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“The death of George Floyd has prompted one of the biggest movements against racism since the civil rights era.”

BBC announces ‘The new wave of protest songs’

Mark Savage goes on “As the Black Lives Matter movement continues, the record industry has been paused to examine its own history of racial exclusion, and the inequity between black artists and the mainly white executives who profit from their work.”

As a follow up to my previous post here is the BBC celebrating the new wave of protest songs!  Any successful uprising will see the progressive, hip establishment move to get in with it and take leadership.  Please say if you think i’m being too cynical!

The article is short and worth a read.

 

13 Best [US] Protest Songs Of All Time

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/best-protest-songs?

It is interesting that when the world slips into a radical phase of revolt as with the global ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ protests that the fashion sector has to react quickly OR get labelled out of step and soon dropped. But then again some of these artists can embrace the contradiction of money and protest. Maintaining street cred when you are absolutely RICH. Forgive my cynicism – its good to see the contradictions being stretched. Its a good playlist! I learnt stuff.

The biggest affront to the establishment is to pull down statues. Be interesting to see how that pans out in Bristol UK in the coming months! Please let me know if any songs arise from that… (Soon come!  see comment below!)

https://progressive.org/dispatches/strange-fruit-caused-the-murder-of-billie-holiday-180220/

Last night I heard this singer on Radio 6 on Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone programme.

Lingua Ignota is a classically trained singer who, after as that in life as a Catholic chorister, got into noise music. But now is bringing all her experience together in an album about her experience of domestic abuse. She’s really thought about the issue, and speaks articulately about its many facets, but the tracks of her latest album are all about communicating the pure pain, and lasting trauma that it leaves in the victim. Somehow noise music plus her complex overtone singing seem perfect for representing trauma, Still, its not easy to listen to!

https://linguaignota.bandcamp.com

“CALIGULA, the new album by LINGUA IGNOTA plunges into the ocean with the visionary force of the 12th century mystic who inspired it”

“The unsayable, the unspeakable, the traumatic repressed has become, over the last two years, and perhaps more than any other contemporary artist, the theme and keynote of Kristin Hayter’s music.”

from Robert Barry’s review in the Quietus

I’m wary of the way people like Diamanda Galás appeal to the political right, with the allure of unhinged violence that has parted company with any restrain or moral compass.  But hearing Kristin talk about how this was based on her own experience of being abused at the hands of a widely admired member of the left community she lived in, you have to consider that this is an art version of the screams that must accompany any expression of the experience of extremes of abuse suffered by anyone. I do believe that far-right people have actually experienced harsh cruelty, usually when they are young, that disconnects them from human empathy in a way that exceeds that of everyday oppressors.

Her intense pain is like that that must drive other people to commit suicide, and or plotting to harm others. Lily-livered people like myself really find it scary but that’s the point I suppose.

I’ll start by saying that I am an ideal reader for this book – its like it was written for me. Whether it’s down to my teenage empathy with country blues, record collecting, the hi-fi enthusiasm, the field recording fetish, or the suburban childhood. I’ve read some William Burroughs, idolised Brion Gysin and heard Bob Cobbings perform concrete poetry in a small room in London. Then there was the work of Pierre Schaeffer and R. Murray Schafer that I was in awe of at a distance.

The obsession with the ‘authentic’ black solo blues musicians from the first half of the C20th was a huge part of my UK early Sixties Mod culture and through people like John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers, it led to the volcanic rise of British R&B that proceeded to world dominance. The old blues singers got almost nothing – perhaps a European tour if they were the later generation and in good health. I saw Sonny Boy Williams 2nd close up in a pub in Chertsey c 1965. 

This book provides a critical analysis of what was going on with that. Simplistic conclusions there are not. Relief! My own rationalisation of our blues obsession is based on my British history, which is not Seth’s in this book. Mine was that British working class culture was wiped out in certain aspirational sections of the population, to the point at which many of our families stopped singing, and into that terrible void, blues expressed something deeply felt but un-articulated by bodies such as the Labour Party, about cultural oppression. I’m not saying there was an equivalence or anything. And it does beg the questions of the crass exploitation of the labour of those bluesman. (even if they got to cut a disc of their song, they might have been the lucky few as Kunzru points out… young American Negros were being regularly forced into labour and arbitrarily killed during the period in question.)

And of course folk and blues songs were passed around and changed before the rise of printed music copyright laws. So it seems fine for Kunzru to mix lyrics from the rebel versions of songs such as the classic John Henry;

“John Henry told his captain,

A man ain’t nothing but a man.

Before I’d let you beat me down,

I’d die with the hammer in my hand.”

Or Jim Jacksons recording of:

‘I’m Gonna Start Me A Graveyard Of My Own’ 1927

“This song is at least as old as 1900; Billy Cheatham, who is not known to have recorded, was performing it live in that year. If the 1930 census was right, Jim was 24 years old in 1900.” Brazilian Atlantis from comments. 

The background is heartless profiteering – capitalism. Transmorgrified from brazen slavery and forced labour into industrial scale incarceration.  The children of those slave/bourgeois prison owners choose between a heartless existence as family firm executives or to ‘rebel’ as whimsical artists on a parental leash – here shown as without much talent.

Kunzru’s insight into the  discordance of inter-class dialogue is unnerving. The picture of how powerful are the forces that appear out of the social ether if you take a path of non-compliance dramatises something that is usually only inchoately felt. The class analysis is incisive in instances such as the way the captains of industry use the legal system to produce seamless class separation, And to deadly effect!.

I gave up writing this review at this stage, after going on Goodreads I realised there is no chance of anyone reading it at this stage with over 1000 other reviews! But in case your wondering I’m recommending this book its serious literature mind, its gets tough, the language goes through some choppy waters, but that is all in the cause of wringing a deeper truth from the subject matter. This book is about my experience.

The history of post-war popular music has been closely associated with concerns for social justice. It is not only that particular ideals (equality, community, rights, an end to oppression and discrimination) have animated the public sphere; it is also that those ideals have – whether we look at blues, gospel, world music, punk or hip-hop, for instance – been central in many music genres.”

#btmconf

http://www.balancingthemix.com/

The conference will be at University of Memphis on the 30 March 2019

‘Opportunity Costs’ spotty playlist created by Death, Sex and Money

Anna Sale host of an NPR Podcast called ‘Sex, Death and Money’ invited podcast listeners to contribute to this playlist.

 

The x5 ‘Opportunity Costs’ podcasts. in which people talk about their feeling about their class, can be found here:   https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/deathsexmoney/episodes

Thanks to Sherry Linkon of

for this intelligence.

tate_sobp_playlist_coverv2-recovered_1600

“Darcus Beese OBE, President, Island Records and son of prominent British Black Pantheractivists, Darcus Howe and Barbara Beese, explains why music was critical to this movement and shares a selection of tracks which reflect this.”

This is what we used to call recuperation; notice the TATE branding! Its pretty full on though and in the context of a show that many people admire as including the most political work of the time. The w word oppression is used… I guess the Tate wouldn’t see themselves as ‘oppressors’ and it will be interesting to see if reviews bring class into the analysis.

 

“In the month leading up to the U.S. presidential election, Dave Eggers, the author, philanthropist, and founder of the satire site McSweeney’s, enlisted a number of musicians across genres and disciplines for what would become the “30 Days, 30 Songs” project, a vocal gesture against a Trump presidency.” Rob Arcand  http://reallifemag.com/sonic-youth/   via  http://conversations.e-flux.com/t/noise-sound-as-protest-music/5453

I totally missed this until now.

aaah

“unite to coordinate action?”  Its difficult to distinguish capitalist rhetoric from old anti-capitalist words that, as soon as they have wide currency are immediately monetised (and that include Bitcoin versions.) by having their meanings reassigned for new purposes.

“…neoliberal protest music — “30 Days, 30 Songs,” like Third Eye Blind, Green Day, John Mayer before it — has come to seem better suited for sharing and agreement among the like-minded than the sort of direct action upon which protest music was once established. The liberal “folk-political” song, steeped in nostalgia for the mass radicalization of the 1960s, invokes an era defined by collective action while serving mostly as a substitute for action itself.” Rob Arcand

http://www.30days30songs.com

What are we to make to this?

Rebecca MCarthy (see Third Eye Blind link above) “Protest songs are out in force: look at Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” Beyonce’s “Formation,” J.Cole’s “Be Free,” Kanye West’s “We Don’t Care,” Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage,” even Childbirth’s “I Only Fucked You as a Joke.”

 

Good article on the Pete Seeger heritage:

http://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/sing-out-lessons-from-the-extraordinary-life-of-pete-seeger/