Leon Rosselson – Palaces of Gold – Meaningful lyrics.

Leon Rosselson – Palaces of Gold – Meaningful lyrics.

 

I love Leon Rosselson. I think he is one of Britain’s greatest song writers, perceptive, astute and intelligent.
In this age where the Tories are intent on bringing their dogma to bear and using austerity as an excuse to slash public services (While giving tax hand-outs to the rich) we desperately need people like Leon to point out the inequality and what it means.
Leon and I stand for fairness.
I saw what the Tory cuts did to education first hand as both a teacher and Headteacher.
They are heartless and uncaring when it comes to ordinary people. As far as they are concerned the money could be better spent on larger profits for business.
Their own sons and daughters have the privilege of Public schools, private health-care and gated communities. They have no need for the public services and despise the majority who do. They resent every penny spent on them. If they had to use the same public services the rest of us do there would be a miraculous improvement.
Leon says it better in his song.

Palaces of Gold

If the sons of company directors,
And judges’ private daughters,
Had to got to school in a slum school,
Dumped by some joker in a damp back alley,
Had to herd into classrooms cramped with worry,
With a view onto slagheaps and stagnant pools,
Had to file through corridors grey with age,
And play in a crackpot concrete cage.
Chorus (after each verse):Buttons would be pressed,
Rules would be broken.
Strings would be pulled
And magic words spoken.
Invisible fingers would mould
Palaces of gold.
If prime ministers and advertising executives,
Royal personages and bank managers’ wives
Had to live out their lives in dank rooms,
Blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers.
Rot on the walls and rats in the cellars,
In rows of dumb houses like mouldering tombs.
Had to bring up their children and watch them grow
In a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow.

I’m not suggesting any kind of a plot,
Everyone knows there’s not,
But you unborn millions might like to be warned
That if you don’t want to be buried alive by slagheaps,
Pit-falls and damp walls and rat-traps and dead streets,
Arrange to be democratically born
The son of a company director
Or a judge’s fine and private daughter.

American Irrationalism and Trump

American Irrationalism

I find it quite scary what these rich people get away with. They pay less tax than me and I’m a pensioner!
To deny what is happening to the environment is not just madness it is unforgiveable. That, if nothing else, makes Trump unelectable.

Stop Making Sense

Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig:

There is no shortage of signs of impending environmental catastrophe, including the melting of the polar ice caps and the rise of atmospheric carbon to above 400 parts per million. The earth’s sixth mass extinction is underway. It is not taking place because of planetary forces. Homo sapiens is orchestrating it. Americans are at the same time bankrupting themselves by waging endless and unwinnable wars. We have allowed our elites to push more than half the U.S. population into poverty through deindustrialization. We do nothing to halt the waves of nihilistic violence by enraged citizens who carry out periodic mass shootings in schools, malls, movie theaters and other public places. The political and financial elites flaunt their greed and corruption. Donald Trump appears to pay no federal income taxes. Hillary and Bill Clinton use their foundation as a tool for legalized bribery. Our largest…

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Phil Ochs – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

Phil Ochs – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

Dylan accused Ochs of being a journalist. That was far from the truth. Phil, like Bob, did scout through the newspapers to find stories and causes that would resonate with his ideals. But that isn’t all he did. He chose his words and aimed them at their targets with honesty and craft.

Phil was a part of that early sixties Folk scene in Greenwich Village. He was the most political and outspoken of them all. He was a ‘Protest’ singer. There’s nothing wrong in being a protest singer. There’s a lot that needs protesting about. It got itself a bad name after Dylan popularised ‘Protest’ and made it a commercial success. The media coined the phrase, ridiculed it, pigeon-holed it and every Tom Dick and Harry jumped on the band-wagon. They all wanted a bit of that fame and fortune that Dylan had grabbed. We need our protest singers. We need to protest. If only we had our Och’s and early Dylan’s to high-light the woeful capitalist exploitation, global inequality, war and wanton of destruction of the environment we might be better placed to deal with it. Where are the singers writing songs about the butchery of the elephants, rhinos and apes? When are we going to hear songs about the crazy overpopulation crisis that is destroying the world? Surely the new generations have the talent but do they have the sensibilities, the compassion and idealism that Phil and Bob possessed? Can they create a zeitgeist to carry a whole generation along with them like Bob and Phil did?

Both Dylan and Ochs baled out of ‘Protest’ into more poetic expressions of artistic depths. Phil always seemed to walk in Bob Dylan’s shadow and was consumed with jealousy and destroyed by alcoholism before killing himself.

But should not detract from the work he produced. His early work was full of fervour and idealism. He tirelessly set about writing his songs of hope. He shone a searchlight on the issues going on around us and by highlighting them raised them up into everyone’s consciousness. He brought those issues to life and wakened the consciousness of a generation. We became enlightened to the atrocities going on around us and activated to protest about it.

Phil targeted the civil rights war that was being fought particularly in the Southern States where the Blacks were free but still kept in slavery, where they were denied votes, rights and equality and lived in poverty and fear. Where racism was endemic, the Klu-Klux-Klan ruled and people still got lynched, beaten and tortured for speaking out or stepping out of line, where there was no justice. He sang about the assignation of Medgar Evans, the murder of civil rights campaigners and the way the hierarchy supported the suppression of black rights. People had been killed for less.

Phil targeted the war in Vietnam and American foreign policy where they felt entitled to invade other countries with impunity and sanctimoniously set themselves up as Cops of the World, dishing out their gum, rape, casual violence and disdain.

Phil targeted injustice and fought for a strong union system to protect the rights of workers yet he felt free to criticise the unions in their stance to Blacks and Communists. He had no faith in government, the establishment or the legal system. They all had their snouts in the same trough.

Phil was a man of integrity who followed on in the tradition set by Woody Guthrie. He wasn’t afraid to put his face where his words were. His songs were full of intent yet he deployed humour and produced well-crafted works of art. He was unique and that was probably his downfall. He was a little too quirky and out of step with the times. He did not easily slip into the long-haired freaks of the sixties counter-culture. He was a bit too political, too extreme and too different. He did not adopt the same uniform of freakdom or produce music with the right instrumentation for the times. He did get heavily involved with the YIPPIE political group and all their antics but he was still a little left-field. He did espouse all the right causes but he did it his way and did not quite fit in to the zeitgeist of the time. Where Dylan easily slipped from Protest to an equally incredible stream of consciousness and mercurial new sound that rode the crest of the new consciousness Phil’s created a sound that was not so much of the moment.

In hindsight it is possible to appreciate the later songs and albums. They had depth and intricacy that was just as wonderful as his early protest material. You can sense his desperation and disillusionment seeping through. He deserved much more. If he had not been so ignored and put down he probably would have blossomed even more. Who knows?

Phil left us a legacy of greatness with songs like ‘Cops of the World’, ‘Links on the chain’, ‘Here’s to the State of Mississippi’, ‘Too many martyrs’, ‘I ain’t marching anymore’. ‘There but for fortune’, ‘When I’m gone’, ‘Changes’ and so many more, that still resonate to this day!

Phil was an outspoken genius. We are desperate for more like him. Perhaps he will inspire a new generation who will create a new positive zeitgeist, highlight the wrongs and put us back on the right road.

We miss you Phil.

Poetry – There is a war – a poem for the planet

Poetry – There is a war – a poem for the planet

There is a war

There is a war going on. It is a war against nature. Pest and weed are being decimated. There is collateral damage.

A pest is a creature that we don’t happen to like. It wants to live. It eats our crops and lives on our land.

A weed is a plant we don’t like. It grows on our land. It takes nutrients and light from our crops. It makes our garden look untidy.

We have to eradicate anything that encroaches on ours.

We can take what we want but nothing should dare to intrude on what we have claimed as ours.

We wage war on it. With chemical poison and machine we slaughter in huge numbers. The bees, butterflies, frogs, newts, and toads are all collateral damage.

The invertebrate population has been decimated. 56% have gone. That’ll teach them! 10% of all wildernesses have been claimed by us in the last twenty years. We have laid waste to it all. It is now denuded, coffee plantation, palm oil or simply desolate.

There’s a war going on. We won’t be happy until we have beaten it all.

Vice and Verse cover Prose Cons and poetry cover Rituals, Odes & Mystic anxieties 61U89AzgoAL__AA160_ 51K9Up4uCYL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ IMG_2124

There is a war

There is a war raging

Using chemical and machine,

Counting the casualties

In numbers astronomically obscene,

Laying waste the land,

Hunting the helpless in fantastic amounts,

Spraying poison indiscriminately –

Where profit is the key

And the only line that counts.

 

Opher 13.9.2016

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Opher-Goodwin/e/B00MSHUX6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474040136&sr=1-2-ent

Roy Harper – The Tallest Tree – a homage to Chico Mendes

Roy Harpers tribute to Chico Mendes – The Brazilian conservationist who was murdered trying to save the Amazon rainforest.

He stood against the destruction and died for it.

The earth is possessed
By the curse of the west
Who devour
Newpaper furniture
Paparazzia by the hour
But a man with a vision
Believed
That tomorrow’s begun
And has to be won
And nobody here is reprieved
O Chico, Chico Mendes
The man in a million
Stood in the way
Stood his ground
For the earth
For the coming of day
The chorus of dawn
On the perch of each morning
Receives
A forest of tears
As the joy reappears
On their leaves
And believes
Sings his name
And the tallest tree
Forever stands
Beyond the flame
North south east and west
We can all reach the rest
Every day
Now is the chance
To set out together
For a beautiful day
Whoever saw it
A different way
Was a man in a nightmare
Too numb to the future
Of brilliant possibles
Ever to share
The same air
As the men in the clay
O Chico, Chico Mendes
There are men who are more than just men

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

Billy Bragg and Leon Rosselson – World turned upside Down! The Story of the Diggers of St George’s Hill.

I lived down the road from St George’s Hill and even had a girlfriend who lived there but I did not realise anything about its history until much later.

St George’s hill was the centre of a great political struggle. A group of poor people defied the land owners. They claimed that the land was no-ones to own; that is was free. They claimed the right to farm the common land and live in peace.

The land had been seized by the powerful aristocrats. The King and his barons laid claim to it all and parcelled it up between them. They sold it to their cronies. The common people had no rights.

The Diggers on St George’s Hill were attacked by the army and killed and dispersed. Their homes and crops were burnt and they were driven off.

The cruel incident was described in song by Leon Rosselson and covered by Billy Bragg.

The World Turned Upside Down – Leon Rosselson

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

Read more: Billy Bragg – The World Turned Upside Down Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Quotes – Jerry Rubin – The other Radical Sixties Revolutionary!

Quotes – Jerry Rubin – The other Radical Sixties Revolutionary!

Jerry was the Yippie revolutionary who loved attention, used theatre and took on the whole capitalist war-machine that is still gobbling up the planet – then he sold out and opted in!
It was fun while it lasted and it pointed out some truths about the greed and stupidity that is running this planet!
Don’t trust anyone over thirty.
That’s a worry! I’m over thirty! But I never did trust myself too much!
Most men act so tough and strong on the outside because on the inside, we are scared, weak, and fragile. Men, not women, are the weaker sex.
That’s why men buy guns, play with fast cars and motorbikes and have to show off so much!
By the end, everybody had a label — pig, liberal, radical, revolutionary … If you had everything but a gun, you were a radical but not a revolutionary.
We love to put people in pigeon-holes!
Exactly!! Your life is a statement of your philosophy! Be positive and change the world.
My life is a revolution.
I would be copping out if I stayed in the myth of the ’60s.
But the sixties gave me the fuel!

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Peterloo Massacre.

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Peterloo Massacre.

Peterloo massacre
You can only have real democracy when you have transparency, fair representation and a vote for every man and woman. That was far from the case two hundred years ago.
Women were denied the vote. Only landowners could vote. Some towns with only a handful of voters were electing two MPs. Two towns electing two MPs each had only 1 eligible voter. Half of the MPs in the House were elected by a mere 154 votes. Cities with hundreds of thousands were grossly underrepresented.
The economic and employment situation in the North was dire and people felt they had no recourse to justice. They had no vote and no representation.
At St. Peter’s field near Manchester between 60,000 and 80,000 gathered to hold a peaceful public meeting and protest. The establishment was rattled. They thought it might develop into a riot, ferment general unrest and lead to a revolution. They banned it. But the protesters still met.
The cavalry were called to charge. People were trampled and slashed with sabres. The crowd was eventually dispersed. They left 11 to 15 dead and over 600 to 700 badly injured – 168 of which were women. The first to be killed was a baby knocked out of his mother’s arms by a charging cavalryman. Witnesses claimed the cavalrymen slashed out indiscriminately at anyone they could. The area was sodden with blood.
It became known as the Peterloo massacre in ironic contrast to the recent battle of Waterloo.

It led to renewed impetus for justice and the Chartist Movement who fought for the right to vote.

Freedoms and rights are not freely given. They are paid for with lives and blood and can so easily be stripped away again.

Quotes – Abbie Hoffman – A sixties Revolutionary

Quotes – Abbie Hoffman – A sixties Revolutionary

Abbie was quite a character. Back in the sixties revolution the Yippies set a tone of theatre, lunacy and revolution.
We thought we were establishing a new attitude and rejecting the warmongering, profit-driven society and replacing it with something kinder, more caring and compassionate – based on sharing and camaraderie. It was an ideal that did not last but there were some good friends made and good times. It was a time of peace, laughter, fun, thought, discovery and madness. Quite an adventure. I loved it.
The music was great, the friends brilliant and optimism ruled. What more could you want?
Another sixties would be a great idea but I fear the world has become far too cynical.
Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit.
Adventure and change – a wish for something better!
You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.
How true in this age of greed, selfishness and hatred.
Free speech means the right to shout ‘theatre’ in a crowded fire.
I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they killed, there would be no more wars.
Avoid all needle drugs, the only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.
I can think of a few more! (But I’m not advocating shooting anyone!)
Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.
The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.
To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral.
There is something evil about the greed and vandalism of the global corporations who would sell the future for a quick buck – and are!
The ’60s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great.
The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.
How true!! Let’s all make our own revolutions!

Civil Rights – The murder of Medgar Evers.

Civil Rights – The murder of Medgar Evers.

 

Medgar Evers was a Civil Rights leader in Mississippi. He campaigned for desegregation. He was involved with the desegregation of schools and colleges, desegregation of beaches, restrooms and organised boycotts. His high profile activities and leadership role made him a target for the white supremacists. They threatened to kill him if he did not stop.

 

Medgar, like so many of those Civil Rights Activists, was a brave man. He knew these were no idle threats and that if he continued to fight for freedom and justice he would most likely be murdered. It did not deter him.

 

He continued even after a car came close to running him down outside his house and a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of his house. He did not stop despite the risks to himself and his young family. Freedom was worth dying for.

 

Back in Mississippi the life of a black man was cheap. There was no protection from the law. People were beaten, shot and lynched with impunity. The Kl Klux Klan were rife and many of the police and judges were in the organisation. There was no protection. The black community was terrorised.

 

How many people would have the courage to continue in the face of such threats? Knowing that in the dead of night a callous murdered could set fire to your house or shoot you in your bed and there was no police to help you?

 

Medgar Evers did not flinch.

 

On June the 12th 1963, as he was getting out of his car in the drive of his house, Medgar Evers was shot in the back.

 

The coward white supremacist Byron Del La Beckwith, a member of the Klu Klux Klan, had hidden in the bushes and shot him in the back.

 

Many people wrote tributes and songs to Medgar Evers – the most important being Bob Dylan’s – ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’ – which suggested that Byron was a pawn being used by the senior faceless supremacists who were terrorising people for their own ends.

 

Freedom has been bought with blood! It is always hard to gain and easy to give away!