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Contemporary Art and Politics: Poets Talk

By       Message Gary Corseri     Permalink
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To GC: I am a long-time Jackson Browne fan, going back to L.P., Late for Sky. Title cut has lyric, "Some of us angry at way earth is abused."

Mr. Dinh writes crisp and clear. A reader cannot help but get his point.

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Browne's career has flourished, but of course the style does not fit with modern popular bedlam & ugliness in song. A few years ago, Jackson released solo-acoustic L.P.s, two (2) albums, each exceptional, and he's been taking this show on the road with some success. This past summer, he played a Scranton, PA venue, but many people are broke in these parts, and it was NOT well-attended. But again, Jackson Browne remains principled in his music & lyrics, and he has definitely not cashed-in to the degree other "folkies" have, for example, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

To CO: I was suspicious of Bob Dylan when I first heard him. I guess I was 19. Later, I came to like him better, but I never was part of the "craze" surrounding him--never thought him the equal of Simon and Garfunkle or the Beatles--especially Lennon; or the female singers I loved--Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Laura Nyro, Judy Collins.

To GC: It's very interesting that Springsteen's recent album Wrecking Ball was heralded as radical. ... I considered Wrecking Ball to be the best & most radical rock & roll statement made in decades. Maybe EVER!

However, in run-up to November "election," an unexpected shift, and fans witnessed Springsteen on campaign-stump with Bill Clinton, rah-rahing, singing praises for Obama re-election. About two weeks ago, CouterPunch editor Jeff St. Clair described Springsteen as member of "glitterati" and how they willingly do not need financial contributions from his ilk. Took some grit for C.P. to break-away from such fame & fortune!

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To CO : Very good for St. Clair! Now I respect him even more. " I liked it, too, when Dinh was critical of Michael Moore and Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky re their enthusiasm for Obama. (It seems even good minds get taken in by the hoopla and the propaganda!)

To GC: At very least , it seems Jackson Browne is satisfied with who he is, what he does, where he's been, and does not want blood money.

To CO: I like the way you put that! Kudos for Browne!

To GC: There are folk singers like Steve Earle who, like J. Browne, did not cash-in like Dylan & Springsteen on Columbia label. Steve Earle was once described by Dave Marsh as the "real Neil Young." Marsh disliked Young's joining forces with W. in aftermath of 9/11, and the former recording blood-lust song, "Let's Roll." However, as Earle grow older, maybe sees his time for making "big-bucks" passing, he's recorded the blazing song "The Revolution Starts Now." Earle even recorded an excellent song in defense of the California guy (forgot name?) who went to Afghanistan and joined the resistance. Later on, Steve Earle sold the brave & defiant "Revolution starts now" to Chevy Truck and a T.V. commercial!

To CO: It's all very twisted, isn't it?

I think a major problem is that our popular artists are not well-informed" or, too often, willfully ignorant" or just plain stupid!

Most artists--especially in US Empire today--are more emotive than intellectual. They are unable to combine the left and right hemispheres of the brain--the analytical and the intuitive.

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Your notes on Neil Young and Steve Earle are enlightening to me. I have never heard "Let's Roll" or "Revolution Starts Now." But the way these songs have been twined into the fabric of the Empire is symbolic of catastrophic unawareness!

To GC: We should carefully watch the path$ of aging folk artists and where they go. Finally, on Springsteen's latest Wrecking Ball L.P., he is joined by Tom Morello, lead guitarist for ultar-radical band Rage against the Machine. Afterwards, Springteen's on-stage with Bill Clinton in the State of Ohio where students were once gunned-down on campus. Pretty shitty sometimes!... This is one reason I like Oregon poet Robert J. Davies so much -- his voice and consistency approaching 90-years old.

To CO: Thanks for the rec. I've read R.J. Davies in the lit. reviews, here and there over the years--and always liked what I read. I shall delve deeper. "

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Gary Corseri has published & posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including Op Ed News, The New York Times, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, L.A. (and Hollywood--) Progressive. He has been a professor in the US & Japan, has (more...)

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