Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Protest Playlist | Lefsetz Letter

Protest Playlist -Spotify

“We Can’t Make It Here”
James McMurtry

My favorite track of the century, although I do prefer the acoustic take rushed out for the election that is now hard to find, it’s my most played song in my iTunes library with an indelible hook that is undeniable, the words are just an accessory, but it’s the words that the track is remembered for.

Check out this YouTube video of the acoustic take:

We Can’t Make It Here – YouTube

“Fuck Tha Police”

Believe me, they didn’t play this on MTV, it’s a track you read about more than heard, but it it incited imitators and ultimately revolution, known as the L.A. Riots of 1992, in the wake of the Rodney King trial, it’s then we learned that everything said by N.W.A. and Ice-T was true. Yup, you live in a bubble, you’ve got no idea what’s happening in others’ worlds even though you think you do. You decry the hillbillies hooked on dope, you read J.D. Vance’s book, the right wing prick who hooked up with the wrongheaded Peter Thiel and feel good about yourself. Why are African-Americans the problem? Put yourself in their shoes, your race identifiable by the color of your skin, with a legacy of enslavement, but too many whites just think black people are takers, as they wear their jeans low, baseball caps sideways and rap along to their records.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Written in the wake of Kent State. Great art is about inspiration, whereas everything today is belabored. Neil Young got a bolt of inspiration and wrote and had the band record this almost immediately, it was on the airwaves with its undeniable guitar sound while we were still licking our wounds.

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Bob Dylan

I could quote “Masters Of War,” Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” but this is the one that resonates with me.

By time Dylan hit the big time, his protest days were behind him. But due to the efforts of his manager, Albert Grossman, his songs were covered and known in the folk world, his reputation was sealed. That’s right, the work you’re doing now, when no one is paying attention, just might be that which cements your reputation.

Now you should listen to this because of the truth screaming from every lyric. That’s what we want from art, the unvarnished truth, because it resonates.

My favorite verse:

For them that obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Do what they do just to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

And the irony today is that this applies to many of the so-called “winners,” doing jobs they hate for the money, like in finance.

Ah, what the hell, I’ll quote one more:

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

Sound like today?

It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

“Eve Of Destruction”
Barry McGuire

We barely knew what the Vietnam War was. And suddenly there was this song emanating from the transistor informing us the world was doomed.

It certainly looked like it.

But then the youth rebelled and changed minds about the military industrial state and ultimately the war was stopped.

And then all these protesters sold out, had babies and became best friends with their progeny whose idea of rocking the boat is sending nude selfies online.

“Ain’t Got No”
“Hair (Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

The “Hamilton” of its day, but much more ubiquitous, its songs were remade into huge, dominating singles on AM radio, from “Good Morning, Starshine” to “Easy To Be Hard” to “Aquarius”…

My mother was and is a culture vulture, she bought the original OFF BROADWAY cast album from 1967, we played it incessantly, I’m including that take which is a bit different, I prefer it.

“Hamilton” has untold impact, it’s just that it takes so much longer to percolate and rise to the top today.

“My Shot”
“Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

The hip-hop ethos filtered down to its original essence.

It starts with belief and desire, you’ve got to believe in yourself and desire the goal. People have no idea how hard it takes to make it, those who try and lose get it a bit, and those who’ve won can’t believe they’ve made it, it’s akin to climbing Everest without oxygen.

This is a protest against the system, in support of the individual.

Individuals change this world, never forget it!

“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)
“Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Featuring the famous line:

Immigrants, we get the job done

We’re all immigrants, except for the few, abused natives. “Hamilton” brings us all together, you might not know it but it’s the best and biggest musical enterprise of this decade, SEE IT! (If you can get tickets…)

“All My Trials”
Joan Baez

Never underestimate her impact. She was the Taylor Swift of her day, assuming Taylor looked inward instead of throwing daggers outward.

Baez was beautiful with an exquisite voice, the women wanted to be her and the men wanted to…

The folk music, hootenanny scene got youngsters picking up the guitar, so they could play these songs and sing along. That was a regular exercise, sitting around singing songs, another thing lost to the past and the self-lionization of social media.

“Blowin’ In The Wind”
Peter, Paul and Mary

They made it famous. The first time most people heard Bob Dylan.

“I Ain’t Marching Anymore”
Phil Ochs

The power of one man and his guitar. Phil’s songs may not have charted on the hit parade, but they percolated, people knew them.

Edwin Starr

What is it good for?

“Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud”
James Brown

That’s the difference between yesterday and today, black people were protesting their underclass status and now white people are trying to maintain their superiority. James Brown instigated pride in his audience, and that should never be underestimated.

“Everyday People”
Sly and the Family Stone

Music can bring people together, it’s more powerful than the news, when done right it trumps all other info, “Everyday People” is INFECTIOUS!

“Get Up, Stand Up”
The Wailers

Funny how this sound which was stiff upon release transcends decades and maintains, Marley wasn’t just for then, he was FOREVER! This is almost hermetically sealed, you have a huge desire to get CLOSER!

“This Land Is Your Land”
Woody Guthrie

Do you think he was in it for the money?

It’s when you’re true to the sound, to the essence, to your inner being, that you last.

And the truth is, when you last there’s tons of dough. But even more, your work has impact.

That’s the power of ART!


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