Sunday, October 31, 2010

David Bowie: Changes




















Changes
By David Bowie

Oh yeah
Mm
Still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets and
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But stil the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the strange
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
Turn and face the stranger
(Ch-ch-Changes)
Where's your shame
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can't trace time

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Ah changes are taking the pace I'm going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-Changes
Oh, look out you rock 'n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-Changes
Pretty soon now you're gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barbara Streisand: The Way We Were




















The song is from the film: The Way We Were (1973); film clips accompany the music.

The song was on Billboard's Hot 100 for 23 weeks, and sold more than one million copies. Billboard has also ranked the song as no 90 on its list of Greatest Songs of All Time. 
The film won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Song and also made the American Film Institute's list of Top 100 Songs from Film, ranking number eight

FILM
Director: Sydney Pollack

Writer:
Arthur Laurents, and 1 more credit 
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford and Bradford Dillman
Release Date: October 19, 1973 (USA)


The film's storyline brings into sharp focus a few thing that work against this couple: political activism and its clash with everyday pragmatism, socio-economic and cultural differences and, of course, the price of conviction, and how it is often leads to a loss, in this case, of romantic love.

The writer, Arthur Laurents, wrote his screenplay based on a real personality and political activist of the 1930s and '40s, Kate Morosky, whom he met while at Cornell University. Ms. Morosky was an outspoken political activist. 

Here are some notes about the film:
The movie begins with the Katie Morosky (Barbara Streisand) running into Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford), an All-American popular jock she went to college with, some time after World War II. Though some other summaries claim it's been about 20 years, that is not really the case. It's probably been more like 10 years since college, and Hubbell has written his first novel and later joined the navy while Katie continues to work hard and remains very much involved in the grassroots level of politics.
Katie, who had a crush on Hubbell back in college, is still very attracted to him and soon the two start an "on again off again" relationship. Eventually Katie ends up giving up her voice and her interest in politics in order to hold on to Hubbell and they get married. However, when Hubbell begins to compromise his literary talent by abandoning his novel writing for writing screenplays for Hollywood, their marriage begins its downfall.
When the government begins its witch-hunt for communists among Hollywood writers and producers, Katie's politically active personality re-emerges and causes even more problems between the lovers. Soon everything leads to Hubbell having an affair with his college-sweetheart,who is also the ex-wife of his best friend, while his wife is pregnant with their child.
At first Katie wants to work things out, even though she knows about the affair. However, she soon begins to see their relationship for what it always was: not meant to be. She realizes that they've always desired different things and that they can no longer continue to build a life on the lies they tell themselves. She asks Hubbell to stay with her until their baby is born. Afterward, they go their separate ways. Years later, they run into one another in New York.
Katie has remarried and her husband is a good father to their daughter, Rachel. Hubbell on the other hand has a typically pretty, simple girl with him, the kind of girl Katie never could be. They have a short conversation and briefly remember "the way they were."
Katie (Barbra Streisand) says to Hubbell: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell," and this is followed by one of the most romantic scenes in the movie, where you realize that Hubbell is still very much in love with Katie and he realizes what he has lost, but he also knows he could never have lived up to her expectations of him.
Once again they go their separate ways with a bittersweet goodbye; she, a confident and beautiful political activist, and Hubbell, a talented writer squandering his talent by writing television scripts.
—by bberry

 

The Way We Were
Writers: Alan Bergman, 

Marilyn Bergman &Marvin Hamlisch
Memories,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
 

Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
 

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
 

Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Problem of Power

Politicians also have no leisure, because they are always aiming at something beyond political life itself, power and glory, or happiness.
—Aristotle 


Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson  

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
Mohandas Gandhi
 
One of the chief problems of power is that people and nations that attain a degree of power spend a lot of energy trying to either retain it or get more. In the course of doing so, there is a high degree of fear and paranoia of others who are trying to usurp their power. Hence, all kinds of measures are put in place to secure their power, including making a list of their enemies.

For democratic states, President Nixon, the former US President, is a well-cited example of what fear and paranoia can lead to, but countless other world leaders continue to operate in similar manners.

You will notice that autocratic or tyrannical states tend to place much emphasis on having a very detailed security and surveillance apparatus operating at all times. The central idea is that anyone can be plotting some subversive activity and almost no one is beyond suspicion. That is the height of paranoia, which was very much evident in the Stalinist regime of the former Soviet Union.

The infamous show trails and purges, notably in the 1930s, were signals to the masses not to even think about trying anything funny, like questioning the policies of Stalin. That would be dangerous and met with the severest and ultimate punishment, as it always was. Tyrants tend to deal with threats swiftly and without mercy.

One could look to the Roman Empire to view an earlier example of how a powerful empire dealt with dissidents. For example, Jesus of Nazareth is likely one of the most famous persons executed by its brutal regime, on the charge of sedition. History has proved the charges levied against the Galilean Jew as false, and his execution became the Roman's Empire eventual undoing.

Jesus soon became a martyr, and his teachings in some form, under the mighty pen of Paul, quickly became popular in the Roman Empire. Jesus became a figurehead for a new powerful religion that promised freedom, equality and individual dignity. It spread and eventually became the religion on the known world, and became a power in its own right. In fact, it became the power in the world.

Democracy of Crowds: A crowd of people returning from a show of fireworks spill in to the street stopping traffic at the intersection of Fulton Street and Gold Street in Lower Manhattan, New York. City crowds are surprisingly peaceful considering their size and the potential for chaos.
As Aristotle once said: "In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme."
Photo Credit:
GNU Free Documentation License.

This religion's power has waned, yet its effects are still felt today in many so-called Christian nations of North America and Western Europe. In the United States, for example, one can still sense the Puritan ethics at work in its views of work, obedience to authority, reward and failure, and crime and punishment. Yet, it is a form of Christianity short on love, compassion and mercy, some of the qualities its founder espoused so passionately 2,000 years ago.

The United States is not the only nation falling short of its Founding Father's ideals. Nor does it have the worst human rights record, not by far. It is the nation, however, that many historically have looked to for the values of freedom, equality and individual dignity, given its noble ideals. That sentiment remains strong among its people, who fight to retain the values enshrined in the Constitution. They are fighting a valiant battle against fear, intolerance and hate. (For an interesting view about Saturday's "Million Moderate March" in Washington, see Can satire save America?)

The US is the nation with a strong First Amendment, for example, valuing freedom of speech and thought. Small wonder that it has attracted immigrants from every nation. Personally, I have known the American people to have the highest regard for these values.

Many other nations today work assiduously at quieting or silencing dissent (see previous essay, Silencing Dissent: Part II ); the list of such nations is well-known to the many human rights organizations, policy academics and political think-tanks. Even so, democratic nations are also not immune to reducing liberties and intruding on citizen's privacy, all in the name of national security interests—a broad sweeping term that can cover anything and everything that the State deems as an interest. (see U.S. Tries to Make it Easier to Wiretap the Internet: New York Times.)

That national security trumps privacy and individual liberties is worrisome, no doubt. But more problematic for all concerned is that such pursuits have the opposite effect, creating a climate of insecurity among its citizens.  Except, perhaps, for the elites. Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state in the Nixon Administration, one quipped that "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." That might be so, but many powerful politicians have been undone by their lovers.
-------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2010 Perry J. Greenbaum

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Neil Diamond: I Said I Am

 


















From: BBC Concert, 1971

Lyrics: Neil Diamond
Released: March 1971
Label: Uni

The song is self-explanatory and-self revealing. one of Neil Diamond's best songs.

I Said I Am

L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow, and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about
Making my way back

Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more

"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
I you talk about me, the story's the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried, but it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared for the sound of being alone

"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

John Lennon: Woman



Recorded: 5 August, 27 August, 8 September, 22 September 1980
Released: 16 January 1981
Album: Double Fantasy
Label: Geffen Records

I dedicate this song to my beautiful wife, Oggie. Thank you for all you do for me, for putting up with me, and especially for being who you are: a sincere, loving and loyal soul-mate.


Woman: This is the front cover for the 45rpm vinyl single Woman by the artist John Lennon. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to The Estate of John Lennon, and the image was created by Jack Mitchell.  

Woman
By John Lennon

Woman I can hardly express,
My mixed emotion at my thoughtlessness,
After all I'm forever in your debt,
And woman I will try express,
My inner feelings and thankfulness,
For showing me the meaning of succsess,
oooh well, well,
oooh well, well,

Woman I know you understand
The little child inside the man,
Please remember my life is in your hands,
And woman hold me close to your heart,
However, distant don't keep us apart,
After all it is written in the stars,
oooh well, well,
oooh well, well,

Woman please let me explain,
I never mean(t) to cause you sorrow or pain,
So let me tell you again and again and again,
I love you (yeah, yeah) now and forever,
I love you (yeah, yeah) now and forever,
I love you (yeah, yeah) now and forever,
I love you (yeah, yeah)...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Beatles: Across the Universe




















Across the Universe
The Beatles: Lennon/MCartney

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box they
Tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.
Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
Million suns, it calls me on and on
Across the universe

Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Jai guru de va om
Jai guru de va om
Jai guru de va om
Jai guru de va om
Jai guru de va om


War Stories

In war, truth is the first casualty.
Aeschylus

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Albert Einstein

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Abraham Lincoln

Oscar Wilde once said: "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it." Yet, many soldiers in uniform do precisely that, go to war for nation's presumed honour, and return in a coffin draped in the national flag. What follows is as predictable as it is sad.

There's a military honour guard and a ceremony to mark the occasion. The families go home and wonder what happened. They might tell themselves their husband, father, brother, uncle died as a hero, serving their country. But feelings of emptiness, wonder and grief engulf them. Maybe also face feelings of doubt, questioning whether it was worth it. One cannot blame the soldier and the families that love them as much as the leaders that send them off to war.

Wars cause death to many, killing not only opposing soldiers, but civilians caught in the machinery of war, ordinary people living in the invaded country trying to live a normal life under unimaginable circumstances: going to work, going to the market, eating supper with their children. But war is not normal. War invades the normal and makes abnormal acceptable, even when the new normal of war and violence is bloody and leads to killing and death.

Nations give all kinds of reason to go to war, most of them sound good, believable and righteous, using heroic language and patriotism to justify the war and move the machine forward. It's wrapped up in maintaining "our way of live," or "liberating others." Yet, nations never really go to war for humanitarian reasons, despite the rhetoric and propaganda

For example, during the Second World War, the Allied Forces were not overly concerned about the victims perishing in Nazi death camps, even when informed about their inhumane purposes. (Personal disclosure: My father's entire family was killed in the Second World War.)  The reasons are always political, utilitarian, in the best interests of the warring nation, in other words, so-called realpolitik.

Three philosophical traditions of thought dominate the ethics of war and peace: Realism, Pacifism, and Just War Theory. The first two are well-understood, and do not need explanation here. The history behind Just War Theory is storied and more nuanced, says the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
 If we have to “name names”, the founders of just war theory are probably the triad of Aristotle, Cicero and Augustine. Many of the rules developed by the just war tradition have since been codified into contemporary international laws governing armed conflict, such as The United Nations Charter and The Hague and Geneva Conventions. The tradition has thus been doubly influential, dominating both moral and legal discourse surrounding war. It sets the tone, and the parameters, for the great debate.
Just war theory can be meaningfully divided into three parts, which in the literature are referred to, for the sake of convenience, in Latin. These parts are: 1) jus ad bellum, which concerns the justice of resorting to war in the first place; 2) jus in bello, which concerns the justice of conduct within war, after it has begun; and 3) jus post bellum, which concerns the justice of peace agreements and the termination phase of war.
One of the major requirements in Just War Theory is as follows: The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot therefore be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.

Needless to say, the latest foreign war, the Iraqi War, has been horrible mess that has killed too many people, including tens of thousands of children. It is highly debatable whether anyone of conscience can call it a Just War.


The New Normal Routine of Daily Life: An Iraqi woman reads a book with child on her lap as U.S. Army Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team search the courtyard of her house during a cordon and search in Ameriyah, Iraq.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo, Sgt. Tierney Nowland, 2007.
Here are the sobering figures from the latest War, the Iraqi War, from Iraqi Body Count, a UK-based non-governmental organization that has been tracking and analyzing Iraqi civilian deaths from violence since the military intervention of 2003. The figures were published on October 23, 2010:
  • More than 150,000 people have been recorded killed in the Iraq war to date.
  • 80% of those killed were civilians
The Iraq War Logs record deaths of all types, including combatant deaths that fall outside the scope of IBC’s civilian deaths database. This means that they can also contribute to a broader accounting of the total number of persons killed in the war, civilian and combatant alike. Such a figure can be derived by combining the IBC database, the new logs (2004-2009), and other official information available on combatant deaths in 2003, 2010 and the two months missing from the logs (May 2004 and March 2009).
Combining these sources, the detailed calculation below provides a figure of total Iraqi deaths, both civilian and combatant, of 150,726. Adding figures on Coalition military deaths, which now stand at 4,744, brings the number up to 155,470. That is, given our analysis of the new logs, as combined with other previously reported deaths, we are now able to say that more than 150,000 people have been recorded killed in the Iraq war since 2003, of which around 80% were civilian.
Or, to put it another way, in the last seven years,120,000 civilians have died as a result of the Iraqi War. The amount of deaths grows each day, and includes many children. If you look at war photos, and see children maimed or killed, you can never feel the same way about war and death.  Never again. That boy or girl is someone's child. Is the death of an Afghani or Iraqi  child inferior to the death of an American, British, Canadian, or German citizen?

Which brings us to reality. The problem of large numbers confronts us. It is important to note, however, that these figures cited above are of real individuals, who died as a direct result of war. War in Iraq has resulted, as IBC says to,
"excess deaths that can be associated directly with the military intervention and occupation of the country. In doing this, and via different paths, both studies have arrived at one conclusion which is not up for serious debate: the number of deaths from violence has skyrocketed since the war was launched."
War might be the most evil invention of humankind. War is a crime against humanity, since its powers to harm are phenomenally great. Its effects are immediate, long-term and universal. It touches the physical, social, emotional and psychological person in a way that exceeds our understanding. It wreaks misery on individuals and families. Its total costs are incalculable.

A leader, particularly of a powerful nation, ought to think gravely about such things before signing the executive order for war.  One would hope that he would also ask himself, with a clear and honest conscience: What will this war, for the most part, accomplish? If it is to bring unwanted death and misery to millions of people, he should consider other more humane options.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crosby, Stills & Nash: Teach Your Children



Lyrics: Graham Nash
Recorded: 1969
Released: May 1970
Label: Atlantic Records

The song's message is anti-war and anti-violence. We act as guides to our children to teach them the important values of love, respect, freedom, and individual dignity. Children watch and imitate what we do, and are human sponges, soaking up their environment. Parents carry a great and wonderful responsibility. The hard work of being a living testimony to humane values will undoubtedly bear fruit. So, yes, in this case actions speak volumes.

Teach Your Children

You, who are on the road
Must have a code
That you can live by.
And so, become yourself
Because the past
Is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well
Their father's hell
Did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would die
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you (Can you hear and)
Of tender years (Do you care and)
Can't know the fears (Can you see we)
That your elders grew by (Must be free to)
And so please help (Teach your children)
Them with your youth (You believe and)
They seek the truth (Make a world that)
Before they can die (We can live in)

Teach your parents well
Their childrens hell
Will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one youll know by.

Dont you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

Sonny and Cher: I Got You Babe




















From: A 1965 performance.
Lyrics: Sonny Bono
Recorded: 1965
Released: 1965
Label: Atlantic Records



I Got You Babe: This is is the cover art for the seven-inch single I Got You Babe by the artist Sonny & Cher.
Photo Credit: Atlantic, and/or the graphic artist.













This song has personal significance for me. It was the first song on a greatest hits album that my parents bought for my brothers and I in 1966, when I was a precocious eight. They had different tastes in music, but they understood that we enjoyed young people's music, and surprised us with the record. We played it endlessly on our RCA stereophonic system, housed in a wooden cabinet.

Here's some more background information from Wikipedia:
Sonny Bono, a songwriter and record producer for Phil Spector, wrote the song for himself and his wife, Cher, late at night in their basement. Noted session drummer Hal Blaine performed the drums for the song. Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term "babe," as heard in Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" which was a hit for The Turtles.
Upon recording and releasing the song, "I Got You Babe" became the duo's biggest single, their signature song, and a defining recording of the early hippie countercultural movement. In August 1965, the single spent three weeks at the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 19 on the R&B charts in the United States. The duo's single also hit number one in the United Kingdom.

The song has been frequently covered and featured in film and television, including Sonny and Cher's own The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. "I Got You Babe" made a bit of a comeback when it was heavily featured as Phil Connor's alarm clock wake up music in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. Upon re-release, the single re-charted in the UK, reaching  no.66.

Sonny and Cher last performed the song together during an impromptu reunion on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman on Nov. 13, 1987. The song placed at  no. 444 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all time.

I Got You Babe
By Sonny & Cher

HER: They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow
HIM: Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

HER: They say our love won't pay the rent
Before it's earned, our money's all been spent
HIM: I guess that's so, we don't have a pot
But at least I'm sure of all the things we got

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

HIM: I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
HER: And when I'm sad, you're a clown
And if I get scared, you're always around

HER: Don't let them say your hair's too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong
HIM: Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

HIM: I got you to hold my hand
HER: I got you to understand
HIM: I got you to walk with me
HER: I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won't let go
I got you to love me so

BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

Joan Baez: We Shall Overcome



Live at Woodstock, NY: 1969.

Background: Gospel
Original version: Written by Rev. Charles Tindley, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1901.
Current adaptation: Zilphia Horton, Guy Carawan, Frank Hamilton, and Pete Seeger, in 1947. 


The song became associated with the American Civil Rights movement in 1959. Pete Seeger has publicly, in concert, credited Guy Carawan with the primary role in teaching and popularizing the song within the Civil Rights Movement. Equally noteworthy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made use of "we shall overcome" in the final Sunday March 31, 1968 speech before his assassination.

Even so, it was singers such as Pete Segger who brought it to a wider listening audience, as Wikipedia puts it:
Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.

In August 1963, folksinger Joan Baez memorably led a crowd of 300,000 in singing "We Shall Overcome" at the Lincoln Memorial during A. Philip Randolph's March on Washington. President Lyndon Johnson used the phrase "we shall overcome" in addressing Congress on March 15, 1965, following violent, "bloody Sunday" attacks on civil rights demonstrators during the Selma to Montgomery marches, thus legitimizing the protest movement.
The song made its first recorded appearance as "We Shall Overcome" (rather than "We Will Overcome") in 1952 on a disc recorded by Laura Duncan (soloist) and The Jewish Young Singers (chorus) conducted by Robert De Cormier co-produced by Ernie Lieberman and Irwin Silber on Hootenany Records (Hoot 104-A) (Folkways, FN 2513, BCD15720), where it is identified as a Negro Spiritual.
We Shall Overcome
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We shall be all right,
We shall be all right,
We shall be all right, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We are not afraid, O Lord, O Lord
We are not afraid,
We are not afraid, today


Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.


We shall overcome,O Lord, O Lord
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.

Oh, deep in my heart,
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pink Floyd: Money




















Lyrics By: Roger Waters
Recorded: June 1972 to January 1973: Abbey Road Studios: London
Released: June 23, 1973 
Album: Dark Side of the Moon
Label: Harvest EMI (UK); Harvest Capitol (USA)


From: Live 8 Concert: July 2, 2005.
The main Live 8 concert was held at Hyde Park, London, England, on July 2, 2005, in front of over 200,000 people. The event is also referred to as Live 8 London or Live 8 UK. The concert coincided with a G8 summit in Scotland. The concert's theme was: Make Poverty History.

This concert marked the first time in 24 years that Pink Floyd performed together. The complete foursome had not appeared together since the show at Earls Court in London on June 17, 1981. With the death of keyboardist Richard Wright in 2008, Live 8 became the final time the four members of the band's classic lineup of the late 1960s and 1970s performed together.

Money
By Pink Floyd
Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay and you're okay
Money, it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team

Money get back
I'm alright Jack keep your hands off my stack.
Money it's a hit
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit
I'm in the hi-fidelity first class travelling set
And I think I need a Lear jet

Money it's a crime
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie
Money so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're
giving none away

Pay Me My Money Down: Bruce Springsteen


















Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band: Live at BBC 2006.

The song originated among the Black stevedores working in the Georgia Sea Islands of the United States. It was collected by Lydia Parrish and published in her 1942 book, Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands.

Pay Me My Money Down

I thought I heard the captain say
Pay me my money down
Tomorrow is our sailing day
Pay me my money down

Pay me, pay me
Pay me my money down
Pay me or go to jail
Pay me my money down

As soon as the boat was clear of the bar
Pay me my money down
He knocked me down with a spar
Pay me my money down

Pay me, pay me
Pay me my money down
Pay me or go to jail
Pay me my money down

Well, If I'd been a rich man's son
Pay me my money down
I'd sit on the river and watch it run
Pay me my money down

Pay me, pay me
Pay me my money down
Pay me or go to jail
Pay me my money down

I wish I was Mr. Gates
Pay me my money down
They'd haul my money in a crate
Pay me my money down

Pay me, pay me
Pay me my money down
Pay me or go to jail
Pay me my money down

Well, forty nights, and days at sea
Pay me my money down
That captain worked every last dollar outta me.
Pay me my money down

Pay me, pay me
Pay me my money down
Pay me or go to jail
Pay me my money down

On Poverty

Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit.  
—Eli Khamarov, Lives of the Cognoscenti
 

The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.  
—William James, American psychologist and philosopher

It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them.  
—Bill Vaughan, American journalist

Human Dignity Has No Barriers: A homeless man in Italy, circa. 1990.
Photo Credit: Sheldon Levy

 
Poverty is back on the agenda, but it's not good news for the poor. Leading the way, as it usually does in these matters, is the United States. Still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession, and looking for the reasons why the nation's fortunes are waning—and in all the wrong places—it has become fashionable once again to obliquely blame poverty on the victim. This declaration of truth is reported in no less an authority than the New York Times in a recent article by Patricia Cohen: Culture of Poverty Makes Comeback:
Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly about you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed.
     “We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at Princeton who has argued that Moynihan was unfairly maligned.
      The old debate has shaped the new. Last month Princeton and the Brookings Institution released a collection of papers on unmarried parents, a subject, it noted, that became off-limits after the Moynihan report. At the recent annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, attendees discussed the resurgence of scholarship on culture. And in Washington last spring, social scientists participated in a Congressional briefing on culture and poverty linked to a special issue of The Annals, the journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
      “Culture is back on the poverty research agenda,” the introduction declares, acknowledging that it should never have been removed.
I am sure that these social scientists feel relieved to get the record straight, after so many years of academic repression. Now, they feel the freedom to point their well-manicured figures at the cause of all our social ills. I sense much of this rhetoric emanates from thinking as follows: "It's good that we have cleared the air, and could now return to the good old days, where poor people, a great many of them urban blacks, can be put in their proper place." The article explains why it took so long to return to the good old days:
The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report
Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune.
The academics, think-tanks and policy-makers now have a reason for the failure of its social programs. The poor are to blame. Such political and academic thinkers might not outwardly equate poverty with moral deficiency, as was fashionable in the 1960s, but saying poverty is culturally shaped by perceptions does little to eradicate or reduce poverty. It is still a value judgment of a different order, which I expect said academics will protest as being unfair.

Make Room for Progress: The location is on Malcolm X Blvd between 124th and 125th St. The buildings were razed in 2006, shortly after the photo was taken, to make room for new commercial development. They appeared derelict because the tenants were removed. The area is actually the wealthiest area of Harlem; typical row houses nearby sell for $1-2M.
Photo Credit: Brendel Signature, 2006. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrendelSignature.

Here are the unvarnished facts: 44 million Americans are living in poverty. That's one in seven people. That's millions of families. In the U.S., poverty is defined as a family of four living on less than $22,000 a year. That's $1,833 a month for a family of four. And, yet, in the midst of such sobering facts, where the number of those living in poverty is at a 15-year high, the rich are complaining about high taxes Astounding: yes. Absurd: yes. Entitled: sadly so. The entitled have a high sense of, well, entitlement.

Against this tableau, these wonderfully paid academics, sitting comfortably in their well-appointed offices, are making pronouncements on the poor, blinded by their self-righteousness. They are also blinded by their fear, namely, that society-at-large has been unable to turn around the fortunes of many, particularly poor black families. All the studies, academic papers, reports will amount to nothing unless you actually show some real concern for the poor. A return to the stale academic theories of the past, however repackaged, shows a decided lack of imagination.

As George Bernard Shaw said: "Lack of money is the root of all evil." This might be a startling admission to accept for many, and I am of course naive to believe that this simple statement might be true. I take my naivete as a badge of honour, as a sign that I am humanitarian that cares passionately about the values of justice, equality and fairness.

Of course the poor are cynical. Cynicism comes from years of discouragement and despair. And why heap more punishment on people on the bottom of the social order: the poor? Isn't it bad enough that they suffer the ignominy of poverty? For some, however, the answer is a heartless no.

I agree with academic studies as a good principle, but in this case, the academics are speaking primarily to the politicians and policy-makers, and of course the elites, rather than  to the ordinary people. Their energies would be best looking at the harder facts on the ground. But that would involve getting out of their comfortable surroundings of office and conference room and hitting the streets. I don't see that taking place soon.

Even so, I am naively optimistic.

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Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.

Sincerely,
PJG

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peter, Paul & Mary: Blowin' in the Wind


From a performance by Peter, Paul & Mary: 1966.

Written by: Bob Dylan, 1962.
Song's Origina: "No More Auction Block," a Negro spiritual originating from Canada.
It was sung by former slaves who fled to Canada after Britain abolished slavery in 1833. Mr. Dylan has confirmed its origins.
First Public Performance: April 16, 1962: Gerdes Folk City: Greenwich Village, New York
Album: The Freewhellin' Bob Dylan: May 27, 1963.
Rank: No 14 on Rolling Stone list (2004).

The song has biblical allusions, and its meaning is elliptical. It has been described as a protest song of the 1960s, which it became. Yet, it reaches beyond time, becoming an anthem of injustice and slavery, and of the yearning for freedom that marks all human aspirations. Such explains its universal appeal. Here is some background on the song's origins, from Wikipedia:
"Blowin' in the Wind" became world famous when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, who were also represented by Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman. The single sold a phenomenal three hundred thousand copies in the first week of release. On July 13, 1963, it reached number two on the Billboard pop chart, with sales exceeding one million copies. Peter Yarrow recalled that, when he told Dylan he would make more than $5,000 (in 1963 dollars) from the publishing rights, Dylan was speechless. Peter, Paul & Mary's version of the song also spent five weeks atop the easy listening chart.
..........



"Blowin' in the Wind" is a song written by Bob Dylan and released on his 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of questions about peace, war, and freedom. The refrain "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" has been described as "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind."

In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, it was ranked no. 14 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
In June 1962, the song was published in Sing Out!, accompanied by Dylan's comments:
There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind—and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some  ...But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know ...and then it flies away I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many  ...You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.


Blowin' In The Wind
By Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Copyright © 1962 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1990 by Special Rider Music
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.


Sincerely,
PJG

Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World




















Lyrics by: Bob Thiele (as George Douglas) and George David Weiss
First Sung by: Louis Armstrong
Recorded: 1967
Released: January 1, 1968
Label: ABC Records (US): HMV Records (UK)

This is a hopeful song with optimistic lyrics, in opposition to the politically and racially charged atmosphere in the United States in the 1960s. Some would say the lyrics are naively optimistic. Here are some historical notes from Wikipedia:
The song was initially offered to Tony Bennett, who turned the song down. Thereafter, it was offered to Louis Armstrong. The song was not initially a hit in the United States, where it sold fewer than 1,000 copies because the head of ABC Records did not like the song and so did not promote it, but was a major success in the United Kingdom, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart.
In the U.S. the song hit no.116 on the Bubbling Under Charts. It was also the biggest-selling single of 1968 in the UK where it was also among the last pop singles issued by HMV Records before becoming an exclusive classical music label. The song made Louis Armstrong the oldest male to top the charts, at sixty-six years and ten months old. .

What a Wonderful World
Sung by Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

*********************************************************************

Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.

Sincerely,
PJG

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Beatles: Something




Recorded: 25 February 1969: EMI Studios: London
Lyrics: George Harrison

Released: Originally as a 7” single: 6 October 1969 (US); 31 October 1969 (UK)
Album: Abbey Road
Label: Apple Records
 
There is something spiritual in this song. It evokes a sense of freedom and playfulness. The song flows like a love song, but something else altogether is at play, as Wikepedia writes:

During the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (also referred to as the White Album), Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as "Something". The song's first lyrics were adapted from the title of an unrelated song by fellow Apple artist James Taylor called "Something in the Way She Moves" and used as filler while the melody was being developed. The song's second line, "Attracts me like no other lover," was the last to be written; during early recording sessions for "Something", Harrison alternated between two placeholder lyrics: "Attracts me like a cauliflower" and "Attracts me like a pomegranate."
Harrison later said that "I had a break while Paul was doing some overdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write. That's really all there is to it, except the middle took some time to sort out. It didn't go on the White Album because we'd already finished all the tracks."A demo recording of the song by Harrison from this period appears on the Beatles Anthology 3 collection, released in 1996.
Many believe that Harrison's inspiration for "Something" was his wife at the time, Pattie Boyd. Boyd also claimed that inspiration in her 2007 autobiography, Wonderful Tonight, where she wrote: "He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me."
However, Harrison has cited other sources of inspiration to the contrary. In a 1996 interview he responded to the question of whether the song was about Pattie: "Well no, I didn't [write it about her]. I just wrote it, and then somebody put together a video. And what they did was they went out and got some footage of me and Pattie, Paul and Linda, Ringo and Maureen, it was at that time, and John and Yoko and they just made up a little video to go with it. So then, everybody presumed I wrote it about Pattie, but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of Ray Charles."
Something
By The Beatles

Something in the way she moves,
Attracts me like no other lover.
Something in the way she woos me.
I don't want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

Somewhere in her smile she knows,
That I don't need no other lover.
Something in her style that shows me.
I don't want to leave her now,
You know I believe and how.

You're asking me will my love grow,
I don't know, I don't know.
Stick around, and it may show,
But I don't know, I don't know.

Something in the way she knows,
And all I have to do is think of her.
Something in the things she shows me.
I don't want to leave her now.
You know I believe and how.

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Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.

Sincerely,
PJG

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pausing for Harold Pinter

Pinter remains to his credit, a permanent public nuisance, a questioner of accepted truths, both in life and art. In fact the two persistently inter-act.
—Michael Billington, The Life and Work of Harold Pinter, 1996)

I never think of myself as wise. I think of myself as possessing a critical intelligence which I intend to allow to operate.
—Harold Pinter

We need people like Harold Pinter. The British playwright, actor and political activist was at heart a humanitarian, who never forgot his roots. Although he became a celebrated figure when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005, he continued to speak about the menace that authority posed.

Mr. Pinter was born on October 10, 1930, in Hackney, a working-class neighbourhood in London's East End, the son of a tailor. His parents, he said, were “very solid, very respectable, Jewish, lower-middle-class people." When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Harold, an only child, was forced to leave London for a provincial town in Cornwall, which he later said was a traumatic event. He lived with 26 other boys in a castle on the coast.

The feelings of loneliness and isolation from that time were to surface later in his plays. When he was 13, he returned to London, during the middle of the war. During the Blitz, his house was struck by a bomb.  He rushed inside to rescue a few valuable possessions: his cricket bat and a poem — “a paean of love” — he was writing to a girlfriend. "The condition of being bombed has never left me," Pinter later said.

Understandably so. And the war and its horrific destabilizing effects became one of the major influences of his work, particularly in his plays. In a New York Times article after his death, Mel Gussow and Ben Brantley write:
In more than 30 plays — written between 1957 and 2000 and including masterworks like “The Birthday Party,” “The Caretaker,” “The Homecoming” and “Betrayal” — Mr. Pinter captured the anxiety and ambiguity of life in the second half of the 20th century with terse, hypnotic dialogue filled with gaping pauses and the prospect of imminent violence.

Along with another Nobel winner, Samuel Beckett, his friend and mentor, Mr. Pinter became one of the few modern playwrights whose names instantly evoke a sensibility. The adjective Pinteresque has become part of the cultural vocabulary as a byword for strong and unspecified menace.


War's Destabilizing Effects: Harold Pinter at the Orange Tree Word International Screenwriters' Season at The British Library, 2004. Photo Credit: © Rune Hellestad/Corbis. Date photographed Feb. 11, 2004
The war had a profound influence on how he viewed conflict, and the political leaders who send young men (and now women) to war, often without thinking deeply about its destabilizing effects. In Harold Pinter, Michael Billington writes about Mr. Pinter's distrust of authority:
But Pinter's suspicion of authority was manifested in an even more famous incident in the autumn of 1948. Receiving his call-up papers for National Service, he registered as a conscientious objector, thereby risking imprisonment. He was summoned before a series of increasingly Kafkaesque military tribunals, in the end escaping with a fine. The whole incident epitomised Pinter's nonconformity, truculent independence and suspicion of the state.
"The Birthday Party," one of his first plays, opened in London's West End in 1958.The initial reviews were disappointing. But when Harold Hobson, the eminent theatre critic of the Times of London was persuaded to attend an afternoon performance, he was thrown by something unexpected:
"It breathes in the air,” Hobson wrote. “It cannot be seen, but it enters the room every time the door is opened.” He continued: “Though you go to the uttermost parts of the earth, and hide yourself in the most obscure lodgings in the least popular of towns, one day there is a possibility that two men will appear. They will be looking for you, and you cannot get away. And someone will be looking for them too. There is terror everywhere.” He concluded, “Mr. Pinter, on the evidence of this work, possesses the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London.”
Mr. Hobson is credited by Mr. Pinter for having saved his career as a playwright. This theme of commonplace terror continued to inform his work and his view of life and the importance of social justice and human dignity. In December 2001, Mr. Pinter was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He continued writing and working while receiving medical treatments.

In October 2005, it was announced that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Advised by his physician that it he should not travel, Mr. Pinter could not accept the award in person and make the customary speech. Thus, his discourse was pre-recorded, and shown on video on 7 December 2005, in Börssalen at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. The speech is called Art, Truth, & Politics

In an article from Books & Writers, we note the humanitarian side of Mr. Pinter:
Since the overthrow of Chile's President Allende in 1973, Pinter was active in human rights issues. His opinions were often controversial. During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Pinter condemned Nato's intervention, and said it will "only aggravate the misery and the horror and devastate the country". In 2001 Pinter joined The International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, which also included former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Milosevic was arrested by the U.N. war crimes tribunal. . . . In February 2005 Pinter announced in an interview that he has decided to abandon his career as a playwright and put all his energy into politics. "I've written 29 plays. Isn't that enough?"

Mr. Pinter was ambivalent about politics, but not about human-rights or justice: "Well, I don't intend to simply go away and write my plays and be a good boy. I intend to remain an independent and political intelligence in my own right," he said in The Guardian newspaper interview: Pinter: I won't be silenced (Aug 2001), in regards to the Nato bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999.

He remained critical about state abuses of power, notably where innocents get caught in the power plays of the Great Powers. His memories of childhood assuredly shaped his life.

But Mr. Pinter took such painful memories, shaped them and made them the world's to own. Such was not lost on the world. For example, when French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin presented Mr. Pinter with France's highest civil honour, the Légion d'honneur, at a ceremony at the French embassy in London, in 2007, he praised Pinter's poem "American Football" (1991): "'With its violence and its cruelty, it is for me one of the most accurate images of war, one of the most telling metaphors of the temptation of imperialism and violence.'"

Mr. de Villepin concluded: "The poet stands still and observes what doesn't deserve other men's attention. Poetry teaches us how to live and you, Harold Pinter, teach us how to live." He noted that Mr. Pinter received the award particularly "because in seeking to capture all the facets of the human spirit, [Pinter's] works respond to the aspirations of the French public, and its taste for an understanding of man and of what is truly universal".

Such is the highest compliment one can pay a writer. Harold Pinter died on December 24, 2008, in London, finally succumbing to cancer. His voice is clear, strong, remaining in his works. Mr. Pinter, the Nobel laureate, left us with a legacy: "I think it is the responsibility of a citizen of any country to say what he thinks." 
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Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.
 
Sincerely,
Perry J. Greenbaum

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fitzgerald & Armstrong:Dream a Little Dream of Me



This version is sung by Ella Fitzgerald, the First lady of Song; and Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo, one of the great American jazz trumpeters.

Personal note: I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Fitzgerald in 1975, when after our high school band finished performing at a venue in Hamilton, Ontario, we saw her walking along the streets unaccompanied. That was possible then; no bodyguards. With the audacity and freedom of youth, a few of us briefly performed a jazz piece. I think it was "King of the Road." She was very gracious in her criticism, and remarked to us. "Practice, boys. Keep practicing."

First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald [1917-96], 1940.
Photo Credit: Carl Van Vechten, January 19, 1940
Source: From the collection of the Library of Congress and in the public domain: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/van:@field(NUMBER+@band(cph+3c00859))

Dream a Little Dream of Me:
Music: Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt
Lyrics: Gus Kahn.
 
Dream a Little Dream of Me

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "i love you"
Birds singin’ in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me

Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longin’ to linger till dawn dear
Just saying this

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

(instrumental break)

Stars shining up above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "i love you"
Birds singin’ in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

Yes, dream a little dream of me

Beat It: Michael Jackson

 
Live in Bucharest (1992).

Lyrics by; Michael Jackson

Recorded: 1982
Released: February 14, 1983
Album: Thriller
Label: Epic Records

The lyrics of "Beat It" are about the senseless use of violence, as a defeat of self-worth and self-dignity. While the images in the original music video  of 1982 are about gangs fighting each other, the intended message is that violence in general has no place in society. Conflict between groups can be resolved in more creative ways, and hence the dance sequence.

Beat It
By Michael Jackson

[1st Verse]
They Told Him Don't You Ever Come Around Here
Don't Wanna See Your Face, You Better Disappear
The Fire's In Their Eyes And Their Words Are Really Clear
So Beat It, Just Beat It

[2nd Verse]
You Better Run, You Better Do What You Can
Don't Wanna See No Blood, Don't Be A Macho Man
You Wanna Be Tough, Better Do What You Can
So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right
Just Beat It, Beat It
Just Beat It, Beat It
Just Beat It, Beat It
Just Beat It, Beat It

[3rd Verse]
They're Out To Get You, Better Leave While You Can
Don't Wanna Be A Boy, You Wanna Be A Man
You Wanna Stay Alive, Better Do What You Can
So Beat It, Just Beat It

[4th Verse]
You Have To Show Them That You're Really Not Scared
You're Playin' With Your Life, This Ain't No Truth Or Dare
They'll Kick You, Then They Beat You,
Then They'll Tell You It's Fair
So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It

[Chorus]
Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Who's Right

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right

[Chorus]
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin' How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn't Matter Who's Wrong Or Right
Just Beat It, Beat It
Beat It, Beat It, Beat It