my introductory remarks this week are likely to be longer than
my comments on the songs...
in the light of last night's events in orldando fl,
here a modern take on an earlier song that still resonates
(it's not written by pete seeger)
one version of which includes the lines
'the world is one great battlefield
with forces all arrayed.
if in my heart i do not yield,
i'll overcome some day'
'when i was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me,
i was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.
when years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.
in middle age i was assured that greater age would calm my fever
and now that i am fifty eight, perhaps senility will do the job.
nothing has worked...' - john steinbeck 'travels with charley'
(crikey, i'm now quite a bit older than he was then and it still applies!)
and, after acknowledging plenty of contributions
some of which, like the mighty wizz jones!)
are fully in the folk vein, rather than, in the terms of the theme,
having 'a connection with folk music in one way or another'
including a man i'm very happy to have known, phil sloan,
the wonderful fleet foxes, steve earle and several contemporary folk-influenced outfits,
including the english folk rock fairport convention, sandy denny,
incredible string band and the lovely, lovely sounds of trembling bells.
here's my votes:
tin: 'come saturday morning'
- until we leisurely travelled the length cuba a couple of years ago,
i had no idea that the sandpipers' big hit 'guantánamera'
was actually about a young paysanne woman from the region of guantánamo
based on a poem by poet / philosopher / revolutionary josé martí.
and, having passed through that town and right near the us base enclave
carved out of cuban territory and still, despite the efforts of us president obama,
still, disgustingly, holding people who don't seem to have the civil rights
that the american state claim to endorse,
the song acquires new resonances...
however, coming back to this week's contribution,
it's a shame that i find this recording far, far too sterile.
not unpleasant, but like bland wallpaper paste.
bronze: 'lemon tree'
- not my favourite version,
but i like it, not sour, but a little too sweet to hit the spot on my palate.
joint gold: 'morningtown ride'
- not too sure why i make this a golden number,
other than, since it was first released,
it's held an impenetrably soft place somewhere within my synapses
(nothing whatsoever to do with judith d's voice
and her, um, attractiveness to an impressionable youth,
oh no...) .
joint gold: 'california saga'
- after the alien west coast surfin'n'car related songs
that first attracted me to the beach boys's fab music,
this trilogy was probably the songs that drew me into the coast of california
simultaneously (well, i actually first started reading it before the album came out
and it was the first steinbeck novel i read)
'travels with charley' and dabbling with bukowski and keroac's 'on the road'
had swept me up into the vast swathe of american landscape,
roadtripping and culture.
plus, i sought out the epic robinson jeffers
(via 'beaks of eagles') before i ever discovered walt whitman,
so, it's a firm favourite track.
'my fault, my failure, is not in the passions i have,
but in my lack of control of them.'
'one day i will find the right words, and they will be simple.'
― jack kerouac
(nb: if a california roll is a sushi dish,
is california saga an americanised, dyslexic, indian spinach related snack?).