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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  August 29, 2014 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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that war for the north. the songs of the civil war that were in effect love songs were about a boy and his mother. there were very few that were stories of romantic love. about how much i miss you, and i'll come home to you. or she's home saying, i'll be faithful. very few of those. there are some sentimental ballads like aura lee, and in the north and lorina in the south, which are songs of praise for an idealized woman. but that's as close as you come to it. in the civil war, they're mainly about mom. and junior is writing a letter home to his mother, that sort of thing. one of the best of them is a song called "just before the battle mother," which is a lovely song. during world war ii, jump, there
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are a few mother songs, mothers proud that you're in uniform, sonny, that sort of thing, that unfortunately had not survived. the songs are -- the love songs of the war are largely about a couple, whether married or not, separated. so the emotions of warfare in song are -- in the love songs, and you'll see this a little bit later, are about separation, parting, loneliness, longing, the hope of return. you find those in the love songs of world war i, and you find them in the love songs of world war ii. and those three wars, civil, i and ii, are really the wars where there is a large body of song because there was a sense
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of the nation engaged, that there was not certainly in the wars since world war ii. there aren't a lot of songs about korea. and i'm not being snotty. it was a different kind of war. the people were not engaged by it. in vietnam, you had some songs, but they're songs in which two groups are warring with one another. "give peace a chance," and what's the -- "i'm an oaky from muskokee." iraq and afghanistan don't produce a lot of songs. again, because in a way they were invisible, and in a way, we know about them, we're not as a nation engaged in it. we don't have a citizen army anymore. that gets in the way of that. so in world war i, you have a mix. really, in the middle between the two wars, and it shows. there were songs about mom, and there were songs about sweetie. soldiers singing i'm going to
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pin the medal on the girl i left behind in world war i. there are other differences between world war i and world war ii, love songs that i'll save for a few minutes. but it's the mother song that i want to get to. again, it's the idea of staying out of it, delivering a kind of anthem in the way that the first song is an anthem, and yet also capitalizing on the kind of direct emotionalism that popular songs are good at. and it's called "i didn't raise my boy to be a soldier." no, it's not mothers didn't raise their children. not, let's all march in favor of mothers who oppose the war, but "i didn't raise my son to be a soldier." listen to the words, and you have them. i don't vouch for their accuracy. i took them off the internet and i confess i didn't do a
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meticulous check between the recording and the lyrics. but they're close. ♪ wrong song, sorry. oh, i just screwed it up. stay with me. i should not be allowed near technology. >> 3,000 miles from home, an american army is fighting for you. everything you hold worthwhile, only the hardest blows can win
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against the enemy we are fighting. evoking the spirit of our forefathers, the army asks your unflinching support for the high ideals for which america stands may endure upon the earth. >> that's pershing. ♪ ♪ ♪ a million soldiers to the war have gone ♪ ♪ who may never return again ♪ a million mothers' hearts must break for those who have died in vain ♪ ♪ it is in sorrow in her lonely years ♪ ♪ i heard a mother murmur through her tears ♪ ♪ i didn't raise my boy to be a soldier ♪
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♪ i brought him up to be my pride and joy ♪ ♪ and to place a musket on his shoulder ♪ ♪ to shoot some other mother's darling boy ♪ ♪ it's time to lay the sword and run away ♪ ♪ there would be no war today if mothers are would say ♪ ♪ i didn't raise my boy to be a soldier ♪ >> okay. there had been, as you know, a great wave of immigration into the country, beginning in the years after the civil war. people not from ireland, and scotland, and england, but people from different parts of europe.
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and there was a certain amount of resistance to them, as you know. there was a rise in nativism, what we came to call nativism, as people began to arrive. they were russians, and they were italians and they were poles and jews and greeks and romanians. over the next 50 years, they changed what "us" means. but it obviously was a great struggle. there had also in the years leading up to the war been an increase in immigration from germany. there were a lot more new americans who were of german extraction, had been born in germany, and came here. and so here you've got all these people from all these different countries who haven't been here that long, and on top of it all, you've got all these people from
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germany, for crying out loud, were they going to fight for america. and, of course, nobody knew the answer. they needn't have worried. they came here because they wanted to come here and they joined up and they fought. but it was still an open question. and so irving berlin wrote a song aimed -- in 1916 aimed specifically at this audience. because the tide was turning. there was a sense, increasingly, that america was siding with the allies. that we were more interested in taking the side of england than germany. because, again, at the beginning, the main feeling was, let's not get involved with these people, let's stay out.
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and so there was no sense -- and the special relationship that we have forged, in quotes, that we have forged with the english didn't exist. this came after world war i. so it was tricky. it was tricky. and so berlin writes this song because he thinks he knows what we ought to be doing. and he sees where the country is beginning to go. and he wants to make sure that the new immigrants will be americans. i'll have to change the track. give me one minute. ♪ wrong track, sorry. i really should have someone doing this for me. i'm going to waste a lot of my time and yours fooling around with it. but you can edit it out, right?
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>> would you like me to take that over? >> yes, i would. try three and see what we get. go back to -- really? okay. let it play. ♪ ♪ what's that tune i hear ♪ ringing in my ear ♪ come on along ♪ come on along ♪ it's a wonderful idea >> this is when alexander -- i made a mistake. i'll fix it. ♪ from down in dixie land ♪ he's going over there to do his share ♪ ♪ when alexander takes him ragtime band to france ♪ ♪ he'll capture everyone and take them one by one ♪
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♪ the ragtime tunes will put the germans in a trance ♪ ♪ they'll throw their guns away hip hip hooray ♪ ♪ they'll get so excited they'll come over the top ♪ ♪ two steps back to berlin with a hip and a hop ♪ ♪ he'll know he has no chance when alexander takes his ragtime band to france ♪ >> now, i came in here and rehearsed. so imagine how bad it would be if i hadn't rehearsed. that song obviously comes once we've gone into the war. let me fill in the pieces broadly, and then as the songs come up, i'll place them for
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you. we get -- that berlin song called "let's all be americans now" which comes soon after a group of songs that were in response to a specific incident. that is what really galvanizes american patriotism. what really galvanizes american support for the allies, do you know what the event was? the sinking of the "lusitania." in the months after the sinking, there are dozens of songs about the sinking of the "lusitania." all of which have the same basic point of view. it was a dastardly thing to do. they were heartless and cruel, and we need to get back. and so those songs -- you know, whether the songs are shaping public opinion or responding to
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public opinion, is hard to know because they come out over a series of months. my best guess is that both were happening. but clearly the sinking of the "lusitania," everything changes, and now it's just a matter of getting to the war. and then the events occur. tensions build. and in we go. the song you just listened to is one of a series of songs about alexander that go back to 1911. are you with me on that one? what are we talking about? what's the important one? alexander's ragtime band which irving berlin wrote in 1911, four years after he became a songwriter, which he stumbled into. it was one of the great serendipitous moments in
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american history. he was working in a tough bar in chinatown and ended up being told to write a song lyric. it's a whole story. but he did. and realized he could make a few bucks at it. he owned 38 cents in royalties on that first song. the main thing is, he learned if he could do it, he could make money. the goal at the beginning was to make $25 a week. so he didn't have to sleep in alleys and flop houses anymore. the song was so popular that it sold 1 million copies in 1911, at a time when that was very unusual. and then sold another 1 million copies in 1912. and berlin basically never had to work again. but obviously he did. the song was so popular that a number of other songwriters wrote about a character named
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alexander that fed off alexander's ragtime band. and even into world war i, when there was a comic song called "when alexander takes his ragtime band to france." and if you were listening to -- or reading the words, you heard the lyric tell you that all that had to happen was for the band to play a two-step, a ragtime song that we used to dance to, ragtime. a two-step was a dance. one step and two-step was the way you danced to ragtime songs. and they would jump up out of their trenches and go cake walking back to germany. the war would -- if we took alexander's ragtime band to france, the war would be over. now, that's a joke, obviously. whether you find it funny, whether i find it funny is not
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the point. it was a joke in 1917. it also reflects the attitude toward that war as we left home to do what? to teach the kaiser a lesson. that is, we had never fought in a european war before. we really had a sanitized view of what it would -- of what trench warfare would be like. we had no idea. we knew that there was hoarding in this country. there was a song called "the demon has bought up all the coal." people were hoarding. there were songs about the so-called butchery of belgium by the germans, which was to a significant degree propaganda. their behavior was not as bad as it was said to be. and so we were going off there
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to show kaiser bill who the dough boys were. and, of course, we got bloodied fast. but you hear that optimism. you hear that sense of ease. we'll just go over there and dance around a little bit, slap kaiser bill and come home. the song is not only a comic take on war, which every war has produced. even world war ii which is the war that had the fewest comic songs. we seem to take world war ii more seriously. but the civil war gave us songs, and world war ii gave us, oh, how i hate to get up in the morning. so there were some, but there were a lot of them in world war ii. let's play the next song. >> track four? >> what did we do last time? three? then it's four. boy, are you hired.
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♪ ♪ johnny get your gun ♪ get your gun, get your gun ♪ take it on the run, on the run, on the run ♪ ♪ here them calling you and me ♪ everyone ♪ hurry right away no delays ♪ ♪ make your daddy glad to have had such a lad ♪ ♪ tell your sweetheart not to cry be proud her boy's in line ♪ ♪ over there ♪ over there ♪ send the word send the word over there ♪ ♪ that the yanks are coming the yanks are coming ♪ ♪ the drums are drumming everywhere ♪
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♪ go prepare say your prayer ♪ ♪ send the word, send the word to beware ♪ ♪ we'll be coming over ♪ and we won't come back till it's over over there ♪ >> you all know that. when george m. cohan heard that war had been declared, he went home, and he locked himself in his study. he had a study in the house. and he remained there through the rest of that day and overnight. and when he came out, he gathered the family, his wife and his children. and he made them sit on the sofa in the living room and chairs, as if they were in the theater. and he went into the kitchen, and he got a broom, and he got a big tin pot. and he put the tin pot on his head.
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and he marched back and forth singing "over there." it was the song's first performance. that is, he wrote it as an impassioned patriotic response to the declaration of war. and that was a typical cohan sort of thing. he wore his irish -- he was irish, he was new york, and he was american. and he wore all three on his sleeve. and never flinched from any of them. the songs that he wrote certainly captured the spirit of that time. songs like "i'm a yankee doodle boy," and "give my regards to broadway," "you're a grand old flag," which he originally wrote as "you're a grand old rag." because he was thinking about
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the flag in warfare and how it would be torn and tattered. and so it was a way of praising the flag and those who bore it. but the american legion went crazy. they would not tolerate any explanations and so just to shut them up, he changed it to, you're a grand old flag. the song is pure cohan. now, when it was time to record it soon after, did anything surprise you about that recording? it might not have been what you had predicted. it was sung by a woman. it was nora bays. anyone here know who nora bays was? she was a great star of both the broadway stage and vaudeville in the early years of the 20th century. she had four husbands. one of whom was jack norworth, who was a vaudevillian and appeared with her and who wrote
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with composer albert von tillser, "take me out to the ball game," and who wrote with her, although he did most of the writing, a song called "shine on harvest moon." she was tough. when she caught him in a dalliance -- isn't that nice, a dalliance?s'''''al with a chorus girl, she threatened to leave him. and he begged to be forgiven. begged her to stay. and she agreed. but she exacted punishment in a way that only someone in show business would truly appreciate. you know, they used to have the placards to each side of the stage announcing the act in vaudeville. you all know what i'm talking about? and it used to say, nora bays and jack norworth. now it said, nora bays, ably
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assisted by jack norworth. so she stayed, i guess until he fooled around again, and then she dumped him. her signature song was, has anybody here seen kelly? and she had that lovely irish name. except her real name was leonora goldberg. by the turn of the century, it had become an advantage, at least on the stage, in the theater, to have an irish name. and so she took one. obviously, you know that it was common for people in the entertainment business to change their names for many, many years. okay. and he picked nora bays because she had a voice, he said, like a trumpet. it's hard to hear in the old recordings, but she does cut
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through all the noise. if you're looking for a reference point, think kate smith. she had a voice like a trumpet. if kate smith did not want to be silenced, if she wanted to be heard by everybody in the room, she would be. nora bays had that kind of a voice. and so he picked her, that clarion voice, to sing his marshal anthem. so it's one of the few songs from the war we still do sing today. it's probably america's greatest marshal patriotic song. okay. let's hear the next song. ♪ i'm going to stop you for a second. i want to play you one more comic song. i was going to play the most famous of all the comic songs from world war i, and it's the best of them. it's a brilliant song. it's called "oh, how i hate to get up in the morning."
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but you all know that. and you've all heard it a thousand times, and if you want to hear it, you can go home and listen. get the movie out of the library or buy it at turner classic movies for ten bucks. so hearing irving berlin, seeing irving berlin who still fit in his world war i uniform singing "oh, how i hate to get up in the morning" and keeping time like this as he sings. but this is another song about life in world war i. also, a comic song that i thought you might enjoy hearing for a change. ♪ ♪ ♪ listen, laddie to your daddy ♪ just for once and all
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♪ too many gals have set your brain awhirl ♪ ♪ for any skirt you fall ♪ you're too clever you will never be a general grant ♪ ♪ i should worry, i'm not sorry, daddy if i can't ♪ ♪ would you rather be a colonel with an eagle on our arm or private number 723 ♪ ♪ now i can't help that all the ladies go crazy over me ♪ ♪ if you're too green to see what i mean ask any soldier that you see ♪ ♪ would you rather be a colonel with an eagle on your arm or a private with a chicken on his knee ♪
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>> do you all understand the joke about a colonel? what is the insignia of a colonel in the army? he wears an eagle. and so the soldier says to his -- would you rather be a colonel with an eagle on your shoulder, or a private with a chicken on your knee? a joke. you see how fashions and humor change over a century. there were comic songs, there were marshal songs. but the songs that were most effective, most affecting as always were the love songs. again, because they're going to be songs of parting. one of the -- and of separation and of longing. one of the differences between the songs of world war i and the songs of world war ii reflect
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the change -- reflect the change in the way we wrote songs which reflect social attitudes. that is, up until roughly 1930, songs are largely about behavior. let's go out and take a ride in my car. let's take a walk. i'm paddling madeline home. come home with me lucille in my merry oldsmobile. we're doing things. and the outside world is as real as whatever i feel for you. that is, it's not only -- they're not only about how deeply i feel, but they keep away from the trap of uniqueness. no one's ever felt the way i
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feel today. that's nonsense. we've all felt that way. we all felt that no one had felt that way before. it's called young love. and it's something that adults look at with fondness and mockery, right? because they remember their own feelings, and they remember how foolish they were. i mean, when my first girl dumped me, my parents were saints. they didn't kill me. i mean, i was a walking wound for months. especially when you think about why she dumped me. he had a car. and i was heartbroken. but here i am. it's a tribute to my capacity for something or other. the songs of the -- of world war
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i, because of when in the century they come, are as much about behavior as they are about feeling. i'm going to pin my medal on the girl i left behind. as opposed to a song like, i walk alone in world war ii, which is about walking, but is really about the feelings as you walk. the walking is -- the key word there is not walk, it's alone, and what that opens up in terms of emotion and memory. so the songs of world war i, while they're about the same emotions, they try to call on the same emotions, are much more outward, much more overt, much less reflective, much less inward looking, for the most part. for the most part. it's a matter of degree, obviously.
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in 1917, this song was published and became the most popular love song of world war i, and i'm glad to say it's one of the few songs from the war we do still know. can we listen? ♪ ♪ smile awhile you kissed me sad adieu ♪ ♪ when the clouds roll by i'll come to you ♪ ♪ then the skies will seem more blue
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darling lovers' lane my dear ♪ ♪ wedding bells will ring so merrily every tear will be a memory ♪ ♪ so wait and pray each night for me till we meet again ♪ >> lovely song, isn't it? yeah, it's a lovely song. the composer is richard a. whiting who went on to become a
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major composer in 1930s movies. his lyricist was a minor but certainly professional lyricist named raymond who he wrote his songs with whiting. whiting died quite young. died in his early '50s but wrote with some giants when he got to hollywood. among them, johnny mercer when he was young. the story goes that they were -- whiting is also margaret whiting's father. the story is whiting and egan were working for the jerome remick company, which is one of the major music publishers. they were working in the detroit office. they had not gotten to new york yet.
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there was a contest in detroit for the best world war i song. there was going to be a competition and they would be performed and there would be a prize. and remick wanted to win the competition. it would help sell the song when he published it. he told whiting and egan to get going. they stayed late at the office and pounded out a pretty simple waltz and worked on it until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. before they finished it. and they were pretty well pooped. egan said, i'll see you in the morning, and he left. just to put the icing on it, the lid on it, whiting played it for himself one more time and said, no, for a world war i song, for a war song, this is much too simple and sweet. he crumpled it up and threw it in the waste basket and he went home.
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this is going to sound like a bad movie, but it's a true story. he slept in the next morning, as you would expect. he didn't get home until 3:30 or so. the boss' secretary comes in the next morning and she sees some crumpled up paper, music paper with notes in the waste basket. she is curious. she knows who was there when she left the day before. she pulls it out, and she can play piano and she plays it. that's nice. she takes it into the boss and plays it for him. he says, that's wonderful. we're going to publish it. but don't tell the boys. we'll surprise them. then he said, oh, yes, what's the title? she looks at the piece of paper and said, they're calling it "auf weiterstein."
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my god, we can't have a german title. what does it mean? she says, ta-dum, till we meet again. would you believe they won the contest? and it was the best loved and most popular love ballad of the world war i years. and there was some good competition. "roses of pickardy" was a world war i love song. there are lots of songs, world war i songs, that until you get into the song, we don't even know. there are always songs that don't appear to be love songs. they're about who knows what. but somewhere in the chorus somebody will mention a girl's name or the way i love you, and keep going, there's a passing reference so it still qualifies as a love song. in the third chorus of one of
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the most popular songs of the war, of the war years, you find out it's a world war i song. that's "katie" the stuttering song. there were lots of stuttering songs and spelling songs. during prohibition, irving berlin wrote "i'll see you in c-u-b-a" because cuba was only 90 miles offshore and you could drink there, and they ran boatsh from florida over to cuba. lots of spelling songs, and stuttering songs. there's a song called "you tell her." again, attitudes change. "you tell her i s-s-stutter." that is, i want to tell her i love her, but i can't get it out. so you tell her i, i, i stutter. lots of stuttering songs in this era. that had nothing to do with the
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war wbut "katie" is the most famous of the stuttering songs. the love songs and notice too that this song like so many love songs during war, it happens in songs not about war, but especially in war, you look to the future. you anticipate the return. the love songs, because the love songs of world war ii are more internalized, more reflective. because almost all the songs of world war ii are love songs, there are many fewer of these other kinds. you really see attitudes changing. so a song like "don't get around much anymore" from 1942 could not have been written in '45. and a song like "kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss me once again" it's been a long, long time from '45 could not have been written in '42. that is attitudes that we
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learned from the way things were going in the war affected the love songs. that's not as true in world war i about the love songs. it is true about the body of song. so we have "we thank you, mr. wilson" and "i didn't raise my boy to be a soldier" and "over there." you can see the way attitudes change, but they're not limited to love songs. when the war ended, world war i songs continue, but they change almost overnight. suddenly we're not going off to france, we're coming home from france. and we're coming home to a different country. we don't know that yet, obviously. it takes us awhile to figure that out. we're coming home changed.
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we have 7 million dough boys who have had furloughs in paris. i'll let you sort that out for yourselves. they've seen the world in ways that except for a tiny percentage of the population, the elite of the gilded age have not seen a war. my wife says she wished she had been born in the gilded age so she could wear those clothes. i said you better had been born rich or you'll end up on a photograph by jacob reese. it was gilded age people who went to europe. they were in the good deck on the "titanic." everything worked out for them. the sense of people being changed, returning to a nation changed, begins to appear in our songs in 1919, which is really where you get the last of the
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world war i songs. what's interesting about this song is that the perception of change does not come from the young man himself. it comes from his father who is a farmer. that is, unsophisticated not urban, lives out in the boonies somewhere raising whatever it is they are raising on the farm. he gets it. he gets it. let's hear the next song. ♪ ♪ how you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen paris ♪ ♪ how you gonna keep them away from broadway jazzing around painting the town ♪ ♪ how you gonna keep them away from harm ♪ ♪ that's a mystery
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♪ imagine rubin when he meets his pa holler ooh-la-la ♪ ♪ how you gonna keep them down on the farm ♪ ♪ after they've seen paris >> that was eddie cantor. the verse to that song says ma and pa are talking and this is what pa says to ma. she wants to welcome junior home, and she's so happy he's coming home. pa, who's wiser and recognizes some things happen says, how are you going to keep him down on the farm. there's another comic song from 1919 about a soldier who comes home and goes back to work in his father's factory, running the factory for his father, and his captain comes looking for a job.
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it's a song of revenge, comic revenge. and there's one other wonderful comic song from 1919. an irish couple goes down to washington square to watch the troops march up fifth avenue when pershing brings the aef home. they're as proud as they can be. look, they were all out of step but jim. there's an irony to all this. among the great changes that led into the '20s were not only changes that resulted in greater freedom, which is what we associate with the '20s. freedom going over into license in terms of personal habits largely. margaret sanger brought the
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first diaphragm, smuggled the first diaphragm into the united states in 1916. and in the '20s diaphragms became available to women. this is not a matter of technology. this is technology which creates the possibility and then the reality of major social changes. the spread of the automobile also affects sexual behavior. we now have lover's lanes. movies teach generations of us how to kiss. kids used to practice. you used to go to the movies and the girls would practice kissing. it was not that they were lesbian. they were learning how to kiss by watching whoever, mary pickford or -- not mary, she wouldn't. the others. the vamp, what was her name?
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theda bara. thank you. so you get these songs that reflect this change, but at the same time, there's something going on that restricts our freedom. the dough boys come home and find they're not even free to take a drink. we treat prohibition with contempt. and we make breaking the law part of our determination to be free. i thought i would end by having you hear a song from prohibition. there were some. 1919, 1920 and 1921 you get the prohibition songs. after that, we've absorbed it. we know what it is. it's not new and interesting
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anymore. although, when prohibition gets repealed in the '30s, there's songs that talk about how good it is to be able to drink again. but the real prohibition songs are in those years between '19 and '21. this is one of them, even though at first you don't think it is. it's called "bimini bay." ♪ ♪ ♪ spend the winter holidays way down on bimini way ♪ ♪ men of wall street big and haughty ♪ ♪ way down on bimini bay ♪ when men talk they all rave about
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dimini bay ♪ ♪ they say come and swim with me down old bimini way ♪ ♪ hear the cocktails are calling come to bimini bay ♪ ♪ sweet orange blossoms await you down yonder where they say absence ♪ ♪ will make there's a shady nook by a sunny brook where the green river flows ♪ ♪ there we'll spend our days and try to raise tom and jerry's ♪ ♪ each night we'll sample our private stock wind up the cat and put out the clock ♪ ♪ oh, won't you come with me down to bimini bay ♪ >> okay. prohibition song. i only know one prohibition song that disapproves, and even there
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it does it comically. you don't need the wine to have a wonderful time while they've still got the beautiful girls. obviously, we soon grow disenchanted with the peace. we turn our backs on the rest of the world, and you get the roaring '20s. the first time in american life when pleasure becomes an end in itself. the puritan ethic is set aside. a five-year span that begins by affirming traditional american isolationism as an image of our uniqueness ends with an old order dead and a new one not yet formed. there are many ways to look back at those years, obviously. i would suggest to you that none gives us a better mirror of how
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we felt and how those attitudes changed in the face of new and troubling experiences than the songs we sang as we marched off to war and then a changed people marched back home again. thank you very much. thank you. >> michael has offered to answer questions for a couple of minutes. >> sure. >> is there a pete seger or bob dylan of world war i or because there is no market for songs about reality? >> if there was, how would we have found him, and how would he he have found us? remember that in the teens it was mainly still a sheet music business.
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recordings begin to -- recordings of individual songs begin to outsell the sheet music of that song in the 1920s. so in the teen, it would have been enormously difficult. you also now are getting distribution, you're getting roads, you're getting trucks, and so things are beginning to happen to get the songs around, but i don't -- i mean, obviously there was folks music. obviously people were singing in the hollers of west virginia. i should tell you that my concentration is on the commercial popular song rather than on folk music or country music. so i assume they were out there. when did the carters begin with that radio station down in new mexico? anyone know?
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that was in the late '20s probably? that would have been a decade later. they were really formative. jimmy rogers is later. quick follow-up. did the british did they make. >> "keep the home fires burning" yeah, they did, just as they did in world war ii. "we'll meet again". >> did that sway public opinion? >> they don't sway it, as the shift is on, it joins it, but it's not -- it's not deeply influential. it's more our songs that reflect our attitudes. again the fulcrum is the lusitania. >> you mentioned there were not many comics songs in world war ii. >> right. >> i remember my mom playing "in
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the fewerer's face." >> right. this was a notable hit as "mares eat oats" and you know what mangan said about the american people. no one ever underestimated the taste of thel4moóimpbhñ americad this song goes to prove it. yes. yeah, there were some. there were some, and the soldiers had very baudy songs that they made up, but, again, that's not where i'm focusing. so there were some, but in world war ii, the sheer number of love songs, and by the way, the war information -- the office of war information, world war ii, that's the propaganda arm of the government, wanted the
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songwriters to stop writing love songs for the duration. they wanted them to write only patriotic songs. the music publishers and said songwriters, okay, we want to be patriotic, so they tried. the songs were almost all dreadful. we did it before and we can do it again, and let's remember pearl harbor. they weren't very good songs. finally the publishers said forget it. people didn't want those songs. they wanted love songs. mainly women. they wanted songs about their lives. the songs of world war ii spoke to women whose men were away and could catch a few minutes at the radio. they did speak to them profoundly. world war i, it was still sheet music, and music was -- encountered much more publicly.
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you didn't have a phone ograph or a radio where ecgo into your corner. it was much more at the piano, so it was a more public setting, which i think is part of why they were less introspective. >> i was thinking that one reason they were less introspective, because courting was also a very public activity. >> yes. yes. sure, sure. although that's breaking down, and you get that -- one of the reasons before 1920 you have so many songs about taking walks and going for a canoe rides, is that it was a way to be alone for a few minutes. in fact a one of the songs by the british songwriter called "and her mother came too." we go off together and her mother came too. we step around a tree to kid, and her mother came too.
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this goes on for the song. at the end it's a very hot day and the mother faints, and i'm all set to kiss the girl, and her mother came to. that's the punch line of the song. it's a charming song. >> sir? >> are there american songs similar to the europeans that were concerned about the horror of war? these are all very optimistic, very tin pan alley. >> sure. >> for example, the bells of hell? >> there were a few like the one about belgium. there were a few, but we didn't know anything about the war until we first got there, obviously.
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the function of tin pan alley is not to write political tracks on the horrors of war. that's not what it did. it's to write 32-bar love songs. they're as much about dreams as anything else. you're asking them to do something they don't do. like blaming shakespeare for not writing novels. it was not their work. you should read the poetry of world war i, but, you know, there's a tendency these days to say that great songwriter like
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dylan, like lennon were poets. i don't think they were. i find it artsy farts, frankly. i think they do different lens. for example, one quick example. poets make their own music. sock lyricists hear the music and language. they have to keep it, but they also have to make is serve the language of someone else's melody. that's an inherent and significant difference between the song and a poem. that's another lecture. thank you for come. we have in here the steinway
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piano that the wilsons bought for their daughter. it was bought in 1893, was actually in the white house with the wilsons, and we're proud to have it here in our home as well. we do keep it tuned. if anyone would like to play, we would be happy to accompany you with our own vocals. michael will stay and answer some questions. thank you all for being here. our special continues tonight with programs from reel america, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on the first mission to land men on the moon.
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on july 20th, 1969. at 8:30 an interior department film on the colorado river and construction of the hoover dam. after that, a 1960 nbc interview with herbert hoover discussing his life before and after his presidency. at sock p.m. eastern a u.s. army film featuring an adviser in vietnam in 1963. american history tv is here on c-span3. next may have spills staples and graham nash discuss music as a catalyst to social change. she describes her upbringing as a musician during the civil rights movement. mr. nash explains how music has and should continue to play a role in other social movements in the united states. this discussion was part of a civil rights summit hosted by the lyndon b. johnson presidential library in austin,
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texas. it's about an hour and 15 minutes. i have the honor today of introducing an austin texas has the honor of hosting one of the great voices of a generation of generous committed civil rights activism. to be a great singer all by itself is a tremendous commitment, a combination of artistry and athleticism. the idea behind the work is to communicate what is in the heart through the voice. it's a mysterious form of communication, but one that is rarely questioned in its mysteriousness, particularly when one is lucky enough to hear the singing of a great singer, such as the one here today. music is the universal language, all inclusive, one only has to be within earshot to participate by listening and feeling its
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vibrations, a singer, a good one, lets you feel what is in his or her heart. sometimes that singer allows glimpses of great depths of understanding we have yet to reach on our own. perhaps we are too removed of what they are singing about or even too frightened to field it. singers such as they share their inner wisdom allowing us to grow our hards, or compassion and become better people, and great singers who are committed to understanding, to equality, to fairness, to giving voice to the unheard among us, to nothing less than our future on this earth as humans, and who do so for decades with a commitment surviving all weather. these are singers on a whole other level. the singer i have the privilege of introducing today is on this level of. with her body of work and the
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work of her family has left us with many clues, clues that perhaps point to the true face of a beautiful world and a life well lived. for me personally there have been many clues, many bread crumbs on the path, many bits of gold in the sand that i have found through her voice. for this i'm eternally grateful and indebted. please welcome mavis staples. and moderating the panel discussion into, he's the executive director of the grammy museum in los angeles, noted american music authority specifically on music in the
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1960s and author of more than a dozen books, most recently "this land is your land." frequent lecturer on american music at the white house and executive producer of the concert series in performance at the white house, please welcome bock san telli. >> mavis, first of all, thank you for doing this. it's an honor to have you here. i think the last time we actually got a chance to sit like this, we were at the white house talking about soul music and the importance of music in the civil rights movement. >> yes, we were. actually it was around the same time. so it's getting to be a habit. next year this time, i'll look for you. >> somewhere. >> yeah. the staples singers are generally recognized in music history as one of the seminal groups in american music history, particularly in the
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post-world war ii period. it's because yourself and your sisters and pops, of course, bridged the gaps between rhythm and blue, soul music and gospel music. >> yes. >> sometimes during that transition moving from the sacred into the secular, of course, you get involved in the civil rights movement. >> yes, we do. >> talk a bit about how that happened. >> you know, back in -- actually we started singing in 1950. and 1960? well, pops had started hearing dr. king on the radio. dr. king had a radio program. pops was hearing his program. we ahead to be in montgomery, alabama on a sunday morning, and we didn't have to work until that night. so pops called my sisters and i to his room. he said, listen, y'all, this man
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martin is here, martin luther king. we didn't know dr. king, pops. he keeps secrets, you know. he said martin luther king, and he has a church here. i'd like to go to his sunday morning service. would you all like to go? we said, yeah, dad, we want to go. we all got in the car, went down to dexter avenue baptist church. we were seated, someone let dr. king know that we were in the service, and he acknowledged us. he said we're glad to have pops staples and his daughter here this morning. i hope you enjoy the service. well, we enjoyed the service. yes. when it was over, you know, dr. king was standing at the door and greeting worshippers as they filed out. my sisters and i, we walked
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past, shook dr. king's hands. when pops' turn came along, he stood there and talked to him for a while. he finally came home, he went to his room, then about a half hour later, pops called us to his room again. he said, listen, you all, i like this man's message. i really like his message. i think that if he can preach it, we can sing it. and that was the beginning of our writing of civil rights songs, freedom songs, message songs, and the first one was march up freedom's highway. then we rode "why am i treated so bad" that turned out to be dr. king's favorite. he would tell pops, you know, we would sing before dr. king would speak. and some nights we would be
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going down all the in the parking lot, pops and dr. king would yell out, you're going to sing my song tine, right, stapel? he called pops stapes. pops wrote that song. c when nine black children were trying to board a school bus in little rock, arkansas. they wanted to attend central high school. this went on for so long, bob, they wouldn't -- they children would walkço
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long, the governor of arkansas, the mayor of little rock, and the president of the united states said, let those children go to school. we were all in the -- on the floor, pops -- we wanted to see the children board that bus. man, children get up to the bus, the time they get to the door, a policeman put his billy club across the door, and that's when pops said why are they doing that? why are they treating him so bad? he wrote that song that evening. >> it's pretty often, and i think most historians acknowledge the fact that music really was the fuel of the civil rights movement. >> yes. >> if you took away music, it would have been hard to succeed, because music gave the marchers, people like yourself, dr. king the courage, you know, the courage and the strength to push on despite the obstacles and the hardships. >> that's right.
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>> you group up in the church, you learned gospel music. it was pretty easy for gospel music to leave the church and get out on the front lines. explain how that happened. >> well, that was, you know, we in the church we're singing gospel. gospel is truth. this civil rights movement was truth. we needed to give our input of what we felt, you know. we were christian people, and we -- we mean business, you know, we wanted like this -- you know, we don't mess around, y'all. you know? [ laughter ] so once we started singing ♪ ain't gonna let nobody turn me around ♪ ♪ turn me around you know, and you put gospel up in them songs, people are going to hear that. people are going to hear music, period. you know, people love music, i don't care what kind of music it
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is. yes, sir. [ laughter ] >> if you -- you bring in some truth and realness, and you people can actually see this happening, what you're singing about, it's going to move you. it's going to motivate you. that was what -- we wanted to give people a reason to get up in the morning and get started, you know, get started on your day. and pops -- pops was our leader, whatever pops told us we wanted to do, that's what we were going to do, you know, and we loved it anyhow. we loved -- i was a teenager. i was the same age as those kids in little rock that couldn't board the bus, you know. so i became super interested in the civil rights movement when we first started, you know, when we went to dr. king's church, i didn't know dr. king, but i
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certainly enjoyed that service and i will never forget it. i've just been trying to keep it going. every song, every album, i have some civil rights on there. freedom song. every concert that i do today, i'm still singing freedom songs. i'm still singing. i'm not going to let it go, because i'm a witness. i'm a living witness. you know? [ applause ] >> yes, indeed, thank you. it's just a part of me. ed more i continue to sing these songs, this generation, they will kids, you know, they weren't there. i was there, and i'm still here.
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i'm bringing it. i'm still on the battlefield. i'm on the battlefield, and i'm fighting every day. but i'm fighting for love. i'm fighting for hope, and i'm fighting for peace. i won't stop. i will not stop. my father and dr. king -- dr. king the greatest -- like you hear -- what's his name -- muhammad ali, i'm the greatest of all time -- i'm sorry, ali. i'm sorry. no, you can't be -- dr. martin luther king, and i just loved to hear his laughter. you know, he had this jovial laughter. most times i would look at him, he would look so serious, and he might look sad, but that's what
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i've held on to, his laughter, because anytime i heard him, i would say, dr. king is happy. he's happy. but he's just such an honor and such a wonderful feeling to have been able to stand next to this man and shake his hand, this great, great man, martin luther king. >> i asked you if you and the staples singers were at the march on washington, and you missed it. where were you? >> we were over in london, had no business over there. we missed the march, but we recorded. we wrote songs, march "it's a long walk to d.c." but i got my walking shoes on.
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>> you were there in spirit then. >> we were there in spirit, yeah. but those people in london, they didn't have turn nips or mustard greens. after they went to march,ing, they went to munching. the works. boy, i'm getting hungry. 6 [ laughter ] >> bob, you do this to me every time. yes, indeed, but i'm just so grateful that the lord has kept me, and i'm still here to carry on -- >> you are. >> -- what dr. king and my father pops staples.
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my sister yvonne is still with me. you know, we're carrying on. we got to keep that legacy of pops staples and dr. martin luther king alive, but dr. king is going to be alive, but pops, we have to work on pops' legacy. >> that's right. speaking of pops and the staples singers, one of the great thing about the group was, you know, you were able to succeed in the church, and able to also succeed like sam cook, you know, taking a song that had some serious messaging, and bring it on to the pop charts, a song for, like, sam cook "a change is gonna come." what an amazing song. >> oh, lord. >> people learned about the message behind it by hearing it on the radio, on the pop charts. the staples singers were doing the exact same thing. you had many songs cross over
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from either the black charts or gospel, and then into the pop charts. >> yes. >> that must have been gratifying for you. >> it was gratifying. it was. >> and important, too. >> it priced us, you know, we never thought we would get this high. >> we were just singing because we loved to sing. we were singing to sing in church. we never thought we would even be making records or traveling. we weren't trying to be stars, you know, we sing for nothing, you know. you didn't have to pay us to sing. we just loved it. but i think that it's the best thing that could happen for that music to turn over like that. you know, people, they're trying to put us out of church. they wanted to put us out of the church when "i'll take you there" came out, people would
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jump up and dance, but people at the church. ♪ i know a place i couldn't resist that. i had to do it, bob. >> that's okay. >> but the church folk, they started saying the staples singers are singing the devil's music. i had to do so many interviews, and i would tell them, the devil ain't got no music. the devil ain't got no music. all music is god's music. and you have to listen to what we are saying. i'll tame you there is talking about taking you to church, taking you to heaven. i know a place, ain't nobody crying, ain't nobody worried, ain't no smiling faces, liking
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to the races. where else could we be taking you if it weren't to heaven? i said, you all have to listen to the lyrics. you just hear the song come on, hear the beat and see everybody jumping up and dances, you know, "i'll take you there" is a gospel song. and they started hearing what i was saying. next thing you know, we were invited back to church. the very first song request "i'll take you there." sang right in the pulpit. the church was rockin'. i said, see there? you can't help but move. if you've got a beat, if you've got a beat. that's with any music, you know. and especially with gospel. you know that spirit hits you, you've got to move. >> that's right. you've got to get on away from here. you know.
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so people, they take music in -- and they know it makes them feel good, you know, but they wanted to try to say the staples singers is the devil's music. daddy would say mavis, you do interview, all of us did interviews, but my main thing was about the devil. i didn't like the way it sounded, the staples singers singing devil's music. from the time i was like this, we had been singing church songs. church songs went to folk songs. folk songs -- people would hear our -- i used to ask pops, daddy why are these blues festivals calling us? we aren't singing no blues. he says, mavis, you go back and listen. we had such a unique sounds, and our music had something of everything in it. and bob, for years, we sang
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gospel songs with my father, didn't know pops was playing the blues on his guitar. i said, that's why muddy waters and harlem like you so much. >> that's right. >> because you're playing the same music. but pops learned from a blues artist down in mississippi, charlie patton. charlie pots was a boy, charlie patton was a man, and harlem wolf was there, and he said he would see charlie patton playing the guitar. when he started, he would want to play like him. he was making ten cents a day. i said, daddy, ten cents a day? he said, mavis, that was a lot of money back then. so down on the dockridge farm in drew, mississippi. he has showed us since where he prepped that little guitar at a hardware store. they let him put his ten cents,
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a layaway until he could get it out and he started teaching himself charlie patton style. well, you know elvis presley told me one time, ms. staples, i like the way your father plays that guitar. >> you know, i have to say many -- when you think of the great blues guitar players, you have a few in this city as well, but pops, if you are a true blues musician, a true blues guitar players, pops staples goes on your list as one of the great unsung players, and the proof is whether it's elvis presley or eric clapton saying what a great stylist. he had a great style that would carried from the blues into gospel into r&b, and yet you could go anywhere with it. you know, in the '60s, too, you also -- we talked about being on the front lines with dr. king, there were people that you met that were starting to come into
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the movement who weren't african-american, but who understood the cause, a gentleman, a young man, by the name of bob dylan. you saw him and pete seger. talk about your times with them. >> oh, my god, pete seger, bob sáqdak one of then isn world's greatest poets. we met dylan back in the early '60s. we were in new york about to do a general electric tv show. we didn't know folk music, you know, but when we started hearing this music, well, bob dylan's manager said, bob, i want you to meet the staples singers. bob said, i don't know no staples singers. he says, pops, pops has a smooth velvety voice, and mavis, mavis
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have throw -- she can get rough. she would hear my squall, you know. he quoted the song, he said mavis says sudden coming to david with his rock and sling. i don't want to meet him, he's an angry man. so he started singing, we started the show, pops was standing on the side, dylan started singing, and pops said, wait a minute, y'all, listen to what the kid was saying. he was saying how many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man. you see, pops used to tell us stories about when he was in mississippi, he couldn't walk along the same side of a street. if a white man was coming towards him, a white person period, he had to cross over, so daddy says, we can sing that song, y'all.
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we can sing it. we went home, we got bob dylan, we learned "blowin' in the wind." the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. pops could literally live it, because it was real with him. he would tell us a lot of stories. he would tell us, between pops and my grandmother, man, those are the best times sitting on the floor listening to stories. but pete seger, pete seger -- ♪ if i had a hammer ♪ i would hammer in the morning ♪ >> he was just genius. it was such an honor to meet a man like pete seger. we would go -- just like we would be invited to blues festivals, we were invited to folk festivals. we were singing strictly gospel. i didn't understand. i was a young girl. i said, daddy, these people are
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inviting us -- we would go to a folk festival, and we would hear folk songs, i said, well, that's the closest this is something like gospel. they're singing truth. then you look out and see all these flower children, you know d. oh, man i just loved it. newport, i would have the best time. newport this year, newport rhode island festival in my birthday party. >> got to love that. >> yes. >> everybody's invited. everybody's invited. yes, indeed. we're going to have a time. >> one of the great festivals. >> it's one of the great festivals, yes. >> you know, with the time we have left, as we said before, the staples singers obvious
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found themselves on the pop chart, as well as aretha franklin, sam cook -- and there was the word "respect." otis redding writes it, aretha franklin sings it, and that word takes on a new meaning. talk about respect yourself and how that came about. >> "respect yourself." matt rice wrote that. same guy that wrong "mustang sally." , and when he told us, look, we're in the stewedyings, and matt came in and said, pop, when you see me, pops said, man, i ain't singing that. he said that's not the staples singers. i'm not going to say it. matt is a pops, you'll have all the little kids, you'll havefuls singing -- we talked pops into doing it, and lo and behold,
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matt was right. "respect yourself" you know, bob, is still my favorite i think it needs to be recorded all over again. some of these children -- i won't say all -- but some of the children, man, they don't -- they haven't been taught to respect themselves, or to respect your elder. you respect your elder. you don't talk back to no grown person. if i had talked back, whoo, i would have -- i wouldn't have been getting up off the floor many times. but no, i would love to hear someone record "respect yourself" again, and be explosive like it was back in the '70s, because that -- pops wanted -- one of the blackstone
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rangers told pops, pops staples, i'm glad you and your daughters recorded that song. he said, i was on the bus the other day, and i realized after hearing that song, i wasn't respecting myself. there was a little old lady on the bus, i let her stand up while i was sitting down. he said let me stand up and let this lady sit down. >> that's it. >> pops said, that's exactly why we sing it. >> in order to respect fellow man, you have to respect yourself. >> like i say, if you don't respect yourself. ♪ ain't nobody gonna give a good cahoot ♪ >> mavis staples. >> thank you. thank you, bob. help me up. >> thank you. thank you, bob. >> whoo!
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thank you. thank you all. all right. i got a new knee. i didn't tell them about my knee. bye-bye. okay. bye-bye. >> for my next guest, taking a completely different tack. instead of talking about music, we're going to hear some music first. graham nash you might remember, if you remember the 1960s as a member of the holies, one of the great british invasion groups, anyone in the late 1960s, we comes to california, falls in love with the weather there, a certain woman, the music, and basically starts a brand-new career as a member of perhaps arguably america rock and roll's first super group cross businesses, stills and nash. since then he's been involved not just in great music, but
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also a man of conscience, someone who has written songs and performed songs for the good of the people, for the good of the environment, for songs that basically commit to a particular message. he's been a friend of the grammy museums, a friend of all of yours if you've been fog his career. he's a great individual andc double please welcome to the stage mr. graham nash. on. >> how have you been? >> how are you all doing? yikes. us it must be david crosby's stool. i'm very pleased to be here, obviously.
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i got a phone call in early 1969 from a friend of mine called hue romney. he was a beat poet from new york city, who know goes by the name of wavy gravy, one of our heroes. he called me and said, you know, the hippies who had disrupted the democratic national convention in chicago in late '68, had been arrested, you know, for disruption and needed funds for the defense fund. wee me, david, steven and neil consider going to chicago. i could go, crosby could go, but steven and neil had made other plans. so i wrote this song actually for steven and neil. ♪
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♪ so your brother's bound and gagged ♪ ♪ and they chained him to a chair ♪ ♪ won't you please come to chicago ♪ ♪ just to sing ♪ in a land that's known as freedom ♪ ♪ how can such a thing be fair ♪ won't you please come to chicago for the help that we could bring ♪ ♪ we can change the world ♪ rearrange the world ♪ is dyin' to get better ♪ politicians sit yourself down ♪ ♪ there's nothing for you here ♪ won't you please come to
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chicago for a ride ♪ ♪ i don't ask for -- to help you ♪ ♪ he might turn the other ear ♪ won't you please come to chicago ♪ ♪ or else join the other side ♪ we can change the world ♪ rearrange the world ♪ is dyin' if you believe in justice ♪ ♪ if you believe in freedom ♪ let a man live his own life ♪ those regulations neath who needs them all ♪ ♪ throw them out the door ♪ somehow people must be free ♪ i hope the day comes soon ♪ won't you please come to chicago ♪ ♪ show your face. ♪ from the bottom of the ocean
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♪ to the mountains of the moon ♪ won't you please come to chicago ♪ ♪ no one else can take your place ♪ ♪ we change the world ♪ yes we can ♪ rearrange the world ♪ is dyin' if you believe in justice ♪ ♪ if you believe in freedom ♪ let a man live his own life ♪ some of those regulations ♪ who needs them ♪ open up the door [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you.
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it must be 50 years since i tuned my own guitar. i'm not sure. the with a phone call. and here was another one. got a call from cosby one day. i was in los angeles with steven. and davey said, book the studio, book the engineer, buy some tape, get the band together, we're coming down. i said, croz, you sound intense. what's going on? he said wait until you hear this song that neil he said it was
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about kent state. i booked the studio. they came down the next day and we reported ""ohio mixed it. show -- at atlantic records was in the studio in a thigt, so we gave him the tape and we told him to put it out immediately as a sing. she had said. teach your children and it's going into the top 20, and are you sure you want to do this? we said, listen, when america starts to kill its own children, we're in deep trouble here. so let's put this out. that single, and we killed our own children of "teach your children" but "ohio" was out 12
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days later, and the owner artwork was a copy of the american constitution with bullet holes in it. so this is a song that neil wrote. ♪-ng49529ñ ♪ tin soldiers and nixon calling ♪ ♪ we're finally on our own ♪ this summer i hear the drumming ♪ ♪ four dead in ohio ♪ gotta get down to it ♪ soldiers are cutting us down ♪ should have been down long ago ♪ ♪ what if you knew her and found her dead on the ground ♪
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♪ how can you run when you know ♪ ♪ in ♪ ♪ gotta get down to it ♪ soldiering are cutting us down ♪ ♪ should have been done long ago ♪ ♪ what if you knew her and found her dead on the ground ♪ ♪ how can you run when you know ♪ ♪ know know know ♪
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♪ tin soldiers and nixon calling ♪ ♪ where finally on our own ♪ this summer i hear they're drumming ♪ ♪ four dead in ohio ♪ four dead in ohio ♪ four dead in ohio ♪ four dead in ohio. ♪ i'm not usually this depressed. but there are many, many problems facing this world, as we all know. you know, all the stuff you've
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been hearing about this morning and will hear about are just some of the problems, but we must keep hope, look at the world through the ice of our children and grandchildren. we must make sure it's a better place. it seems to be an overwhelming problem right now. going on throughout the world, but we can make it a better place, no doubt about it. here's a song i wrote. it's called "teach your children." ♪ you who are on the road ♪ must have a code that you can live by ♪ ♪ and so become yourself ♪ because the past is just a
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good-bye ♪ ♪ teach your children well ♪ because their father it is hell did slowly go by ♪ ♪ and feed them on your dreams ♪ the one they pick is the one you'll know by ♪ ♪ don't you ever ask them why ♪ if they told you you would cry ♪ ♪ so just look at them and si sigh ♪ ♪ and know they love you ♪
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♪ and you you are tender years ♪ you can't know the fears ♪ that your elders grew by ♪ and so please help ♪ them with your youth ♪ because they seek the truth ♪ before they can die ♪ and teach your parents well ♪ because their children's hell will slowly go by ♪ ♪ and feed them on your dreams ♪ the one they pick is the one you'll know by ♪ ♪ don't you ever ask them why ♪ if they told you you would
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cry ♪ ♪ so just look at them and si sigh ♪ ♪ and know they love you ♪ [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you, bob. >> fabulous. graham nash. >> thank you very much. >> that was wonderful. >> it's a little hard singing rock and rolled this early in the morning, but that's all right. >> the songs that you sang, of
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course, very appropriate for what we're talking about, as you said, for the next couple of days. in the 1960s, when you were coming up, as el mentioned, coming across the atlantic, the holies are behind you, you come to america and begin the second phase of a long career. the '60s were an interesting time. for the first time pop music in general as we knew it was really embracing ideas other than puppy love and teen angst. all of a sudden they start to become songs of conscience, and these songs help define an entire generation, really help shape things. the question s. and i know this is hard to answer, and i often ask this to artists, does an artist such as yourself have a responsibility to write those kinds of songs to make sure songs are not just about entertainment, though that's a
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very valid reason, but there's also the need, the responsibility to write songs of consequences, to write songs that have deeper meaning. what's your take on it? >> i think one has to realize we're just a small link in an incredibly long and beautifully strong chain, going all the way back since before the weavers even and seger and bob. we're all tribe adores going from town to town, letting everyone know the emperor doesn't have any clothes on. we're trying to pull back the curtain and show the wizard behind everything. my goodness, we know how many curta curtain. i think it's a responsibility as not just as just as a musician.
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thank got for music in my life. -- itch no idea so i have to thank my mother and father for encouraging me instead of forcing me to get a real job. i mean, i work harder than anybody i know, but i still don't have a job, you know? it's an unbelievable existence. do we have a responsibility to do that? iismts do you feel that you personally have a responsibility? >> i have a responsibility to talk about stuff that bothers me. i don't write for anybody. i don't write for david, steven or neil, i don't write for anybody but me. i have to get my feelings out. i have to express myself, and the way that i do that is through art and music. and like i said, i'm an incredibly lucky person. i would probably be absolutely without question have been in an
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insane asylum for the last 40-odd years if i didn't have this ability to get my feelings out. >> the outlet. >> so it's not a responsibility, it's a drive, it's a need to express myself in as many ways as i can. yes, i wrote my share of, you know, moon june screw me in the back of the car songs, you know, the hollies made an incredible career out of that, as a matter of fact. but when i moved to america and i began to hang out with crosby, steven and neil and joni, i began to realize that, even though i had done a couple of interesting deeper songs when i was with the hollies, it wasn't until i came to america that i began to really realize it was important to not waste people's
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time, because in many ways time and our family and friends are all that we have that's real. so i don't want to sit you down and play you a song that's going to waste your time. first of all, i have wasted mine doing it, and i don't want to do that. my father was dead at 46. i am now 72 years old. i cherish every second that i'm alive. i'm grateful for every second that i'm alive. i'm incredibly proud to be an american citizen, as i have been for the last 30-odd years. i didn't feel that it was right to be hypocritical about this country. if i was going to sit there and criticize this country and criticize the people that run it and praise the country for its incredible beauty, i felt i would be hypocrite cal if i didn't become a member of this society. so i did many, many years ago.
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i don't know whether any of you know anything about los angeles, but there's a very famous hot dog stand called pink's. i went from the dorothy championshiper pavilion and with 1500 other citizens, and steven said you're a citizen right? he said, i think so, he said, cannin' c'mon, we're going to pink's. so i'm not sure it's a responsibility, but it's some i just can't help doing. >> do you think in the 1960s where songs of conscience were exploding. we talked to mavis earlier, there are all kinds of artists and bands, so many of them writing songs that carried deeper meaning than just simple love songs. did the music have an effect, in your opinion, on the outcome, the vietnam war in particular, what was happening with the civil rights movement? how much in your opinion did the
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music play? >> the momentum of this country is incredible, as a planet. to move it in any one direction takes an enormous amount of energy. the 3406789s you do detect are very, very small. having said that, i do believe that music can influence people. i think it can entice them to think about things that they may not necessarily think about during their working day. i think that the ideas that music carries forth are the most important thing that we have. i mean, it was ideas that brought down the berlin wall, you know. it's ideas that had, you know, the civil rights brought into existence. it's ideas always. and i think that music can -- i mean, didn't i write it? didn't i write "we can change the world"? i didn't mean it in a huge thing, but i meant it in a small way. >> yeah. >> but we can. we can change the world with music. i don't doubt it.
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you know, i've had many vietnam veterans come up to me and say that our music saved their lives. you know, they were in the middle of the jungle trying to figure out how to stay alive for the next ten minutes. and would be playing music. and you know, in the late '60s, they were mainly playing our music. you know, to realize -- once you drop a pebble into a pond and the ripples spread out towards the bank, it's when the ripples start to come back to where you threw the pebble in that is most interesting to me. and to hear vietnam vets talk to me about how our music affected their lives and kept them alive is incredibly gratifying as a musician.
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>> as a musician looking at what was happening in the 1960s, you were with the hollys, you came here after you leave the hollys. what were you thinking about the civil rights movement? what was going through your mind when you read about the march on washington in '63? how did you take it? >> i've always rooted for the underdog. i've always had a sense of what was fair. i think being english is very different than being american from this point of view.diwu8f#r when i was born, world war ii still had several years to go. and it was a part of your daily truth that you did not know whether your house was going to be there tomorrow. you didn't know whether your friends were going to be alive. and i think that when you're
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brought up in that kind of environment, you have a very different attitude towards, well, what we're doing in america now with all these preemptive wars. god forbid, had new york or los angeles or chicago or austin been bombed like england and europe was bombed and almost bombed out of existence, i think you have a different attitude towards war. war is insane, as we all know. [applause] >> there has to be a better way of dealing with our fellow human beings than immediately going for your gun. i do realize that in many ways this is the wild west, you know. but to me, people like the nra and the pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry, they're all going to be seen as major criminals within 50 to 100 years. i really believe so. how can you, in all honesty, make a product like cigarettes that kills about 300,000 people
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a year and still do it, knowing full well that what you're making kills 300,000 people a year? how do you sleep at night? really, seriously. i mean, how do the koch brothers sleep at night? one of the things that upsets me greatly about this being able to buy our democracy, and in many cases you can buy a congressman or a senator for the price of a decent car, which is a terrible thing to say, but there is so much corruption going on in every country in the world, not just here. i often wonder, don't the koch brothers have children? and when i say the koch brothers, i don't just mean those two brothers, i mean their ilk, their 1% as we were trying to buy out democracy. i definitely have views about citizens united. i think it's one of the worst
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supreme court rulings in history to me. and i think that we should all fight very hard to overcome citizens united, and allowing this kind of money into politics is just -- it's awful. it's truly awful that you can buy your democracy. and that's what people like the koch brothers are doing. but don't they have kids? don't they have like parts of their organization that are looking into the future, how much oil is left, how much, you know, aluminum is left? don't they know what's going on? don't they know what they're doing? it's very interesting. how do they sleep at night? >> you brought up environment, and you were involved along with david and steven and neil and lots of your friends in the
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nukes movement in the late '70s, which really had a profound effect on changing young people, or maybe not changing but at least enlightening what that would entail. and you continue over the years, and we talked about your interests in the environment and climate. you live in a great part of america in hawaii where you see the absolute beauty, natural beauty of this country, particularly that state, and you've done things and you continue to do things. where does that urgency come from, and how do you put it into the music? it's been a long time since you started this. nearly 50 years ago. >> i often wonder where i get the energy from to do all this, and the only thing that i can really say is i look at the world through the eyes of my children. i personally have to make it better for me, and i have to make it better for my wife, and i have to make the world better for my kids. my first-born son, jackson, a year and a half ago gave us our first grandchild, and you better
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watch out for this woman because she's a kickass. i know every grandfather says the same thing, but she's a stunning woman. and my second-born son will, just in the last month found out him and his wife shannon are expecting identical twin boys in july. so i look at the world through the eyes of the future generation. and i've seen this planet environmentally getting much worse, and i've seen the world getting much worse. the reason why i'm in hawaii was in the late '60s, i used to live in san francisco, and i saw a billboard that said "shower with a friend because we're running out of water." okay, funny, right? big billboard, that's funny. but when you project as to what was going on, when you saw what was happening to the columbia
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river, when you saw what was happening with damming up our major rivers, when we saw particularly northern california sending all their water down to this desert called los angeles, i began to realize that if i was going to get married and have children, i wanted to live in a place where, to as much a degree as i could manage it, where water wouldn't be a problem. one and a half miles from my house is the wettest spot on earth. our average rainfall is 46 inches a year. the record, 690. i don't think water will be a problem for me, but it is going to be a problem for a lot of people and very soon. i predict oil is going to be worth far less than water. yes, the entire world runs on oil and we're going to have to
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deal with that problem, and it seems that many bright people are working on solutions for that. but this problem with water is going to really be humongous, i'm afraid. >> you speak about these issues that particularly young people, your children, your grandchildren, my grandchildren face. it worked to galvanize a whole generation of young people to get out in the streets and pay attention to what was going on. you would think, in my opinion, that today the issues, or in some cases are even far more dangerous than they were in the 1960s. there are still civil rights movements to fight, gay rights were spoken about earlier today being at the forefront, climate change being what it is. these are things that will seriously impact not just our kids but the entire world. >> uh-huh.
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>> why is it, in your opinion, that there has not been a movement among younger musicians to be what you did and what so many of your colleagues did in the '60s which is to write about it, to use the music to galvanize the masses, to get our government or our leaders to move on this in a way that brings results? >> a couple things are going on here. first of all, and i'm sure it precedes the romans, but they were credited with circuses, where you give the people a little to eat and you give them something to watch and we'll be able to control them. and that's exactly what's going on today. i think the people that own the world's media you can count on two hands, they don't want protest songs on their airwaves, they don't want it on the radio, they don't want it on the tv. they want you to lie down, be sheep, don't say anything, buy


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