Friday, July 17, 2009

Immigrant songs 4

I'm thinking of setting up a sub-blog devoted entirely to Woody Guthrie's song variously known as "Deportees", "Deportee" and "Plane Wreck At Los Gatos". On Wednesday I re-posted this, with Christy Moore's version (be sure to read the Martin M post that inspired it).

Jogo e-mailed me to say:
The worst version I have found of Deportees:

Couple of Italian commies at what looks like a rally for Chiapas. Long boring political lecture (pointing out USA villainy) followed by an absolutely horrible rendition of the song.

If people can't sing a song they should not try. There is nothing more depressing than a tone-deaf communist trying to sing.

A person gets no points from jogo for "effort" or "sincerity" when he destroys a song.

Maybe blog this ...

... or maybe don't waste real Americana on people who can't appreciate it.

From the early 60's, a Chicano family's filmed reunion on an uncle's property just a few miles from the Los Gatos plane crash. Read the "more info" link and watch the clip until the end. Very touching. And the Bonillas look like a beautiful family


Christy Moore gives an entirely Irish-sounding approach to the song to the point where it sounds like an Irish song. He misses completely the Mexican feel of the chorus. Also, he did not, apparently, trouble himself to learn how to pronounce a few simple Spanish words -- MIS amigos ... JESUS y Maria ... He sounds very weird to an American ear. Imagine not knowing how to pronounce JESUS (Hay-soos).

Politics is not enough. The music has to be right.

Otherwise, it's just Boris having a good time.
You can listen to the Byrds version (probably the first version I heard) at Pretty Goes With Pretty. And the Springsteen version at Cargo Culte. That's two of my current favourite music blogs. Among the versions on YouTube are the wonderful Dolly Parton and The Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings). There are other Irish versions, including The Dubliners, which carries a strong Mexican feel while being very Irish, and this early version by The Emeralds, which doesn't exactly do it for me. Finally, moving on, I'm not sure if I've posted this before, but here is one of two surviving clips of Woody Guthrie performing, singing "Ranger's Command" as World War II comes to an end.

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