Bob Schwartz

Category: Music

Music for the Holidays: Redemption Song by Bob Marley

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Bob Marley, Redemption Song

Passover. Easter. The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bob Marley. Redemption Song.

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the Book

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

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March for Our Lives

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through
David Bowie, Changes

To the NRA, the politicians in their pocket, Fox News and all the others who bully and lie as a regular self-serving practice:

These astonishingly active and articulate children you dismiss as naïve pawns of special interests are anything but. They are smart and caring voters and voters-to-be, they are inspirational organizers, they are brave warriors for peace, common sense and truth.

They are the edge of a wave of American humanity that will wash you away. If you believe your own nonsense and are too stupid to be afraid of being sidelined and replaced, you should be very afraid. Nothing happens without struggle, and you may think this is a struggle that you are bound to win. But if you are students of American history, you know how this eventually goes. If you are students of history, watching (or more likely ignoring) this extraordinary moment, you would know that you are history. The arc of history is long, MLK said, but it bends toward justice.

And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changin’

Morning Music Uplift: You Get What You Give

Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you

It is too easy to begin the day thinking and writing about the latest outrage. Which is why after the first cup of coffee I select some music to move me and the moment elsewise.

This morning the path led to New Radicals’ You Get What You Give. It doesn’t get more uplifting than this! Listen! Dance!

But when the night is falling
You cannot find the light
You feel your dreams are dying
Hold tight
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget
We only get what we give

 

Bird Talk

Bird Talk

In China
Chinese food is just food
In the yard
Bird song is just
Morning chatter

©

Winnie the Pooh Censored in China

China President Xi Jinping wants to change the constitution to remain in power beyond the limit of two terms. China Digital Times  explains:

Chinese state media announced on Sunday a list of proposed amendments to China’s constitution, which are expected to be adopted next month at the National People’s Congress session in Beijing. Among the 21 proposed amendments, the one with perhaps the deepest potential impact on the future of Chinese politics and society deals with paragraph 3 of article 79, which would eradicate the current limit of PRC presidents and vice-presidents to two five-year terms. This would effectively set President Xi Jinping up to maintain his seat as president indefinitely….

Following state media’s announcement, censorship authorities began work to limit online discussion.

As part of that censorship, a growing list of terms have been blocked from being posted on the search engine Weibo. Along with seeming innocent phrases that are protest memes and obvious authors such as George Orwell, for a while the list also included the letter “N”:

N — While the letter “N” was temporarily blocked from being posted, as of 14:27 PST on February 26, it was no longer banned. At Language Log, Victor Mair speculates that this term was blocked “probably out of fear on the part of the government that “N” = “n terms in office”, where possibly n > 2.”

Most ridiculous of all is the blocking of Winnie the Pooh:

Winnie the Pooh (小熊维尼) — Images of Winnie the Pooh have been used to mock Xi Jinping since as early as 2013. The animated bear continues to be sensitive in China. Weibo users shared a post from Disney’s official account that showed Pooh hugging a large pot of honey along with the caption “find the thing you love and stick with it.”

I’ve written before about my high regard for Winnie the Pooh—the books by A.A. Milne, not the Disney version. It is great literature, not least in the character of the sweet, loyal, interesting, but seemingly not very smart bear (as he calls himself, “a bear of very little brain.”) Seemingly, because he may also be a bit of an enigmatic Zen master:

On Monday, when the sun is hot
I wonder to myself a lot:
“Now is it true, or is it not,”
“That what is which and which is what?”

I have never thought of Pooh as a political subversive. And yet, if you are a supreme ruler aiming to become eternally supreme, enemies are everywhere. Even a letter of the alphabet or a simple and adorable bear.

White House Music: Love the Way You Lie (Updated)

Update: See below for news of 2012 tweet from Trump, commenting about Rihanna’s real life abuse situation, saying that if she is dating Chris Brown “She has a death wish. A beater is always a beater.”

Donald Trump and John Kelly probably haven’t ever heard Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna. Maybe the younger, just-resigned, spouse-abusing White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter has, though he didn’t take it personally.

If you haven’t seen the interview with Porter’s second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby (the first was also abused), please watch it. It is one of the most articulate, honest and compelling testimonies about abuse you will see. She explains how it is possible to stay in what in retrospect looks like an impossible and dangerous relationship. She also warns Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest aides and Porter’s current girlfriend, to be careful.

Anyway, Love the Way You Lie popped up on a playlist today. Maybe coincidence, maybe not. Maybe the White House, still trying to figure out how to defend Porter, should listen.


Rihanna:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well, that’s all right
Because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well, that’s all right
Because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

Eminem:

I can’t tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now there’s a steel knife in my windpipe
I can’t breathe, but I still fight while I can fight
As long as the wrong feels right, it’s like I’m in flight
High off her love, drunk from her hate
It’s like I’m huffin’ paint
And I love her the more I suffer, I suffocate
And right before I’m about to drown she resuscitates me
She fuckin’ hates me, and I love it, “Wait!
Where you going?”, “I’m leaving you.” “No, you ain’t
Come back!” We’re runnin’ right back, here we go again
It’s so insane, ’cause when it’s goin’ good it’s goin’ great
I’m Superman with the wind at his back, she’s Lois Lane
But when it’s bad it’s awful, I feel so ashamed
I snap, “Who’s that dude?”, I don’t even know his name
I laid hands on him, I’ll never stoop so low again
I guess I don’t know my own strength

You ever love somebody so much
You can barely breathe when you’re with ’em?
You meet, and neither one of you even know what hit ’em
Got that warm fuzzy feelin’
Yeah, them chills used to get ’em
Now you’re gettin’ fuckin’ sick of lookin’ at ’em?
You swore you’d never hit ’em, never do nothin’ to hurt ’em
Now you’re in each other’s face
Spewin’ venom in your words when you spit ’em
You push, pull each other’s hair, scratch, claw, bit ’em
Throw ’em down, pin ’em
So lost in the moments when you’re in ’em
It’s the rage that took over, it controls you both
So they say it’s best to go your separate ways
Guess that they don’t know ya
‘Cause today, that was yesterday, yesterday is over
It’s a different day, sound like broken records playin’ over
But you promised her, next time you’d show restraint
You don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game
But you lied again
Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess that’s why they call it window pane

Now, I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean
And we fall back into the same patterns, same routines
But your temper’s just as bad as mine is
You’re the same as me when it comes to love
You’re just as blinded, baby, please
Come back, it wasn’t you, baby, it was me
Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems
Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is I love you too much to walk away though
Come inside, pick up your bags off the sidewalk
Don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?
Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball
Next time I’m pissed I’ll aim my fist at the drywall
Next time? There won’t be no next time!
I apologize even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games, I just want her back
I know I’m a liar, if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again
I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire

Rihanna:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well, that’s all right
Because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well, that’s all right
Because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

 

From The Hill:

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday resurfaced an old tweet from President Trump denouncing domestic abuse, hours after Trump praised Rob Porter, who resigned as White House staff secretary over allegations that he abused his ex-wives.

In October 2012, Trump tweeted in response to news that singer Rihanna appeared to be once again romantically paired with Chris Brown after he physically assaulted her.

“If Rihanna is dating Chris Brown again then she has a death wish,” Trump wrote. “A beater is always a beater– just watch!”

Trump and the Pusher Man: Easy Rider or Mean Girls?

“We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.”
Donald Trump, State of the Union Address (2018)

In real life, I haven’t heard the term “drug pusher” used seriously in a long time. Which means that Trump is living in the past or is a big fan of either Easy Rider or Mean Girls.

For the record, the term “drug pusher” likely originated as prison slang in the 1930s, and maintained some fading currency for a few decades. Not so much today, at least not in my circles.

Easy Rider (1969)

Hoyt Axton’s song The Pusher, as recorded by Steppenwolf, was featured in the soundtrack of the movie Easy Rider:

You know I’ve smoked a lot of grass
Oh Lord, I’ve popped a lot of pills
But I never touched nothin’
That my spirit could kill
You know, I’ve seen a lot of people walkin’ ’round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don’t care
Ah, if you live or if you die

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he’s not a natural man
The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams
Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he’ll leave your, he’ll leave your mind to scream

God damn, the pusher
God damn, I say the pusher
I said God damn, God damn the pusher man

Well, now if I were president of this land
You know, I’d declare total war on the pusher man

Mean Girls (2004)

One of the iconic scenes in the movie Mean Girls has the teacher Ms. Corbury (Tina Fey) explaining herself to her student Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan):

“I’m a pusher Cady. I push people….And now I’m gonna push you because I know you’re smarter than this.”

Leading to this conversation:

I hate her! I mean, she’s really failing me on purpose, just because I didn’t join that stupid Mathletes! She was so queer, she was like, “I’m pusher Cady, I’m a pusher.”

Hahaha! What does that even mean?

Like a drug pusher?

Probably. She said she works three jobs. You know, I bet she sells drugs on the side to pay for her pathetic divorce.

Yes, like a drug pusher, and yes Cady, for somebody’s pathetic divorce(s). If he were president of this land, you know, he’d declare total war on the pusher man.

Note: It is probably not necessary to say this, but I will. This is not to minimize the serious problem America has with opioids and other tragically destructive drugs. It is just to point out how out of touch and out of time Trump, Sessions and others are about the problem, its causes and its solutions. And since I’m adding this note, I will mention that the song The Pusher (a Trump favorite?) makes a clear distinction between the dealer of marijuana (“love grass in his hand”) and the pusher of deadly drugs (“a monster”).

Fanfare for the Common Bird

Fanfare for the Common Bird

Inside Copland gathers horns
Lifting common people
To the heights we belong
Outside a bird sits
On an impossibly slender branch
Sings uncommonly good
Flies up and away

©

ABBA Saves the Day

So when you’re near me, darling, can’t you hear me, S.O.S.
The love you gave me, nothing else can save me, S.O.S.

Yeah, yeah, some things are messed up. But then ABBA’s Take a Chance came on the playlist. Things are still not all right, but for four minutes, it seemed like it.

Propulsive, like listening to a sleek Swedish train gliding down the tracks. Just try not moving your hips, no matter how spastic you think you look. Like Nick Lowe said in an album title, this is “Pure Pop for Now People.”

ABBA is my prescription for the day.

Why Isn’t Popular Music Helping Save Us Again?

It may seem an exaggeration to say that popular music ever saved us. It moved us individually, socially, culturally, it inspired us. But did it ever really change things, change our direction?

It helped. America and most of the world were adrift after World War II. The culture of the 1930s and 1940s ran head on into the reality of a just-ended massive global war, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, etc. Nobody asked popular music to evolve into a new soundtrack. It’s just that the old one seemed out of place, out of time, out of tune, like the piano player at a silent film.

We know what happened next. Music for a new world grew and took over. And when times were most challenging—civil rights and Vietnam for just a couple of examples—music was an anthemic driver. The music didn’t make new people, but new people needed their music. Protest. Psychedelic. Punk. Hip hop. On and on.

Now that we find ourselves in really strange times again, I am listening for a new soundtrack, waiting for it to make its move. Haven’t heard it yet. We do need inspiration, we do need motivation, we do need saving. Ask anyone who lived through some of the dynamic decades what the music meant to change and to them. Where is that music now?