I felt like the inauguration required a setlist of appropriate songs with lyrics that reflected our angst. Needless to say there is no Ted Nugent.
I wear my heart on my sleeve here. But I want to make it clear that I do not demonize those who disagree with me. I have friends and family who are celebrating tomorrow. I couldn’t disagree more. But I know they are good people and I will shake their hands and hug them the next I see them because we can’t do this alone.
Read on or go directly to the playlist.
1) We start with Randy Newman and some humor with Political Science
“Let’s drop the big one
And see what happens”
2) But there ain’t much humorous going on in Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit
“Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root”
3) The Neville Brothers version of Dylan’s With God on Our Side, what can I say?
“The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell”
4) So we change speed with the Rolling Stones and Sympathy for the Devil:
“What’s puzzlin’ you
Is the nature of my game”
5) Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain requires some explanation. George Clinton asked the guitarist Eddie Hazel to imagine he had been told his mother was dead, but then learned that it was not true. No lyrics except George’s suitably bizarre intro. Eddie goes deep and wails over the 10 minutes. Interpret as you wish.
6) Steve Earle The Revolution Starts Here
“So what you doin’ standin’ around?
Just follow your heart
The revolution starts now”
7) The Drive-By Truckers released my album of the year, What it Means in 2016 but here we are in 2017. Trayvon, Ferguson, when will it stop?
“And it happened last weekend
And it will happen again next week”
8) The Band‘s The Weight is of course a classic and classically relevant.
‘When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
And I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on, would you go downtown”
And she said, “Well, I gotta go but my friend can stick around”‘
9) Billy Bragg & Wilco did a wonderful job interpreting unused
Woody Guthrie lyrics in Christ for President. We really need Woody back.
“…cast the moneychangers
Out of the temple
Put the carpenter in”
10) Bob Marley & the Wailers. No way to leave off Bob Marley.
“Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom
‘Cause all I ever had, redemption songs”
11) I guess Big Star might be an odd choice but The Ballad of El Goodo is a classic.
“It gets so hard at times like now to hold on
Well, I’ll fall if I don’t fight
And at my side is God”
12) An American election and I have two songs by the British socialist Billy Bragg. So be it. Waiting for the Great Leaps Forward still speaks to me.
“Start your own revolution and
cut out the middleman”
13) And two by The Band who are sort of Canadian. It is what it is…Anyway the lyrics to I Shall be Released are by a Nobel Prize winner. And as he writes:
“Any day now I shall be released”
14) Randy Newman raises his hand. He wants another word with us and starts to play A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.
The end of an empire
Is messy at best
And this empire’s ending
Like all the rest
15) So we get to the end and with another Brit. But Nick Lowe’s sentiments are pretty universal. I think we can all get on-board for:
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding
But I don’t think I should end on an uplifting note.
Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello don’t think so either.
I’m becoming more fascinated by the art of Martin Wong. I wrote about it previously here. The Bronx Museum of Art has an excellent summary page of their exhibit with links to a long list of glowing reviews by people much more qualified to comment than me. To me his work in this exhibit reflects a total immersion of a person into a place, specifically “a sort of queer Chinese-Latino fireman cowboy graffitist” working in Loisaida (Lower East Side) as AIDS decimated the community. He was a painter, an important photographer of street graffiti art images, and a collector of community ephemera.
The Blouin ArtInfo article has a good slideshow of images but here are a few more of mine:
Asheville is a gorgeous small city in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s known for Thomas Wolfe, great weather, wonderful outdoor options, good beer and food, and more and more as the western NC center for arts and fine crafts.
The downtown area is full of galleries including Blue Spiral, one of the best in North Carolina, as well as top restaurants, an excellent art museum, and terrific shopping. Though Asheville is not a SmART Initiative, the community is using the arts-driven economic development strategies that are hallmark of the initiative.
One of the characteristics of successful art and cultural communities is that the private sector, at some point, fully buys into the process; that all of the galleries, restaurants, clubs, etc. help each other by building critical mass that floats all boats.
Downtown Asheville has a terrific example, Lexington Glassworks. LG is the product of two young
entrepreneurial artists/craftsmen. They chose to renovate an old building on Lexington, a street in downtown that was still quite sleepy as compared to Patton and Biltmore avenues and College and Market streets.
They believe that Lexington Ave is destined to join the party that is downtown Asheville, but they also believe it will take more than just another gallery selling glass. So instead they embed the glassmaking process into the gallery itself as you can see above right.
Lexington Glassworks is the creation of two friends, Geoff Koslow and Billy Guilford, who met at Alfred University in upstate New York. They both later took classes at the Penland School of Crafts and ultimately settled in Asheville. They do good work.
But I’m more interested here in their strategy in developing the Glassworks. They feel that a studio that involves visitors is key to their success.
They’ll talk to you as much as you want. They can focus on the pure artistic angle but also discuss more commercial or design oriented questions. But they also let you watch them make their glass while describing the processes. The Laurel of Asheville has a terrific article on them and their business.
I’ll end with a short video I made of Billy making a piece. It’s from an iPhone and my video editing skills are not great, but you’ll get a feel for how they bring the customer into the process. Just click here or on the image of Geoff below.