inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #26 of 130: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 5 Aug 10 09:01
    
I've only got a couple of his CDs, but they've stayed in high rotation
on my various players for years, especially "AKA Graffiti Man."  Not a
bad actor either.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #27 of 130: Virtual Sea Monkey (karish) Thu 5 Aug 10 11:17
    
Country Joe's mother was active in Berkeley city politics.  He wasn't.
He expresses a hint of ambivalence on his Web site about not having taken
a more active role in politics.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #28 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Thu 5 Aug 10 12:31
    
I don't want to drift too much - but the real gist of the so-called "Long
Tail theory" is what it means for retailers in a a digital distribution age
- not what it might mean to marginal artists. Marginal artists stay
marginal and shrug at their $27.92 royalty checks - selling the works
of 25,000 marginal artists means real money to Amazon ... - selling the works
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #29 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Thu 5 Aug 10 12:48
    
Back to the subject, and the book -
Song has a long and glorious history as an agent of social change -
What is interesting about the USofA - and the discussion of Dick's book so
far here has - I think naturally - focussed on this, is that we are
a somewhat "mongrel" nation.
The people of the the USofA have really struggled, and continue to
with being a "nation" in the sense of "peoplehood" -

The first chapter of _Talk' 'Bout..._ is "The Songs of Immigrants" and
surveys both the songs of the immigrant, and the settled populations
reactions to them.  This certainly confronts this issue of the struggle
for "peoplehood"
There is also the subtext of this in the chapters on African American
and Native American songs.

I think this struggle is, in many ways, the central story of the
people of the USofA - in as much as we are "a" people - 
Dick - there is a wonderful book on this subject called _A Sound
of Strangers_ I believe it is out of print, but it is quite well
done. I think if you knew it, you would have referenced it - 
for dick and others, it is at Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=qj8z5Y4i7RAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=sound+of+
strangers&hl=en&ei=ZN9aTOq9IMH48Aat8YjmAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum
=1&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #30 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Thu 5 Aug 10 15:18
    
Thanks for the up-date on Country Joe and his mother as a political
figure.

I think David J. has expressed quite cogently what the Long Tail
theory REALLY means. However, the way it is presented by The Wire's
editor, Chris Anderson, who originated it, the internet will open up
this brave new world for obscure artists who can now compete on an even
keel.  As you explain, that isn't the reality of the situation.
There's even a scholar who's studied it, and come up with that (not
Anderson's) conclusion,in regard to record sales.) (Steve Marcone, Wm.
Patterson U.)  

The book you're talking about is one of several by Nicholas Tawa. He
is an excellent scholar, and it's too bad his books haven't been better
distributed.   There are also good books on 19th Century Labor songs
by Philip Foner, and several university presses, particularly the U. of
Illinois Press, have published books on miners' songs, railroad songs,
and songs of the cotton mills.  There's also a book on the IWW and its
songs.  The U. of Mississippi Press is strong on music titles as well.
 
There's a real problem with university press books.  They're published
in small editions, aren't found in many bookstores,and in some cases
the prices are high.  Of course there's always the net, but it's not
the same as quite the same as being in a bookstore.
Because my book covers so much ground, and therefore doesn't cover too
many things in great detail,  I tried to list many of these books,
which constituted a bunch of my references, in the bibliography.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #31 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Thu 5 Aug 10 15:19
    
Re Trudell:  I particularly like his song Johnny Damas and Me.
Not too many rockers can sing about money and fame without becoming
parodies of themselves and their "problems."
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #32 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 5 Aug 10 16:02
    
Dick, I just wanted to say I'm following along here and found the book a
good resource. It was also a hit with my future father-in-law, a former
labor organizer who knew Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

In the earliest part of the book, I was amused to learn the history of
a song little older than me that I hadn't given much thought to, though
I had apparently memorized the whole thing: Johnny Horton's "The Battle
of New Orleans" -- and it's still the *second* most well-known song
inspired by the War of 1812.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #33 of 130: Barry Warren Polley (barryp) Fri 6 Aug 10 00:36
    
A resource indeed. At first I was left a bit dizzy by the rapidity with
which the discussion moved; I mean, six pages on the evolution and history
of jazz? But there are quite a few nuggets along the way that link the music
with specific historical events.

I had never heard of Lawrence Gellert, and your inclusion of him in two
separate parts of the book inspired me to learn more about him. So thank you
for that, Dick.

What inspired the book's structure?
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #34 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Fri 6 Aug 10 06:47
    
I'm coming to the discussion late.  My email got lost in the ether so
I never got your book.  

I've got 2 concerns about the discussion.  I support what <ari> says
about Jews.  The ethnic group/religion/race question is so muddled from
identity politics that Jews always get short shrift.  We used to be
colored (or at least non white), come from all over the place, and
represent a spectrum of religious observance.  I should add too, that
Jews are an inherently musical people who quickly assimilate the music
of the surrounding cultures and enhance it.  For the sake of argument
could we say that Jews are an ancient civilization that has survived in
exile due to an uncanny devotion to written and oral texts?

Second, is it true that you only give jazz 6 pages in your book?  It
that is true, then shame on you.  How can you go light on a cultural
force that has spearheaded and led American popular culture for so
long?  Jazz has been the force that led to the fusion of black culture
with the dominant white cultures.  It used to be that jazz reflected
the pulse, ideas, attitudes, and social trends within black
communities.  Later that role was taken on by rhythm and blues and
currently hip hop. If you track the changes in the music, you can
fairly well track the societal changes.  If your book is about
revolution, I hope you talk about Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and
John Coltrane in those 6 pages.  
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #35 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 6 Aug 10 07:21
    
You know, before you come and "shame" an author, you probably should
read the section in question and see how it fits in the context of the
book. The lack of lyrical content makes jazz less interesting to
analyze than, say, blues and rap, the sections on either side of it.

If there's a complaint about the book, it's that every group and style
is covered only briefly; considering that each is worthy of a whole
book (or shelf of books), this seems a necessary constraint.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #36 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Fri 6 Aug 10 07:56
    
Of course I should read the section in question which I plan to do.
Fair enough.

"The lack of lyrical content makes jazz less interesting to
analyze than, say, blues and rap, the sections on either side of it."

I still feel that my comments are relevant and I stand behind them. My
complaint is the same here as <ari>'s complaint about Morris
Rosenfeld.  In an other time, in an other musical marketing world there
was no difference between jazz, blues, rhythm and blues.  At least
from the musicians' perspective.  In musical terms, what is leading? 
The lyrics, the rhythmic or harmonic concept, the arrangement?  I'd say
it depends on the time and place.  People like Parker, Eddie Vinson,
Earl Bostic, and Tiny Bradshaw came out of the Kansas City tradition
and played it all.  Just like the musicians on the TV series "Treme"
play it all. Or the Nat Cole/Charles Brown/Tbone Walker continuum in
LA.  They are working in an oral tradition that happens to use a
nonverbal musical vocabulary at base.  That is what gets short shrift
and that's what I'm reacting to. So is it "less interesting" to
analyse?  I don't agree. The lyrics are leading now but what inspires
the lyrics?  What is happening under the singing is a complex process
of feedback. And since this is an expressive tradition, you can derive
cultural meaning from it.  
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #37 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:13
    
As much as I like jazz, I don't see these musician-led evolutions as
effecting social change, except among musicians. Elijah Wald's latest
book puts jazz's musical changes in the context of influencing dance
styles (as well as moving to a serious sit-down-and-listen art form),
and also notes how economic pressures drove the change from big bands
to small combos. 

But it just doesn't seem to me that the book we're discussing here
needed to spend more time on jazz than it did.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #38 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:20
    
I disagree with you on the facts, but like I said before, more on the
attitude.  Thinking in musical marketing categories seems to be the
problem.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #39 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:22
    
I'm quoting Wald too much these days, but somewhere he said,
essentially, yeah, they're all marketing categories but they help us
find things at the store.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #40 of 130: Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:23
    
You are making me sorry I brought the issue up, David. It was intended as 
a parenthetical comment. It is very clear from the book, overall, that 
Dick has no problem acknowledging a variety of different cultures, Jewish 
among them. The book also focuses on a few major streams of political 
song, not every relevant stream--and at that, lots of things are covered 
very tersely - the chapter on african-american music, for instance, fails 
to mention Gil Scott-Heron, which is too bad. On the other hand, the 
chapter on the folk scare manages to briefly touch on the major issues, 
often with clear-headedness often lacking in such surveys (the nuanced 
description of the Almanac's influence at the time, for instance, or the 
Communist Party's ideological juggling). 

I'm not saying that nothing is missing, just that the book reads like an 
excellent summary/introduction to a number of facets of protest songs in 
American history, including frequent acknowledgement that not all protest 
was from the left.

It took a while for the shoe to drop. At some point I realized that the 
book reminded me a lot of my old Folk Music Sourcebook (right title?) and 
yes, I had forgetten that Dick was one of the authors of that (seminal, to 
me) volume as well.

Like that volume, this book is less an in-depth analysis of "protest 
music" than an introduction to the variety of music, its context, and its 
practitioners. It's like being handled the whole keyring.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #41 of 130: Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:24
    
Oops, several slips--I was commenting on <dwilson>'s championing of my 
comments about Morris Rosenfeld--a slip, to be sure--but something very 
minor in terms of the book as it is and seems intended.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #42 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:43
    
Ari brings up a very important point for understanding Dick's book - and
that it is not intended as a detailed analysis of "protest music".

While there are some interesting forays into analysis within the chapters of
the book - the book is a broad SURVEY - with numerous helpful pointers
and references to other resources including musical examples themselves
and other works of analysis.

The subtitle of the book is "Music and Social Change in America"

There is a chapter on "Protest Songs" - but that is not the overall
focus of the book.  "Social Change" comes from many angles and not
"protest" - hence I think the almost six pages which fall under the
heading "Jazz" are appropriate in context ...
In a history of jazz, dedicating about 17% of the narrative to "Musical
Collectives" like Chicago's AACM would be widely over-representative -
but this is not a history of jazz, and that focus, in context, is
on point.
That said - I do think a bit more space to jazz, particularly early
jazz would be waranted.  In terms of "social change" - jazz was
a huge factor in setting up the social landscape of 20th Century
USA - in helping fuel the "Civil Rights Movement" and in the
emergence of adolescent subculture.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #43 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Fri 6 Aug 10 08:49
    
Something else has struck me in re-reading the chapter on African
American music (prompted by this recent discussion) -
There are two sections, blues and Rap, where Dick does a lyrical
analysis coming up with certain categorizations -

For Blues:
Romance; Poor Me; Boasting; Hoodoo (superstition); Politics; Sex;
Rambling; Humor; School; Mother; Violence

For Rap:
Boasting; Politics; Violence; Misogyny; Party Music; Romance

Beyond a subjective analysis - I know you've spent time in 
academia - Do these categorizations come from academic conventions?
From anthropology/ethomusicology and how subjective are they?

thanks - 
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #44 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Fri 6 Aug 10 09:49
    
Thanks for bringing the discussion into context for me.  It makes
sense then that the book is a survey.

I've lived through a number of "revolutions" in the 60's,  listened to
the music, lived the music, only to see it co-opted into television
commercials in the 2000s.  The protest music that has the most meaning
for me is connected to living traditions in the form of surviving
witnesses--Jewish socialists and Paterson silk strikers.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #45 of 130: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 6 Aug 10 15:31
    
By the way -- just after Ari mentioned the Folk Song Sourcebook I got
interested and went over to http://www.dickweissman.com/ 

Very cool!  Fun bio, samples of songs, all kinds of goodies.  Check it
out.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #46 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Fri 6 Aug 10 19:24
    
Fot David Julian Gray,  Where i got the categories from was by looking
at the lyrics and attempting to place them in some order.  Of course
many songs bounce from one category to another, like a rap song about
sex, that includes references to drugs, the police, poverty, and so
forth.  It's an imperfect world!

By the way, from my own point of view I didn't include three sorts of
songs at all. 
1)  Songs from the men's movement- in other words male homosexual
songs as opposed to women's songs.  There obviously is quite a few gay
men's choruses.(there are also plenty of gay women's choruses, but
that's not the point here.)
2) Christian songs that wish to provoke changes that are quite
different than the ones we have been discussing.  Many liberal-radical
types think that the only songs in the Christian movement are ones that
repeat the key words, Love, God and Jesus incessantly.  In fact
a;though that is indeed what many soft-rock formula Christian rock
stations play, there are a number of thoughtful Christian writers like
Charlie Peacock and Pedro the Lion whose lyrics might be a surprise to
most of the contributors to this discussion
3)  Green songs- songs that advocate for the environmental movement.

So why didn't I include these?  Because one book can't do everything!
  
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #47 of 130: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Fri 6 Aug 10 23:00
    
> 1)  Songs from the men's movement- in other words male homosexual
> songs as opposed to women's songs.

Wait... what?  The men's movement, as usually referred to, pertains to
things like fathers' rights, mens' liberation, etc. and is not a
gay-centered movement at all.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men%27s_movement
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #48 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Sat 7 Aug 10 06:53
    
OK.  I am not referring to father's rights, nor am I talking about
drum circles.  And gay covers men and women, and in the book I do cover
songs by and about gay women.  So the word gay doesn't quite work
here.  "Male homosexuals" seems a bit clumsy. 

Hey, Michael.  Can you come up with a better term? I'd be happy to
refer to it.
 
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #49 of 130: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sat 7 Aug 10 12:33
    
Well, what *do* you mean? Gay mens' choirs, or Bronski Beat, or what?
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #50 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Sat 7 Aug 10 14:55
    
What do I mean?  I mean songs or music that represent gay men in the
same sense that the Olivia Records folks represented women's issues. 
So it isn't just gay men performing, in or out of the closet, but what
their songs said.   
  

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