Posts Tagged ‘music’

Paul Kantner RIP

Posted: 29 January 2016 in Uncategorized
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Some songs and singers define (and, then, transcend) an age and an ethos. This is one, written by Paul Kantner (with Stephen Stills and David Crosby), who was a central figure in Jefferson Airplane and later Jefferson Starship.

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I got this one from a former student, who wrote: “So many wild things happening at one time in that story. This (capitalist) system we live in is just so bizarre sometimes!”

And he’s absolutely right.

According to NPR, in 2014, the Wu-Tang Clan produced a 31-track album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, destroyed all the copies save one, placed the only extant version in a hand-carved silver and nickel box, along with a 174-page leather-bound book of lyrics, anecdotes and credits (in addition to a $55,000 pair of speakers and a “gold-leafed certificate of authenticity”), which they locked in the vault of a luxury hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, set it up on an online auction house, and then sold it to the highest bidder—none other than the “infamous, price-gouging pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli — and he hadn’t even bothered to listen to it.”

Bloomberg Business notes that Shkreli is a fan, of sorts:

“Shkreli was taken by the Wu-Tang song C.R.E.A.M., which stands for ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me.’ It includes the often-repeated phrase ‘Dolla dolla bill, y’all!’ “

It wasn’t fandom that drove his purchase, though. Shkreli liked the idea that owning the album would give him an in with celebrities and rappers, he told Bloomberg.

He didn’t listen to excerpts meant to verify the purchase — he had an employee check for him. And he reportedly still hasn’t played the album. He tells Bloomberg Business he might consider putting it on … if Taylor Swift wants to come over and hear it with him.

It should come as no surprise, I suppose, that Forbes exhaustively documented the creation and sale of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.

Ronnie Gilbert RIP

Posted: 7 June 2015 in Uncategorized
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Ronnie Gilbert,

whose crystalline, bold contralto provided distaff ballast for the Weavers, the seminal quartet that helped propel folk music to wide popularity and establish its power as an agent of social change, died on Saturday in Mill Valley, Calif. She was 88.

Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a wide audience and wrote additional songs, especially about the disasters of coal mining—”and in the process helped ignite the folk song revival of the mid-twentieth century—died on Monday at her home in Berea, Kentucky.

Here are the lyrics to her “Black Waters”:

I come from the mountains, Kentucky’s my home,
Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam;
By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream,
And through every green valley there runs a clear stream.
Now there’s scenes of destruction on every hand
And only black waters run down through my land.

CHORUS
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand,
Black waters, black waters, run down through my land.

O the quail, she’s a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue;
In the roots of tall timbers she nests with her young.
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite’s roar,
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more;
And the hillsides come a—sliding so awful and grand,
And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

CHORUS
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn,
In the ending of the springtime we buried a son,
In summer come a nice man, said, “Everything’s fine—
My employer just requires a way to his mine”—
Then they threw down my mountain and covered my corn,
And the grave on the hillside’s a mile deeper down,
And the man stands and talks with his hat in his hand
As the poisonous water spreads over my land.

CHORUS
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand;
Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain’t got no money and not much of a home;
I own my own land, but my land’ s not my own.
But if I had ten million – somewheres thereabouts—
I would buy Perry County and I’d run ’em all out!
Set down on the bank with my bait in my can,
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

CHORUS
Well, wouldn’t that be like the old Promised Land?
Black waters, black waters no more in my land!

“West Virginia Mine Disaster” was another of her original songs, performed here by Betsy Rutherford:

And here are the lyrics:

Say, did you see him walking? it was early this morning
He passed by your house on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his blue eyes so tender
His occupation was miner, West Virginia his home

It was just about noon, I was feeding the children
Ben Moseley come running for to give us the news
Number eight is all flooded, many men are in danger
And we don’t know their number, but we fear they’re all doomed

So I picked up the baby and I left all the others
For to comfort each other and pray for our own
There’s Timmy, fourteen, and there’s John not much younger
Soon their own time will be coming to go down the black hole

Now if I had the money to do more than just feed them
I’d give them good learning, the best could be found
And when they grew up they’d be checkers and weighers
And not spend their life drilling in the dark underground

And it’s what will I tell to my three little children?
And what will I tell his dear mother at home?
And it’s what will I tell to my poor heart that’s dying?
My heart that’s surely dying since my darling is gone

Say, did you see him walking? it was early this morning
He passed by your house on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his blue eyes so tender
His occupation was miner, West Virginia his home

My long-time friend Stephen T. Ziliak is doing great things with students at Roosevelt University, including teaching an introduction to economics based on the Grapes of Wrath and Theories of Justice, whence the video above.

Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

Readin’ Greg Mankiw,
Queue the conservative man’s view
Supply, demand, invisible hand too
Following these Ten Commandments he hands to you
Hey kids, you understand what Econ really can do?
These ain’t the pearly gates, Mr. Mankiw
Just preachin’ on profit and Max U
But where’s the vertical mobility?
Masses are enslaved in poverty
Millions for your fat pockets see
This poverty of nations ain’t so efficient
Mainstream economists are mentally deficient
Monotonous lectures despite student resistance
What works on the Blackboard but not with existence
Your crackpot theories plot all the wrong axes
If you are the state we-Uber-killin’ all your taxis

Clark Terry RIP

Posted: 22 February 2015 in Uncategorized
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Jazz legend Clark Terry, “one of the most popular and influential jazz trumpeters of his generation and an enthusiastic advocate of jazz education,” has died.

His signature song was “Mumbles,” performed above with the Oscar Peterson Trio (Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on double bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums).

One of my many other Terry favorites is “In Orbit,” with Thelonius Monk on piano (one of his rare appearances as a sideman), bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones.

 

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about lynchings in the United States, and as part of the research for our Tale of Two Depressions course, I discovered that the inspiration for Lewis Allan’s “Strange Fruit,” later made famous by Billie Holliday, was the 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion, Indiana.