Saturday, July 14, 2018

`They Drove Woody Guthrie' protest folk song lyrics

If you write too many songs and you side with the poor
And you refuse to be a wage slave
They will say you’re “insane”, they will put you away
Like they drove Woody Guthrie to his grave.

He walked around the land and spoke with men and women
And wrote a thousand songs to tell the truth
The media barons, they felt he was too red
And his exclusion drove him to booze. (chorus)

He wrote a big long book which no one would publish
Because it spoke too much of love
He saw that nine-to-five was a big waste of life
But few understood what he said. (chorus)

They said he was “too old” to refuse to settle down
They ordered him to act like other men
But when he refused, they said he had “a disease”
And they locked him in a mental hospital bed. (chorus)

The capitalists got rich from the songs of the communist
Whom they kept hidden away with the insane
They marketed his legend while they took away his pen
Yes, they drove Woody Guthrie to his grave. (chorus)

The "They Drove Woody Guthrie" protest folk song was written in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Woody Guthrie's `Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti' Album Revisited

Monday, July 9, 2018

How Brit Capitalist Epstein Made 1960s Hip Capitalist Beatles Popular In USA

Brit Capitalist Brian Epstein and Hip Capitalist Beatles Band in 1960s
In the early 1960s, most music fans in the USA were more into listening to rhythm and blues and rock'n'roll vinyl records created, played or sung by African-Americans and white songwriters, musicians, bands and singers from the United States than into listening much to rhythm and blues and rock'n'roll vinyl records sung by white British bands. And in the early 1960s, most hip music fans on U.S. campuses were more into listening to U.S. rural and urban folk music and blues vinyl records created, played or sung by African-American blues musicians or white folk musicians than into listening to the vinyl blues or rock'n'roll records of white British bands.

Yet in early 1964 the vinyl records of a British rock'n'roll band of white hip capitalist singer-songwriters and musicians, the Beatles, began to be purchased by large numbers of music fans in the United States. But in his 1991 book, The Beatle Myth: The British Invasion of American Popular Music 1956-1969, "Doc Rock" Michael Bryan Kelly indicated how a white British capitalist named Brian Epstein was apparently able to eventually create a big music consumer market in the USA for the vinyl records of the Beatles after 1964:  

"If ever management promoted a band into popularity, it was Brian Epstein promoting the Beatles. He moved from bars and strip joints, and forced them literally to clean up their act. He specifically had them cut and wash their hair. He also insisted that they watch their language and smile a lot. Teen idols were always impeccably dressed. Epstein bought for the Beatles matching collarless suits, boots, and other items of dress which were all the rage in Paris at the time.

"After he had the Beatles groomed to his specifications, he literally manufactured their popularity, starting when their first British single failed to make the charts in 1962. Brian bought 10,000 copies himself with his own money, simply to get them on the charts.

"When the Beatles' first appearance at the London Palladium flopped, Brian had a photographer take a tight shot of a small group of girls he had asked to scream. Then he sent copies of the photo to all of the papers with a press release claiming that 5,000 screaming girls had swamped the theater.

"Musically, Epstein teamed the Beatles with arranger George Martin, who put violins on the Beatles' records and, with songs like `Yesterday' and `Michelle,' made them respectable enough to be accepted by parents.

"The Beatles' early British hits failed when they were first released in the States in 1963. To give the Beatles a push, Capitol Records' publicists spent an unprecedented sum of $50,000 [equal to over $400,000 in 2018] to promote Beatles music into popularity it could not attain without such promotion. The Beatles got onto the Ed Sullivan show because Epstein agreed to just one-half the fee normally paid by Sullivan to performers. In short, manager Brian Epstein, arranger George Martin, and promoters at Capitol manufactured a teen idol career for the Beatles, collectively turning them from young misfits into teen idols! Had not Epstein ordered John Lennon to never again sing nude on stage (as he did in Hamburg in the early '60s), wearing nothing but a toilet seat hung around his neck, Ed Sullivan (the Beatles' version of Dick Clark] would never have booked them on his `reely big show!'...Capitol sent, free and unsolicited, cases of free Beatle wigs to record stores and radio stations across the country as part of their promotional campaign for the Beatles..."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Did` Folk Capitalist' Musicians Make Big Money By Ripping Off Non-Commercially-Created Folk Songs in 1950s and 1960s?

Most African-American and white working-class people and rural folks, who either collectively built anti-corporate movements for radical democratic change and economic equality in the USA or collectively created most U.S. folk songs prior to the late 1950s, never made a lot of money from either their Movement work or their writing of non-commercially-motivated folk songs, which generally reflected the anti-capitalist sentiments and concerns of the Movement.

Yet some "folk capitalist" and commercially-oriented musicians in the late 1950s and early 1960s apparently made a lot of money from their involvement in the commodification of folk music by for-profit U.S. corporate music industry vinyl record production and distributions companies, like Capitol Records, etc. In his 2013 book, Folk Music USA: The Changing Voice of Protest, Ronald Lankford Jr. recalled what happened, for example, after the Kingston Trio recorded "Tom Dooley;" and their version of a traditional folk song about the hanging of a convicted murderer was aired by some radio station DJs in the USA:

"...`Tom Dooley' started generating thousands of dollars in royalties each week...[Kingston Trio members] Guard, Shane and Reynolds discovered that you could make $30,000 [equal to over $240,000 in 2018] a week from the royalties of one folk song...By December of 1959, the Kingston Trio had 4 albums on the Top Ten chart at the same time, giving the green light to major labels...: Folk music could be obscenely profitable...The commercial record labels...confused the public by promoting pop-folk as the real thing...

"...Popular folk performers made money faster than their accountants could find tax shelters to hide it in...The Kingston Trio...averaged between $8,000 and $12,000 [equal to over $65,000 to over $97,000 in 2018]  per show and another $6,000 [ equal to over $48,000 in 2018] per week in record sales, netting...$1.7 million in 1962 [equal to over $13.8 million in 2018] and accounting for 12 percent of Capitol's annual sales. The Limeliters tagged behind, making...$3,000 to $5,000 [equal to over $24,000 to over $40,000 in 2018] per week, though they tried to make up the income gap by singing...for Ford Motor Company and Folger's Coffee. Peter, Paul and Mary received $30,000 [equal to over $240,000 in 2018] after signing with Warner...By 1961, folk music...was...something you invested in like stocks and bonds...The Limeliters...turned `Things Go Better With Coke' into a...hit, and attempted to convince the public of the rich flavor of L and M cigarettes. The Kingston Trio...donned sailor suits and boarded a whaling yacht to sell 7-Up...Schlitz paid the Journeymen $25,000 [equal to over $206,000 in 2018] for a year's worth of jingles, while American Express...also engaged the group to cut an ad..."

Friday, June 22, 2018

Quotations From Pete Seeger: Folk Music vs. Show Business

In his July/August 1974 Sing Out! magazine column (that's included in the book Pete Seeger: In His Own Words which Rob Rosenthal and Sam Rosenthal edited), Pete Seeger criticized the way most music magazines cover the folk music scene for the following reason::

"What's good about folk music is that it is not show business. It should not be show business.

"But the trouble with most `folk music' that they tell me what professional performer is singing here, and why that one is better than some other one. And somehow millions of people have gotten the idea that folk music is somebody standing on stage with a guitar in his or her hand. I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with giving such a false impression..."

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Quotations From Pete Seeger: On Fame and Celebrity Worship

As the book Pete Seeger: In His Own Words that Rob Rosenthal and Sam Rosenthal edited indicates, during the 1970s Pete Seeger wrote the following about the negative effects of fame and celebrity worship on people in modern society:

"...I feel very deeply that the whole feverish search to get close to `fame' is not only foolish but a symptom of something very bad in modern society around the world.

"Modern technology, mass production, has made some people too famous and has left billions of people feeling that they are unimportant, that they are just cogs in a big machine...This is really false. Everybody is important in this world...

"...I urge all autograph collectors to realize that the kind of fame people get in show business and politics is about the phoniest of all. To be in show business is to be in the professional publicity business. People are hired to send out releases to newspapers and to arrange for TV interviews..."

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quotations From Pete Seeger: On The Movement and The Celebrity Star System

In a May/June 1975 Sing Out! magazine column that was included in the Pete Seeger: In His Own Words book that Rob Rosenthal and Sam Rosenthal edited, Pete Seeger wrote the following about Movement activists' failure to generally fight against the U.S. corporate entertainment media's celebrity star system:

"You ask me, do I know `some big name performer' who can help your cause. Don't you realize that we all have to fight the star system? In this technological society, we have to oppose the cult of personality...

"...Revolutionists have always had to teach the people that some of the greatest talents in the world have no reputation to speak of; they have just been sitting beside us all the time, and we didn't know about it."