Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rights Rhythm: Note of Hope

Last year at this time we were discussing Alex Wilkinson's book about Pete Seeger, The Protest Singer and wondering where our generation's protest singers and songs were. Then a couple months later, some good folks in Wisconsin got a little upset when some of their rights got taken away and they started to sing.  Here they are jamming with Arlo Guthrie.  Did you know the Solidarity Sing Along is still going strong every weekday at the capitol?  They've even created a special holiday songbook to bring some seasonal cheer to the 'people's house.'

If they need still more new material, there's a new album, Note of Hope, of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics freshly set to music by artists like Lou Reed, Ani Difranco, Jackson Browne, Tom Morello and Pete Seeger.  This is all a warm-up for next year's Woody Guthrie Centennial. For more on the album, see Guthrie's daughter and album co-producer Nora Guthrie's interviews with WNYC and American Songwriter,
There are some real activist artists on the records like Ani DiFranco, Tom Morello, Pete Seeger; was that a conscious decision? 
One of the things I found are so many people are activists in their own ways. We just don’t hear about it. They each have a cause or a picket line that they’re involved with. Woody’s kind of activism is a 360 degree kind of activism — he’s not just focused on unions. But when you listen to Jackson Browne’s love song, when they’re sitting on the bench at night and the stars are shining and what is this young couple talking about and whispering into each other’s ears? Some of the lines are “and we talked about this and we talked about that, and we talked about the union. I was like “wow, Woody wrote the union into this romantic song.”
So you don’t have to be a political activist, you can be a lover and find ways to bring all these ideas and stuff into your conversation into your home and into your town. I kind of found out that all these people are activists in a way, and to me, the thing is to find words or a lyric that match up with that.
Here's that Jackson Browne track for union romantics and sample the others below that.  You might also want to see the Tom Morello track put to use in a video supporting the Occupy movement. Sing out!

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