Friday, October 27, 2006

Joan Baez & music

The end of the week. For those not dragging, we salute you. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. Also remember that Kyle Snyder returns to the United States tomorrow (it's in the snapshot).

"Joan Baez, After All These Years" (John Dear, Common Dreams):
"Come back, Woodie Guthrie, Come back, Mahatma Gandhi," sang Joan Baez in her beatific soprano. "Come back to us Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. We're marching into Selma as the bells of freedom ring."
She's been singing for peace and civil rights for forty-eight years. Originally inspired by Pete Seeger, she captured the attention of the nation in the early 1960s, her politically charged music propelling her to the cover of Time magazine long before Bob Dylan and the Beatles. To my mind, as soon as she sang "All My Trials, Lord," the 1960s were born and the culture turned a corner. Music and politics would never be the same.
Today, she’s better than ever. Her voice is strong, her vision clear, and her call for peace and justice just as urgent. She continues to use her extraordinary talent for global peace and brings the power of music to the needs of the world.
Joan Baez has long been one of my heroes. She was in New Mexico last week to perform a slew of folk songs against the latest U.S. war, including Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side," "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall," and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." She also sang "Finlandia" and a moving rendition of "Amazing Grace." "Any Day Now/ Baez Sings Dylan" is my favorite of her CDs, but she has just released a great new CD, Bowery Songs, with these inspiring songs recorded live in New York.

Joan Baez. She's a favorite of mine and if you haven't yet heard Bowery Songs, you really need to. I'll talk about Baez in a moment but first, a review.

"Kat's Korner: Joan Baez Bringing It All Back Home on Bowery Songs" (Kat, The Common Ills):
So there we were at The Fillmore. Sumner, Maggie, Dak-Ho and me. Toni couldn't go because she'd just started a new job and had to be on call. We'd driven to San Francisco so it was just as well because Toni swears the city is out to get her and every other smoker in the country.
It was 2004. March. That much we can agree on.
After that, it gets messy. Maggie's convinced it was the 21st of March. Sumner says it was the 12th. Dak-Ho can't remember. My ticket stub says March 13th. You might think my ticket stub would settle it. If so, you don't know my crowd. All the ticket stub led to was debates of "What if the stub had the wrong date on it?"
All four of us agree that we were at The Fillmore in 2004. Except for Dak-Ho, we can agree it was in March. Maggie can remember her exact outfit. You might be thinking, "But Kat, she's got the date wrong!" (Because, Maggie, you do have the date wrong. And I'm still waiting for you to return that Judy Collins CD.) Maggie can remember her exact outfit on any day, any event.
"Maggie, remember that time we saw Dylan?"
"We never saw Dylan."
"Maggie, remember that time we saw Dylan and you wore the black mini-skirt?"
"Oh, the leather one!" she'll squeal. "I remember I had on the cameo and when he performed 'Just Like A Woman' . . ."
Point is, there's never a great deal of agreement. But on one thing we do agree. Joan Baez was phenomenal. We're disputing the opening act. (I'm sure it was a female with an acoustic guitar and I'll put money on that.) We're disputing where we ate after the show. We were too nervous to eat before because when you're seeing the Queen, you don't want to show up stuffed -- the music will feed you.
Dark Chords On A Big Guitar was the album she was touring behind and we were all agreed that it was one of her finest. We tried to remember that Baez had been hitting the road for four decades now and that what could be accomplished in the studio might not be replicated live.
Point is, we were concerned about the voice. Forget Mel Gibson, Joan Baez is the road warrior. What, you thought it was Dylan? You obviously missed his periodic retirements.

Joan Baez is someone I feel like I've always listened to. But reading John Dear's column, that's obviously not the case. I'm not placing "All My Trials, Lord." Maybe I'm just tired? I know that I had too many albums to count on vinyl. On CD, I don't have that many by comparison. I think it's because I was in the process of switching to the 'new' format, cassette tapes, when CD's emerged. I have her 3 disc set Rare, Live & Classic and her four disc A&M boxed set. In terms of individual albums, I only have 13 CDs.

The Joan Baez album that I listened to the most of the early period was Farewell, Angelina which I do have on CD. Let me do a BUYER's WARNING. Vanguard is reissuing Baez's albums in remastered CDs, often with bonus tracks. I had just already purchased Blessed Are and just purchased Any Day Now when I found that out. I've avoided getting Carry It On (soundtrack) because I'm not sure whether Vanguard (her first label) will re-releasing that or not (since it's a soundtrack). So, if you see a Joan Baez CD in a store or online, check to make sure it's the remastered version. (In person, you can just check to make sure it has a cardboard sleeve over the container.)

Back to where I was. Farewell, Angelina is really the end of the first Baez era for me. Her trilogy was on the horizon: Joan, Noel and Baptism. Those are among my favorites. The first era is Baez and guitar with wonderful folks songs. The trilogy brings arrangements that are baroque and taking the sound to another level. I believe I heard Joan through C.I. first and it was a favorite. From the opening track ("Be Not Too Hard") through the last one ("Autumn Leaves"), this was just a seamless album. Back in the old days, when albums were on vinyl and they had two sides, this was one I didn't like to stack. I prefered to listen to one side and then flip it over.

To stack? I just realized for some readers, I've lost them. In the days of vinyl, many turntables had a pole in the center and you could stack several albums (I never did more than four). When one album finished playing, the arm of the turntable (with the needle that 'read' the grooves) would pull back and, when it did, the next album would drop. Sometimes you'd hear a skidding as the vinyl landed on vinyl.

Noel followed it up with the same type of arrangments which is why it's still a Christmas album I can listen to year round. Then came Baptism. Most people I knew could get into what Baez was attempting -- songs and poems -- and I've never known anyone who put that album down. But it's not one that friends generally cite as their favorite. For me, it is my favorite of the triology and I love all three.

But Baptism is even more daring and challenging than the other two which is why I think I enjoy it the best. This was during a period where everyone was experimenting in some way, or at least real recording artists were. I would give anything to see that kind of experimentation in today's music scene.

There are people who experiment today. But there was so much life in music then which wasn't pushed to the side. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, all of these artists attempting to explore and expand. The music reflected the times. It scares me to think today's top forty hits reflect today's times.

I don't believe they do. I believe they reflect the corporate control of our media system and the ever increasing consolidation that shuts out anything challenging or unique. There is enough life and excitement in music today and, if any of it was heard by a wide enough audience, music could move beyond the tired Disney Kids who had nothing to offer in 1997 and have even less to offer today.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked.
Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States,
Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.
In August,
Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."
Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary
Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.
Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress:

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq

Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.If you agree with this message, click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.
As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week.
At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."
While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this,
Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)
Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation.
Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.
his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.
In Iraq today,
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'
Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.
The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?) 2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.
a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.
Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday.
CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).
CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.
BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".
The woman's death comes at a time when, as
Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."
Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany.
Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."
In abuse news,
Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."
In England,
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.
In music news,
Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!
Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:

Oct 27, 7PM

Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
202 Harvard Dr SE
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM

Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th Street
Entertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM

Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"
Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TXPM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TX
Café Caffeine -- 206 West Mary
Sponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242,
Fran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

Oct 30

Austin High Schools

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. RobinsonSponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at
Courage to Resist.