Thursday, July 26, 2012

Esperanza Spalding Performs Hold On Me Live for IHeart Radio

This is a great live performance by Esperanza Spalding of her song, Holding On, from the Radio Music Society CD. The song features clever lyrics about obsessive love. It is a very traditional jazz arrangement on the CD, and this live one is even better. Esperanza starts out singing with just her bass, and lays on us a Mingus-like bass solo. There are plenty of opportunities for the musicians in her band to solo as well. You can see why Esperanza is blowing away live audiences this summer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Courageous, Prophetic Stand of Muhammed Ali

I was only nine years old at the time Muhammed Ali resisted the draft. Still, I am very moved by his courage in doing the right thing and standing up to the American government. The Champ takes a prophetic stance in this inspiring video - Lance 
Muhammad Ali’s Courage by Ed Brayton via
Much has been written and said about Muhammed Ali's legacy in sports and as a global celebrity, but I want to highlight his refusal to fight in Vietnam. Here’s the transcript and video of the speech he gave explaining, quite reasonably, why he would not go to kill people who had done nothing to him:
“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father… Shoot them for what? …How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail.”
On another occasion he said, “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end…Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
I know we like to think that those who refuse to fight in unjust wars are cowards, but Ali was being courageous here. He didn’t run to Canada, he stood up in public and declared his opposition to the war and his entirely valid reasons for not fighting in it. And it cost him dearly. He was arrested and put on trial, stripped of his championship and denied a license to box and lost 4 years of his career when he was in his prime. He was targeted by the FBI and the CIA. That took courage. What he did was honorable and right. And he deserves to be praised for it. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An Entire Beatles Concert Live in Japan 1966

Set List:
1. Rock'n'roll Music
2. She's A Woman
3. If I Needed Someone
4. Day Tripper
5. Baby's In Black
6. I Feel Fine
7. Yesterday
8. I Wanna Be Your Man
9. Nowhere Man
10. Paperback Writer
11. I'm Down

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Silver and Gold by U2

In the 1980’s I discovered one of my favorite bands of all time, U2. I got into them before they got real big, and I remember buying the ground-breaking Joshua Tree album and its follow up, Rattle & Hum, which consisted of new studio songs and live cuts from the Joshua Tree album. I remember how exhilarating U2’s music sounded to my 27 year old ears.
One of the songs that capture my imagination was "Silver and Gold," written in support of the Artists United Against Apartheid project, which protested the South African apartheid. The lyrics speak of the history of oppression Africans have gone through, from the slave trade to Apartheid in South Africa. The song was originally featured on the project's 1985 album, Sun City, performed by Bono with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones. It was re-recorded by U2 for the single while the band returned to Dublin during in May 1987 during a break between the first and second legs of The Joshua Tree Tour. The song was described by Musician as "tough and raw, with Bono in husky and confident voice, underpinned by a sinuous bass line, and with The Edge demonstrating his newfound prowess in blues-based guitar. “Silver and Gold" was played live on The Joshua Tree Tour several times, one performance of which was featured on the band's 1988 album and rockumentary, Rattle and Hum. Both the studio recording and the Sun City versions were later featured on the bonus disc of the 20th anniversary edition of The Joshua Tree. The studio version was also included on the limited edition B-sides bonus disk of the band's first compilation album, The Best of 1980 - 1990.
At the end live version of the song on the Rattle & Hum LP and movie, Bono gives a small sermon about Apartheid:
“Yep, silver and gold. This song was written in a hotel room in New York City 'round the time a friend of ours, Little Steven, was putting together a record of artists against apartheid. This is a song written about a man in a shanty town outside of Johannesburg. A man who's sick and tired of looking down the barrel of white South Africa. A man who is at the point where he is ready to take up arms against his oppressor. A man who has lost faith in the peacemakers of the west while they argue and while they fail to support a man like bishop Tutu and his request for economic sanctions against South Africa. Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug ya. Okay Edge, play the blues!”

Lyrics to Silver and Gold:
In the shit house a shotgun
Praying hands hold me down
Only the hunter was hunted
In this tin can town
Tin can town

No stars in the black night
Looks like the sky fell down
No sun in the daylight
Looks like it's chained to the ground
Chained to the ground
The warden said:
"The exit is sold.
If you want a way out,
Silver and gold."

Broken back to the ceiling
Broken nose to the floor
I scream at the silence, it's crawling
It crawls under the door
There's a rope around my neck
And there's a trigger in your gun
Jesus say something
I am someone, I am someone
I am someone

Captain and kings
In the ships hold
They came to collect
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

Seen the coming and the going
Seen them captains and the kings
See them navy blue uniforms
See them bright and shiny things
Bright shiny things

The temperature is rising
The fever white hot
Mister, I ain't got nothing
But it's more than you got

Chains no longer bind me
Not the shackles at my feet
Outside are the prisoners
Inside the free
Set them free
Set them free

A prize fighter in a corner is told
Hit where it hurts
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Angela Davis speaking in Colorado Springs on the Prison Industrial Complex

Angela Davis speaking in Colorado Springs on the Prison Industrial Complex. Angela is truly one of the most prophetic voices of our times. She is a prophet in the Old Testament sense, calling us to social justice. In the United States we incarcerate more of our people than any other country, including China. We have a large number of non-violent people in jails and prisons, largely as a result of the misguided "war on drugs." Also there is a racial dimension to the prison industrial complex, as a very large percentage African-American males are incarcerated. It costs more to incarcerate people than it does to send them to college. It is more expensive to incarcerate a drug addict than to pay for his or her rehabilitation. The Prison Industrial Complex is classist and racist, and it is economically inefficient.