January 20, 2017
With three hours to go until the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, the coffee shop I frequent was playing the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself”. That’s a record with a lot of American history in it, one way and another: a message delivered by a mixed group of black and white singers and musicians, showing how music can provide encouragement, comfort and even guidance.
The saxophonist Charles Lloyd and the singer Lucinda Williams have chosen to mark today’s events by releasing an eight-minute version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”, streamable on Spotify here. It was recorded live at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California, on November 28 last year, three weeks after the election, with Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel, Rueben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. That’s a real A Team, and together they give Dylan’s song the full treatment: harsh, menacing, an ebb and flow of emotions but underneath simmering with rage.
As a teenager in Memphis in the 1950s, Lloyd played with B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Bobby Bland. He is 78 years old now, and has performed in public through 12 presidencies, counting this latest one. “The world is a dog’s curly tail,” he says in the press statement accompanying the release. “No matter how many times we straighten it out, it keeps curling back. As artists we aspire to console, uplift and inspire. To unite us through sound across boundaries and borders and to dissolve lines of demarcation that separate us. The beautiful thing is that as human beings, even under the most adverse conditions, we are capable of kindness, compassion and love, vision and hope. All life is one. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll succeed. We go forward.”
Today is Leadbelly’s birthday! Let’s all celebrate a truly great man who really made America great and forget the inauguration.
My playlist on this worryingly momentous day includes ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ (listen with irony) and Randy Newman’s ‘Rednecks’ and ‘Sail Away’.
As a Yank my post black Friday song list ;
” For What Its Worth ” Buffalo Springfield
” Whats Going On ” Marvin Gaye
” Compared to What ” the McCann / Harris version
” This Is NOT America ” Metheny/Bowie
PS; But the Dylan songs that fits this POS;OTUS / Twittersident / 350 lb orangutan in the oval office the minority elected has to be……” Idiot Wind ”
Raise your voices EU/UK . We’ll need all the help we can get .. most relevant to this site … those of us in the Arts/Music .
Thanks for this. Lucinda Williams, Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell follow in the righteous footsteps of the Liberation Music Orchestra – http://blog.rowleygallery.co.uk/liberation-music-orchestra/