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Sun Aug 31, 2014, 06:30 PM

Celebrating Labor Day with good old-fashioned pro-labor music

Last edited Mon Sep 1, 2014, 01:02 AM - Edit history (1)

Most Sunday afternoons I have NPR's 'Folk Tree' program turned on, but it was especially fine today.

Understand first that I usually despise most covers if I liked the original. It even bothers me when my adored Garrison Keillor does it unless he's making a joke. They never sing it the way I learned it and that's a damned high hurdle for me to overcome!

So this afternoon I got a double treat. First of all, a cover of Woody Guthrie's 'I Ain't Got No Home'. Maybe Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan can sing Guthrie's songs to my satisfaction, but precious few others had better even dare try. I literally wish I could throw a hammer at the radio when (gasp!) country performers try to rework political songs into something you know damn well they don't even mean the same way because it's liberal and they ain't. 'Maggie's Farm' is the prime example.

But just this once I have to make an exception for a modern trio covering Woody Guthrie in a smooth harmony fashion. Has anyone else had the extreme privilege of hearing Brother Sun? I haven't even yet looked up their website, but I'm totally over the moon.

Just as I was (and always will be) over the moon about St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Regardless of how amazing Belushi and Akroyd were, I still don't hold them in quite the same esteem as Otis Redding, for instance. Maybe part of it's my age, since I was a teen when the best music first surfaced. Anyway, one Saturday I happened to catch St. P&BB for the first time and gasped for joy. Nobody could ever beat Otis Redding at anything, but I do think they measured up. Paul Janeway can literally rip your heart out in the most delightful way.

Well, they might not - maybe should not - ever delve into overtly political realms as Woody did, but to me any form of the blues is political anyway, and thereby pro-labor.

Blame it on my parents. I grew up thinking no one wrote lullabyes except Guthrie, since they were the only ones sung in our house except for Irish tunes. So I continued the tradition with my own son, though branching out into the blues as well. I sang BB King's 'Hummingbird' to the little one in utero.

And people wonder how kids turn out the way they do!?!

Regardless, do pause to remember Woody tomorrow. Maybe even hum a bit of 'Solidarity Forever' while you're at it.

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