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Fakin Off Folk Music
By Iggo

I fucking hate folk music! The nightmare returned a couple of weeks ago.
The Everyman was advertising an “underground soul night with underground folk”…….. for fucks sake, Darrell Banks meets Pentangle???


All me politico life, getting dragged to some leftie benefit night in some freezing cold hall, listening to some arran sweated, beer gutted, old fellah wittering on about some agricultural worker from Hebden Bridge.(Why do they have always have more hair comin out their nose than we have on our ead???)


Duke Ellington, when he wrote the protest song par excellence, “I’ve got it bad and that aint good” said, to write any tune of social commentary was a skill, in that you leave it up to the audience and give them credit for being able to suss it out. You never ram the message down their throats. Duke Ellington has never been in the pantheon of songs of protest. Neither has Aretha even though Black America went on the move in the 1960s, accompanied by her demanding  ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ from “Think”.


Instead it is still to Harvard educated upper class, Pete Seeger to whom we were asked to look for genuine social commentary. He never did take the advice he got from a union hall in New York when he turned up with his banjo, and was told;


“Sorry Pete, you’re not playing that, we’re only into Swing”.


I’ve got to give some credit tho, to Pete Seeger’s protégé, Bob Dylan. According to Dylan the best protest song ever was one by Jimmy Cliff called “Vietnam” about his mate who had been called up to fight. The tune never charted in either the US or the UK. Jimmy fused bluebeat, ska and reggae. It’s simplicity was in the poignancy and power of the final few words where his mate’s mum gets a telegram from Vietnam. It tells her…..


”Don’t be alarmed, Mrs Brown, the telegram said, but Mrs Brown …… your son is dead…..and it came from….. Vietnam.”


One thing not really known about Bob Dylan was he had mystic qualities on a par with Madame Zora.  When “Times They are a Changing” came out in the mid sixties, it was an exemplary piece of fortune telling, as by 1970 The Tymes really were changing. They had got rid of the two male lead singers and replaced them with Teri Gonzalez and Melba Moore and came storming back into the charts with “You Little Trust Maker”.  Well in Bob…….you nasally haired twat!










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