Monthly Archives: April 2010

Where Does it End?

I try to keep politics out of most of my posts, it just doesn’t serve the purpose of speaking about music, but after the injustice that took place in Arizona today I am going to use this forum to voice my disgust. If you’re unaware, the law states this (From the Huffington Post):

The legislation, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants; allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws; and makes it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

This October 28 will be the 124th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The foot of the Lady Liberty is moving forward, seemingly breaking the shackles of her feet towards freedom & away from slavery/confinement. It is a symbol of our open door policy to those from other countries who seek a better life. We rail on & on about illegal immigrants in this country & how they’re detrimental to our society. Since when did we become such a closed off country?

I’m of Irish/Italian/Portuguese decent. My great grandparents came from the Azores to this country to start a better life for their family. They gave their blood, sweat & tears to this country to make it the melting pot that it is today. They did jobs that many American citizens considered beneath them. This new law is not responsible immigration reform that so many people seek & since 9/11 would not be unseemly. What it is, is a referendum against Hispanics. It singles out day laborers,  jobs that many Hispanics will do, because Americans don’t want to do them.

We’ve become arrogant & contemptuous towards those that help us the most. We take for granted what our ancestors went through to come to this country & what current immigrants, legal or illegal, do to seek a better life. Isn’t that what the inscription on the Statue of Liberty says?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Where does that say come here, but only if you are willing to be subjected to the violation of the 4th amendment (unlawful search & seizures), discrimination & bigotry? A law like this becomes a slippery slope. You’re walking down the street & you’re born in the U.S., but you’re of Mexican descent. In Arizona if you look like an immigrant the police can now legally ask you for proper documentation to prove you’re an American citizen.

Outrageous! While Republicans compare Obama to Hitler or Stalin they themselves do things that are more indicative of Socialist tactics. So the basic premise is to round up all the illegal aliens, deport them & then everything will be better? No. This is very reminiscent of what we did to the Japanese in WWII by sticking them in internment camps strictly because of their nationality.

Personal prejudices must never interfere with the fiber of what we are as a country. We must avoid grand hyperbole & discriminatory laws that affect people negatively.  I’m not a politician, I’m not an expert on the law, but what  I am is an American who feels that turning away those that have built this country from the ground up, a country that was founded by English immigrants, who were persecuted in their country for this exact thing. Human history is littered with stories of those who are persecuted for their differences to their country of residence.

Jan Brewer, Republican Governor from Arizona, said something contradictory, in my mind, when she signed this atrocity. She said she, “Prayed on it.” She “prayed on it”? And this is what God told you to do? I was raised Catholic & though I live with “Catholic guilt,” I don’t subscribe to the tenets of one religion any longer. I find it intriguing that any person who claims to be a Christian could say they prayed & God led them to the conclusion that this is a sound choice. The Bible repeatedly detracts from Nationalism or the thought of races other than human.

Romans 10: 11-13 – For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This is the hypocrisy of using religion for political gain. It is the hypocrisy of trying to get a free pass for being a racist. I find laws like this to be detrimental to our society as a whole. Arizona is the racist pioneer that will test the resolve of a people who have broken their backs like so many others before them. I do not have one drop of Hispanic blood in my system, but given the choice between standing with them or standing with Jan Brewer, a Caucasian woman, I stand with them.

In the words of Caesar Chavez:

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.

Tom Waits – KPFK – 1974

This isn’t going to be a regular feature on this blog any longer but from time to time it will pop up. Bootleg Thursday this week showcases one of my favorite artists, Tom Waits long before he ever made it big or influential at least. From an interview he did in 1974 at Los Angeles Public Radio Station KPFK, Waits performs 15+ songs & speaks to the host about his music. It is a sound to behold for sure as he speaks of his craft before he reaches the apex of his potential.


Better Off Without a Woman

It’s Not Good To See You

Foggy Night

You’re Working On Your Second Album

The Ghost of Saturday Night

(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night

That’s Such a Fine Song

Semi Suite

Let Me Ask You Something

Drunk on the Moon

I Wonder

Depot Depot

For Those Who May Have Just Joined Us

Diamonds on My Windshield

That’s Great

San Diego Serenade

What Are Your Plans Now


For Those Of You

Fumblin’ With The Blues

Mean Old Levee Taught Me To Weep & Moan

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on this blog. Been doing some writing about baseball for just to show myself that I can be versatile & not just focus on writing about music. It’s fun, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic about music today listening to Jeff Buckley’s cover of “When the Levee Breaks” & so I sought out the original.

Contrary to popular belief it was not written by Jimmy Page or Robert Plant but instead in 1929 by Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Much like Katrina this flood displaced many families & caused floods all through St. Bernard’s Parish.

The song itself has such a nice melody, it’s upbeat & quite the opposite of what the words convey. From the 1920’s-1950’s the blues were such an important musical movement that when the British invasion came in the 60’s much of their material was taken from those old blues classics & revamped into rock n’ roll hits. It’s a testament to those old Blues Masters that they have endured for so long.

It’s sad too that the blues are a seemingly lost art form, gone the way of the dodo. What bastardized forms of blues that are still out there are not nearly as fundamental as those old masters. Stevie Ray Vaughan was an amazing guitarist, but he played electric blues. I refer to old washboard blues. The type of blues that really come from the soul of a man or woman.

I’ll be going to Ireland, Scotland & England for the next few months & one of my missions will be to write about local music from the counties in which I go to, so that I may gain a more worldwide view of blues & rock n’ roll. Until then here are the three versions of, “When the Levee Breaks” that I enjoy most.

When the Levee Breaks – Kansas Joe & Memphis Minnie

When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin

When the Levee Breaks – Jeff Buckley