Saturday, August 31, 2013

***Out In The 1950s Crime Noir Night- Robert Mitchum Watch Out For Berserk Femmes Fatales, Will You- Angel Face- A Film Review

DVD Review

Angel Face, starring Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, directed by Otto Preminger, RKO Pictures, 1952

Some guys never learn, never learn to leave well enough alone, and stay away, far away from femmes fatales that have that slightly mad look in their eyes and lust in their hearts, as here in the Otto Preminger-directed crime noir, Angel Face, with Robert Mitchum. See, it is not like Brother Robert hadn’t been down that road before and had all the trouble he could handle and then some with femme fatale Jane Greer in Out Of The Past. Ms. Greer “took him for a ride” six ways to Sunday in that one. But you know when a guy gets heated up by a dame, well, let's just leave it at you know, okay. Needless to say Brother Robert is set to get “taken for a ride” six ways to Sunday here too, although the femme fatale here is a little younger, and maybe has better manners. Maybe. But that all goes for naught when the heat rises. Yes, we know, we know.

The plot here takes a little something from James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. The “fair damsel” (played by a young dark-eyed, dark-haired piano-playing Jean Simmons who, before seeing this film I might have taken a run at her myself, in my dreams anyway. But see I know how to take a lesson), after she gets her hooks into Mitchum, furthers her plot to get rid of her dear stepmother so she can have her father to herself (take that anyway you want but you do not have to be a Freudian to know that she is seriously hung up on her novelist father, a probable cause for some of her youthful, ah, monomania). But unlike the femme in Postman she just “forgets” to tell him he is part of the plan.

Of course when the foul deed is done (the old "wire cut on the steering wheel of the car and off the cliff you go, dearie" gag that has been around, well, been around since femmes figured out automobiles aren’t just for driving) the pair are the obvious suspects. But with some razzle-dazzle legal work, including marriage to evoke the jury’s sympathy, they get off. (Yeah, I know on that one too. But those were more romantic times than ours, I guess. I want the name and e-mail of that lawyer, by the way, just in case.) Of course what guy in his right mind is going to stick around and see, well, what is in store for him and his lovely bride after the court battles are over? Like I said though, this is Robert Mitchum, the guy who can’t learn a lesson.

Note: Naturally with a hunky guy like Robert Mitchum, he of the broad shoulders to fend off the world’s troubles, or at least any woman’s troubles, those smoldering eyes, and that glib world-wary cigarette and whiskey manner, the ladies will surely be flocking to his door. And not just femmes fatales. In this film, as in Out Of The Past, there is the “good” girl waiting in wings. And Mitchum tries, tries like hell, to stay in that orbit but when those maddened eyes and ruby red lips call that speak to some dark adventure, well, what’s a man to do?


The death of Haywood was not unexpected. The declining health
of the old fighter was known to his friends for a long time. On each
visit to Moscow in recent years we noted the progressive weakening
of his physical powers and learned of the repeated attacks of the
fatal disease which finally brought him down. Our anxious inquiries
during the past month, occasioned by the newspaper reports of his
illness, only brought the response that his recovery this time could
not be expected. Nevertheless we could not abandon the hope that his
fighting spirit and his will to live would pull him through again, and
the news that death had triumphed in the unequal struggle brought
a shock of grief.

The death of Haywood is a double blow to those who were at once his comrades in the fight and his personal friends, for his character was such as to invest personal relations with an extra-ordinary dignity and importance. His great significance for the American and world labor movement was also fully appreciated, I think, both by our party and by the Communist International, in the ranks of which he ended his career, a soldier to the last.

An outstanding personality and leader of the pre-war revolutionary labor movement in America, and also a member and leader of the modern communist movement which grew up on its foundation, Bill Haywood represented a connecting link which helped to establish continuity between the old movement and the new. Growing out of the soil of America, or better, hewn out of its rocks, he first entered the labor movement as a pioneer unionist of the formative days of the Western Federation of Miners 30 years ago. From that starting point he bent his course toward the conscious class struggle and marched consistently on that path to the end of his life. He died a Communist and a soldier of the Communist International.

It is a great fortune for our party that he finished his memoirs and that they are soon to be published. They constitute a record of the class struggle and of the labor movement in America of priceless value for the present generation of labor militants. The career of Haywood is bound up with the stormy events which have marked the course of working-class development in America for 30 years and out of which the basic nucleus of the modern movement has come.

He grew up in the hardship and struggle of the mining camps ofthe West. Gifted with the careless physical courage of a giant and an eloquence of speech, Bill soon became a recognized leader of the metal miners. He developed with them through epic struggles toward a militancy of action combined with a socialistic understanding, even in that early day, which soon placed the Western Federation of Miners, which Haywood said "was born in a Bull Pen," in the vanguard of the American labor movement.

It was the merger of these industrial proletarian militants of the West with the socialist political elements represented by Debs and De Leon, which brought about the formation of the I.W.W. in 1905. The fame and outstanding prominence of Haywood as a labor leader even in that day is illustrated by the fact that he was chosen chairman of the historic First Convention of the I.W.W. in 1905.

The brief, simple speech he delivered there, as recorded in the stenographic minutes of the convention, stands out in many respects as a charter of labor of that day. His plea for the principle of the class struggle, for industrial unionism, for special emphasis on the unskilled workers, for solidarity of black and white workers, and for a revolutionary goal of the labor struggle, anticipated many established principles of the modern revolutionary labor movement.

The attempt to railroad him to the gallows on framed-up murder charges in 1906 was thwarted by the colossal protest movement of the workers who saw in this frame-up against him a tribute to his talent and power as a labor leader, and to his incorruptibility. His name became a battle cry of the socialist and labor movement and he emerged from the trial a national and international figure.

He rose magnificently to the new demands placed upon him by this position and soon became recognized far and wide as the authentic voice of the proletarian militants of America. The schemes of the reformist leaders of the Socialist Party to use his great name and popularity as a shield for them were frustrated by the bold and resolute course he pursued. Through the maze of intrigue and machinations of the reformist imposters in the Socialist Party, he shouldered his way with the doctrine of class struggle and the tactics of militant action.

The proletarian and revolutionary elements gathered around him and formed the powerful "left wing" of the party which made its bid for power in the convention of 1912. The "Reds" were defeated there, and the party took a decisive step along the pathway which led to its present position of reformist bankruptcy and open betrayal. The subsequent expulsion of Haywood from the National Executive Committee was at once a proof of the opportunist degeneration of the party and of his own revolutionary integrity.

Haywood's syndicalism was the outcome of his reaction against the reformist policies and parliamentary cretinism of the middle-class leaders of the Socialist Party—Hillquit, Berger and Company. But syndicalism, which in its final analysis, is "the twin brother of reformism", as Lenin has characterized it, was only a transient theory in Haywood's career. He passed beyond it and thus escaped that degeneration and sterility which overtook the syndicalist movement throughout the world during and after the war. The World War and the Russian Revolution did not pass by Haywood unnoticed, as they passed by many leaders of the I.W.W. who had encased themselves in a shell of dogma to shut out the realities of life.

These world-shaking events, combined with the hounding and dragooning of the I.W.W. by the United States government—the "political state" which syndicalism wanted to "ignore"—wrought a profound change in the outlook of Bill Haywood. He emerged from Leavenworth Penitentiary in 1919 in a receptive and studious mood. He was already 50 years old, but he conquered the mental rigidity which afflicts so many at that age. He began, slowly and painfully, to assimilate the new and universal lessons of the war and the Russian Revolution.

First taking his stand with that group in the I.W.W. which favored adherence to the Red International of Labor Unions, he gradually developed his thought further and finally came to the point where he proclaimed himself a communist and a disciple of Lenin. He became a member of the Communist Party of America before his departure for Russia. There he was transferred to the Russian Communist Party and, in recognition of his lifetime of revolutionary work, he was given the status of "an old party member"—the highest honor anyone can enjoy in the land of workers' triumph.

As everyone knows, Haywood in his time had been a prisoner in many jails and, like all men who have smelt iron, he was keenly sensitive to the interests of revolutionaries who suffer this crucifixion. He attached the utmost importance to the work of labor defense and was one of the founders of the I.L.D. He contributed many ideas to its formation and remained an enthusiastic supporter right up to his death. What is very probably his last message to the workers of America, written just before he was stricken the last time, is contained in a letter which is being published in the June number of the Labor Defender now on the press.

As a leader of the workers in open struggle Haywood was a fighter, the like of which is all too seldom seen. He loved the laboring masses and was remarkably free from all prejudices of craft or race or nationality. In battle with the class enemies of the workers he was a raging lion, relentless and irreconcilable. His field was the open fight, and in mass strikes his powers unfolded and multiplied themselves. Endowed with a giant's physique and an absolute disregard of personal hazards, he pulled the striking workers to him as to a magnet and imparted to them his own courage and spirit.

I remember especially his arrival at Akron during the great rubber-workers' strike of 1913, when 10,000 strikers met him at the station and marched behind him to the Hall. His speech that morning has always stood out in my mind as a model of working-class oratory. With his commanding presence and his great mellow voice he held the vast crowd in his power from the moment that he rose to speak. He had that gift, all too rare, of using only the necessary words and of compressing his thoughts into short, epigrammatic sentences. He clarified his points with homely illustrations and pungent witticisms which rocked the audience with understanding laughter. He poured out sarcasm, ridicule and denunciation upon the employers and their pretensions, and made the workers feel with him that they, the workers, were the important and necessary people. He closed, as he always did, on a note of hope and struggle, with a picture of the final victory of the workers. Every word from beginning to end, simple, clear and effective. That is Haywood, the proletarian orator, as I remember him.

There was another side to Bill Haywood which was an essential side of his character, revealed to those who knew him well as personal friends. He had a warmth of personality that drew men to him like a bonfire on a winter's day. His considerateness and indulgence toward his friends, and his generous impulsiveness in human relations, were just as much a part of Bill Haywood as his iron will and intransigence in battle.

"Bill's room", in the Lux Hotel at Moscow, was always the central gathering place for the English-speaking delegates. Bill was "good company". He liked to have people around him, and visitors came to his room in a steady stream; many went to pour out their troubles, certain of a sympathetic hearing and a word of wise advice.

The American ruling class hounded Haywood with the most vindictive hatred. They could not tolerate the idea that he, an American of old revolutionary stock, a talented organizer and eloquent speaker, should be on the side of the exploited masses, a champion of the doubly persecuted foreigners and Negroes. With a 20-year prison sentence hanging over him he was compelled to leave America in the closing years of his life and to seek refuge in workers' Russia. He died there in the Kremlin, the capitol of his and our socialist fatherland with the red flag of his class floating triumphantly overhead.

Capitalist America made him an outlaw and he died expatriated from his native land. But in the ranks of the militant workers of America, who owe so much to his example, he remains a citizen of the first rank. He represented in his rugged personality all that was best of the pre-war socialist and labor movement, and by his adhesion to communism he helped to transmit that inheritance to us. His memory will remain a blazing torch of inspiration for the workers of America in the great struggles which lie before them.

His life was a credit and an honor to our class and to our movement. Those who pick up the battle flag which has fallen from his lifeless hands will do well to emulate the bigness and vision, the courage and the devotion which were characteristics of our beloved comrade and friend, Bill Haywood.
***Big Bill Haywood-Working Class Warrior

Book Review

Big Bill Haywood, Melvyn Dubofsky, Manchester University Press, Manchester England, 1987

If you are sitting around today wondering, as I occasionally do, what a modern day radical labor leader should look like then one need go no further than to observe the career, warts and all, of the legendary Bill Haywood. To previous generations of radicals that name would draw an automatic response. Today’s radicals, and others interested in social solutions to the pressing problems that have been bestowed on us by the continuation of the capitalist mode of production, may not be familiar with the man and his program for working class power. Professor Dubofsky’s little biographical sketch is thus just the cure for those who need a primer on this hero of the working class.

The good professor goes into some detail, despite limited accessablity, about Haywood’s early life out in the Western United States in the late 19th century. Those hard scrabble experiences made a huge imprint on the young Haywood as he tramped from mining camp to mining camp and tried to make ends mean, any way he could. Haywood, moreover, is the perfect example of the fact that working class political consciousness is not innate but gained through the hard experiences of life under the capitalist system. Thus, Haywood moved from itinerant miner to become a leading member of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and moved leftward along the political spectrum along the way. Not a small part in that was due to his trial on trumped up charges in Idaho for murder as part of a labor crack down against the WFM by the mine owners and their political allies there.

As virtually all working class militants did at the turn of the 20th century, Big Bill became involved with the early American socialist movement and followed the lead of the sainted Eugene V. Debs. As part of the ferment of labor agitation during this period the organization that Haywood is most closely associated with was formed-The Industrial Workers of the World (hereafter IWW, also known as Wobblies). This organization- part union, part political party- was the most radical expression (far more radical than the rather tepid socialist organizations) of the American labor movement in the period before World War I.

The bulk of Professor Dubofsky’s book centers, as it should, on Haywood’s exploits as a leader of the IWW. Big Bill’s ups and downs mirrored the ups and downs of the organization. The professor goes into the various labor fights that Haywood led highlighted by the great 1912 Lawrence strike (of bread and roses fame), the various free speech fights but also the draconian Wilsonian policy toward the IWW after America declared war in 1917. That governmental policy essentially crushed the IWW as a mass working class organization. Moreover, as a leader Haywood personally felt the full wrath of the capitalist government. Facing extended jail time Haywood eventually fled to the young Soviet republic where he died in lonely exile in 1928.

The professor adequately tackles the problem of the political and moral consequences of that escape to Russia for the IWW and to his still imprisoned comrades so I will not address it here. However, there are two points noted by Dubofsky that warrant comment. First, he notes that Big Bill was a first rate organizer in both the WFM and the IWW. Those of us who are Marxists sometimes tend to place more emphasis of the fact that labor leaders need to be “tribunes of the people” that we sometimes neglect the important “trade union secretary” part of the formula. Haywood seems to have had it all. Secondly, Haywood’s and the IWW’s experience with government repression during World War I, repeated in the “Red Scare” experience of the 1950’s against Communists and then later against the Black Panthers in the 1960’s should be etched into the brain of every militant today. When the deal goes down the capitalists and their hangers-on will do anything to keep their system. Anything. That said, read this Haywood primer. It is an important contribution to the study of American labor history.
Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By- "Joe HIll"- Don't Mourn, Organize!

A "YouTube" film clip of Paul Robeson performing "Joe Hill"

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here.

Joe Hill Lyrics-A. Robinson

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"

"In Salt Lake City, Joe," says I,
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
No Limit-Take Three

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

He, Roy Bluff, then could have had his pick of whatever woman caught his fancy, caught his eye, or caught his momentary fashion interest. Reason: Roy Bluff, a guy who had scrabbled and scrambled hard for a long time finally hit his stride, finally got the big pay-off for all those lonely half-filled rooms, all those small make-shift café stages, all those dank church basements replete with intermission homemade baked goods sold to help defray coffeehouse expenses, all those play louder than the drunks at midnight, when his brand of hip-folk-rock became a craze around the turn of this century. Got his big ass break when Dave Beck, the big recording producer for Ducca Records, happened to need a midnight drink, maybe two, and heard him at the El Segundo Café in Long Beach and gave him a shot.

Of course being a record contract singer anything, a concert artist anything women started giving him their keys, or whatever else they had to offer back then, in order to say they had been with the rising music star Roy Bluff for one night (maybe two but Roy was moving fast, fast as fast as a man could to catch the rising wave). By the way Roy’s real name was Ronald Smith, but the performance stage, musical performance, ah, concert artist stage, and maybe the whole world, was filled to the brim with Smiths just then and so one night earlier in his career, one night after a drunken fight brought on by some loudmouth cursing his music in a Memphis bar, the Be-Bop Club over off Beale, he“christened” himself with that manly name despite losing that fight, losing it badly to a smaller wiry man, So it wasn’t that he was agile, handsome or beautiful, if a man can be beautiful in this wicked old world, as much as that he had a certain serious jut-jawed look borne from out in the prairies, a kind of cowboy look, that appealed to women, lots of women. Yes, on that basis he had run through the alphabet with such catches, blondes, brunettes, red-heads, especially a couple of wild sisters, college students, young professionals, slender, not so slender, yeah, the whole alphabet to fill his dance card and share booze, dope and whatever was at hand, sometimes, as to be expected, getting out of hand. Hell, he liked it, loved it for the while he was on edge city.

Until she came along. Until she, Laura Perkins she, to give her a name, although he called her “sweet angel,”called her sweet angel when he was having one of his better moments, had gotten under his skin, gotten the best of him. And wherever the winds would take them, or not take them, she would always get under his skin, that was just the way it was almost from the first, and he accepted that sometimes with a sly grin and sometimes with daggers in his eyes.

Right then, right that pre-performance moment as he prepared his play-list in his head, he was in a sly grin mood and so, as he set himself up for the day’s work, actually night’s work since he was giving a concert later that evening, he was going through the maybes. The maybes being a little game that he, previously nothing but a love‘em and leave ‘em guy, played with himself trying to figure out just how, and the ways, that she, one Laura Perkins, got under his skin. And so the maybes it was.

The first maybe was that Laura was not judgmental, not in a public sense anyway, and not in any way that would let him know that she was. She had given him a lot of rope, had accepted his excuses, his frailties, and his rages against the night (although she tried like hell to temper them). Roy laughed to himself as he thought about the circumstances under which they had met and he knew deep down that, publicly or privately, that judgmental was just not the way she was built.

Christ, as Roy thought back to that first night, he had just got into one of the ten thousand beefs that he got into when he was drinking back then. He was working his first major tour, major in those days being working steady and working in small concert halls and large ballrooms throughout the country (no more dank basements and crowded cafes, not for Ducca recording artist Roy Bluff). Some customer at the famous Hi-Lo Club in Yonkers who didn’t like his song selections told him about it, told him loudly. Roy, having been drinking (and smoking a little reefer) all day, responded with a brawl, getting, as usual the worst of it, when Laura walked in with a girlfriend. Laura did not really know who Roy was but her girlfriend, Patty Lyons, dear Patty, had heard his first album and was crazy to see him in person and so she had persuaded Laura to tag along.

She gave Roy a look, a look that said yeah I might take ride with that cowboy (laugh, cowboy from Portland up in Maine, Maine born and bred), an instant attraction look, and Roy, bloodied and all, gave one back, ditto on the attraction look. Later, just before he started his second set he asked the waitress what Laura was drinking, he then had a drink sent to her table, and she had refused it, saying that if he wanted to buy her a drink then he had better bring it to the table himself.

Yeah, yeah that was the start. After he had finished the set he did bring that drink over. She never asked him about the fight, about the cause of it, or even about how his wounds were feeling but rather stuff about his profession and the ordinary data of a first meeting. All he knew now was as close as he had come a few times afterward that was the last time he fought anybody for any reason, fought physically anyway.

Maybe it was that at the beginning, not the beginning beginning, not that first night when after his set was finished he brought that drink over to her table (and to be sociable one for her girlfriend too) but after he had gotten used to her, had been to bed with her and she had said one night out of the blue, that he was her man (she had put it more elegantly than that but that was what she meant) and that she would pack her suitcase if she was ever untrue to him. Funny, he was still then grabbing whatever caught his eye before she said that, and what guy who was starting to get a little positive reputation in the music business wouldn’t grab what was grab-worthy. But after that he too silently and almost unconsciously took what they later called the “suitcase” pledge although he never told her that, never took her he took the pledge, it just kind of happened.

Maybe it was that Laura would refuse the little trinkets that men give women, hell, she wouldn’t even accept roses on her birthday. She only wanted a quiet moment alone with him away from the helter-skelter of his public life. One night when he and she had been smoking a little dope and she was “mellow” and ready to shed a little of her private thoughts she had told him about a man, an older man (older then being twenty-five she being eighteen at the time, but more that she was unworldly or really not ready to accept the wicked old world on harsher terms and so malleable) who had lavished her with gifts, money, some jewelry (later found to be some reject stuff) only to confess one night that he was married and as part of that package had beaten her up as he walked out the door after she had called the whole thing off. She said if what they had wasn’t good enough without trinkets then they were doomed anyway and she would not want reminders of that failure around.

Maybe it was as they grew closer, as they got a sense of each other without hollering and as his star started rising in the business after his first big album hits, that she tried to protect him from the jugglers and the clowns (her words), the grafters, grifters, drifters and con men (his words) who congregate around money as long as it is around. Better, she protected him against the night crawler critics and up- town intellectuals who gathered around him as they saw him as their evocation of the new wordsmith messiah and who were constantly waiting, maybe praying too if such types prayed, for him to branch out beyond the perimeters that they, yes, they had set for his work, for his words. Waiting to say “sell-out.”

Maybe it was the soothing feeling he got when after raging against the blizzard monster night of the early years, those bleak years right after the turn of the new century, on stage, in his written down words, after hours in some forsaken hotel room town, nameless, nameless except its commonality with every other hotel room, east or west, she softly spoke and made sense of all the things that he raged against, the damn wars, the damn economy, hell, even his own struggling attempts to break-out of the music business mold and bring out stuff on his own label.

Maybe it was the tough years, the years when he was still drinking high hard sweet dreams whiskey by the gallon, still smoking way to much reefer (and whatever else was available, everybody wanted to lay stuff from their own personal stash on him, some good, some bad, very bad) when she took more than her fair share of abuse, mental not physical, although one night, a night not long before he finally crashed big time and had to be hospitalized, he almost did so out of some hubristic rage, she waved him off when he tried to explain himself. She said “let by-gones be by-gones” and that ended the discussion.

And maybe, just maybe, it was that out in the awestruck thundering night, out in the hurling windstorms of human existence, out in the slashing muck-filled rains, out, he, didn’t know what out in, but out, she was, she just was…

*Folk Music For Aging Children- The Music Of Judy Collins And Friends

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013

A "YouTube" film clip of Judy Collin perfroming Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon".

CD Review

Wildflower Festival, Judy Collins, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, Arlo Guthrie, Wildflower Records, 2003

Okay, just when you thought there could not possibly be any more country folk, urban folk, suburban folk, folk rock, rock folk, semi-folk, or quasi-folk music from the folk revival of the early 1960 to review here I am again reviewing some of the stars of that time-in their dotage. Well, maybe not dotage, but we are all, including Judy Collins, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, and Arlo Guthrie, getting a little long in the tooth, and no one can dispute that hard fact. The real question is whether the artists in this compilation still have it, at least for those of us in that dwindling, graying, arthritic, prescription-needing folk audience that fills the small church basement “coffee houses” on this planet. And they do. Still have it, I mean.

That said, this little Wildflower Festival setting in 2003 provided Judy and her guests with a chance to show their stuff, new and old. Now, for those who have heard Judy Collins sing back in the day the question is why she did not challenge Joan Baez for the “queen” of folk title. She had the voice, the style, and the looks (ya, that WAS important, even then) to do so. I have been running a “Not Joan Baez” series and will deal with that question there at some other time but her work here is pretty good, especially her well-known cover of Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon”. Eric Andersen, who I have already looked at in a “Not Bob Dylan” series hold forth on his “Blue River”. Tom Rush, ditto, on “The Remember Song”. Finally, Arlo, whom I have covered in relation to his father’s, Woody Guthrie, music “steals” the show here with his storytelling, notably the kid’s story, “Mooses Came Walking”.

Someday Soon
Ian Tyson

There's a young man that I know whose age is twenty-one
Comes from down in southern Colorado
Just out of the service, he's lookin' for his fun
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

My parents can not stand him 'cause he rides the rodeo
My father says that he will leave me cryin'
I would follow him right down the roughest road I know
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

But when he comes to call, my pa ain't got a good word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old Blue Northern, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

When he comes to call, my pa ain't got a word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old blue northern, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon
Someday soon, goin' with him
© 1991
*Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part Two- The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Eric Von Schmidt

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Eric Von Schmidt performing "Joshua's Gone Barbados".

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001

Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD. Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc Two: Dave Van Ronk on “He Was A Friend Of Mine” and You’se A Viper”, The Chad Mitchell Trio on “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”, Hedy West on “500 Miles”, Ian &Sylvia on “Four Strong Winds”, Tom Paxton on “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound”, Peter, Paul And Mary on “Blowin’ In The Wind”, Bob Dylan on “Boots Of Spanish Leather”, Jesse Colin Young on “Four In The Morning”, Joan Baez on “There But For Fortune”, Judy Roderick on “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”, Bonnie Dobson on “Morning Dew”, Buffy Sainte-Marie on “Cod’ine” and Eric Von Schmidt on “ Joshua Gone Barbados”.

Eric Von Schmidt on “Joshua Gone Barbados”. As a good historical materialism of the Marxist tradition I am very wedded to the idea that ideas, movements and the like do not just spring forth in pristine nature but are conditioned by a whole series of prior events. Figuring out the important ones that drive history has been a life-long occupation. What has required less time is the knowledge that certain folk personalities like Dave Van Ronk (and the members of New Lost City Ramblers) were waiting in Greenwich Village when the young aspiring folkies were heading to Mecca.

There were other “hot” folk spots as well, with their own local town-greeters. In the case of Cambridge by the banks of the old Charles River and adjacent to that citadel of folk wisdom, Harvard University, that task was done by, among others, Eric Von Schmidt. Bob Dylan makes reference to Eric in one of his early albums. How about that for cache? I have written elsewhere about Eric’s role I only need to note here that there are two other songs that could have been included here: his cover of “When That Great Ship When Down” (about the Titanic, naturally); and, his own “Light Rain” are good examples of the kind of energy that was around in those days.


Sunday, March 11, 2007
Joshua Gone Barbados. Eric Gone, Too.(v2)


Eric von Schmidt, a painter and folksinger, died February 2, 2007 in Connecticut. Bob Dylan wrote of him that “He could sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire, he can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise". But why should that be of interest to people in St. Vincent? Because his most recorded and most famous song, "Joshua Gone Barbados", is about an incident that happened near Georgetown:

"Joshua Gone Barbados".

"Cane standing in the fields getting old and red
Lot of misery in Georgetown, three men lying dead
And Joshua, head of the government, he say strike for better pay
Cane cutters are striking, Joshua gone away.

Chorus: Joshua gone Barbados, staying in a big hotel
People on St. Vincent they got many sad tales to tell.

Sugar mill owner told the strikers, I don't need you to cut my cane
Bring in another bunch of fellows, strike be all in vain.
Get a bunch of tough fellows, bring 'em from Sion Hill
Bring 'em in a bus to Georgetown, know somebody get killed.

And Sonny Child the overseer, I swear he's an ignorant man
Walking through the canefield, pistol in his hand
But Joshua gone Barbados, just like he don't know
People on the Island, they got no place to go.

Police giving protection, new fellows cutting the cane
Strikers can't do nothing, strike be all in vain
And Sonny Child he curse the strikers, wave his pistol 'round
They're beating Sonny with a cutlass, beat him to the ground.

Chorus 2:There's a lot of misery in Georgetown,
you can hear the women bawl
Joshua gone Barbados, he don't care at all.

Cane standing in the fields getting old and red
Sonny Child in the hospital, pistol on his bed
I wish I could go to England, Trinidad or Curacao
People on the Island they got no place to go.
Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part Three- The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Tom Rush

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013

A YouTube's film clip of Tom Rush performing Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game"

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001

Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD.Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc Three: Phil Ochs on “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, Richard &Mimi Farina on “Pack Up Your Sorrows”, John Hammond on “Drop Down Mama”, Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band on “Rag Mama”, John Denver on “Bells Of Rhymney”, Gordon Lightfoot on "Early Morning Rain”, Eric Andersen on “Thirsty Boots”, Tim Hardin on “Reason To Believe”, Richie Havens on “Just Like A Woman”, Judy Collins on “Suzanne”, Tim Buckley on “Once I Was”, Tom Rush on “The Circle Game”, Taj Mahal on “Candy Man”, Loudon Wainwright III on “School Days”and Arlo Guthrie on “The Motorcycle Song”

Tom Rush on “The Circle Game”. Joni Mitchell wrote it. Tom Rush sings it. That is enough for me. Except I think we have to expand the number of verses to cover later times (after 20)...and to keep slowing those circles down. Please!

"Circle Game"-Joni Mitchell

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when youre older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and dawn
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we con only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it wont be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and dawn
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur
Coming true
Therell be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
*Songs For Aging Children- The Songs of Tom Rush- An Encore

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013

A YouTube film clip of a more mature Tom Rush performing Joni Mitchell's Urge For Going.

CD Review

The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets, Tom Rush, Sony, 1999

If I were to ask someone, in the year 2010 as I have done in previous years, to name a male folk singer from the 1960’s I would assume that if I were to get an answer to that question that the name would be Bob Dylan. And that would be a good and appropriate choice. One can endlessly dispute whether or not Dylan was (or wanted to be) the voice of the Generation of ’68 but in terms of longevity and productivity he fits the bill as a known quality. However, there were a slew of other male folk singers who tried to find their niche in the folk milieu and who, like Dylan, today continue to produce work and to perform. The artist under review, Tom Rush, is one such singer/songwriter.

The following is a question that I have been posing in reviewing the work of a number of male folk singers from the 1960’s and it is certainly an appropriate question to ask of Tom Rush as well. I do not know if Tom Rush, like his contemporary Bob Dylan, started out wanting to be the king of the hill among male folk singers but he certainly had some things going for him. A decent acoustic guitar but a very interesting (and strong baritone) voice to fit the lyrics of love, hope, and longing that he was singing about at the time. This was period when he was covering other artists, particularly Joni Mitchell, so it is not clear to me that he had that same Dylan drive by then (1968).

As for the songs themselves I mentioned that he covered Joni Mitchell in this period. That is represented here by a very nice version of Urge For Going that captures the wintry, got to get out of here, imaginary that Joni was trying to evoke about things back in her Canadian home. And the timelessness and great lyrical sense of No Regrets, as the Generation of ’68 sees another generational cycle starting, is apparent now if it was not then. The covers of fellow Cambridge folk scene fixture Eric Von Scmidt on Joshua Gone Barbados and Galveston Flood are well done. As is the cover of Bukka White’s Panama Limited (although you really have to see or hear old Bukka flailing away on his old beat up National guitar to get the real thing. Unfortunately it is not on YouTube). Finally a more recent very mellow River Song (1999) to round out the tracks. This is the classic Tom Rush play list. Get It.

Urge For Going Lyrics
Joni Mitchell Lyrics

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell on the ground, and
Bully winds came around, pushed them face down in the snow
He got the urge for going
A “Blues Mama” For Our Times Encore- The Blues Of Maria Muldaur

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary Of The Formation Of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band Celebrated At Club Passim (Club 47 back in the day), Cambridge On August 29 & 30 2013

CD Review

Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul, Maria Muldaur, Stony Plain Records, 2005

I have often noted that when white women cover blues songs done by the old classic black singers like Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton and the like some undefined ingredient is missing. Call it "soul" or the "miseries" or whatever you like but somehow the depths of a song are generally not reached. Not so here, as Maria Muldaur presents the second of an anticipated three albums covering some great classics of old time barrel house blues. (The first album was "Richland Woman's Blues", taking the title from a song by Mississippi John Hurt so you know Maria is reaching for the blues roots, no question).

Bessie Smith's "Empty Bed Blues" sticks out as do her duos with the legendary Taj Mahal. Blind Willie Johnson’s classic religiously-tinged “Take A Stand” and Bessie Smith's (with Clara Smith) “I’m Going Back” get their proper workout. The big highlight though (and a very necessary “re-discovery”) is the tribute to Memphis Minnie, “She Put Me Outdoors”. And a very necessary “discovery” of the very hard times, hard hustle and hard knocks of the female blues singer, “Tricks Ain’t Walkin”. More needs to be said on that question. As Maria points out in her liner notes some of these songs here are ones that she wanted to do earlier in her career but was either talked out or could not do justice to then. But now Maria knows she has paid her dues, I know she has paid her dues, and you will too. Listen.

Blues Lyrics - Mississippi John Hurt
Richland's Woman Blues
All rights to lyrics included on these pages belong to the artists and authors of the works.
All lyrics, photographs, soundclips and other material on this website may only be used for private study, scholarship or research.

Gimme red lipstick and a bright purple rouge
A shingle bob haircut
and a shot of good boo'

Hurry down, sweet daddy, come blowin' your horn
If you come too late, sweet mama will be gone
Come along young man, everything settin' right
My husbands goin' away till next Saturday night

Hurry down, sweet daddy, come blowin' you horn
If you come too late, sweet mama will be gone
Now, I'm raring to go, got red shoes on my feet
My mind is sittin' right for a Tin Lizzie

Hurry down, sweet daddy, come blowin' you horn
If you come too late, sweet mama will be gone
*Songs For Aging……Jug Band Music Aficionados

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary Of The Formation Of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band Celebrated At Club Passim (Club 47 back in the day), Cambridge On August 29 & 30 2013

CD Review

Washboard Slim& The Blue Lights: Jug Band Music For The 21st Century, Jugabilly Records, 1996

Yes, I know I have spent many, probably too many hours, on this endless folkie tour. Christ, now I am touting the virtues of jug band music. Well there is a method to my madness. I have recently, with no regret, featured the individual later work of Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur and Geoff Muldaur from the old Jim Kweskin Jug Band of the 1960s . They set the standard for this of music. That standard included use of some homemade instruments (like a washtub) and off-beat lyrical compositions (some might maintain inane compositions but we will not quibble). They also, in turn worked off the standards set by earlier jug bands like the Cannon Jug Band and the famous Memphis Jug Band. So there are some traditions here.

All of this is by way of saying that the jug band under review, Washboard Slim and the Blue Lights, have some pretty good forbears. Although I do not believe that jug music now, like some people believed in the 1960s, is the wave of the future in alternative music it nevertheless has a pretty good pedigree. And it is fun. That appears to be the case wit this group as well. From 1950’s teen love takes off in a big way with the likes "Tunnel of Love” and “Big Hunk Of Love” to classic jug like “Washboard Wiggles” this is just for fun. Kweskin and his crew set the modern standard but these folks know the milieu. Nice.
Poet’s Corner- Seamus Heaney Passes

On The Passing Of Seamus Heaney

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman (nee Francis Riley)

A word. He came from the land of poets, porridge, potatoes, publicans, paupers, prayers, pissers and peat, the well-known eight p’s (a ninth, protestants, will be left unspoken). He spoke the mother tongue, nay, the grandmother’s tongue never quite the King’s and then time passing the Queen’s English but that surly brogue that bespoke of ancient sorrows, ancient oppressions, ancient dreams against the hard seas surrounding dear mother. Grandmother too (and not just grandmother in her generation either) defiant against vanilla Americanization, against some lost old sod memory. And so DNA-wired her sprawl learned, prosaic and poetic both, the swirl of language, the twisting of a word upon the tongue, the delight in catching just the right breeze of a phrase as it passes in some bay (always some bay present, these were a sea-bound, sea-faring people, if only to diaspora) drifting back across the seas.

And not just of flailed language but of other sights, smells and sounds, and ancient clan customs. The white sheets, pillow cases, towels, underwear (men’s) flying in the back porch triple-decker wind trying to make due for the umpteenth time although one and all can almost see though the hand wrung bleached whiteness of the things. The smell of oatmeal bread fresh baked from Ida’s Bakery (really the downstairs part of a house converted of necessity into a money-producing operation), and Friday buns (yes, yes, Lenten hot-cross buns I hadn’t forgotten). The no smell of the boiled dinner (non- descript meat, yes, yes ,potatoes, cabbage and so on, boiled to perdition by the time the damn thing boiled got boiled down anyway). The smell of whiskies, cheap low-shelf whiskies to make the pennies go farther, and of stouts and ales too when whiskey credits were short. The smell of sullen sunrise church (Roman Catholic, naturally) all dank and foreboding, faint wisps of wine sand incense left from some past ceremony, filled with wonder about hell, heaven and that hope, the high hope of purgatory as a way-station,

Spoke too of eight hundred year oppressions and scratching on hard rock earth. Of 1916, and shame, and the boys in the north, and never quite get the whole thing settled. Of keeping one own consult, also known as not airing the family’s line in public unlike those sheets flailing away on the back porch. Above all spoke of the “squawlie” net-work that ran amok over every tenement block and kept the whole wide world informed, informed not in the language of the poet by the way. As so Seamus Heaney too passes.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Poet's Corner -Seamus Heaney -RIP


By Seamus Heaney 1939–2013 Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
Seamus Heaney, "Digging" from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

Source: Death of a Naturalist (1966)