Richie Havens: Roots, Freedom, Bob Dylan & The Beatles!


Sharing a post by Thom Hickey – The Immortal Jukebox, is done with hope others will delve into his blog. Thom calls Immortal Jukebox a music and culture blog. I call his efforts insightful, detailed and thought provoking. Most music/culture blogs inhabit the realm of cotton candy diarrhea, Immortal Jukebox is different. Thom delivers music history wrapped in context of time and place, all the while peppering fact with his ability to nudge readers along unexplored paths within that context. I’m not reblogging one post, this serves as kudos to Thom for sculpting Immortal Jukebox .

The Immortal Jukebox

‘I only know the first and last song I am going to sing when I go onstage. That’s the way I have always done it. I was moved to do this and sing these songs. My whole thing was that I was sharing something with everyone else that was give to me.’ (Richie Havens)

Richie Havens didn’t spend too much time, ‘strategising’ his career. He didn’t worry about developing his, ‘Brand’ or murmur in the night about the magnitude of his digital reach.

No! What Richie did is what great musicians have always done – he searched for true songs to sing and sang them with all the passion at his command to make a powerful physical, spiritual and emotional connection with his audience be they numbered in the dozens or the hundreds of thousands.

It seems to me that Richie Havens triumph as an artist was to make the…

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Hunting For Cover


Hunting for the best cover of Bob Dylan’s Knocking On Heavens Door dominated well over an hour this evening. Concluding every version has merit, led to pondering why the original hadn’t factored in the quest. ( that’s an exaggeration, in truth I went “huh” mid hunt and clicked on more covers).

Some time later it came to me – certain songs are destined to carry weight from generation to generation. Lyrical plucks of conscience, melodic fists erupting from belly aches of social injustice. Here’s the thing, Knocking On Heavens Door is an anomaly – it wasn’t born a protest anthem. Dylan’s now metaphorical heaven of consequence, was penned for a movie soundtrack.

Bob Dylan wrote and sang Knocking On Heavens Door for the soundtrack of  1973’s movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In the film it played as the voice of a deputy sheriff, dying of bullet wounds, telling his wife “Mama take this badge off of me”.

Mama, take this badge off of me
’cause I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put that gun to the ground
’cause I can’t shoot them anymore.
There’s a long black cloud comin’ on down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

I don’t care if a definitive cover exists. Hunting for cover reminded me – music is protests’ mightiest weapon.

Argh!

The Night Sinead O’Connor Made SNL History


Over twenty years ago Sinead O’Connor destroyed her career by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of her performance on Saturday Night Live. Booed off the stage a few weeks later at a Bob Dylan concert, O’Connor faded into troubled obscurity – deemed too controversial to book or promote.

I loved Sinead O’Connor; her beautiful shaved head and voice of perfection sent shivers up my spine. I remember that night in October of 1980. We sat transfixed as she sang Bob Marley’s War. My heart stopped when her defiance collided with conviction – she tore the photo on live TV, in front of millions viewing what was to become the most powerful message I’ve witnessed. A single act that blew my mind and made my heart soar.

Where ever you may be Sinead O’Connor –  you forever have my admiration and respect.

Time to Ponder Protest Songs


Long ago in an America without internet or cell phones, it was song that moved a generation to take action. Music united generations, gave the people a voice, and served as an undeniable call to action. The Vietnam war protests of the 60s and 70s, Mississippi blues of the 20s and 30s, civil rights marches in the 50s,  the great depression in the 30s – all defined by songs of protest. Protest music served to comfort and unite, it was a call to action, a rallying cry, a means of letting us know we were part of something.

Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, fade into obscurity. The power of protest songs lost on a generation of gamers and tweeters. I ponder the outcome of the “occupy movement” if only they were able to put their rage into song. Music has become an obsolete tool for change. I’m not saying that no political music or artists exist, my relentless pondering has however led me to   one conclusion – a tweet will never touch the soul, a facebook post or a comment on reddit  will never move us in the way that music can. The world is a different place from the era when thousands of voices sang out in unison, not just hoping for change but expecting it.

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/article/828049–where-have-all-the-protest-songs-gone

Pete Seeger