What are you listening to now?

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cactus9
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Jan 4 2021 01:46

Defiance Ohio I'm Against The Government

https://youtu.be/AT0IsmflTxs

cactus9
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Jan 4 2021 01:48

Kosheen Hide U

https://youtu.be/tfIrJ29Rjf0

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Auld-bod
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Jan 4 2021 18:04

adri #899:
I don't know much about blues/music history but I'm a bit puzzled why there wasn't more of a political or communist aspect to blues, rather than the emphasis on "bad luck and trouble."

Hope these thoughts are useful adri.

I don't think the blues can be neatly categorised.
People have discussed it every which a way. It emerged early in the 20th century and I believe what passes for it now is a pale commercial shadow of its folk origins.

A relatively early exploration:
‘… the most astonishing aspect of the blues is that, though replete with a sense of defeat and down-heartedness, they are not intrinsically pessimistic; their burden of woe and melancholy is dialectically redeemed through sheer force of sensuality, into an almost exultant affirmation of life, of love, of sex, of movement, of hope. No matter how repressive was the American environment, the Negro never lost faith in or doubted his deeply endemic capacity to live. All blues are a lusty, lyrical realism charged with taut sensibility.’

Foreword by Richard Wright (Paris, 1959) from Paul Oliver’s book ‘Blues Fell This Morning’ (1960)

In chapter 11, Paul Oliver argues that blues singers could not be unaware of their social and economic plight, and for reasons of self-preservation generally did not commit their observations openly in recording studios.

As an example of intimidation, in the seventies it was reported that Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Texas bluesman, after singing on the local radio about a farm he had worked on, was told in no uncertain terms never to repeat the performance.

This from the optimistic 1970s:
‘As a living and fertile body of creative expression blues and jazz retain today their boundless integrity and provocative flare. Their role in shaping the modern sensibility is already large and shows every sign of expanding. It should be emphasized, since so many critics pretend not to notice it, that all authentic blues and jazz share a poetically subversive core, an explosive essence of irreconcilable revolt against the shameful limits of an unlivable destiny… The dark truth of Afro-American music remains unquestionably oppositional… Born in passionate revolt against the unlivable, blues and jazz demand nothing less than a new life’

Preface by Franklin Rosemont from Paul Garon’s book ‘Blues and the Poetic Spirit’ (1975)

Always worth remembering a large percentage of blues was for dancing and many string bands, jug bands, and ragtime pickers were all part of the rich mix.

There is a mountain of blues books - these authors I can recommend: Bruce Bastin, Paul Oliver, Tony Russell and Gayle Dean Wardlow

cactus9
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Jan 6 2021 05:53

Jessie J Price Tag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMxX-QOV9tI

Battlescarred
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Jan 6 2021 12:34

Agree with Auld Bod about the blues. adri #899's queries as to why the blues wasn't more overtly political reminds me of the attitude of the ethnomusicologist John Lomax when he interviewed the great blues musician Blind Willie McTell. As one blog on Mctell notes:
"I wonder, John Lomax asked Blind Willie McTell, "I wonder if, if you know any songs about colored people havin' hard times here in the South" ... "Any complainin' songs, complainin' about the hard times and sometimes mistreatment [by] the whites? Have you got any songs that talk about that?" ... No, McTell said at once, he had no such songs, "not at the present time." Those were the songs of another era, but now "the white peoples is mighty good to the southern people, as far as I know" ... Read one way, Lomax's conversation with McTell is a tense social transcript from the Jim Crow South. Lomax, the overbearing if well intentioned white visitor, wants musical documents of poverty and racial oppression. The request may connote obliviousness on his part, as well as a condescending sympathy for blacks, but it is nevertheless rude and insulting, demanding that the singer violate basic, unspoken southern norms that should have been familiar to anyone reared in Texas. McTell knows better than to say anything against white people, let alone sing it, to a white man with even the hint of a southern accent and his wife, especially if ... a recorder is running ... McTell makes it clear that he knows songs that Lomax wants to hear ... he would never play them ... but to say as much and explain why would also violate the Jim Crow norms by making them explicit".

Jim Crow was enforced by terror, by lynchings, beatings and sackings. One account I read talks about ponds and swamps that if drained would reveal the bones of black people murdered for being "uppity".As Auld Bod remarks as late as the 1970s Lightnin' Hopkins was scared to talk directly about the horrendous Tom Moore's farm in Texas, where a near-feudal atmosphere existed and where any black transgressors were murdered with impunity.

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Fozzie
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Jan 6 2021 14:18

That's interesting Battlescarred.

There appears to be a similar dynamic in English folk songs - Stefan Szczelkun's book "The Conspiracy of Good Taste" covers the well-to-do collectors of the songs and how because of their class nature, the singers were unlikely to sing songs of class war or sexual exploits to them, so they were not documented as much.

Battlescarred
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Jan 6 2021 15:18

https://www.texasmonthly.com/list/the-secret-history-of-texas-music/tom-moores-farm-1930s/

https://www.houstonpress.com/music/lightnin-hopkins-mance-lipscomb-and-the-legend-of-tom-moores-farm-7702841

adri
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Jan 6 2021 22:23

Yeah thanks for that Auld-bod, and yes it is kind of silly to expect rural Mississippi delta (or much of the South for that matter) blues singers to be "communists" when there wasn't much of an "industry" to speak of, unlike Chicago I guess. I also understand the dangers for African Americans being more overtly political during this time etc. I think that is also illustrated in the Red Summer race riots which had its origins in, well racism, and the "Great Migration" of African Americans to industrial areas/cities out of the South (Claude McKay's "If We Must Die" is also in response to this, which coincidentally appears in Pankhurst's Workers' Dreadnought, which I need to upload on here). I'd like to do some proper reading on blues history at some point; most music has its roots in blues which itself has its roots in slavery and so on. From what I've read (some of you might have read more) I also don't think Lead Belly's use of the word "bourgeois" was evidence of any sort of communist politics on his part. Some of Lead Belly's recordings of prison songs like "Midnight Special" I think are also worth looking at.

Bessie Smith also looks interesting to me in terms of what her music dealt with. I also maybe want to add that I don't really find "satisfaction" in blues music (I'd be concerned if someone found "satisfaction" in songs like "Strange Fruit" etc.), but I'm more interested in it from a historical point of view, and musically to some extent.

adri
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Jan 6 2021 23:44

Oh and particularly with "bad luck and trouble" and the internalization of people's problems, which are really external social problems (with the exception of I guess love songs), I had in mind things like Albert King's electric blues album "Born Under a Bad Sign", which popularized the phrase "if it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all." I guess it makes it more relateable and appeals to a wider audience/sells records, but I was still kind of puzzled, though I guess the above discussion helps explain things somewhat (and I wouldn't deny that it is a good track, all of the Kings for that matter). It also kind of de-politicizes things -- it's not racist capitalism but "bad luck and trouble" -- and you get imbeciles like Eric Clapton who are somehow able to reconcile their racist politics with "singing the blues."

Maybe also of musical interest is the BPP's musical group the Lumpen.

https://music.si.edu/story/elaine-browns-seize-time-1969-smithsonian-year-music-object-day-october-5

adri
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Jan 7 2021 01:03

"condescending sympathy for blacks" you can also piss off Battlescarred

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Auld-bod
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Jan 7 2021 10:10

An excellent source of info on Leadbelly is Charles Wolfe & Kip Lornell’s book, ‘The Life and Legend of Leadbelly’ (1993).

‘…Barnicle was feeling especially bitter about the extent of Jim Crow in the nation’s capital and complained, and the whole group began joking about what a bourgeois town Washington was. Leadbelly perked up. He didn’t know what the word bourgeois meant, but his poet’s ear loved the sound of it. When he asked Barnicle what it meant and after she explained it, he was even more interested in the word. There had to be some way to use it - and the whole Washington trip - in a song. The end result was “The Bourgeois Blues”, a song that would come one of his most famous and would gain fame as one of his more sincere, heartfelt protest songs.’ (Page 206).

There is several good sources of info regarding Bessie Smith, the best is, ‘Bessie A Biography’ by Chris Albertson (1972).
When Columbia released their sets of Bessie recordings included in the last set was an interesting section of recordings made by Albertson during research for the book regarding ‘buffet flats’.

Oceans of ink has been used investigating the often esoteric meaning contained in blues (and jazz) lyrics/titles. This can often range from surrealistic, metaphorical or euphemistic. An intro into this area is Eric Townley’s ‘Tell Your Story’ (1976) covering titles between 1917 and December 1950. He sometimes uses the rather pejorative word ‘slang’ where I feel ‘code’ would be more appropriate.

‘The bop era of the 1940s produced a new slang language deliberately conceived by black musicians which, for a few years, enabled then to communicate with each other to exclusion of outsides in the same manner as their music excluded others, particularly the white musician’. (Introduction, page xi)

Battlescarred
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Jan 8 2021 13:02

You need to calm down, Adri. I never accused you of ""condescending sympathy for blacks" " . In fact, if you look at my posts, I never employed that phrase.

cactus9
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Feb 7 2021 22:40

Sizzla - I'm living (Ed Solo & Stickybuds Remix)

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Reddebrek
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Apr 4 2021 19:31

For the past week I've been listening to Myanmar Anarchopunk songs, mostly recorded during the current anti coup resistance. Some of its translated or bilingual but not all of it.

CW: a lot of the videos use footage of the protests and riots so feature quite a lot of violent imagery.

Rebel Riot have two songs I've listened to a few times

One Day and ACAB

The rest are singles from a few other groups who I can't find too much information about

I Will Not Give Up (don't know the group)

The Night will not be silenced by Cacerolazo

Three Fingers by Sligshot

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R Totale
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Apr 5 2021 08:12

Rebel Riot did a small UK tour with a film they'd made back in 2017, around the time of the anarchist bookfair: https://dyingscene.com/burmese-punks-rebel-riot-to-tour-uk-with-film-screenings/

adri
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Apr 6 2021 04:12

I have found the capitalist blues anyway, Leyla McCalla - Capitalist Blues