“Joy, Sorrow, Tears, Lamentation, Laughter- To All These Music Gives Voice…”-Albert Schweitzer

   

I know I haven’t blogged in about 4 days; just not in the mood and this is after I renewed the blog for another year!!!!   My mom’s brother isn’t doing well, was told he doesn’t have much time and perhaps that has been getting me a little down. He’s my favorite uncle; a retired Professor Emeritus from a Pennsylvania college; a scholar whose books on some remote Habsburg Family in Vienna have been well-received; a man who marched during the Civil Rights Movement and just a loving uncle who made me laugh as a little girl when we held our seders in my bubbie’s home upstairs from my family. Even though doctors can estimate how much time a person may have, we never really know…so…I just hope my uncle remains at home and is comfortable. His major concern is finishing his book, but I heard that someone in Germany will be able to help him finish, so that is good news. He has been taken off of most meds except the Parkinson’s meds.  So, readers, keep my uncle in your thoughts. Thanks.

Other news for this day: Otis Redding released “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” in 1968, a song that he co-wrote with Steve Cropper and the world sang along with The New Seekers when they released “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” in 1972. Both songs gave voice to so many feelings each and every one of us have had. I know I used to teach my students “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and whenever Otis came on the radio, I was sitting there right with him singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Friday Folk Musings

 

I haven’t seen the Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” but I will, when it comes on cable. I’ve read many reviews and many opinions of the film, but they do not matter to me since I am just so happy that the music from the film will, hopefully, gain momentum and bring folk music (or “Americana”) to a new high that it hasn’t had in over 40 years. I did see the Town Hall Concert on Showtime (Another Day, Another Time) that presented the artists in the movie and it was so beautiful.  The Coen Brothers are Baby Boomers like me, in fact, they are one year younger. It is inspiring and uplifting that they, along with T Bone Burnett, felt or knew that a story about Greenwich Village in the 60s warranted a movie. I don’t fault them for inaccurate facts, portrayals of folksingers, dates or locales, it’s a movie, it’s fiction. Elijah Wald’s book, The Mayor of MacDougal Street may have impacted them and propelled them to make a movie, but we all know the real Dave Van Ronk is not represented in this movie. Perhaps a movie about Dave Van Ronk and the other folkies who walked the streets of Greenwich Village and played in the clubs will be on the horizon due to “Inside Llewyn Davis,” I can only hope. Recently folksinger Happy Traum weighed in with his opinion after seeing the movie: “In the end, it was a Coen Brothers movie and there were enough flashes of humor, creativity and artful filmmaking that it won me over. It was the story of one guy and his misadventures, and it didn’t have to represent an entire musical community. Best of all, how wonderful that Elijah Wald’s excellent book, Dave Van Ronk’s music, and the phenomenal music scene that had its birth in ‘60s Greenwich Village were given such a huge platform, and generated such heated discussion.”

As for me…I’ve been singing “Dink’s Song” as I drive to mom’s each morning this week. It’s a song I first learned when I took a couple of singing lessons from folksinger Ed McCurdy, probably in the early 70s. Ed was living on the Upper West Side with his wife. He wrote the legendary song, “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” and was a character in his own right. Ed was a huge man physically and wasn’t in the best of health when I met him. I liked him, he was bold, brash and held nothing back. The folksingers of the 50s, 60s, early 70s still impact our lives whether we know it or not. The words, the messages of the songs are true to this very day in 2014. Music is understood all over the world and hasn’t lost its power to transform or heal.

 

 

“Oh When We Will We Ever Learn?”-Pete Seeger

Folksinger/activist, Mary Travers was born today in 1936. Her life was cut short by cancer in 2009. Mary’s voice was so clear and urgent and soothing. We listened when she sang. Pete Seeger’s song, which Mary sang beautifully with her pals, Pete Yarrow and Paul Stookey, is so appropriate today as we remember Kristallnacht, which occurred 75 years ago in Germany and Austria in 1938, 2 years after Mary was born. “Oh When Will They (sometimes “We” is also substituted) Ever Learn?”  

Online I read a plea from a consortium of people in Britain exposing the hate that continues around the world.: “75 years after Kristallnacht, racists and fascists inspired by the Nazis continue to attack minorities in Europe. In Hungary neo-fascists target Gypsies and Jews. In Greece Golden Dawn members and supporters brutally attack migrants and political opponents. Here in Britain, minority communities, especially Muslims, have been targeted in an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile towards migrants and refugees. As Jewish people mindful of this history, we are equally alarmed at continuing fascist violence and the toxic sentiments expressed by many politicians and much of the media against migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and travellers. We stand shoulder to shoulder with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their efforts to live here in freedom and safety, to contribute to society, and be treated as equals. As Jews we stand together with all communities seeking to combat racism and fascism here and elsewhere.”David Rosenberg & 212 Others

Yesterday, NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo started an investigation into an upstate school district that may have failed in its responsibility toward safeguarding their students from anti-semitic and hateful crimes and language. Gov. Cuomo stated: “The reports of rampant anti-Semitic harassment and physical assaults at Pine Bush schools, if true, are deeply disturbing,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “The public has a right to know the truth,” he added, “and parents across the state have the right to know that their children can attend our schools without fear of this reprehensible behavior.”Benjamin Weiser, NY Times, 11/8/13

Mary Travers sang out against hate in all of its nasty forms. “The daughter of politically aware newspaper reporters, Mary grew up in the stimulating Greenwich Village arts community. A love of music and a strong social consciousness came naturally, and by the time Mary was a teenager, she was singing on Pete Seeger’s records. Many gold and platinum albums later, she’s stayed true to the urban folk tradition and to an activist’s sense of responsibility.”-peterpaulandmary site

Peter, Paul and Mary were there with Dr. King in Washington, D.C. in 1963 singing “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowin In the Wind.” Music still has the power to teach, to transform, to heal.

 “Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone

Here’s a favorite of mine (written by the late great John Denver):