Friday, August 29, 2008

Lots of thoughts in my head tonight

The announcement by John McCain that he has selected Sarah Palin as his running mate has absolutely boggled my mind. What an odd couple! Others have said far more cogent things than I can about this match; all I have to say is that I am bewildered by his thinking. If I needed any further evidence that the man does not know what he's doing, I've got it now. This seems a little like when Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supremes.

To counteract the oddball machinations of my mind, I have spent the evening watching the recently-released Pete Seeger DVD, "Power of Song". It chronicles Pete's life as an activist folksinger, from his early days with Alan Lomax and Woody Guthrie to seventeen years of being banned from American airwaves to present day concerts in Carnegie Hall.

And I am struck by the contrast between the vision and hope of Pete Seeger and his means for accomplishing it---getting people to sing together and listen to each other---and the vision and what? not hope---but covetousness, lust, an appetite for unlimited power that fuels the kind of behavior we are seeing from, particularly, the McCain campaign.

It seems to me that the vision and hope that the Obama campaign is putting forth is much more in keeping with the Seeger vision and hope.

I hope that next spring, on May 1, when we here on the island put on a Pete Seeger retrospective to honor his 90th birthday, we will be experiencing some of that hope and vision that Obama has offered us.

A number of local musicians have volunteered to contribute their interpretations of Pete Seeger songs for a concert on May 1, with proceeds to be split between my congregation and the local group Hearts and Hammers, which repairs homes in a huge May 2 blitz of paint and pounding. On May 3, which is Pete's 90th birthday, my congregation will have a Pete Seeger service, since he is a longtime UU. We're starting to plan right now and looking forward to the work ahead.

Also right now, five of us from the Thursday night jam are performing a couple of hours of music at the local food bank's celebration of Hunger Awareness day. We've been rehearsing like mad and are having a blast putting together a very eclectic program of folk, oldies, bluegrass, and gospel. We ought to call ourselves something that means "stew", but the current name of the group is Wry Whiskey. Don't ask me why; it was an inherited name.

I'm getting to sing lead or solo on several songs: Last Thing on my Mind, Two Sleepy People, I'll Fly Away, The Rose, and Sunny Side. In just about everything else, I'm ooooing or singing harmony. It's so great! I'm in a band! Even if it does have a dorky name. But we've kind of made that work out a little bit---Debbie (other female singer) and I have decided if this is Wry Whiskey, we must be the Whiskey Chicks.


Bill Baar said...

Seeger's vision was malleable. Get a copy of the Almanac Singers Songs for John Doe cut a month before the Stalin-Hitler Pact and then pulled in favor of the pro-War Dear Mr. President released a few months later.


Compare Obama and Palin's accomplishements.

Obama becomes superstar Democrat with a huge warchest and turned around and endoresed Illinois's Regular Democratic Organization and some of it's worst players.

Palin crushes the GOP Machine in Alaska.

She looks to me a cross between Mr Smith Goes to Washington and Daniel Boone, and could be exactly the kind of VP many Americans will want to see President of the Senate ex officio in Harry Reid's Senate.

Joel said...

The announcement by John McCain that he has selected Sarah Palin as his running mate has absolutely boggled my mind. What an odd couple!

Doncha just hate it when conservatives don't measure up to the stereotypes? Besides her electability (Republicans? A woman? Horrors!), she's got the advantage of actual executive experience. Neither Obama nor Biden can claim that. She'll also attract those woman voters who aren't hard-core Democrats.

Incidentally, when Bush nominated Harriet Miers, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was defanging the Democrats so his intended nominees would have less grief in the confirmation process. It was planned from the get-go, and it worked.

I don't know from vision, but I do know Pete Seeger was a wonderful songwriter, even if I stand opposite him politically.

LinguistFriend said...

I did not know anything about Pete Seeger in 1955 when I went to a little high school in Vermont which it turned out that Pete's younger brother Mike had attended, followed by one younger sister (Penny) and a child of Pete's own (Danny), I think.
Mike Seeger came back to visit and sing in the winter of my first year. Almost every year while I was there, Pete would come and sing, and at least once he took over our class in music theory, exemplifying the musical structure of folk song on the basis of "Black is the Color" and inviting us to write our own versions of the music. We all loved the exhilarating musical experience, although the (Democratic) headmaster had some doubts about Pete's politics.
Pete also inspired my (now deceased) high school friend Sandy Bull (a student of Eric Darling) to a musical career and recordings, which turned out to be more instrumental like his harpist mother. When I moved to the Boston area for college, on one occasion I found myself sitting next to Pete's musicologist father Charles Seeger at a Jordan Hall concert of Pete's sister Peggy Seeger (now retired in Asheville NC, I think). Those experiences I treasure. I wish you well with the tribute to Pete Seeger, which is well deserved. You may do well to invite the participation of his younger family members.

Joel said...

You know, on second thought, I won't run Seeger down for his politics, at least not at the time Bill brought up. To be a communist or even a fellow traveler in the 1930s wasn't such a wild step, with the American economy in tatters and the fake news reports coming out of the Soviet Union. It would be years before Uncle Joe's depredations were known in the west, while the successes of his reforms were played up.

You WILL be posting recordings of your performances, won't you?

ms. kitty said...

I don't know if we'll be recorded, Joel, but I will post it if I can. Very flattering to be asked!

Chalicechick said...

(((She'll also attract those woman voters who aren't hard-core Democrats.)))

Yeah, us women who aren't hard-core democrats are attracted to any candidate with a vagina, dontcha know?


Joel said...

Sorry, CC. I didn't mean that to sound condescending. I was referring to the swing voters who are more likely to support someone they identify with, rather than following the party ticket. There are a lot of women in America who will vote for the person rather than the party, and I think Sarah Palin will appeal to those.