Mixing pop and politics 1
Inveresk Street Ingrate
People, people just, people want to dreamDarren's blog is seven and a half years old (that's geriatric in blogging terms); it recently past its 3000th post. Darren kind of defined mixing pop and politics as a blogging approach, although in recent years books have taken up more and more space, and of course football and films. In his case, it's impossibilist socialism and post-punk jangle specifically, and I guess that reduces the overlap between our tastes a little. (Actually, it took me a little while to dig out, but Darren once cruelly satirised my musical taste, but I'm not bitter:
Just look at their graves and you’ll see what I mean
Let’s leave them to dream
Going by Bob's selection I'm guessing that he is a bit of a muso. Has been known to subscribe to Record Collector magazine, and has index carded his record collection. Back in the day he was more of a Charlie Gillett groupie than a John Peel groupie. Been known to not only buy CDs that have been reviewed in the New Internationalist, but he's also been known to listen said CDs voluntarily.So, delving into the small area of overlap, here's a song that I'm posting because I couldn't find a youTube of "Kingdom".
Ultramarine: Instant Kitten (by Robert Wyatt)
I note I'm filed under the "People Just Want to Dream" section of the blogroll, named for a Microdisney song (listen here). Microdisney were a New Cross band, I think (yes, they are, just checked), and I'm in not bad company, along with Socialist Unity and Shiraz Socialist, but I think he's making a dig at non-SPGB socialists. Here's what he said, back in 2008:
Being the lazy type, I've fallen back on Andy Newman's Top 101 Left Blogs post from last September, to reintroduce the blogroll. Those were the halcyon days of British Left blogging when the Shiraz Socialist bods were still on speaking terms with Socialist Unity blog, and the SWP's rank and file had yet to truly fall out of love with Gorgeous George. Who'd have thought back then that those times qualified as the good old days?
Socialist Unity Blog - Andy Newman and friends. Yeah, I know, you're supposed to be dismissive about the blog. Andy Newman is a supposed megalomaniac . . . the blog did a flip on Gorgeous George . . . it's soft (or hard?) on China's imperial adventure in Tibet . . . yada yada yada. What can I say, it's a readable blog that is regularly updated and for every four posts that aren't my cup of tea there's one that's of interest. And you have to have a sneaking admiration for anyone who's able to put a rocket under the collective arses of the SWP's Central Committee. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of political chancers.Andy Newman's Grand Ol' Opry
Dear Uncle Sam I know you're a busy man, And tonight I write to you through tears with a trembling hand. My darling answered when he got that call from you; You said you really need him but you don't need him like I do.So, here we are. Although I have increasing doubts about the politics of the Socialist Unity blog (obsessed with Gorgeous George, soft on Chinese imperialism, yada yada yada) but its main blogger, Andy Newman, has great taste in music. He posts fantastic country and western, with the emphasis on twanging honkytonk Nashville mainstream of country, sometimes straying into high camp rhinestone territory, and other times edging towards grittier Americana. He recently noted that "Even when it’s bad, country music is brilliant, especially when redneck bad" (exemplified by Gretchen Wilson, singing "I'm a redneck woman, ain't no high-class fraud"). I love the fact that he rubs this in the face of the viciously anti-American middle class British left, but he also does make a strong case for a radical tradition in country. Here's some of his tracks:
Don't misunderstand I know he's fighting for our land. I really love my country but I also love my man. He proudly wears the colors of the old red white and blue, While I wear a heartache since he left me for you
Dear Uncle Sam I just got your telegram. And I can't believe that this is me shaking like I am
For it said 'I'm sorry to inform you'
Johnny Cash: Singing in Vietnam Talking Blues
George Jones and Hank Williams Jr with Audrey Williams: I Saw The Light
Also check out Sunny Sweeney, who I'd never heard before. The lyrics above, by the way, are Loretta Lynn's "Dear Uncle Sam", a Newman favourite.
Unfortunately, Andy's colleague Jon Wight has less good taste in music, as exemplified by Lowkey's well-meaning but appallingly rhymed Palestine solidarity rap.
The Poor Mouth
Speaking King's English in quotation / As railhead towns feel the steel mills rust water froze / In the generation / Clear as winter ice / This is your paradiseThe lovely Jams O'Donnell mixes more photography than either pop or politics into the mix these days. And his musical taste has large areas of non-overlap with mine, but it was him (I think) that introduced me to the extraordinary Sephardic music of Mor Karbasi. So, here's her, then our mutually favourite Clash song, then some beautiful Iranian rebel music.
The Clash: Straight to Hell
I realise that (although I'm not as old as Jams), it's about a quarter of a century since I first heard this song, and it has been intriguing me ever since. What is it about? I thought it's about imperialism, and the Vietnam war, and Graham Greene, and migration, and racism. So, inspired by writing this, I found that crowd-sourcing, via wikipedia and yahoo answered my queries perfectly, and the mystery is over. (Incidentally, if you don't know the song but there's something familiar, it is brilliantly sampled by MIA in "Paper Planes", which is also about migration, and which is in turn used to great effect in Slumdog Millionaire, mixed by the awesome AR Rahman.)
Mor Karbasi: El Pastor
Marzieh: Sange Khara
If you are interested,
An Bйal Bocht (The Poor Mouth, 1941) was the only book which Brian O'Nolan, alias Flann O'Brien, alias Myles na gCopaleen, wrote in his native language. Why only one, and this in particular? The answer may lie in the identity of the persona to whom the narrative was entrusted, Myles na gCopaleen... On his first day at school, Bonaparte O'Coonassa is asked to repeat his name for the roll-call. The litany which follows is a long-winded tribute to ten generations of noble aspiration, which have resulted in a total erosion of Gaelic identity:Bonus track: Fairport Convention: Jams O'Donnell's Jig
Bonapairt Michaelangelo Pheadair Eoghain Shorcha Thomбis Mhбire Sheбn Shйamais Dhiarmada.. (Bonaparte, son of Michelangelo, son of Peter, son of Owen, son of Thomas's Sarah, grand-daughter of John's Mary, grand-daughter of James, son of Dermot...). At this point, the hopeful litany is cruelly interrupted by a blow from the English-speaking master and the terse announcement in a foreign language that "Yer name is Jams O'Donnell", a sentence which is uttered to every single child in Corcha Dorcha on arrival at school.
Mixing pop with politics
In case you didn't already know (although I'm sure you did), the title of this post comes, via Darren, from Billy Bragg, and the song "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward".
I think the lyrics sum up my own blog pretty well:
In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of people stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forwards
Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards