Saturday, July 19, 2014

Country Club 47: the country side of Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden, the great jazz bassist died on July 11.  He is most famous for being part of the revolutionary Ornette Coleman Quartet.  I was fortunate enough to discover Coleman before I graduated from high school. 

In 2009, a wrote a post on George Strait and Haden and commented  about Haden's then new CD, Rambling Boy

a country CD. Not country-twinged jazz or some hybrid. But straight out country. Rambling Boy is not even contemporary country, the music harks back to an older time, circa 1930s-1940s. Haden grew up in a family that was sort of a Midwest Carter family, making a radio debut at age two.
Here's a trailer for a video documentary of Haden. The whole documentary can be seen here.



Here is a performance of the group on the David Letterman show.



Tom Jurek reviewed it on allmusic.com very perceptively (though it is one of those infuriating reviews where you read the review, look at the star rating --3 1/2--and think I thought he was gong to rate it higher.  I would have given it at least 4 stars.)

This 19-song set features all the members of his immediate family -- daughters Petra, Rachel, and Tanya, as well as son Josh. The players and vocalists are numerous but they include guitarist Pat Metheny, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, the Whites, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and Russ Barenberg, among others. Despite the wide range of players here, this album can only be called Americana in the strictest sense of the term as its selections are new readings of mostly traditional folk and country songs.
On his 1997 CD with Pat Metheny, Beyond the Missouri Sky, Haden included "The Precious Jewell" a country classic by Roy Acuff.



And, here is the original

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Country Club 46 Hank Jr.'s Two Liberal Songs

Hank Williams, Jr. has the kind of reactionary, red-wing politics that uninformed pundits like Richard Cohen think that Merle Haggard has. Haggard dud right some jingoists songs back in the 1960s and 1970s, but Haggard has mellowed and evolved. Looks for my "Left Side of Merle" playlist here later in 2014.

The same can't be said about Hank, Jr. He's far more a musical spokesman for the Tea Party than Merle Haggard who Richard Cohen cited in an infamous column, in which he misreads the Hag's "Are the Good Times Over for Good" as the national anthem of the tea party, neglecting to mention that the Hag lent support to Hillary (with a song, no less) and Obama.

In that same column,  Cohen wrote that "People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex" when thinking of inter-racial marriage.  Yet, Haggard recorded a pro-interracial romance song "Irma Jackson" in 1969. Strangely, even progressive bloggers who know country music didn't call Cohen on this.

That's enough of a digression for now.  Sometime I'll do a post on Hank Jr. reactionary songs, but this Saturday, I'll highlight his two liberal songs. (If I've missed any let me know in the comments.

"I'm for Love" was written and recorded by Hank, Jr. in 1985 and was his seventh number one hit. There's a nice touch in the first verse where what you think is going to be anti-union ("The unions against the workers...") turns out not to be in the next phrase. ("... working against their will")



Hank Jr. recorded,  but did not write, "Red, White, and Pink Slip Blues" on his 2009 album, 207 Rose Avenue.  The album also included a song "Sounds Like Justice" which is a paean to vigilante justice.


I'm for Love lyrics

Mothers against drunk drivers, the Pope is against the pill
The unions against the workers working against their will
The Presidents against the Congress, the Senate is against the House
People are against politicians and Im against cats in the house
But Im for love and Im for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the music, turning down the lights
Cause Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
The cities against the counties, the counties against the state
The state is against the government and the highways still aint paved
The bankers against the farmer, the farmers against the wall
Doctor's against me smoking and the devil is against us all
But Im for love and Im for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the tube and turning down the lights
Cause Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
The cops are against the robbers, the laws are against the cops
Justice is against the system and some people are blowing their tops
The horse is against the automobile, the bus is against the train
The train is against the jumbo jet and Im against fishing in the rain
But Im for love, Im all for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the tube and turning down the lights
And Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
Hey, Im for love, Im all for happiness
And Im for 'Not looking for something to make us mad'
Im all for turning off the music and turning down the lights
And Im for nothing else but me and you t







Red, White and Pink Slip Blues lyrics

I used to love this town and this neighborhood
The streets were safe, the schools were good
The mill was hummin' twenty-four seven
I was formin' on the line, three to eleven
But eighteen months, two days ago
The Mill closed down and moved to Mexico

I payed my bills, I payed my dues
I payed my share of taxes too
Now I cant buy my baby shoes
Ive got the red, white, pink-slip blues

I hide the pickup truck in Ricky Browns garage
Over on the next block, cause there's Repo's to dodge
I slip out the back door Lord, I never thought Id live to see this day
Where gonna need that truck when they come to take the house away

You know I love my country and I'm not one to complain
But there's a lot of us that feel like we've been left out here
Out in the rain

I payed my bills, I payed my dues
I payed my share of taxes too
Now I cant buy my little baby shoes

Sunday, July 06, 2014

New York Photos

From the 9/11 Memorial






More photos here.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Country Club 45: pedal steel master Buddy Emmons

Steel guitar is the quintessential country instrument, with dues respect to banjos, mandolins, and fiddles.  Buddy Emmons is arguably the foremost steel guitarist ever. He has played on hundreds, if not thousands, of country sides, but is stylistically cathollic, having recording in jazz, country-rock, folk, and other idioms. Here's a short display of Emmons' virtuosity.



There are a number of videos of Emmons performing at Steel Guitar conventions and the like on Youtube.  If you like clip above, check them out.

Allmusic.com has a discography of albums issued under Emmons' name.  Some are worth noting.   In 1963, Emmons recorded a highly regarded album for Verve Records, Steel Guitar Jazz, with sidemen such as saxophonist Jerome Richardson. In the 1970s, he recorded with Lenny Breau (Minors Aloud) and Danny Gatton (Red Neck Jazz Explosion) and, still later, did performed and recorded several fine albums with Ray Pennington as the Swing Shift Band, a grouping of Nashville area musicians who did swing and western swing on the side.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts Re-ignites Residency Controversy


With the Kansas primary only a month away, it  looks like Senator Pat Roberts has "Lugared" himself with what the right-wing media outlet Breitbart,com  called a "Freudian slip" in an interview on radio station KCMO and reported on July 3 in the DC insider newspaper The Hill saying he returns home to Kansas “every time I get an opponent”  and proclaiming that he doesn't measure his voting record by "how many times I sleep wherever it is."

Back in February Roberts got caught in a controversy with an interview in the New York Times

In an interview, the three-term senator acknowledged that he did not have a home of his own in Kansas. The house on a country club golf course that he lists as his voting address belongs to two longtime supporters and donors — C. Duane and Phyllis Ross — and he says he stays with them when he is in the area. He established his voting address there the day before his challenger, Milton Wolf, announced his candidacy last fall, arguing that Mr. Roberts was out of touch with his High Plains roots.

“I have full access to the recliner,” the senator joked. Turning serious, he added, “Nobody knows the state better than I do.”
"We’re not going to get Lugar’d," Roberts adviser David Kensinger told the Times, in a reference to long-time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar who lost a 2012 primary to a Tea Party challenger, who in turn lost to a Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.


Roberts fits the Lugar profile, so Kensinger concern was understandable. Roberts is getting up in years; he's 77. And he's been a Congressman and Senator since 1980 and before that, starting in 1967, a D.C. staffer for Kansas Senator Frank Carlson and Congressman Keith Sebelius.   

Roberts made some astute moves to avoid Lugar's fate.  He lined up almost every conceivable challenger, virtually every state Senator and Representatives for an endorsement.  He shifted his voting record from conservative to very, very conservative.

Despite this, Roberts got a primary challenger:  Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama and radiologist.  Wolf is being backed by many of the same Tea Party organizations and media that backed Dave Brat's upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Mississippi Senate challenger Chris McDaniel.  In fact, Wolf has gone on national right-wing shows like that of Mark Levin to back McDaniel and attack not only Roberts, but the state's other Senator Jerry Moran, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign.

There have been signs that Roberts is vulnerable. A 2013 poll, for example, found that just 42% of Republicans say they would vote to re-nominate Roberts, while 34% say they would prefer someone "more conservative."  And, a February  2014 PPP poll show that Kansans disapproving of Roberts by a 38 to 29 margin.

But Wolf hasn't caught on.  The February PPP poll found Roberts leading Milton Wolf 49 percent to 23 percent among GOP primary voters. A June Survey USA poll showed Roberts ahead of Wolf, 56-23 percent.

One reason is that Wolf, though he is sometimes an effective sound biter, has some big problems of his own,which are highlighted on "The Real Milton Wolf" tumblr created by the Roberts campaign.  The tumblr doesn't mince words promising to document.
character flaws, missteps, and flat-out lies. We assure you that the incredible array of evidence below will leave no doubt in your mind, Milton Wolf is not only unvetted, untested, and unelectable, but a completely discredited candidate.
Personally, I hope that Roberts and Wolf have a full out slugfest in the nice month and that votes come to see the former as an out-of-touch, D.C. insider, carpetbagger and the latter as an unethical, right wing nut job.

Then, perhaps Kansas can elect its first non-Republican Senator since  George McGill was re-elected in 1932.  The Democrats have a potentially strong candidate in Chad Taylor.


In a future post, I'll take a look at vanity austerity millionaire independent candidate Greg Orman threatens to split the anti-Roberts (or anti-Wolf) vote. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Country Club 44: Bobby Womack's Country Song

This is an unexpected post. Bobby Womack, the great R&B singer, guitarist, and song writer, died yesterday at age 70. I remembered that the Rolling Stones, early in their career, covered "It's All Over Now," a song Womack wrote and recorded with his group the Valentinos. When I pulled it up on Youtube, I was surprised at how country it sounded and wondered if any country artists had also covered it. It turns out that Waylon Jennings and John Anderson had. So here is Jennings and Anderson, followed by the Valentinos and the Rolling Stones.




Here's the original by the Valentinos. There's a definite country tinge.




The country tinge was even more pronounced in the Rolling Stones cover, captured here as part of the legendary TAMI concert film.



Here's a little confirmation for my hearing this as a country tune. Steve Huey in the allmusic.com bio notes

Womack pushed UA into letting him do a full album of country music, something he'd always loved but which the label regarded as commercially inadvisable (especially under the title Womack reportedly wanted to use: Step Aside, Charley Pride, Give Another Nigger a Try). They eventually relented ... BW Goes C&W met with predictably minimal response,
Rebirth Bass Band, despite everything above, makes a strong case that it's really a R&B song, after all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Country Club 43: Bob Wills and Merle Haggard Swing JImmy Rodgers

This is a really interesting compilation video, combining two versions of "Swing Blues" recorded by Bob Wills in the 1930s and Merle Haggard's take on the same tune titled "Stingaree." The tune and lyrics come from Jimmy Rodgers.

If you like Bob Wills and Western Swing, check out Radiobob805's YouTube channel.

Listening to the Iraqi Left on the ISIS Crisis

It's difficult to know what a socialist policy towards Iraq should be beyond deep suspicion of the warhawk architects of the US invasion. Some have formula, isolationist, non-intervention, and revolutionary, that they apply to every situation.  Often those formula seem unconvincing or incomplete to me. A better place to start, I think, is looking at the viewpoints of the Iraqi left. There are four-plus organizations I would  look at:

 I couldn't find a statement by the National Democratic Party, but did find information on the other three.

Martin Thomas of the British Workers Liberty group interviewed Nadi Mahmood of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq.

Nadia Mahmood of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq told Solidarity:

"What's going on now with ISIS is a new phase of the sectarian violence which reached its peak in 2006-7 with the bombings in Samarra".

That simmering sectarian civil war died down in 2007-8 and after. But, said Nadia: "After the Arab Spring [in 2011], the Sunni [minority in Arab Iraq] became more assertive.
"In 2013, [Iraq's Shia-Islamist prime minister] Maliki ended the [peaceful, and not sharply Islamist] protest camps outside the roads to Fallujah and ignored their demands.

"Now in 2014, after the election two months ago, Maliki wants to stay in power and has marginalised even the other Shia parties.

"Because of the sectarian nature of the government, this sort of violence will happen again and again. Socialists need to call for a secular state.

"The left and the labour movement in Iraq are not powerful right now, so first of all we need a secular state without religious identity which will give us ground to build. The target now is to end the sectarian nature of the state".
A statement of the Iraqi Communist Party from the Iraqi Letter, a blog associated with the party.
It is truly the battle of the homeland that is now being threatened. Political, material, logistic and military prerequisites must be provided to stop the expansion of this malignant cancer. Terrorism is targeting all, and it has no religion or denomination or nationality, and it wants to finish off the political process in our country and return it back to the days of tyranny and obscurantism.
Terrorism is the enemy of all. Our people, of various nationalities, religions and sects, and of all ideological and political affiliations, should be aware of the reality of the dangers and beware of falling into what Da’ish (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - Isis) and the regional and international powers standing behind it are planning, with the aim of destabilizing national unity and stirring up sectarian strife and narrow nationalist and chauvinist tendencies.
We in the Iraqi Communist Party, while condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, renew our full support and unlimited backing for the military and security forces, and call upon all the political blocs and parties, whether in power or outside, to meet immediately and conduct an urgent national dialogue. This should consider ways of confronting effectively the forces of evil, aggression and crime, defeating the terrorists, and providing political, material and moral support for the armed forces in the ongoing battle, in addition to sound management of the overall security policy.

See also:
 Kurdish Parties

The BasNews site has an article on the positions of the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties.
the leading KDP believes that the Kurdish enclave should remain neutral and protect only its territories, including the disputed areas, the PUK claims that the Kurdish region should provide the Iraqi army with military support.

BasNews has been informed that Iranian Agha Sobhani met the Chief of the Executive Body of Polit Bureau of PUK Mullah Bakhtiar. Following the meeting Bakhtiar published an article in a local Kurdish newspaper in which he wrote: “in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), Kurds shouldn’t just defend, they should participate in the fight”.
 “What we can do now is only protect the Kurdistan Region. The US, Iran and Iraq will hit ISIS and the Ba’athists, the Kurdistan’s excuse for only defending the region will appear weak. For this reason Kurds should have policies that allow them to deal with Baghdad, US and neighbors. Kurds should consider that a federal Iraq must survived this plan by ISIS and Ba’athists and Kurds should participate in it,” said Bakhtiar.
 In contrast 
member of KDP Leadership Council Ali Awni told BasNews that high Shiite marja Ayatollah Sistani has called for Jihad and that this is a conflict between Sunni and Shia.

“Our case is different, it is an ethnic case. Therefore, it is better to not be part of this fight in order not to lose our case,” said Awni.

Awni noted that while other party’s may pull them into the fight, he believes that the Kurdish government’s duty is to protect the region, including the disputed areas.