Sunday, August 07, 2005

Crucifixion

I have never stopped mourning the music of the 60's. It's not to say that there isn't quality folk music out there; there is. From time to time, I'll run across a song or an artist that I'll want to explore but inevitably, I find something lacking. I'm not so sure what that is but one thing I've noted is prominence. To discuss the evolution of protest songs would take an entire dissertation but frankly, my mood is such that my own creativity is muted by all the danger I perceive around me today. Music is a way to connect emotion with reality and perhaps, our reality today is too frightening to embrace.

In Atlanta, GA yesterday, a bona fide march took place a la 60's style. Voices from the past rang out, reminding us of a place we once knew...a place where dissent was not stifled...a place where rallies could be attended by all who wished to participate without being pre-approved by those in power...a place where the truth of our equality was sung from the mountain tops and fought for valiantly...a place where individual rights were honored and respected...and where our collective rights were not plundered and raped by measures entitled by the exact opposite of their meaning that were run through Congress in the dead of the night. "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...."


Oh, but they have. In our name, yours and mine, genocide is occurring. It's really nothing new, mind you, but nevertheless, this is now. The blood of our precious resource (no, not OIL, you neocon lurkers) our youth, runs through the River of Lies in a faraway land where the seeds of all we call good and holy were planted while our leaders, who call themselves good and holy create death and destruction and despair. In our name, good brothers and sisters, in our name. We can run but we cannot hide. Every voice of silence contributes to more of it. In our name.

And so yesterday, I heard Harry Belafonte interviewed on Air America having attended the march in Atlanta. And I got to thinking how at 78 years old, he is still out there, fighting for what is good and holy. And I got to thinking about Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Odetta, The Chad Mitchell Trio and Phil Ochs, artists who were unafraid to let their voices ring out and sing out their conscience. To wonder where they are now is to look toward Atlanta; there they are, still doing the same.

But the difference is that the enemy has changed. It lies from within. And no, for once, I don't mean in Washington. I mean it lies within you, within me, each and every time we choose complacency over compassion, silence over giving voice, fear over courage. All of life is depending on what we do now. The facts are out there. Can we bear them? Can we bear the truth of the ugliness of what is being done in our name? Until we do, we continue our downward spiral into the abyss. I don't know about you but I'd rather sing. Won't you come and sing with me?

From Phil Ochs...

Crucifixion


And the night comes again to the circle studded sky
The stars settle slowly, in lonliness they lie
'Till the universe expodes as a falling star is raised
Planets are paralyzed, mountains are amazed
But they all glow brighter from the briliance of the blaze
With the speed of insanity, then he dies.

In the green fields a turnin', a baby is born
His cries crease the wind and mingle with the morn
An assault upon the order, the changing of the guard
Chosen for a challenge that is hopelessly hard
And the only single sound is the sighing of the stars
But to the silence and distance they are sworn

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Images of innocence charge him go on
But the decadence of destiny is looking for a pawn
To a nightmare of knowledge he opens up the gate
And a blinding revelation is laid upon his plate
That beneath the greatest love is a hurricane of hate
And God help the critic of the dawn.

So he stands on the sea and shouts to the shore,
But the louder that he screams the longer he's ignored
For the wine of oblivion is drunk to the dregs
And the merchants of the masses almost have to be begged
'Till the giant is aware, someone's pulling at his leg,
And someone is tapping at the door.

To dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance'
Cause we love you

Then his message gathers meaning and it spreads across the land
The rewarding of his pain is the following of the man
But ignorance is everywhere and people have their way
Success is an enemy to the losers of the day
In the shadows of the churches, who knows what they pray
For blood is the language of the band.

The Spanish bulls are beaten; the crowd is soon beguiled,
The matador is beautiful, a symphony of style
Excitement is ecstatic, passion places bets
Gracefully he bows to ovations that he gets
But the hands that are applauding are slippery with sweat
And saliva is falling from their smiles

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Then this overflow of life is crushed into a liar
The gentle soul is ripped apart and tossed into the fire.
First a smile of rejection at the nearness of the night
Truth becomes a tragedy limping from the light
All the (canonsheavens) are horrified, they stagger from the sight
As the cross is trembling with desire.

They say they can't believe it, it's a sacreligious shame
Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?
But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall
How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small.
Tell me every detail, I've got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

Time takes her toll and the memory fades
but his glory is broken, in the magic that he made.
Reality is ruined; it's the freeing from the fear
The drama is distorted, to what they want to hear
Swimming in their sorrow, in the twisting of a tear
As they wait for a new thrill parade.

The eyes of the rebel have been branded by the blind
To the safety of sterility, the threat has been refined
The child was created to the slaughterhouse he's led
So good to be alive when the eulogy is read
The climax of emotion, the worship of the dead
And the cycle of sacrifice unwinds.

So dance dance dance
Teach us to be true
Come dance dance dance
'Cause we love you

And the night comes again to the circle studded sky
The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie
'Till the universe explodes as a falling star is raised
Planets are paralyzed, mountains are amazed
But they all glow brighter from the brilliance of the blaze
With the speed of insanity, then he died. - Phil Ochs

It is time to throw the nails away.

"There is nothing worse than gangrene of the soul."Mike Malloy ~ 1/20/05

5 comments:

JoannF said...

Oh Mary you are so right! In the 60s the voices of dissent were raised in song. Perhaps it's easier to be part of a chorus than to speak out in a solo. The artists did it for us back then and we added our voices because the truth they spoke with their music touched our soul and their words expressed what we felt but couldn't articulate.

"Those WERE the days, my friend." We had the freedom to dissent. Today, even if we overcame the fear engendered by the spectre of the Draconian Patriot Act, the media controls that the Bush FCC set in place would silence us. With Clear Channel controlling the majority of radio stations, protest songs would get no play time.

Perhaps the only weapon we have left to fight these monsters killing our young, raping our environment, mortgaging the future, and wreaking havoc on the world is music. It may be the only way to communicate the truth of what's happening since everything else is censored. So sing! Tell everyone you know to sing! Maybe if we all join the chorus we can stop a war. We did it once before.

nefreteri said...

A blog exemplary of beguiling revealed...as never before. An exemplum of candor, passion and uncanny actuality...induces exhaustive envisaging and queries as to what action to take...rekindles a smoldering ember of youth from days gone by when the collective youth rallied to exclaim "We can do it! We can change the world!". Proclaimed with headstrong conviction and heartfelt desire to make our world one filled with friendship not terror, overflowing with love not hate with the axiom of peace not war.
To quote another true titan of the songwriters and musicians of our time...."Give Peace a chance"....a surely novelty idea to our present leadership?

Mary said...

I am so touched by your wonderful responses. Truly, you are all my hope for this world.

Anonymous said...

......AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE. YET, IN THESE PERILOUS TIMES THERE IS LITTLE TRUTH TO BE FOUND. IT'S HIDDEN BEHIND HUGE WHITE DOORS OFF A HUGE WHITE VERANDAH AT THE END OF PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.

elcymoo said...

In honor of the march in Atlanta this week, let me add this:

We Shall Overcome
We shall overcome,
we shall overcome,
We shall overcome some day
Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
we shall overcome some day

We shall all be free,
we shall all be free,
We shall all be free some day
Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
we shall overcome some day

We shall live in peace,
we shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace some day
Oh, deep in my heart,
I do believe
we shall overcome some day
.....Peter, Paul & Mary