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July 2019

Songs that changed your life, even if only a little. (2) The Beach Boys' Don't Worry Baby

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Photo of the band at a reunion by Louise Palanker [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Colin Randall writes: I did say, when inviting contributions to this new and (from its title) self-explanatory series, that it was not necessary to stick to folk and related forms for music.

Bill Taylor considered Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall before settling on something a lot more personal and a lot more to do with pop ...

Write to this e-mail address if you'd like to offer a piece on the song that fits the series title for you. And my thanks to several members of the Facebook I Love Folk Music group for 'liking' my introduction ...
...


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Songs that changed your life, even if only a little. (1) Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Salut! Live has a habit of launching new series. Some last, some struggle to get started, some die out after a few instalments.
If we had a bigger audience, I'd throw this one out to you all. Is there a song (or tune) that made such an impact on you that it could be said to have changed your life, even if only a little?
There may be more than one, influencing different changes.
Come to think of it, I'll throw it out to you anyway.
I shall kick it off with the first song that sprang to mind as I contemplated the series.
Please do make contact - write to this e-mail address - if you have one you'd like to have your say about.
As you'll see from the second instalment - already written, by my old friend Bill Taylor - it doesn't need to be folk, folk-rock or roots ... we all, or most of us, have broader tastes ...

Now that you're wondering how must they feel Meaning them that you've chased across America's movie screens ...

My generation of British kids knew what was what when it came to westerns. The cowboys were the good guys (except when they were bandits), the "indians" or "Red Indians" were bloodthirsty savages. There was no halfway house.

None of us could guess then, as we watched the cowboys chase or be chased by indians, that the men we saw as heroes would in all likelihood be the ancestors of NRA neanderthals who believe the way to stop school massacres is to arm everyone from teachers to janitor. Or the kind of white trash that chanted "send her back" when Trump  insulted four Democrats with origins deemed un-American.

Until I heard Buffy Sainte-Marie singing My Country Tis of Thy People You're Dying, I had given scarcely a thought to the injustices suffered by North America’s earliest inhabitants.

The anguish and anger that streamed from the lyrics changed all that.

 

I was always drawn to protest songs.

Like my pal, Bill Taylor, who thought his first contribution to this series might be A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, I turned to Bob Dylan for the best of the genre.

Then I explored other singers and writers and realised that protest stretched beyond horror at the US war in Vietnam, nuclear weapons and the way black people were treated. There were Irish protest songs, a rich seam of English and Scottish mining (and other workers') protest songs, Woody Guthrie, songs about the Spanish Civil War ... and Buffy Sainte-Marie's magnificent, searing description of the plight of what I thought it was now acceptable to call Native Americans.

Bill grew up, as I did, in County Durham but has lived in Canada for most of his adult life. He points out that in the ever-changing politically correct glossary of his adopted country, Buffy is "native Canadian of, as we say here, First Nations or Indigenous (hard sometimes to keep up with the latest acceptable terminology" ...

Her own words matter a lot more. My Country Tis Of Thy People You're Dying appeared on a 1966 album.

For all I know, she wrote the song some time before then. Whether it poured out in one session of writing, or evolved over time, it's a gem, even if Soldier Blue may have been a bigger it and Up Where We Belong, which she co-wrote, will certainly have made her a good deal more money.

Buffy Saint-Marie is now 78. I salute her for her wonderful, eye-opening work. And let these lyrics sink in:

Now that we're harmless and safe behind laws
Now that my life's to be known as your 'Heritagé
Now that even the graves have been robbed
Now  that our own chosen way is a novelty
Hands on our hearts we saluts you your victory
Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy

Cover Story: (41) who shines on Shine On - Pink Floyd or Christy Moore?

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CR writes: when it comes to that well-known folk group, Pink Floyd, I am in two minds.
Young, I loved lots of what they did. But these days, the track I hear on French radio almost to the exclusion of any other is Another Brick in the Wall, which I loathe for reasons I hope the National Union of Teachers would understand. RTL2 does sometimes play Dave Gilmour's Rattle That Lock, based on the four-note signature French rail users hear before platform announcements, and I am grateful that it does.
Christy Moore and I go back a long way. If you were adventurous enough and even wanted to know, you'd find plenty of evidence in this site's archive of our personal and professional relationship and my great appreciation of his music.
If he appears more often than other artists in this series, Cover Story, it is for the simple reason that he has an uncanny knack of choosing just the right song, from whatever source, for his style.
My old pal Bill Taylor explains all below as he compares versions by Floyd and Moore of the same song ...

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Cover Story: Beeswing and other great songs by different artists


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By admittedly low standards, Salut! Live's series comparing, contrasting or merely drawing attention to different versions of songs has attracted decent levels of interest. Readers have even been been moved to post comments.

It's called Cover Story and can be found here. 

 

When the site entered one of its "is it really worth the bother?" periods of inactivity, I wondered whether 40 was a good a number as any on which to bring the series to a close. But I think it is worthy persevering, at least until we reach the half century and possibly beyond.

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Diamonds and rust? fRoots halts publication after 40 years

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The ink was barely dry, metaphorically, on the piece I wrote acclaiming the 40th anniversary edition of Ian Anderson's treasured magazine fRoots.

Stretching to 148 compelling pages, the bumper edition itself was barely half-read. And along comes this little bombshell, from Ian himself.

The jewel that has been, for four decades fRoots (if we include the last few editions of Southern Rag before the title changed, initially to Folk Roots, and the new publication was launched), has faded. "I’m so sorry to bring the news that fRoots Magazine is suspending publication," Ian's sad message begins. We knew he was in discussions over a takeover and hoped to stand down as editor; we didn't know those talks were doomed to failure.

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