Thursday, December 29, 2016

Woody Guthrie Lives!

In the Trump era, activists are gonna need all kinds of encouragement to keep our hearts and heads up.

Who better than Woody Guthrie to accomplish the task?

Oakland-based activist David Solnit, who's been mixing it up since the 1980's, did this print from a linoleum cut. David and friends were very active in making art and banners for Standing Rock this year and will continue the struggle going forward.

Amazingly, Woody, who passed over a half century ago, still has something to tell us about the Trumps:

"Old Man Trump" Woody Denounced Trump's Father's Racist Housing Policies In Song (listen here)....

Lessons for the anti-Trump resistance from American history

Matthew Dallek 19 hours ago 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Class of 2017

The results are in and the class of 2017 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is:

Joan Baez
Nile Rodgers
Pearl Jam
Tupac Shakur

My quick takes:

ELO - I liked them in the 70's. As far as their lasting impact? .... I'm not sure. Always wondered if "Don't Bring Me Down" was inspired by Robert Johnson "Stop Breaking Down". ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne gets mega-points as a producer and member of The Traveling Wilburys - the super-est super group of all-time - Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Lynne, and Tom Petty.

Joan Baez - she was important in the early days of folk, and played an important role in making folk and rock stand for something... Plus she had a lot to do with introducing Bobby Dylan to the world. (Extra points for the Dylan dis track "Diamonds And Rust").

Journey - popular but boring.

Nile Rodgers - very nice guy, very talented musician, very iconic riffs.... but sorry, it ain't rock and roll...

Pearl Jam - popular but boring. I liked their first two albums but that's about it.

Tupac - culturally influential, but sorry, it ain't rock and roll...

Yes - I liked them in the 70s as a teenager but standing the test of time? Not so much...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Daily Beast: Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokno: Julian Assange Is ‘Connected with the Russian Government’


Stream Or Download an MP3 of Pussy Riot's "Putin Has Pissed Himself" here....

One of the leaders of the anti-Putin punk rock collective Pussy Riot opens up about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, WikiLeaks’ ties to the Kremlin, and the group’s anti-Trump anthem.

10.27.16 10:04 AM ET

“This Machine Kills Fascists” was the unmistakable slogan of Woody Guthrie. It traveled with him everywhere he went, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters. He’d proudly plastered the message on his Southern Jumbo as a tribute to his tune “Talking Hitler’s Head Off Blues,” a fiery anti-Adolf anthem about wrangling the “Nazi Snake.” You see, Guthrie hated fascism in all its forms, viewing it as the province of “dumb gangsters” out to exploit the common man. One such charlatan was Fred Trump, the father of Donald and former landlord of Guthrie’s, who became a recipient of the crooner’s ire in “Old Man Trump”—a ballad about how the elder Trump stirred up “racial hate” at his Beach Haven apartment project near Coney Island by denying black folks the right to live there. The tune proved quite prophetic when in 1973, six years after Guthrie’s death, the Justice Department went after Fred and Donald for that very offense.
While there isn’t a young singer-songwriter today who could hold a candle to Guthrie or Dylan in their prime, holding fascist feet to the fire with melodic strums and Nobel-worthy lyrics, one would imagine the cranky poets might be well impressed with the fiery feminist outbursts of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock collective whose balaclava-sporting women stage guerrilla gigs in protest of Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime.

One of the most visible members of Pussy Riot is Nadezhda Tolokonnikova aka Nadya Tolokno, who was one of three rockers arrested during a performance of the anti-Putin song “Punk Prayer—Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. She was sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism,” enduring harsh conditions, but following her 2013 release has continued her work in the performance art group, and as a vocal critic of Putin and proponent of women’s rights. Recently, Pussy Riot has released a trio of music videos that take on noted misogynist Donald Trump’s anti-women and anti-immigrant rhetoric, the most pointed of which is “Make America Great Again.” The video boasts dystopian broadcasts from the Trump News Network, fascist symbolism, and a take-no-prisoners chorus aimed at the Republican presidential candidate: “Let other people in / Listen to your women / Stop killing black children / Make America Great Again.”
The Daily Beast spoke to Tolokno about the new tracks, the 2016 election, and much more.
Before we get to the songs, I wanted to discuss the 2016 U.S. presidential election with you. Much has been made of Trump’s cozying up to Putin. He’s complimented his leadership, has close business ties with Russia, and was forced to dismiss his old campaign manager due to his shady financial links with the Kremlin. It seems Putin wants Trump to win.
It’s pretty interesting that Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns. It speaks for itself. What Putin is doing right now with information connected to the American election doesn’t surprise me at all because don’t forget that he comes from the KGB and was trained as a KGB agent, and used a lot of the information he culled there for creating his own wealth—which is why he’s one of the wealthiest men on earth right now. He doesn’t need more money right now, he just wants more power over the world.
What sort of similarities do you see between Trump and Putin?

It’s the so-called “strong man” psychology—but it’s not a “strong man” psychology, it’s an asshole psychology. They want to oppress people and don’t want them to raise their voices. Their reaction when it comes to people who try to criticize them is very similar: Putin put us in jail, and Donald Trump wants to put Hillary Clinton in jail if he’s elected President of the United States. So it makes perfect sense that Putin would want someone like Trump to take power. And it’s not just Trump. Putin is also in bed with Marine Le Pen in France, and is supporting Viktor Orban in Hungary. These are people who want to establish a new conservative right-wing oppressive order all around the world, and we need to do everything we can to stop them.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer


They both seem to be stuck in their ‘80s heyday.
They’re both stuck in the past. Trump is saying “Make America Great Again,” and Putin is playing a lot of games, saying he’ll restore the Soviet Union and essentially “Make Russia Great Again.” He wants to bring back this Cold War situation where they’re playing games and jeopardizing the rest of the world. But neither of them have any plans for the future. What can they offer people for their future? Nothing.
Both Trump and Putin also don’t seem to hold women in very high regard, to say the least. They possess very patriarchal mindsets and view women as subservient to men.
I definitely see very frightening parallels between Donald Trump and Putin in their treatment of women. The Russian Orthodox Church is a big supporter of Putin, and I believe that’s how we ended up in jail—because the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was really upset about our actions at the cathedral so he called Putin, complained, and that’s why I spent two years in jail, because of this guy. He also wants to ban abortions, and it scares me that the same thing is happening here where Trump wants to ban abortions as well. There’s also no respect for women in the eyes of Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t feel he needs to show respect for women.

It’s scary for me that people still support Trump knowing the fact that he’s called women “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals.” He’s ruined women’s lives by telling them they’re not beautiful. Look, I’m a confident person and don’t give a fuck what Donald Trump thinks about my shape, but for a lot of young girls it could be very dangerous. They’re following the election on television and the social networks and they hear all this crap, and then they start to hate their own bodies because of that. That is unacceptable. So even though Donald Trump will not be President of the United States, I can’t even express how much harm he’s already caused to so many people around the world.
So then I assume you’re supporting his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

I wish that Hillary Clinton will win this presidential election, and if I had the option to go and vote, I would vote for her. Everyone needs to vote for her because it will save a lot of lives. I know people are apathetic right now because everything surrounding this election has been pretty ugly, but it’s really important to go out and vote and stop Trump.

What’s your take on the current state of WikiLeaks? It’s an organization that’s done a lot of good, but they do seem to be doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding when it comes to influencing the U.S. presidential election.
It was a tough conversation between me and Julian Assange about that when I came to the Ecuadorian Embassy two years ago. We had the conversation and you can’t really blame people for having another position. I understood his position: he’s in a state of war with the American government. He’s smart and charismatic and will use any means to destroy the American government. And we had a conversation if it was really the ethical thing to do that with the hands of another government [Russia] which is, in fact, much worse and a real authoritarian government. Julian Assange is a really good diplomat, so he can basically just dodge direct answers from my questions on that, and gives other answers—as Putin usually does when people ask him directly about some uncomfortable things.
So Julian Assange didn’t deny that he was working with the Russian government?

He couldn’t deny it. On the next day after I visited the Ecuadorian Embassy, the head of Russia’s biggest propaganda network, Russia Today, the editor-in-chief came to him and they had a project together. He often works with the Russia propaganda machine, and doesn’t try to hide it. Julian Assange doesn’t try to hide that fact because he hosts at the Ecuadorian Embassy the editor-in-chief of the Russian propaganda team, Russia Today, and has projects with them. Russia Today has nothing to do with truth. They get tons of government money, so instead of that money going to healthcare or education, it serves these propaganda goals—which is disturbing for a lot of Russians because they’re undergoing a huge economic crisis. But Julian Assange, he openly works with [Russia]. It’s not a secret. He’s connected with the Russian government, and I feel that he’s proud of it. And with Julian Assange, I really like a lot of the things that he’s done, too.
How can you support Assange if he’s supporting Putin?

I wouldn’t say that I support him, I just support a lot of the work that he’s done and I feel that information really should be open. I generally support the work that WikiLeaks is doing, but I’m not that thrilled about his decisions that are unethical, in my view, concerning his connections to the Russian government.
It does seem that, during this presidential election, WikiLeaks is only releasing documents on the Democrats and Hillary Clinton—and no documents connected to her opponent, Donald Trump. So it seems to indicate that the organization wants to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
It sucks, for sure.
How do you feel about Melania Trump? She recently did a few strange interviews defending her husband’s admittedly predatory behavior.
I have a lot of compassion for Melania Trump. When I saw her speech at the Republican National Convention, it was a really sad thing to watch. I believe she is smarter than she appears right now, but she can’t really express herself because she is so oppressed by her fucking husband. You can see that she always wants to look nice for somebody, she always wants to say words that someone told her to say, and she can’t really express herself, so that’s why she’s repeating phrases that are not that bright. If she would just allow herself to say what she really thinks, we’d see her in a very different light… I know that she is suffering.
Pussy Riot’s music video for “Make America Great Again” opens with clips from the fictional TNN—standing for Trump News Network. And now Trump’s launched a newscast on his Facebook and seems to be planning his own TV network post-election. 
[Laughs]  It’s fascinating—not the fact that he’s launching this fucking network, but the fact that it’s in our video that we shot back in May. We wrote the treatment in April, too.
What message were you trying to get across with the video?

Donald Trump is very aggressive to people who don’t look like Donald Trump, so that’s why everyone in our video is wearing these stupid wigs. It seems like Trump can only accept people who look like him, and if he sees some difference, he’s like, “No. We have to deport them.” So, President Trump would get rid of all people who don’t look like Trump. Today it’s Mexicans, tomorrow it’s Muslims, and the day after that it might even be people with black hair. So we wrote this song to channel our political rage.

Original on The Daily Beast

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Stream Or Download An MP3 Of Patti Smith At Dylan's Nobel Ceremony "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Article: Patti Smith Performs At Dylan's December 10, 2016 Nobel Ceremony "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in...

"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The New Yorker: Patti Smith On Singing At Dylan's Nobel Ceremony


I was born in Chicago on December 30, 1946, within the vortex of a huge snowstorm. My father had to help the taxi driver navigate Lake Shore Drive with the windows wide open, while my mother was in labor. I was a scrawny baby, and my father worked to keep me alive, holding me over a steamy washtub to help me breathe. I will think of them both when I step on the stage of the Riviera Theatre, in Chicago, on my seventieth birthday, with my band, and my son and daughter.
Despite the emotionally wrenching atmosphere that has engulfed us during the Presidential election, I have tried to spend December immersed in positive work, tending to the needs of my family, and preparations for the new year. But, before Chicago, I had yet to perform a last important duty for 2016. In September, I was approached to sing at the Nobel Prize ceremony, honoring the laureate for literature, who was then unknown. It would be a few days in Stockholm, in a beautiful hotel, overlooking the water—an honorable opportunity to shine, contemplate, and write. I chose one of my songs that I deemed appropriate to perform with the orchestra.
But when it was announced that Bob Dylan had won the prize and accepted, it seemed no longer fitting for me to sing my own song. I found myself in an unanticipated situation, and had conflicting emotions. In his absence, was I qualified for this task? Would this displease Bob Dylan, whom I would never desire to displease? But, having committed myself and weighing everything, I chose to sing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a song I have loved since I was a teen-ager, and a favorite of my late husband.
From that moment, every spare moment was spent practicing it, making certain that I knew and could convey every line. Having my own blue-eyed son, I sang the words to myself, over and over, in the original key, with pleasure and resolve. I had it in my mind to sing the song exactly as it was written and as well as I was capable of doing. I bought a new suit, I trimmed my hair, and felt that I was ready.
On the morning of the Nobel ceremony, I awoke with some anxiety. It was pouring rain and continued to rain heavily. As I dressed, I went over the song confidently. In the hotel lobby, there was a lovely Japanese woman in formal traditional dress—an embroidered cream-colored floor-length kimono and sandals. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She told me that she was there to honor her boss, who was receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine, but the weather was not in her favor. You look beautiful, I told her; no amount of wind and rain could alter that. By the time I reached the concert hall, it was snowing. I had a perfect rehearsal with the orchestra. I had my own dressing room with a piano, and I was brought tea and warm soup. I was aware that people were looking forward to the performance. Everything was before me.
I thought of my mother, who bought me my first Dylan album when I was barely sixteen. She found it in the bargain bin at the five-and-dime and bought it with her tip money. “He looked like someone you’d like,” she told me. I played the record over and over, my favorite being “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” It occurred to me then that, although I did not live in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I existed in the time of Bob Dylan. I also thought of my husband and remembered performing the song together, picturing his hands forming the chords.

Patti Smith sings “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” at the 2016 Nobel Prize ceremony.
VIDEO: Patti Smith sings “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” at the 2016 Nobel Prize ceremony.YouTube

And then suddenly it was time. The orchestra was arranged on the balcony overlooking the stage, where the King, the royal family, and the laureates were seated. I sat next to the conductor. The evening’s proceedings went as planned. As I sat there, I imagined laureates of the past walking toward the King to accept their medals. Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Albert Camus. Then Bob Dylan was announced as the Nobel Laureate in Literature, and I felt my heart pounding. After a moving speech dedicated to him was read, I heard my name spoken and I rose. As if in a fairy tale, I stood before the Swedish King and Queen and some of the great minds of the world, armed with a song in which every line encoded the experience and resilience of the poet who penned them.
The opening chords of the song were introduced, and I heard myself singing. The first verse was passable, a bit shaky, but I was certain I would settle. But instead I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them. From the corner of my eye, I could see the huge boom stand of the television camera, and all the dignitaries upon the stage and the people beyond. Unaccustomed to such an overwhelming case of nerves, I was unable to continue. I hadn’t forgotten the words that were now a part of me. I was simply unable to draw them out.

This strange phenomenon did not diminish or pass but stayed cruelly with me. I was obliged to stop and ask pardon and then attempt again while in this state and sang with all my being, yet still stumbling. It was not lost on me that the narrative of the song begins with the words “I stumbled alongside of twelve misty mountains,” and ends with the line “And I’ll know my song well before I start singing.” As I took my seat, I felt the humiliating sting of failure, but also the strange realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived the world of the lyrics.
Later, at the Nobel banquet, I sat across from the American Ambassador—a beautiful, articulate Iranian-American. She had the task of reading a letter from Dylan before the banquet’s conclusion. She read flawlessly, and I could not help thinking that he had two strong women in his corner. One who faltered and one who did not, yet both had nothing in mind but to serve his work well.
When I arose the next morning, it was snowing. In the breakfast room, I was greeted by many of the Nobel scientists. They showed appreciation for my very public struggle. They told me I did a good job. I wish I would have done better, I said. No, no, they replied, none of us wish that. For us, your performance seemed a metaphor for our own struggles. Words of kindness continued through the day, and in the end I had to come to terms with the truer nature of my duty. Why do we commit our work? Why do we perform? It is above all for the entertainment and transformation of the people. It is all for them. The song asked for nothing. The creator of the song asked for nothing. So why should I ask for anything?
When my husband, Fred, died, my father told me that time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them. I have found this to be true in the greatest and smallest of matters. Looking to the future, I am certain that the hard rain will not cease falling, and that we will all need to be vigilant. The year is coming to an end; on December 30th, I will perform “Horses” with my band, and my son and daughter, in the city where I was born. And all the things I have seen and experienced and remember will be within me, and the remorse I had felt so heavily will joyfully meld with all other moments. Seventy years of moments, seventy years of being human.