Friday, August 07, 2015


Be nostalgic and enjoy that art


Don’t expect to find everything for one reason it is a recent reprint of an older book. But it is very comprehensive and extensive. The classification is multifarious. It can be one subject (cocaine and whisky) or genre (the blues) that is concerned in one chapter, or something quite different like a social situation, the participants of this social situation (Southern Chain Gangs) that are the authors or the subjects of another chapter.

The circumstances of the songs are explained, the music is fully given and the lyrics are of course quoted. An Index of titles is included at the end and a bibliography will help you go further.

But it is essentially a collections of songs so you cannot expect long presentations, long dissertations on the genres and the social problems behind. The book provides all kinds of songs, including racist songs, though probably not the most extreme like coon songs, and the book seems to miss Indian songs, including the famous Love Call that is both Indian and non-Indian.

That’s probably because it does not include songs from musicals or films, at least not as a priority. I am sure we can find all those on the virtual spider web. You must also understand the songs are given in one version which is neither the official nor the only version available. There are many variants and you better check them if you want to be thorough.

So You will not find the Ballad of Ira Hayes by Peter LaFarge made famous by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, though you might prefer another version still.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian 
Nor the Marine that went to war

Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian you should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian 
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

Down the ditches for a thousand years 
The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Till the white man stole the water rights 
And the sparklin' water stopped

Now Ira's folks were hungry 
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered 
And forgot the white man's greed

But we can’t have all we want between a front and a back covers.


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