inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #101 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 15 Aug 10 15:50
    
The Beatles' popular experimentation largely involved mixing backward-
looking influences (classical quotes from Bach to Stockhausen, music
hall, etc) with forward-moving rock 'n' roll. Considering where rock
went in the '70s and beyond, the most forward elements of their
experimentation were distorted and backwards guitar parts and Indian
ragas.

John Lennon took his freedom from the band to make extremely political
music, and he gave Yoko Ono a stage to be exceptionally, offputtingly
experimental (at least, compared to the Beatles).
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #102 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Sun 15 Aug 10 17:48
    
Radio, radio, internet, undernet.  Mass popularity is still mass
popularity.  Part of the problem of transmission and mass access is
that there are too many platforms.  Internet radio, You Tube, radio,
CD's, Facebook Tracebook  Lacebook.  Not to mention hat after years of
middle of the road commercials, for over ten years now commercials are
difficult to distinguish from recordings, partly because more and more,
the same people are doing them.  

Rik, glad thst you;'re searching out music on the net. Too bad that
the artists aren't making any money from it!  Of course there are
always tenured law professors telling us that music should be free. 
You know, just like law school!  

Scott, it sounds as though you really don't know much about Riot
Grrrls.  It was about the notion that women could scream and shout. 
And the roots go back not just to Joan Jett and Patti Smith, but to
Holly Near, who was doing that by the late 60's, even ib a folk-y
context.  

I agree that Brittany et.al have adopted only the sexual side of the 
equation, but it was the Riot grrls who wrote sluts and bitch and so
forth with magic markers on their exposed body parts, not Madonna.  So
what the younger set have done is to use only that part of the Riot
grrrl thing that relates to sexuality, and stay miles away from
anything that makes a real social statement.  And you have Courtney
Love sort of in the middle, making political statements almost at the
same time as you expresses her own weirdness,. bizarre kinder whore
dress styles and so forth. The point being, what happened to feminist
politics in music?  That's what I mean about media co-opting. 
You can make the argument, I guess, that Gwen Stefani and Kim Gordon
of Sonic Youth, et.c, represent that middle ground.  I don't think it's
a great argument, and also, relatively speaking, they are "old." 
I specifically mentioned the Beatles' music, not Lennon's politics,
which tend to be rather general.  From my point of view there's more to
their music than you imply.  What rock group could do both Eleanor
Rigby and Got To Get You Into My Life?  neo-classical impressionism,
and R&B.  Not to mention 50's rock and roll, and very well orchestrated
stuff like Sgt. Pepper? And the lyrics of some of the songs were
abstract and hard to pin down.   I agree about Yoko- experimentation
for its own sake is not a descriptor of progressive musical style.  
Having said all of that, I'd rather not have protracted discussions
about either the Beatles or Bob Dylan.  Our local bookstores have
dozens and dozens of books about them, and the internet is swarming
with other minutia.     
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #103 of 130: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 15 Aug 10 18:43
    
Well, *nobody's* roots go back to only the generation before, but I would
have thought the roots of strong rocking women go back through Janis Joplin
to Big Mama Thornton and Bessie Smith, rather than Holly Near. Not being
argumentative here -- just not necessarily following your point. Are the
underlying politics more powerful than the musical style? Were they Near-
influenced-feminists first and rockers seconds?

And why isn't Madonna's mixture of dance pop and unrepressed sexuality
an agent of change? Surely the Riot Grrls were reacting to/influenced
by her as well as by the rockers they emulated?

(FWIW: my comments about the Beatles aren't dismissive. I'm 48 and have
been variously obsessed with them since I've been listening to music,
but Wald's ideas about the evolution of pop music resonate with me.)
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #104 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Sun 15 Aug 10 19:41
    
I always thought the roots of the Riot Grrrrl scene was the Sex Pistols more
than anything -
Nah ... it was just the feminist expression of the same frustrated rage that
formed the fertile soil into which MacClaren planted the Sex Pistols ...
(and in listing groups which set a model for what would later be called
and rallied around as "Riot Grrrl" we mustn't forget The Slits!)

Dick has pointed something out that I was missing but now - particulalry 
with this particular thread is distressingly obvious ... there is precious
little female participation in this particular discussion ... 

 
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #105 of 130: (fom) Sun 15 Aug 10 19:43
    
I don't have the book, unfortunately, but I have a question: Do you 
talk about the split in the early 70s where white music and black music 
were divided into separate markets? That seems like a huge historical 
marker to me.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #106 of 130: (fom) Sun 15 Aug 10 19:45
    
slip mentioning the Slits, whom I was wondering about too. 
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #107 of 130: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Mon 16 Aug 10 07:59
    
"Rik, glad thst you;'re searching out music on the net. Too bad that the
 artists aren't making any money from it!  Of course there are always
 tenured law professors telling us that music should be free."

At the risk of sidetracking things, I need to make it clear that, as a 45
year veteran of the music business, I make a point of paying for my
downloads.

After reading through most of this, I'm still of the opinion that we tend
to over estimate the effect of music on politics.   When I was getting
lumps on my head at Century City, I was convince that our music and our
songs were a powerful force that would help change the world.  Now, almost
half a century later, I feel we were a bit overoptomistic.  While music can
be used as tribal touchstones, helping unify the already convinced, I
really doubt that it changes the mind of anyone outside the various
tribes.   "We Shall Overcome" helped bond the members of the movement, but
I doubt if it recruited any.

I remember, a few years back, being stunned to hear Dylan's "The Times,
They Are A-Changing" in a commercial.  And the commercial turned out to be
for the global accountancy firm of Coopers and Lybrand.  Talk about
cognative dissonance...    Remember those "Masters of War" he used to sing
about?  Coopers and Lybrand do their books.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #108 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Mon 16 Aug 10 09:17
    
I probably should have stayed away from the origins of Riot Grrl
thing.  
However- since we're in it: Joplin, maybe.  Big Mama, I don't think
so.  Pretty much over the hill, exposure-wise by the time the Grrls
began their forays. I also think that much of the influence was on the
order of hearing screaming male singers, and saying "we can do this
too."  Also to partially contradict some of my previous posts,  I'd say
that Sleater-Kinney were probably the best example of how a
sensibility infiltrates into the next generation. They were based in
Olympia, and were sort of peripheral to the Grrls movement, but also
part of it, at least in ideology.  They also were good players and
singers, not always true of the punk-oriented artists.  As for The
Slits, there was also L7, babes in Toyland, 7 Year Bitch, and so forth.
It's intriguing to me that Seattle exploded with the grunge scene,
definitely a male scene, and Seattle-Olympia produced all of these
bands, but none were remotely "hit bands."  As for Madonna, to me her
main contribution to the feminist movement was that she took control of
her own career, like the rap moguls branched out into different
businesses, and has been able to sustain a very long career, as opposed
to say Alanis Morriseette,

Black-white music splitting in the 70's?  It happened long before
then.  R&B, formerly known as race music, was separated from the white
mainstream.  It infiltrated through Louis Jordan, and later others, but
there's always been that separation.  

Rik, I'm glad that you said what you did.  My point wasn't intended as
a personal; question, though, but raising the issue of how the indie.
attitude has kind of degenerated, to a great extent, into illegal file
sharing.   As for The Times They Are A Changing, it's been a commercial
for the US Post Office and the Bank of Montreal as well.  
The Canadians wrote the following parody:
Come later day hippies, and please heed the call,
deposit your funds at the Bank of Montreal,
Cause your lives need re-arranging.
So spend all you have at the  neighborhood mall,
Cause the prime rate is a-changing.  

I agree that we were idealistic and naive.  However I believe that
music can be a useful source that encourages social change.  I don't
believe that it alone can create changes.   
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #109 of 130: Chicken or egg first? (jonsson) Mon 16 Aug 10 12:56
    

The topic of this discussion is a chicken and egg sort of thing IMHO.

Brings to mind other questions though like -- how much social change
can take place without some musical support or analogue? -- and how
effective is advertising without music?
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #110 of 130: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Mon 16 Aug 10 13:16
    
Well, I can't walk down the street without having some song or another take
up residence in my head, and I'll often find myself singing along.  I sing
in the shower, I sing in the warehouse, and I occasionally sing for a
living.   Can't really concieve of doing anything without music.   The
question is, does music affect social change.   And for that, I'd give a
very qualified yes.   It can be a social lubricant within groups that are
trying to affect change.

I recently learned that it was Pete Seeger who offered up "We Shall
Overcome" to the civil rights movement.    And I've watched groups use it
very effectively to rally the troops.   What I haven't seen is any evidence
that it recruited any.

By the way, the most moving version of it, to me, is an instrument take on
the Hank Jones/Charlie Haden album, "Steal Away".   They do two stately
gospel-flavored choruses, and then sort of slip sideways into a gorgeous 12-
bar blues which they explore for a while, bringing the theme back in at the
end.    It has, on occasion, brought me to tears.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #111 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 16 Aug 10 14:43
    
That is a superb album and that particular tune is the standout.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #112 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Mon 16 Aug 10 19:30
    
Not exactly correct about Seeger and We Shall Overcome.  The song was
a hymn, and came through Zilphia Horton, the music director of the
Cumberland Folk School.  Seeger, Frank Hamilton, and Guy Carawan (who
later succeeded Horton) all had a hand in it, and donated the
royalties.  

Evidence is a bit hard to come by.  However, if you go on the
Resistance Records web site, you can see and hear lots of vile Nazi
music and neo-Nazi music, that is specifically designed to recruit
people for that cause.  So apparently people do believe that music has
some effect on folks' ideas.

Speaking of We Shall Overcome, Dick Gregory and some other
African-Americans involved in  the movement, were very opposed to
Peter, Paul & Mary singing at the March On Washington.  They were
out-voted.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #113 of 130: Barry Warren Polley (barryp) Mon 16 Aug 10 19:47
    
The neo-Nazi lyrics you quote in your book made me laugh out loud; they're
self parodies and really not terribly effective at generating sympathy or
validation. However, for someone already favourably disposed to that set of
views, the music could be a source of validation ("someone else feels the
same as I do, and strongly enough to put into music"). So not really about
winning new support as bringing the believers together, a sort of shared
seekrit handshake.

Though I'll go back to re-read that part of the book now. Hmm.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #114 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Mon 16 Aug 10 20:21
    
A couple of stories that may highlight the notion that social change
is a more subtle process than we've gotten into here.  

in November, 1963 the band that i was in, The Journeymen were asked to
honor a boycott of the Jackson, Miss. city auditorium by SNCC, the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.  Although the auditorium
was nominally not segregated, the police would arrest any black person
coming within 100 yards of it for vagrancy.  We then did a free concert
at Tougaloo, a black nearby college that was a center for Civil Rights
actions, and also had some white students.  We looked around, and
there were students with head bandages and other injuries, from
encounters with cops and rednecks.  At the time I felt almost guilty,
they were extremely appreciative of our going out there, and I felt
that this was a pretty minor contribution on our part.  Later the
archives of the movement turned out that that particular time, just
before JFK's assassination, was a low point at the school, and our
concert was very meaningful and a morale booster for the students.  Did
we create social change?  of course not.  However, we made a small
contribution to those who would indeed create the change. (The other
people on the show ere Glenn Yarbrough and Jo Mapes.)

Story #2  Len Chandler is an old friend of mine.  He was a grad.
student in oboe performance at the U. of Akron, when he had a history
class with a white teacher who played Leadbelly records in class.  Len
had been a jazz freak, and seemed destined for a career as a symphony
oboe player (he  might have had trouble getting the gig in the early
60's, being black!)  Anyway, he took up guitar and became a
singer-songwriter and an activist in the Civil Rights movement in the
mid and late 60's.  He went to jail over 50 times.  he moved to NY, and
wrote and hung out with Dylan, Paxton and Ochs and the Broadside
crowd, and got a contract with Colombia Records.  Len could play rings
around any of these folks on the guitar, and he also was a better
singer than any of them.  His song, To Be A Man was a really excellent
piece of work, at a time when black "boys" were asserting their
manhood.   Len didn't "make it" as a pop star.  Call me naive, call me
idealistic, but I have to believe that his songs did indeed have a role
in assisting social change in the jails, the sit-ins and picket lines.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #115 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Tue 17 Aug 10 06:46
    
I remember Len Chandler - Move on over, or we'll move on over you - to the
tune of John Brown's body, that was Len Chandler, right?

All the music we've been discussing have been agents of change -
sometimes more active agents than others -
Does music foment change - can it recruit?
A simple yes is too simple, but so is a simple no.
We can speak of "engines" of change - and may, as Dick suggests
music is not "the engine" - but engines are nothing without fuel
and music has been the fuel of social change - both positive and
negative - The Internationale, Deutschland Uber Alles, We Shall
overcome have all been powerful fuels for the changes into
whose service they were pressed ... 
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #116 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Tue 17 Aug 10 11:05
    
David,

Yes that's Len Chandler.  Later he co-founded the Songwriters'
Showcase in LA, which gave songwriters an opportunity to contact music
publishers, record producers and record companies. It lasted over 20
years, but is no more.  as far as I know, Len still lives in the LA
area.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #117 of 130: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 17 Aug 10 12:49
    
Does he still play out?   "Roll, Turn, Spin" was part of my folk act in the
mid 60s.  It's a perfect short story in 5 verses.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #118 of 130: Earl Crabb (esoft) Tue 17 Aug 10 13:18
    
Wasn't the other co-founder of Songwriters Showcase a guy
from Minneapolis (and maybe Nebraska, too) named John Braheny,
who still is helping aspiring songwriters?
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #119 of 130: David Wilson (dlwilson) Tue 17 Aug 10 13:26
    
Hey Earl, did you live in Minneapolis?
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #120 of 130: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 17 Aug 10 14:06
    
Don't get him started.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #121 of 130: Dick Weissman (musicmusic) Tue 17 Aug 10 15:39
    
Len rarely plays anywhere.  Once in a while he plays at some historic
gathering, usually related to the Civil Rights movement.

Yes, John Braheny, was the co-founder of the LA Songwriters Showcase.

I guess this is the final day for these official postings.  For anyone
in Portland, OR, I'm doing a two hour show at Artichoke Music on
9/11/10, 8PM, based on the book. I'll be playing a bunch of the records
discussed in the book, talking about various issues revolving around
music and social change, and playing a bit of live music.  

I'll also be doing a reading and a concert in October in Bellingham,
Washington.  It wikll be posted on my web site, www.dickweissman.com in
a week or so.

Thanks to everyone from participating.  Every week I found out about
some artist, or recording that is new to me.  That's why writing this
book has been so rewarding to me.  I don't feel as though I necessarily
know that much, but I know a lot more than when I started the project.
Dick Weissman
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #122 of 130: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 17 Aug 10 16:03
    
Thanks for the visit, and good luck on all the shows and book tour!
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #123 of 130: (fom) Tue 17 Aug 10 22:49
    
 >Black-white music splitting in the 70's?  It happened long before
  then.  R&B, formerly known as race music, was separated from the white
  mainstream.  It infiltrated through Louis Jordan, and later others, but
  there's always been that separation.


No, I was referring specifically to the split in the early 70s. In the 
late 60s, black and white pop music were played on the same radio 
stations and charted on the same charts. Around 1973, the industry split 
them into separate markets. Suddenly Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, 
Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, Brenton Wood, Gladys Knight, Aretha, etc 
etc etc, disappeared from the mainstream ("white") stations. 

I wondered if you had any comment on this but I guess not.
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #124 of 130: David Julian Gray (djg) Wed 18 Aug 10 05:05
    
Thanks to dick - and everyone
This has been a great discussion - keep on singing!
  
inkwell.vue.389 : Dick Weissman, Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
permalink #125 of 130: Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 18 Aug 10 08:19
    
Thank you all for coming by to chat with Dick about music and
revolutions.  Today we are switching our focus to a new discussion, but
you are all welcome to hang out here as long as you'd like.
  

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