Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Political

I’d never heard of Josh White until I bought this album. This only snuck into my collection because the cover jumped out at me and, at a single dollar, I couldn’t resist.  After reading the gatefold I feel that painting did a terrific job at capturing the man’s prodigious swagger.

Josh always had a great style, as a man and as a performer. He had a kind of imperiousness that used to make audiences shut up and listen. God, how he could stare an audience down! He was there to sing, and if people at the tables were talking, he’d hold a post, cigarette behind the ear, foot on the chair, guitar at the ready, and wait until his silence reached out like a living force and whammied the people to attention. Then he’d begin. He was a black man making his way in a white man’s world, he knew he had something everybody out to hear, and he was to be heard, on his own terms.

-Lee Hays & Don McClean

I’m going to do something I don’t know normally do and compose this post almost entirely of Wikipedia excerpts. Now, don’t click away just yet. This man’s story is immensely interesting and a true portrait of the (mostly losing) struggle for free speech in America. In these excerpts you’ll find Josh leading blind guitarists across the U.S. as a barefoot child, portraying Blind Lemon in the story of John Henry on Broadway, serenading the Roosevelts at the White House, and ultimately being blacklisted during the Red Scare.

Of course, in true blues fashion, the story ends with Josh White broken down, both in career and health, and in the grave before his time. He lived a hard life, made beautiful music, and is up there with Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, or any other musician who’s had his life turned into a feature-length film.

So, get comfortable, sit back, and breeze through the beautifully tragic life of Josh White and his sad, sad guitar.

Sorry, no song previews as of yet. Posting previews is getting more and more of a bitch because of electronic copy”right” protection.

Joshua Daniel White (February 11, 1914 – September 5, 1969), better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names “Pinewood Tom” and “Tippy Barton” in the 1930s.

White also became the closest African-American friend and confidant to president Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, White’s anti-segregationist and international human rights political stance presented in many of his recordings and in his speeches at rallies resulted in the right-wing McCarthyites assuming him a Communist. Accordingly, from 1947 through the mid 1960s, White became caught up in the anti-Communist Red Scare, and combined with the resulting attempt to clear his name, his career was damaged. White’s playing style influenced many future generations of guitarists, including Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, Pete Seeger, Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Lonnie Donegan, Eartha Kitt, Alexis Korner, Odetta, Elvis Presley, The Kingston Trio, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Merle Travis, Dave Van Ronk, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Eric Weissberg, Judy Collins, Mike Bloomfield, Danny Kalb, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Richie Havens, Don McLean, Roy Harper, Ry Cooder, John Fogerty, Eva Cassidy and Jack White.

Two months after his father’s death, Joshua left home with a blind, black street singer named Blind Man Arnold, who he had agreed to lead across the South to collect coins after performances. Arnold would then send White’s mother two dollars a week. Arnold soon realized that he could profit from this gifted boy who quickly learned to dance, sing, and play the tambourine. Over the next eight years, he rented the boy’s services out to 66 different blind street singers, including Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, and Blind Joe Taggart, and in time young Joshua quickly mastered the varied guitar stylings all his blind masters. In order to appear sympathetic to the onlookers tossing coins, the old men kept Joshua shoeless and in ragged short pants till he was sixteen years old. At night he would have to sleep in the cotton fields or in the horse stables, often on an empty stomach, while his master slept in a black hotel.

In February of 1936, he punched his left hand through a glass door during a bar fight, and the hand became infected with gangrene. White was advised by doctors to amputate the hand, and White repeatedly refused. Amputation was averted, but his chording hand was left immobile. Afterwords, he retreated from his recording career to become a dock worker, an elevator operator, and a building superintendent. During the time when his hand was lame, he squeezed a small rubber ball to try and revive it.

One night during a card game, White’s left hand was revived completely; and he immediately began practicing his guitar, and soon put together a group called “Josh White & His Carolinians” with his brother Billy and close friends Carrington Lewis, Sam Gary, and Bayard Rustin. They soon began playing private parties in Harlem. At one of these parties, on New Year’s Eve 1938, Leonard DePaur, a Broadway choral director, was intrigued by Josh’s singing. For the past six months, DePaur and the producers of the Broadway musical in development, John Henry, had been searching America for an actor/singer/guitarist to play the lead role of Blind Lemon, a street minstrel who would wander back and forth across the stage narrating the story in song. Their initial auditions with native New York singers proved to be unsuccessful, so they looked through previous race record releases to find a suitable artist. They eventually narrowed their search down to two people, “Pinewood Tom” and “The Singing Christian”, both used as pseudonyms by White.

After months of rehearsals and out-of-town productions in Philadelphia and Boston, John Henry opened on Broadway on January 10, 1940, with Paul Robeson as John Henry and Joshua White as Blind Lemon. Although the musical did not have long run, it helped jumpstart his career. Soon thereafter, Josh began working with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Burl Ives, and The Golden Gate Quartet in a CBS radio series Back Where I Come From, written by folk song collector Alan Lomax and directed by Nicholas Ray.

Josh and Libby frequently requested the War Department to send them overseas during World War II to give USO concert performances for the troops. However, despite a Letter of Recommendation from Eleanor Roosevelt, they were constantly rejected as “too controversial”, considering that the U.S. Armed Forces were still segregated throughout World War II.

Throughout the 1940s, as a major matinée idol with magnetic sexual charisma and a commanding stage presence, White not only was an international star of recordings, concerts, nightclubs, radio, film, and Broadway, he also achieved a unique position for an African-American of the segregated era by becoming accepted and befriended by white society, aristocracy, European royalty, and America’s ruling family, The Roosevelts.

In January 1941, Josh performed at the President’s Inauguration. Upon completing that first White House Command Performance, the Roosevelts invited White up to their private chambers, where they spent more than three hours talking about Josh’s life story of growing up in Jim Crow South, listening to his songs written about those experiences, and drinking Café Royale (coffee and brandy).

At one point during that evening, the President said to Josh, “You know Josh, when I first heard your song `Uncle Sam Says,’ I thought you were referring to me as Uncle Sam….Am I right?” White responded, “Yes Mr. President, I wrote that song to you after seeing how my brother was treated in the segregated section of Fort Dix army camp. . . However that wasn’t the first song I wrote to you. . . In 1933, I wrote and recorded a song called `Low Cotton,’ about the plight of Negro cotton pickers down South, and in the lyrics I made an appeal directly to you to help their situation.”

The President, interested and impressed at the candor of his response, then asked Josh to sing those songs to him again. A friendship developed, five more Command Performances would follow, in addition to two appearances at the Inaugurations of 1941 and 1945; and the Josh White family would spend many Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with the Roosevelts at their Hyde Park, New York mansion .

Josh White had reached the zenith of his career when touring with Eleanor Roosevelt on a celebrated and triumphant Goodwill tour of Europe. He had been hosted by the continent’s prime ministers and royal families, and had just performed before 50,000 cheering fans at Stockholm’s soccer stadium. Amidst this tour, while in Paris in June, 1950, White received a call from Mary Chase, his manager in New York, telling him that Red Channels (who had been sending newsletters to the media since 1947 about White and other artists who they warned as being subversive), had just released and distributed a thick magazine with subversive details regarding 151 artists from the entertainment and media industries who they labeled as Communist Sympathizers. White’s name was prominent on this list. There never had been an official blacklist—until now. White immediately went to discuss the situation with Mrs. Roosevelt—to ask her advice and help. With great empathy, she told him that her voice on his behalf would hinder his efforts to clear his name. She explained that if she wasn’t the widow of the president they would also be crucifying her. She continued that the Right Wing press had been calling her a “pinko”, citing her social activism and friendships with non-whites. That night, White called his manager back and alerted her that he would be flying back to America the next day so that he could clear his name. Upon arriving at New York’s Idlewild Airport, the FBI met him, took him into a Customs holding room, began interrogating him, and held him for hours while waiting word from Washington as to whether Josh White, who was born in America, would be deported back to Europe.

In 1961, White’s health began a sharp decline as he experienced the first of the three heart attacks and the progressive heart disease that would plague him over his final eight years. As a lifelong smoker he also had progressive emphysema, in addition to ulcers, and severe psoriasis in his hands and calcium deficiency in his body that would cause the skin to peel off of his fingers and leave his fingernails broken and bleeding with every concert. During the last two years of his life, as his heart weakened dramatically, his wife Carol would put him in the hospital for four weeks after he completed each two-week concert tour. Finally, the doctors felt his only survival option was to attempt a new procedure to replace heart valves. The surgery failed.

He died on the operating table on September 6, 1969 at the North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, New York.

-Wikipedia

*

>>>Click here to download Disc 1

>>>Click here to download Disc 2

*

Tracklist

A1. Free and Equal Blues

A2. Where Were You, Baby

A3. You Don’t Know My Mind

A4. Sam Hall

A5. Run, Mona, Run

A6. Timber

A7. Takin’ Names

A8. St. James Infirmary

B1. One Meat Ball

B2. Peter

B3. Jelly, Jelly

B4. Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dyin’ Bed

B5.  Halleleu

B6. Prison Bound Blues

C1. Midnight Special

C2. Told My Captain

C3. Going Home, Boys

C4. Trouble

C5. Silicosis Blues

C6. Southern Exposure

C7. Empty Bed Blues

D1. The Story of John Henry

Click here for a random Rebuilt Tranny post

If you’ve been watching any local television lately you’ve probably noticed a terrible wave of slime and filth creeping into the commercial breaks. Tis the season, once again, for political attack campaigns! From now until November you get to hear all sorts of bogus statistics from bogus reports by bogus Committees or Bureaus or Centers for Goobernatorial research on Back Alley Hand Job Growth.

You’ll also have to bear witness to unflattering photos of a candidate’s opposition, preferably when the (Nancy Pelosi-worshipper/John Boehner-stroker) is eating, sneezing or squeezing out yesterday’s Pickle Loaf and Pepper Jack on Pumpernickel.

*

*

There will also be pics of confused and shriveled seniors who were duped by Washington Fat Cats into paying a penny-out-of-pocket for a Hoveround.

*

*

There will be handshaking. Oh God, will there ever be handshaking. 

*

Pleased to meet you!

*
Candidates will be seen smiling, with sleeves rolled up, while rubbing elbows with factory workers to feign giving two shits about the working man. And, in some instances, those factory workers will be tragically topless.
*

*

There will be bullshit. Heaping helpings dumped on our heads from the left and the right. And before we know it we’ll all be drowning…and buddy, your vote ain’t no life raft.

So, if you’re fed up with all of the terrible, frothing political crap spewing from your television, apply a few drops of this salve directly to your ear drums. It comes in the form of common sense wisdom, poems, and jokes delivered in Southern drawl by former North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin.

If you’ve never heard of Senator Sam let me give you a real quick tutorial. He was instrumental in heading the committees that exposed the illegal and unethical practices of the two biggest dickheads in 20th Century American Politics: Senator Joe McCarthy, Founder of McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and Richard Nixon, Dickhead Numero Uno.

And, as a “Country Lawyer”, as he liked to call himself, he loved telling a story or two about good old Southern moonshine. Here’s a short one from the album.

*

*

But he also liked to stay hip with the times. Here we find him reciting the lyrics to Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” after giving a little prologue about what friendship is all about.

*

*

I invite you to download this album, pour yourself a stiff glass of Old Weller 107 Bourbon, and relax as you absorb a little southern comfort from good ol’ Senator Sam.

**

>>>Click here to download Senator Sam At Home to MP3

**

A1 Zeke And The Snake 1:40
A2 Friendship 1:50
A3 Bridge Over Troubled Water 2:32
  Written-By – Paul Simon
A4 The Fault Of Conformity 1:50
A5 Southern Heroes (“Defeat May Serve”) 1:50
  Written-By – Edwin Markham
A6 If 1:50
  Written-By – Rudyard Kipling
Medley
A7.1 Grow Tall, My Son 1:23
  Words By – Loonis McGlohon
A7.2 Through The Years
  Music By – Al Ham
A8 Cousin Sue And The U.D.C. 1:23
A9 The First Amendement 1:05
A10 John And Mandy And The Strikin’ Clock 2:53
A11 Myself 0:33
  Written-By – Edgar A. Guest*
A12 Philosophy Of Life 2:02
B1 The Hymn Book And Link Shaw’s Singin’ 2:06
B2 The Old Rugged Cross 3:45
  Arranged By – Al Ham
Written-By – George Bennard
B3 Thoughts On Religion (“More Faith In Honest Doubt”) 2:18
  Written-By – Alfred Lord Tennyson
B4.1 If I Had A Hammer 1:45
  Written-By – Lee Hays , Pete Seeger
B4.2 America The Beautiful
  Arranged By – Al Ham
B5 Comments: Elbert Hubbard, W. C. Fields, Josh Billings 0:47
B6 General Jim Leach And The Mount Vernon Hotel 3:10
B7 Country Ham 0:10
B8 Jus’ Right Likker 0:34
B9 The Greatest Hunger Of The Human Heart 2:56
B10 Thoughts On Shakespeare 0:30
B11 Joshua 1:34
B12 The Drunk Driver 1:04
B13 God Give Us Men 1:20
  Written-By – Josiah Gilbert Holland
B14 The Last Verse Of Our National Anthem 1:25

I’ve found myself trying to write the beginning of this entry several times.  Each time taking a different approach to conveying these simple truths:

1.  There was a time when it was believed music could change the course of history and in fact some positive changes were obtained.

Woody Gurthrie and his Machine

Woody Gurthrie and his Machine

2.  The change those musicians made have mostly dissolved with time.Limp Bizkit, bleh, at Woodstock ’99

Limp Bizkit, bleh, making an ass of themselves at Woodstock 99

Limp Bizkit, bleh, making an ass of themselves at Woodstock '99

3.  Our generation wants to change the world, perhaps with music, but doesn’t respect legitimate politically active artists.

Cure AIDS? Pfff....yeah right, Dr. Shades.

4. However, it’s ok to feign political activism maybe once or twice and still keep your cred.

5.  We’re fucked.

Hey Barack HUSSEIN O-Bama, aka BARRY SOETORO, go back to Indochina.  You aint pushin socialist China healthcare on me and my Baby!  Merica!

Hey Barack HUSSEIN O-Bama, aka BARRY SOETORO, go back to Indochina. You ain't pushin socialist Chinese healthcare on me and my Baby! 'Merica!

So, while you wait for humanity to implode relax a spell and listen to these tunes from a more naive time; when the monster we know as the internet was just a twinkle in your grandmammy’s eye.

Don’t forget to check out Disc 1 Disc 2 and Disc 3

Side G: Of War, Love, and Hope

1. Ed McCurdy – John Brown’s Body

2. Frank Warner – Virginia’s Bloody Soil

3. Theodore Bikel – Two Brothers

4. Judy Collins – Masters of War

5. Theodore Bikel – Blow the Candles Out

6. Jean Redpath – Love Is Teasing

7. Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson – Sally Ann

8. Jean Ritchie – Little Devils

9. Limeliters – The Hammer Song

10. Woody Guthrie – This Land Is Your Land

Side H: Broadside, Topical Songs, Protest Songs

1. Pete Seeger, Almanac Singers, with audience

2. New Lost City Ramblers – No Depression In Heaven

3. Woody Guthrie – Talking Dusty Bowl

4. Big Bill Broonzy – Black, Brown and White

5. Oscar Brand – Talking Atomic Blues

6. Hamilton Camp – Girl From The North Country

7. Judy Collins – The Dove

8. Tom Paxton – High Sheriff of Hazard

9. Phil Ochs – The Thresher

10. Pete Seeger- We Shall Overcome