August 26, 2006 11:21 PM

Oh Lord A-Mighty, I'm not tryng to extend this into a theological thread, but bear with me. There are references above to Jesus' advice regarding turning the other cheek, assuming he meant just take whatever the nasty people are dishing out. There are numerous biblical scholars who are trying to get across that this is not his message. In the middle east at that time, and Judea in particular, there was an ultimate insult one could deliver. [Again bear with me on a detail I can't recall late at night: I may have L and R reversed here.] You took your right hand and slapped the back of it against your target's right cheek. Always the back of the right hand, and always the right cheek - never the left. What Jesus clearly was saying (and this is more in synch with his other words) was that if someone is trying to injure you, then you need to position yourself - turn the other cheek, making the right inaccessible - so that the injury cannot happen. Scholars are convinced this is what he clearly meant, and not not at all that you had to keep making yourself a patsy. If you think a bit about it, this is an entirely different kind of Revelation!

So why mention this here, beyond that it's come up already? Because in my many years i have heard folk, gospel, blues, pop and (worst of all) liturgical songs telling us that Jesus wants us to be a winp. Never once have I heard a song telling us -- correctly -- that Jesus tells us to think strategically, act tactically, and above all, don't let the meanies maneuver you into a position where they can do damage.

As I am writing to a host of folks who have already demonstrated to me a wonderful capacity to forge [hey, an ironwork reference!] stories out of words and music, I ask: Would one of you please be the (possibly) first songwriter in 2,000 years to get the message right? Now that would be a protest song for the ages!

Posted by: Ralph Brown at August 27, 2006 12:12 AM

I suppose "love thy neighbour as thyself" should be tossed out with the bathwater too. I miss Harry Chapin!

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 2:03 AM

But, if Jesus had not allowed himself to be taken, tortured, and killed, would we be talking about him now? If he had been just another leader of a violent revolt, would that message of mercy and forgiveness - however it may have been distorted by cads over 2000 years - have survived?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 27, 2006 3:25 AM

Actually, I did get bored, but what the hey, I might as well play awhile longer. It doesn't matter who wrote it, Richard or Derek, it's still an awful line. I'll try to say it nicely: So many of the singer-songwriter types these days have no sense of the history of their artform. If you want to be a writer, you have to read. If you want to be a songwriter, you have to listen. Would Woody have written such a line? Would Dylan? Prine? Seeger? Phillips? Okay, Ochs might have, but I doubt it. Perhaps nobody's listening because the songs are so bad.

Posted by: Lucky Guitar at August 27, 2006 9:49 AM

Authority given is authority that can and probably will be abused. That is a human condition, no matter what the framework, whether in government, economy, religion, aid organizations and any other endeavor where we impower individuals to take leadership roles. The fact that religion gets blamed for very human abuses is because the true abusers attempt to stand on a moral high ground to justify their actions. The cynical leaders who send off their youth to commit crimes against humanity, no matter the guise, are the ones who should feel the condemnation, not the inanimate framework that they use to justify their actions.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 27, 2006 11:41 AM

I have a couple thoughts about turning the other cheek. I do not agree with what was stated by Ralph Brown. That is not what I get from the text- reading both before and after the “Turn the other cheek”. Also mentioned in Isaiah 50:6.

The only aggression I know of on the part of Jesus was directed at the Pharisees. He fought against the religious. A good example is what JL mentioned when he wrote in the sand. They tried to trick him when they questioned Him about the law. Though we will never know, I wonder if he did not start writing the names of the accusers, and what they had been up to!

Posted by: H.A. West at August 27, 2006 11:46 AM

Indeed H.A. , 'self-righeousness' was considered number 1 of the seven deadly sins and 'lust' was considered number 7. There's hope for me yet!

LG's comment that "Perhaps nobody's listening because the songs are so bad" may seem harsh but rings true. The last folk artist to top Billboard was Tracy Chapman many moons ago and she was "talking about a revolution". "Cats in the Cradle" is my son's favourite song and he is a diehard AC/DC fan. The public is open!

Frequently, the public is chastized unfairly for ostracizing the folkie. The complaining does make us sound wimpy! I have yet to hear a 5 Star song on the Open Mic that matches the masters like Chapman, Seeger, Kristtofferson, Chapin. The song is the thing ~ and the cream does rise.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 1:49 PM

'self-righteousness' and 'Kristofferson' - excuse my spelling butchery - coffee time!

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 2:10 PM

Having written so many absolutely awful tunes myself, I just can't bring myself to judge others so harshly in the songwriting department.

I believe the affliction of songwriting is really a form of psychosis, or perhaps a reflex - a way to purge the brain like a good sneeze purges the nose.

To continue the analogy, we might or might not scrutinize the outcome of both activities closely. Each person's opinion of the end result is pretty much their own - from "ahh, perfect!" to "there's gotta be something more in there!"

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 27, 2006 2:39 PM

I would never consider you an 'awful' writer and you know that ~ I have commended your gifts of writing over the past few months. Forgive me if you interpret my comment as a put down of your wonderful craft.

5 STAR songs are few and far between from my perspective. I may be off here, not intending to insult, but I think a submission of the calibre of Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" or Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" are rare. A 5 STAR song is what I aspire to write and have yet to achieve. Pardon me for implying that you haven't already done so.

I felt I had opened a Pandora's Box ~ especially in a sensitive folk context.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 3:02 PM

I never take offense, Barry. I leave it where it sets.
And I have written some pretty awful songs, just ask my wife. Luckily I was stopped from recording many of them, which proves the existence of a divine and loving God.

Your opinions are your own, as I mentioned above, and you've certainly gained the level of skill at your craft to state your opinions. Let the chips fall, we're tough enough - or we'd better be!

I will offer the observation that your aspirations and mine differ quite a bit. I've never aspired to write a "5", I just grab my guitar and write what comes, then catch the bus to work. Music for me is something to be done when there is time away from the real business of living. It is a hobby, like woodworking, that occasionally pays for itself but should never interfere with trips to the desert, walks with my lady, or any of a thousand more important things. It does beat out mowing the lawn, though, especially in the summertime.

Jim Blum and I had this conversation when he was out here last year. I feel that there are a few truly brilliant performing songwriters in the world, and do not number myself among them, or among the next level down, or the next after that.

They have an insight, a drive, and a passion for communication with others that is lacking in yours truly. I find it hard to understand how they can give up everything I consider truly worthwhile in life, to simply travel around seeking the admiration of strangers. I'm not judging them, not at all, merely admitting my own inability to understand why they do it.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 27, 2006 3:30 PM

Songwriting sure is a craft like woodworking Jim, and it's like a hobby to me too. As artists, I feel we attempt to reveal truths, capture moments, touch hearts, and probe our human experiences in kindred ways ~ connecting with self, family, friends, and community ~ through a universal means called folk music. The highest compliment I ever receive is a tear drop in a listener's eye ~ be it a moment of joy, sorrow, or both. Likewise, my days are filled with the real business of living and coordinating a distance education program that services marginalized Aboriginal Canadians.

Upon reflection, it's the breadth of 5 star connections that I aspire to ~ thanks for the prod and best of luck!


Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 3:53 PM

Some of the best lines to songs I've ever heard were the lines which I never heard.
Eric Taylor is a master at this. He'll sing a line and leave the last word or so can fill in the blank, and it's a very effective way to say something in a very emotive way which really sticks with you. The music itself fills in the rest of the language.

It's kind of akin to a painter who uses bare canvas and some of it shows through when he's finished his work, and you cannot imagine anything else being added to it to make it any more brilliant than it is.

And sometimes there just aren't words to describe some things. In a really good film, some things are effectively unshown, but well understood. Some things are just best understood and not seen, nor heard. Or...perhaps I have an overdeveloped imagination...?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 27, 2006 8:40 PM

LG - Do you write poetry or songs yourself? I would be interested in reading/hearing some of it actually, if you are willing to share. I'm always open to new work - hearing something I've never heard before. That is a good thing to me, that's why I enjoy Open Mic so much I think.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 27, 2006 8:46 PM

I consider Chapin's "Mr Tanner" a close friend and imagine Kristofferson moping around on a Sunday morning "coming down" trying to find his "cleanest dirty shirt". Poetry that stands the test of time connects generations. How honored these songwriting poets must feel to have emerging and established artists record their poetry and contribute to their tribute albums.

Timeless tales through original song make me grin from ear to ear. As for protest songs, "All we are saying, is give peace a chance" :)

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 27, 2006 9:19 PM

Barry I’m glad you posted what it takes you to consider a song 5-worthy, because I think probably a lot of the people who vote here would agree. I had a few schoolteachers like that when I was coming up, and I remember the experience as more discouraging than motivating. I’ve said this before, but I think if an unknown John Prine, with his Grandpappy McCoy singing and his 1972 guitar chops posted here, his stuff would not be doing so well. Some songwriters would get him right away, but someone who has to grow on you tends to fall through the cracks here.

I’ll give a song a 5 if it sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in the FA stream. That’s high enough for cream to rise, but to have to be catchy enough for commercial radio as well, like a Gordon Lightfoot or Tracy Chapman? Good luck with that, and from where you are you can probably grow the skills to get there. Focused goals do tend to get us further along than we’d be without them.

The best thing I’m getting out of Open Mic is ideas for songs. If I hear one here that goads me to write a response to it, or gives me an image I can alter a little and take in a different direction, it makes my week. Or a song that ends up in my set, like Jim’s “Runes” or Stuart Mason’s “My Johnny,” arguably antiwar and definitely gems. Or Medicine Crow’s “Circle of Love,” another terrific one that got nowhere in the ratings and is gone now. I mean, a wedding song that actually doesn’t suck, how often do you hear that? Those were just a few that took me right past the “I wish I’d written that” to “Yesss! I can use that.” If I want catchy I’ll listen to country.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 28, 2006 11:00 AM

One protest song writer that makes sense to me right now is Vinne James. His "March on Washingon" and "Black Money" are both powerful songs. He's in Scotland recording another project, I asked him to look up Tom Fairnie in Edinburgh because I think that would be a good matchup, but it is up to Vinnie.

I'm glad you liked "Runes" enough to add it to your set, Joan, that really is the ultimate compliment for a writer. To have produced something useful! Cool! And I am also a huge Stuart Mason fan. The first time I heard "My Johnny" I got chills.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 11:26 AM

Anyone who attempts to write like someone else, is probably still seeking his/her own unique voice and will try to emulate someone they admire. I believe it should be the goal of any writer to find their own voice, not mimic someone else. Barry says "I have yet to hear a 5 Star song on the Open Mic that matches the masters like Chapman, Seeger, Kristtofferson, Chapin. The song is the thing ~ and the cream does rise." I don't know about the 5 star songs, but I have definitely heard a few gems in the open mic. I do not put any great value in the ratings, because I prefer to decide for myself. I choose not to compare one voice to another, but prefer the uniqueness of an individual. Maybe I am just crazy that way. Whether or not they meet Barry's criteria I have no idea, that is merely his opinion, and this is merely mine.

As to a few other comments made, I believe that music is for all people not just for some elitist snobs, especially folk music, so it pains me when someone thinks they have the right to tell someone else whether or not they have a right to make music or share their words. Commercial viability may be a different story, but that has little to do with real folk music. If you followed the line of reasoning that says if something is not getting heard on the radio or some other mass media, then it somehow has not made the grade, nor could stand the test of time, I would say you have forgotten that folk music has been around as long as people have been picking up objects and making sounds with them. Most of the real folk music that exists today, did not survive to this point in history because the music was “radio ready.” It survived because it was out there getting played in group and family gatherings and other informal settings, where children hear it and it becomes part of their life history. When they grow up and begin playing music, some of that stays with them and they share it with new groups. They may play it a little differently, possibly changing the words, or using different chords, but there is a sense of continuity to it. I have stated before that I believe a lot of pop music will pass into the ranks of folk music in time exactly for the reasons I have expressed here, that it gets played by people in group settings and many can join in.

I say to all aspiring songwriters and itinerant musicians out there do not listen to those who choose to discourage your craft. It is not the self-proclaimed critics who will decide the fate of your music. Play it as often as you can, and if people like it enough to join in, especially the children, then you are doing something right.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 28, 2006 12:20 PM

That was really good, Jack.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 12:37 PM

I would never think of heckling my local thrift store for peddling unworthy music -- i.e. old tapes, records and CDs of music that never made it big. I look at those old worn sleeves and their contents and think, "Someone was trying to bring a little joy or understanding to people's lives." I fully respect that. In fact, I occasionally buy some of that unworthy music to get a little inspiration. There are gems in the old woodpiles.

I listened intently to an Irish band named Chancers play at my nephew's wedding reception this past weekend. They were very good at transmitting traditional Irish songs. Very good indeed. Though I cannot play or sing most of these songs, I fully appreciate the life that courses through them. They are testaments to happy and sad days. They reflect the human condition. Some are silly, some are grave. I drew great inspiration from the live performance of these songs. I bought three of the band's CDs. Why, they even taught Irish Step Dancing to some of the wedding guests! How cool is that? I think the only thing this Irish Band wants to protest is ennui and indifference. I am not sure protest songs are all that important unless you are about to be stepped on by a huge antagonist.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 1:14 PM

Jack - you said that beautifully. Thank you!

Protest songs are kind of like that lone man in Beijing who stood down a tank in the square a few years back during the protests there. It starts with one voice, and before long, others have joined in and eventually it becomes a mass effort. The bigger the antagonist, the bigger the effort.

Richard, I applaud the Chancers efforts to 'protest ennui and indifference' - those are huge beasts to slay.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 4:42 PM

Braswell -- you're right. One person can make a difference. More people should take a risk, take a stand for peace.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 5:28 PM

The Chancers' effort to 'protest ennui and indifference' was implicit in their the smiles on their faces and in their gestures. It was not an explicit statement. We need that kind of positive energy to supplant despair and acrimony.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 5:33 PM

Sorry, but this has been sitting on an odd number too long. It is beginning to make my skin crawl.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 12:24 PM

I prefer odd numbers. But then I've always been odd.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 12:48 PM

Thanks, Jack and Jim! I didn't want to have the last word on this thread.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 29, 2006 1:34 PM


Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 29, 2006 1:35 PM

You are all evil, evil I tell you! My skin keeps creepy crawling.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 1:50 PM


Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 3:32 PM

Likewise Jack, I have heard many "gems" on Folk Alley and agree that anyone who tries to write like another writer is still trying to find his or her voice or meet commercial standards (I'm relieved the pop boy bands phase is over). Regardless, there are certain artists that do set a high standard for their genres.

In the current rock world, U2 rings a bell. I heard Bon Jovi being interviewed by Larry King and he indicated that he has little time for critics. He argued that if listeners rush out to your shows and buy your music, that speaks volumes. He proceeded to offer a fine acoustic performance of one of his hit songs. He described how so often it's the song you least expect that connects with the masses. On a micro-note, I was surprised to see my "5th avenue" rated the highest out of my 14 songs. There must be a few forbidden love listeners out there.

In the indie world, country artist Pat Greene and folk artist, Ani Difranco offer impressive contemporary examples of artists striking the masses who flocked to their concerts and sites to hear and buy their CDs. My annual sales don't even cover the cost to maintain the site ~ but who cares ~ I'm loving the ride!

Chapman and Lightfoot had wonderful commercial success. Kudos to both of them, especially Chapman, who emerged in an extremely folk unfriendly commercial world. Not a surprise that she was dropped by her label shortly thereafter. Lightfoot's recent "Harmony" album is as true to his roots as it gets. Have you heard it? These commercial stars are still a couple of folkies in a big bad commercial world.

Ultimately, "the song is the thing" as demonstrated by Johnny Cash, who upon being dropped by his Nashville label after 25 years, gave Nashville the finger (what a photo) and released the crossover Number 1 Rock/Country Video and Number 1 Country Album and Country Song of the Year. What a song and so timely. Johnny's "Hurt" like Harry Chapin's "Story of a Life" seem divine in historical context.

I loved hearing Tom Chapin singing Harry's story on Folk Alley last week.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 10:01 PM

Barry, I get it that what Tracy Chapman and Gordon Lightfoot achieved was more than remarkable. I was just questioning whether a person should necessarily have to hit it quite that far outta the park to deserve a rating of 5 on Open Mic. I mean, I gave 5th Avenue a 5 on one listen, because it resonated with me, not because I thought it necessarily had mass market appeal. Folk music is a niche within a niche, there's nothing mass about it. But when it strikes a nerve, something real and amazing is happening. Shoot for the moon if that's what motivates you, but don't feel like a failure if all you achieve is a dedicated cult following. They'll follow you to Hell and back.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 10:25 PM

I disagree, Joan. Some of mine followed me to Hell, but most of them stayed there.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 10:31 PM

And a good number of them followed you all the way here, which is definitely all the way back from Hell.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 10:44 PM

You have no idea Joan how long it has taken for me to realize that being true to self is what motivates me. "5th Avenue" resonating with you is the moon :)

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 10:47 PM

The "real and amazing feeling" of connection is profound Joan. I felt it listening to Paul's version of "Nella Fantasia" ~ chills ~ even though I don't speak Italian. I rated it 5.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 10:58 PM

I am reading this blog (even the ones not staying on subject), and what is at the bottom…a compliment. Thank you Barry for your VERY kind words regarding my version of Nella Fantasia.
FYI - I thought I was recording it for fun, but larger hands than mine had MANY more reasons and future uses for it then I did.
As you can tell from ANY of my posts, I grew up in a family who said that if I didn't use four times the amount of words I need, then I just was not trying hard enough!
Given that, I have been made totally speechless a dozen times now from responses/stories that came back from the many CDs of it I gave away. The latest being a long thank you email from a woman two days ago, sent the night before she died of cancer. Two people have put it in their wills to have it played at their funeral. Again – speechless, chills, and tears!

Anyway, to the subject - Like many people, I thought there were no new protest songs being written and I just thought it was all part of the "I've got mine" attitude in the world today.
Now I see that there ARE new songs - MANY songs being written. They are just not hitting the airwaves!
It does not take much to see that many layers of political crap have made it impossible for them to even get CLOSE to the radio stations. I can just hear the quick late night phone call from a "high political source" saying "We do not want to hear ANY of them played on your station" (said in an all too calm voice) to ALL the owners of radio stations!
With all the new protest songs written, this sort of polical blockade is the ONLY logical answer I can come up with why you don't hear ANY of them!
Come to think of it, this may indeed have helped to turn off radio stations from playing ANY folk music at all - just in case!

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 1, 2006 4:01 PM

Well stated, Paul.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 2, 2006 4:18 PM

I think what drove Folk off the radio was its lack of commercial appeal. Radio, TV, and cable need to spoon feed an increasingly overstimulated listening audience. If not they go find overstimulation elsewhere, taking their ad dollars with them.

Pop music demands to be heard. Folk music - at least the poli-sci kind - demands that you listen. Big diff.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 3, 2006 9:51 PM

"Pop" music confuses me. I listen to an artist like James Blunt and think ~ WOW ~ I would love to hear the new #1 pop artist in a solo acoustic coffeehouse setting. It sounds to me like he belongs there or on a living room couch.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 4, 2006 1:50 AM

This is all too confusing.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 10:12 AM

Wait until you try to read a distribution contract, Richard.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 4, 2006 10:38 AM

Hey, if I can get through Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", I can get through a distribution contract.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 11:09 AM

Yes, Lucky G., I do read.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 11:10 AM

They let you have books down there in the metal shop? Won't the sparks set them on fire?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 4, 2006 11:13 AM

When I used to do my graphic design and illustration work with rubber cement thinner, turpentine, ketone esters and other volatile liquids, yes, things were flammable. Since I migrated to a Mac, the only thing that might go up in flames is my laptop's lithium battery.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 11:36 AM

Metal shop -- how did you know I was also a hard rocker?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 11:37 AM

That one version of "Rawhide Danger" you posted was a dead giveaway.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 4, 2006 12:42 PM

Blame that one on Sil-VER (Maximo) from Italy. He made me do it. He calls me the new Johnny Cash. I think something got lost in the translation. Do I really sound like Cash? More like Broke.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 1:06 PM

Hey, I am supposed to be on a two-week hiatus! Doctor's order.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 1:07 PM

Jim: Don't draggle me too much. I might post our "Mama's Bunions" song in protest.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 1:11 PM

Mama's Bunions

They were big as big as big could be, Mama's bunions.
And as I recall they had the smell of onions.
Though they made her shoes too small
she knew when the rain would fall.
Yeah, my Mama's feet were swell as old Paul Bunyan's.

Toe tapping, it was kinda tricky
with nodules the size of West Afriky.
So we'd trim 'em with a spade
or a rusty bowie blade,
and she'd be dancing at the barn that night with glee!

Oooooh, Mama's bunions!
From the foothills to the arch of old St. Louis.
Oooooh, Mama's bunions!
If you didn't tend them they would get all gooey.

We all would take our turn to nurse her bursa.
Dad would hold, I'd cut, or vice versa.
But next morning they'd be back
like a hiker with a pack
who just cannot leave the little town of Ursa.

Crying out in pain, our poor fat Mama,
like a damsel in distress in some old drama.
But now her toes kin finally rest
Cause she found the cure that's best
six feet under in her favorite silk pajama.

Oooooh, Mama's bunions!
From the foothills to the arch of old St. Louis.
Oooooh, Mama's bunions!
If you didn't tend them they would get all gooey.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 1:19 PM

That may not be a protest song, but listeners will certainly protest!!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 4, 2006 3:33 PM

Wait until you hear it sung with a quasi-Dylan groove. Your GUI will get all dewy.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 4:38 PM

Well, just don't throw in too much electric guitar. Wouldn't want anyone taking an axe to the interent cable!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 4, 2006 6:31 PM

Axe and you shall not receive

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 4, 2006 11:54 PM

OK, people. Hopefully, my heart is in the right place as I offer you this. Last year, I did a protest song -- a collaboration with Johnny Katchoolik (New Haven , CT), Jack Miller (Santa Rosa, CA) and Craig Bakay (somewhere in Canada). It is called Breakout.

Breakout ("quasi-studio" recording mixed at on my Mac G4):

Breakout (live performance at Old Man River Cafe):

How can I improve it to make it a stronger song? I will be working up a solo acoustic presentation of it. Folks, I need your help to become a better singer-songwriter.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 5, 2006 11:51 AM

County Joe McDonald: And it's 1 2 3 what are we fighting for? Dont ask me I don't give a damn, my next stop is Vietnam. And it's 5 6 7 open up the Peary Gates, Well, there aint no time to wonder why , Whopeee we're all gonna die. Now come on Mothers throughout the land, pack your sons off to Vietnam...come on Fathers, don't hesitate, pack your boys off before it's too late. Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box. Wow! Can it get any better than that?

Posted by: Cindy Hardy at September 5, 2006 4:00 PM

Yes, that was a pretty good song. Out.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 5, 2006 8:30 PM

Does anyone know the title and lyrics to that great Phil Ochs song which says, "I ain't gonna ____that ___ anymore..."? (Sorry, that's the only bit I can recall.) I think it has something to do with war.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 7:13 AM

Nope - I'm still grooving on the Nurse her Bursa, Vice Versa, Ursa thing. I have to say that rhyming Bunyon and Bunyan is a bit cheap - it's not as difficult a word to rhyme as Orange, after all.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 6, 2006 9:47 AM

Joni wrote LOADS of protest songs. She's just being curmudgeonly (she's good at that) when she says she only wrote the one. She actually wrote Fiddle and the Drum. Which is so relevant today it's painful to read the lyrics. If anyone's already said this in this strand I apologise, but it's far too many rat's tails (official FA blog measurement) long to read all the way through. Sorry.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 6, 2006 11:12 AM

The Magdalen Sisters song as well. Only song treatment I've ever heard about that bit of history.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 6, 2006 11:20 AM

Y'know... I don't know what that's doing there! Did you post that in the right stream Linda? Heck what is this stream about? Hold on... Nope: Where Have all the Protest Songs Gone".

Linda - were you in the final? Well done.


The Magdalena Sisters is one that's had a friend knock on my door late at night, because he's heard it on the radio, knows I'm a Mitchell completist, and he wanted to listen to it again.

Thanks Joan (cool name) ;-}

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 6, 2006 5:12 PM

Begging pardon folks, but the fewer protest songs I have to suffer through the better.

That goes for political diatribes and whatnot during concerts or other inappropriate venues.

Never mind that I'd probably disagree with the protester politically - there aren't that many natural law libertarians out protesting - but if I wanted to be preached at I'd go to a church.

Hey, it's a free country. Artists can do and say what they want - and I don't have to buy what they're selling

Unless it's on NPR.

Posted by: Don Rosenow at September 7, 2006 8:17 PM

I especially like protest songs which scratch at that itch of apathy I might suffer on occasion. I think that's why I like Derek Webb's "A New Law" so very much. Being unsettled just enough to effect internal attitude adjustments is worth more than gold to me. Don't hit me, just poke me in the ribs - it's much more effective.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 8, 2006 12:49 AM

How about a "degradation of Earth and morality" protest song that uses Great Turtle as a vehicle? Ask me, if you give a flutter.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 8, 2006 3:49 PM

Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 8, 2006 3:50 PM

Richard-- I though it was funny. The great turtle like in the Dr. Seuss story who was master of all he sees? There's probably a great story in that.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at September 8, 2006 4:28 PM

Saving Great Turtle:

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 8, 2006 4:48 PM

Richard - I love this song! Your link also belongs in the blog, "Ride a Little Pony", as this lesson lullaby should be sung to our youngest ones so that we can all have hope.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 9, 2006 5:43 AM

"In such an ugly time, the true protest is beauty."
- Phil Ochs

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 9, 2006 2:46 PM

JoLynn: Thanks for tipping me off on the Little Pony thread. Well, I just posted the final version of Saving Great Turtle. This is as tough as I can make my protestation:

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 9, 2006 4:33 PM

The turtle moves!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 9, 2006 8:00 PM

Huw, you are adroit at badinage. I commend you.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 10, 2006 8:40 PM

Whew - after some digging Richard and I have arrived at a sort of joint origin for the Turtle thing.

Richard thought it was a pretty neat idea - and I concur.

The original world turtle is (I think Hindu). Terry Pratchett got the idea from Bertrand Russell: an old lady challenged him over the state of the Earth, arguing that it's balanced on a giant turtle. He asked the lady what the turtle is standing on, and she answered: on the back of a second, even larger turtle. But, asked the scientist, what does that turtle stand on? To which the lady triumphantly answered: "You're very clever, young man, but it's no use - it's turtles all the way down!

Anyway de Chelonian mobile is from Terry Pratchetts book Small Gods (fatwahs and excommunications pending). In which heretical scientists state (accurately) that their world is a disc on the back of a huge turtle.

Galileo allegedly said "Eppur si muove" after being forced to recant from his position that the world is round and goes around the Sun.

It's a lovely song by the way...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 13, 2006 4:18 PM

Are you sure it's not ants all the way down?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 13, 2006 5:54 PM

I think it may be termites.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 12:02 AM

Well if it's termites, slowly everything will descend as they eat away the foundations. We may have arrived at an animistic allegory for entropy.

Richard points out that the turtle is Native American in origin. I was confused because some of my Hindu students (I was a school librarian in a previous life) denounced Pratchett as blasphemous. This was probably down to the elephants rather than the turtle.

Are we all clear on that?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 14, 2006 5:29 AM

That explains that tall elephantine stack I've seen in curio and head shops.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 8:00 AM

Turtle mythology has appeared in many cultures, most recently in American Pop music. Here are important words written by Bonner and Gordon which helped to immortalize The Turtles:

"So happy together.
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba."

The creation story of The Turtles: The band spontaneously sprung to life in Los Angeles in the early 1960s as an instrumental combo (the Nightriders), soon underwent a transmogrification to a surf band (the Crossfires), next evolved to folk music (Crosswind Singers), briefly appeared up at local bowling alleys in the guise of Gerry & the Pacemakers, then finally assumed the hallowed Turtles appellation when they signed with White Whale in 1965.

In the words of Gary Pig Gold: "The real Turtles spent their entire career struggling to establish a single, all-encompassing identity. But as the Turtles’ hair and beards -- to say nothing of their songs themselves -- grew ever longer and less manageable, and while hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties due from White Whale [got] lost in the ether, our boys finally tired of bucking the system and bitterly disbanded in 1970. It was a dark day indeed for not only bubblegum, but for mankind in general."

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 14, 2006 10:24 AM

I LOVED the Turtles!
Boo-hoo. The practical bugaboos of commerce sink another ship again.
My piano instructor, Louis Pizzalatto, would bring in a variety of contemporary sheet music to keep the lessons fresh and interesting for us, and The Turtles stuff was included in his recommendations. I truly think he chose what he liked to hear as well, which was fine with me - we seemed to speak the same language!
Call it "bubble gum" if you'd like, but I thought The Turtles music rated right up there with Blood, Sweat and Tears and other musically intelligent design.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 9:04 PM

There are two really fine protest songs over at Open Mic right now:
Ron Trueman-Border has his finger on the soul of the isses with his "Prisoner of War" and "Morphine".

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 10:05 PM

"One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one." -Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 10:08 PM

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke 1729 - 1797

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 7:20 AM

Well, then (ah-chem)..."For everything there is a season, a time and a season under heaven."
"Turn, Turn, Turn..."
- Book of Ecclesiastes
- Pete Seger, and
- The Byrds

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 16, 2006 7:32 AM

"Why is a mouse when it spins? Because the higher the fewer" Anon

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 16, 2006 1:43 PM

Come again...?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 17, 2006 4:12 AM

Aha! Gotcha - go-on Google it! You'll be surprised.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 17, 2006 8:13 PM

Could be a precursor to the Monty Python non sequitur.

However, Patrick Nethercot of Durham offers a reasonable explanation: "This peculiar saying relates to a certain type of governor on steam engines, whereby revolutions of the engine are reduced if a spinning weight (mouse) is lifted up a shaft by its centrifugal force, releasing steam pressure and ensuring fewer revs: the higher, the fewer. Such systems were common on static engines like those found originally in cotton mills in the heyday of the steam revolution."

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 17, 2006 8:16 PM

Yup - I think that's the most plausible answer. It looks like one of those "What's the difference between a duck?" questions.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 18, 2006 4:06 PM

but I think it's a steam riddle.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 18, 2006 4:07 PM

I wrote a protest song several months ago, not so much about our involvement over there, but about certain factions of those wonderful people that the Pope just slammed. It's those amazingly placid people who have spawned individuals who fly planes into our country with the sole purpose of killing Americans, all in the name of their god. The very same ones who admit to blowing up trains and busses to kill as many people as possible, all in the name of their god. The ones that are also famous for the "non-violent" act of suicide bombimg, also in the name of their god. The song is called "Ain't From Where I Am", and is currently in the Open Mic competition here at Folk Alley. Here are the lyrics:

It's Friday morning, and the new day is dawning
and the old man is out for a walk in the park.
The Mrs. is catching the bus to the market
and she hopes to be home before dark.

The children are gathered on the corner like always
waiting for a lift to the other side of town.
A car pulls up to where they are standing.
Who knows what's about to go down?

Black powdered angels appeared 'fore my eyes.
The old man was thrown, you could not hear his cries.
The sound, it was deafening, the shock was unreal.
And the Mrs. never made it to the evening meal.

The little ones were scattered, like jacks on a board
And the mothers were playin' that mournful chord.
The smoke, it was settling, people stood around in awe
And the witness was telling the crew what she saw;

Black powdered angels appeared 'fore my eyes.
The old man was thrown, you could not hear his cries
The sound, it was deafening, the shock was unreal.
And the Mrs. never made it to the evening meal.

Black powdered angels flew through the air
Who are these people who never seem to care?
How can they do this in the name of the man?
I don't know who he is, he ain't from where I am.
I don't know who he is, he ain't from where I am.

Posted by: Robert Marr at September 18, 2006 7:21 PM

Keep an eye open for Jay Stapley - A Different God Robert

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 18, 2006 8:11 PM

I'll have to break out my "WWBBD" wrist band, Huw.
And Robert, it's precisely because we do think thoughts deemed to be 'free and unnecessary' that we do not fit into some peoples "god box", as they are taught to understand it. We just don't fit into the larger scheme of things in their prescribed view, therefore, we must be...uhm...dealth with (with a capitol "D").
This is most unfortunate for every one of us on this big, wide planet...and it is much bigger and wider than any one might imagine, and, conversely, just as small.
Deep and lasting friendships and open dialogue amongst all of us - all of us with differences - can help to make inroads in to rigid thinking and misunderstandings coming from both sides. Sounds pie-in-the-sky, but it works to a larger degree. And it takes time. And sometimes we must simply agree to disagree on some things, but that's the hard part...getting to that point without killing one another.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 18, 2006 10:05 PM

edit that as: ("WWBDD")

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 19, 2006 9:07 PM

I thought that was your meaning. I could not figure it out otherwise.

Posted by: Jack Swain at September 20, 2006 1:28 AM

Jack - (o;
I always knew you were sharp!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 20, 2006 9:40 AM

So WWBD do?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 20, 2006 11:44 AM

Oh - - Aint from where I am - Robert Marr

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 20, 2006 12:02 PM Different God - Jay Stapley

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 20, 2006 12:04 PM

There's a Roger McGough poem entitled "In the Time it Takes to Put Down a Brown Paper Carrier Bag". Says it all for me.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 20, 2006 12:06 PM does..

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 22, 2006 2:42 AM

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 24, 2006 12:45 PM

Is there a protest song about protest songs?
I wonder....

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 29, 2006 9:44 AM

Cue Schletty... Richard y'out there?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 29, 2006 10:08 AM

Yes, I'm here. You think I could write such a song? A protest song re protest songs? Well, maybe. I'm going to a Chuck Brodsky concert tonight in Minneapolis. Maybe he has such a song.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 29, 2006 2:07 PM

OK, you got me going. I decided to revisit my song "More Decrees". I re-recorded it from scratch, going faster and adding vocal harmonies. Not really a protest against protest songs. It's a suggestion that we might want to go back to the way things used to be. Tough law! Big stick! I protest immorality!

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 29, 2006 5:18 PM

I may have unleashed a monster!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 29, 2006 5:35 PM

No, just a harmless court jester.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 29, 2006 6:07 PM

Actually, with that song I am coming perilously close to a "protest against protest":

Make your camp on higher ground.
Ruminate on things profound.
Find your center. Make love enter
every pore of the dissenter.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 29, 2006 6:12 PM

It's those "harmless" court jesters who shoot straight to the point (thwack!), and have the immunity to do so.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 1, 2006 3:04 AM

"So I fooled and I farted and I capered around,
And I whispered the truth
When my trousers were down,
But who is remembered, the seer or clown..?"

"Jack Pudding" - Bill Caddick

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 1, 2006 8:06 AM

Huy: So true. But I do remember Danny Kaye The Court Jester.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 2, 2006 1:13 PM

What? The vessel with the pestle has the lotion with the potion, but the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 2, 2006 5:39 PM

Oh my. That passage is so close to "Drink to Me Only"...

Drink to me only with thine eyes
And I will pledge with mine.
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I'll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 2, 2006 7:18 PM

"Where have all the Pipkin blogs gone, long time passing?"

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 2, 2006 7:19 PM

"If I were a singer in a good band
Concerned and enlightened as you could stand
I could save the ocean, the rain forest too
And before you even asked, I'd explain it to you."


Posted by: Joan Kennedy at October 3, 2006 3:40 PM

..gone to the waste bin, every one
but if you reference both your name and mine
all will apear again, line by line.

Gone but not forgotten, Richard.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 4, 2006 6:32 AM

I protest that my song "More Decrees" is a failure. That song is inextricably intertwined with my delusions of self grandeur. My ego is suffering like a bullhead on a cold cement slab waiting to be skinned and fried. Now let's talk about my pastor's altar ego.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 4, 2006 9:19 AM

Awwww....Richard...hang tight. Don't you know that all your songs are your babies? Just like children, you do the best with them as they grow, then you release them to the world to fly and make it on their own. Some may fair better than others in whatever is considered to be "successful" in today's views, but all 'children' have their value as individuals, and every one is unique and to be appreciated for it.
Besides, ego skinning is healthy every once in a while! (o;

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 4, 2006 3:38 PM

...what's a "bullhead"...?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 4, 2006 9:43 PM

uhm...I've been accused of being that the same kind of beastie?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 4, 2006 9:45 PM

A bullhead is an ugly but tasty fish. We used to catch them in Twin Lakes in Centerville, MN when I was a kid. Favorite part was popping the bladders as we skinned and gutted them.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 4, 2006 10:38 PM

ewww! I did that once with a rattle snake's gall bladder or something while skinning it to be tanned...never again!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 5, 2006 7:50 AM

Yech! Don't you kids know any nice games?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 5, 2006 10:28 AM

Two Theremin probes in a fish tank. Thereminnows making beautiful music?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 5, 2006 1:33 PM

Sorry, wrong thread. Probably the wrong planet, too.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 5, 2006 4:31 PM

Protest is alive and kicking. Just listen to the two quite different kinds of protest songs - "Refugees" and "ballad Of Stephen Lawrence" to know that this music is being's just not getting heard!

Posted by: Maria O'Brien at October 7, 2006 4:04 PM

Huw - well, you COULD have eaten that cows nose....then you would be part of the club, too.

Richard! I fell for that one..hook, line, and sinker!
Thanks for bringing on a belly laugh! Healthy for me, not so healthy for those poor extra-planetary minnows!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 13, 2006 7:32 PM

Have you looked up a cow's nose? Lower case is too small to express the sheer scale of the BOGIES up there! (I think you call them BOOGERS. When I was a kid in the Sticks we used to call them BOOGIES.) Whatever, I don't eat burgers because of the mashed up orifices contained therin - whole nostrils are well beyond the arbitrary line I have drawn. Oh yes indeedie!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 17, 2006 11:46 AM

By the way - I liked Maria's link.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 17, 2006 11:47 AM

I think the man doth protest too little.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 17, 2006 1:24 PM

We none of us protest anywhere near enough anymore Richard. Grumble at the person next to you right now - spread the discontent.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 18, 2006 11:14 AM

Huw. Go ahead, have your way with words. LOL. Just kidding. What you say is true and false at the same time. I sing of forbearance but people just complain.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at October 25, 2006 3:56 PM

It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life... (everybody...?)

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 27, 2006 6:35 PM

No signed paper can hold the iron.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 28, 2006 8:47 PM

It must come from men.
(and there's more):
Senator: The war's over. Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.
Fletcher: There's another old saying, Senator: Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 28, 2006 8:57 PM

And we must all "Strive to persevere"...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 2, 2006 9:53 AM

Fletcher was one of the great unsung heroes of that movie, a good man caught up in the ordure. We've all been there... metaphorically speaking.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 2, 2006 9:57 AM

Here's another great one from Jay Mankita,
and I was there to hear it! Maybe you can even hear me singing in the background with the rest of the crowd!:
"They Lied" (live version/Kerrville Festival New Folk Competition)
- Jay Mankita

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 5, 2006 10:44 PM

Did anyone hear the new Bruce Cockburn tune, "Bagdad" from his "Life's Short - Call Now" album Jim Blum is playing on Fresh Cuts?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 10, 2006 8:01 AM

I meant "Baghdad"...'scuse me.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 13, 2006 9:39 AM

Political correctness has done a lot of damage to the spirit of free and open thought and expression. There is a sense of the thought police lurking around to pounce at any moment. People are afraid of offending anyone about anything. In the 60's/70's, the thought police were no where around or if they were nobody gave a sh_t about them. We are suffering from a dearth of freedom in this modern time. It's kind of a paradox, because the love/peace/freedom generation is now running the show and we have a more oppressive, police-state society than we ever did back in the old days.

Posted by: William Dumas at November 14, 2006 1:48 PM

Interesting how that works, isn't it...something to ponder, and to spur some more excellent protest songs!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 16, 2006 7:24 AM

Bring it on! We need another cultural revolution. Today's culture is lacking in imagination and creativity. We need to stand against the rising tide of conformity...where are the individuals? The collective right-brained community of free thinkers needs to convene so that we can be out of step together, and re-create an interesting culture. We need to rediscover that each one of us is an artist and our very lives are the media. And, by the way...screw hip-hop.

Posted by: Bill Dumas at November 16, 2006 5:58 PM

P.S.... to say 'screw hip-hop' would be an excellent topic of a protest song. It is killing our music culture...can I get a witness? I am an old flower child, so I ask forgiveness from the younger generation, but none-the-less...screw hip-hop!

Posted by: Bill Dumas at November 16, 2006 6:03 PM

Ooooh! I haven't time to get into this Jim - maybe later!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 28, 2006 11:54 AM

I like some of their street dancing though.
There's a city park a couple of streets from me, and for a time several years ago, it had become the cool place to be seen cruising and "thumping" (loud bass speakers placed in trunks of cars, so the whole world for miles and miles could share in the chest compression experience). There were so many enthusiasts, and so many different "tunes" being broadcast from each individual vehicle, that the weekly Sunday traffic jam stopped up traffic from my neighborhood's entrance and exit, and emergency vehicles couldn't even pass, so they put a stop to it and told them to move their stuff on along to another part of town. It's been nice and quiet since then.
I did like to people watch during those times though, but had to carry a pair of earplugs with me, and it generally disturbed the dogs... so, glad they've moved it on down the road.
I must say though, that the majority of their songs were indeed PROTEST songs...mostly "stick it to the Man" kind of thing. Not too much in the way of constructive solutions though.
The more vulgar sexually oriented songs, I'm told, are considered "love ballads" by some.
To each his own, and 'ear of the beholder' kind of thing, I suppose.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 28, 2006 3:17 PM

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

A little pre-rap, but I've always rather enjoyed the sentiment.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 30, 2006 11:10 AM


Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 30, 2006 11:11 AM

I wrote another protest song called "Trail of Tears". See what good has come from this thread! Empowered to tell.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at December 1, 2006 8:57 PM

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