Chilean Pinochet officers charged with murdering singer Victor Jara


This 1973 music video is called Victor Jara: El derecho de vivir en Paz.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chile: 10 former soldiers charged with Victor Jara murder

Friday 24th July 2015

TEN CHILEAN former military officers have been charged with the 1973 murder of legendary folk singer Victor Jara.

The charges, announced late on Wednesday by Judge Miguel Vazquez, include the murder and kidnapping of Mr Jara and former military police director Littre Quiroga Carvajal.

Communist Party member Mr Jara was one of thousands of people rounded up after General Augusto Pinochet’s US-backed coup against socialist president Salvador Allende on September 11 1973.

Opponents of the coup were herded into a stadium in Santiago de Chile to be tortured and murdered.

Mr Jara played a borrowed guitar and sang songs for the detainees until soldiers broke his hands. He kept singing until his death.

The announcement of the charges against the officers came a day after seven former soldiers — two former officers and five former non-commissioned officers — were arrested for burning a teenage photographer to death during 1986 protests against Pinochet’s regime.

Soldiers doused Rodrigo Rojas, 19, and Carmen Quintana, 18, with petrol and set them on fire during a street demonstration.

Ms Quintana thanked a former soldier, identified as Fernando Guzman, for coming forward with new information on the case.

She said the soldiers involved were also victims of the dictatorship because they had received death threats to intimidate them into keeping silent.

Chilean dictator Pinochet covered up 1986 burning of activists, report shows. Declassified US documents indicate Pinochet suppressed police report that fingered military officers in burning alive of Rodrigo Rojas and Carmen Quintana: here.

English folk singer Ewan MacColl remembered


This music video from England says about itself:

Ewan MacCollDirty Old Town

The original and best with Peggy Seeger (MacColl’s wife)

Photographs of Salford in 1950s and 60s – the original ‘Dirty Old Town’ where MacColl grew up.

By Karl Dallas in England:

Monday 18th May 2015

Ewan MacColl: His Life, His Words, His Music Peel Hall University of Salford 3/5

SALFORD is the “dirty old town” where James Miller — the folksinger better known as Ewan MacColl — was born in January 1915 and it was the scene of this joint celebratory event by the University of Salford and the Working Class Movement Library.

In a packed hall, four readers and a solo singer took the audience through his life and work, in which extracts from his somewhat sanitised autobiography were interspersed with just a few songs.

It was a rather prosaic event, with no drama and precious little of the great man of the theatre’s histrionic impact upon British culture. One could’t help wondering what the Theatre Workshop founder might have made of it.

Of course, MacColl was such a polymath that anyone would be hard put to it to cover his life adequately. “There are quite large bits of his life that we have had to leave out,” the show’s producer Royston Futter said in his introduction. “The first run-through of all the material we wanted to present would have had you struggling to catch the last bus, despite our afternoon start.”

There were the expected songs — Dirty Old Town, Tim Evans, Manchester Rambler, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, — and songs from the radio ballads — Freeborn Man, Hot Asphalt, Shoals of Herring, Come Me Little Son — and his elegiac 1986 farewell The Joy of Living, recorded in only three years before his death. But this was a programme of readings interspersed with the songs, rather than songs with interpretive prose.

What did come across was Ewan’s love of the landscape, echoed in the words of that lovely, final song:
“Take me to some high place of heather, rock and ling,
Scatter my dust and ashes, feed me to the wind,
So that I will be part of all you see, the air you are breathing.
I’ll be part of the curlew‘s cry and the soaring hawk,
The blue milk wort and the sundew hung with diamonds,
I’ll be riding the gentle wind that blows through your hair,
Reminding you how we shared
In the joy of living.”

This great poet of industrial Salford was also at one with the countryside around his dirty old birth town.

This music video says about itself:

Joy Of Living – Ewan MacColl

This is one of MacColl’s last songs and his farewell to the world. In it, a dying hiker says goodbye to all he holds dear: the hills, his wife and his children (Black And White – The Definitive Collection, trk#20, 1993, Green Linnet Records, Nashville, Tennessee); and (Black And White – The Definitive Collection, trk#18, 2000, Cooking Vinyl Records, London, UK).

We Shall Overcome and United States folk singer Guy Carawan


This music video from the USA is called Joan Baez: We Shall Overcome. March on Washington, 1963.

By Karl Dallas in Britain:

Obituary: GUY CARAWAN singer and activist, 27.07.1927-02.05.2015

Thursday 14th May 2015

THE LEADING US folk singer and civil rights activist Guy Carawan, who died on May 2 at the age of 87, will go down in history as the man who gave the world the anthem We Shall Overcome — though the song was much more of a collective effort than the popular perception of it.

In the late 1950, London was full of US expatriate folk singers, some of them exiles from McCarthyite persecution, others seeking out the British roots of the American tradition.

Some of them, like Carawan and Peggy Seeger, were on their way to the sixth world youth festival in Moscow which attracted 34,000 participants in 1957. While in Britain, Carawan had a minor hit with the single Michael Row the Boat Ashore, backed by Vern Partlow’s anti-nuclear talking blues Old Man Atom, with the memorable lines : “I hold this truth to be self-evident/That all men may be cremated equal.”

This music video from the USA says about itself:

“Old Man Atom (Talking Atomic Blues)” is sung by Ozie Waters on Coral 64050.

The song is by Vern Partlow (1910-1987) and Irving Bibo. Ozie Waters was a Colorado musician active in the 1940s and 1950s in the country and western field.

“Talking Atomic Blues” (aka “Old Man Atom”) was composed in 1945 by California newspaperman Vern Partlow (1910-1987). He was inspired to write the song after conducting interviews with nuclear scientists for an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News. First recorded by Sam Hinton for ABC Eagle Records in 1949, it was covered by a number of artists, including Ozzie Davis and the Sons of the Pioneers. The song became one of the most popular novelty records of 1950 until the United States government’s War on Communism prompted record companies to withdraw the recording from circulation.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

I’m gonna preach you all a sermon
About Old Man Atom
I don’t mean the Adam in the Bible’s Adam
I don’t mean the Adam that Mother Eve mated
I mean that thing that science liberated
The thing that Einstein says he’s scared of
And when Einstein‘s scared,
Brother, you’d better be scared.

If you’re scared of the atom, here’s whats you gotta do
You gotta gather all the people in the world with you
Cause if you don’t get together and do it
Well, first thing, you know, we’re gonna blow this world plum to [hell]

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

Now life used to be such a simple joy
The cyclotron was just a super toy
And folks got born, they’d work and marry,
And “atom” was a word in the dictionary
And then it happened.

The science boys from every clime
They all pitched in with overtime
And before they knew it
The job was done
And they’d hitched up the power of the God-durn Sun
And put a harness on Old Sol
Splittin’ atoms
While the diplomats was a-splittin’ hairs

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

But the atom’s international in spite of hysteria.
It flourishes in Utah as well as Siberia,
And whether you’re black, white, red, or brown,
The question is this, when you boil it down
To be or not to be–that is the question.
The answer to it all ain’t military datum
Like who gets there first-est with the most-est atoms
No, the people of the world must decide their fate.
They gotta get together or disintegrate.

We hold this truth to be self-evident:
“That all men may be cremated equal.”

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

Yes, it’s up to the people
Cause the atoms don’t care.
You can’t fence me in–he’s just like air.
He doesn’t give a hoot about any politics
Or who gets what into whichever fix.
All I want to do is sit around
And have my nucleus bombarded by neutrons.

Now the moral is this, just as plain as day,
That Old Man Atom is here to stay.
He’s gonna stick around, that’s plain to see,
But, ah, my dearly beloved, are we?
So listen folks, here is my thesis:
Peace in the world or the world in pieces

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Alamogordo, Bikini

The Karl Dallas article continues:

From Moscow, Carawan and Seeger were invited to travel to China. It was a journey strictly forbidden by the US State Department, who summoned them home to answer accusations of disloyalty. Seeger avoided extradition by acquiring British citizenship through marriage but Carawan went home to face the music.

Ironically, by taking away Carawan’s passport, the US establishment concentrated his musical work on his homeland, resulting ultimately in his popularising the anthem forever associated with him, We Shall Overcome.

Carawan didn’t in fact write the song because, like many other militant songs of the US south, it had gospel origins. The word “overcome” first appeared in the lyrics of We’ll Understand It By and By, composed by the Reverend Charles Tindley of Philadelphia in 1903: “When the saints of God are gathered home,/We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome.”

This mutated into I Will Overcome— still on a gospel theme —but, during the 1946 strike of several hundred employees of the American Tobacco Company in Charleston, a woman called Lucille Simmons changed the words “I will overcome” to “We will overcome.”

The strikers visited the Highlander folk school in Tennessee which, as well as training union organisers and leaders in 11 southern states from 1932 onwards, also pioneered desegregation in the trade union movement.

Simmons taught the song to Zilphia Horton who, in turn, taught it to Pete Seeger, who published it as We Will Overcome in the first People’s Songs Bulletin— which is where Carawan learned it.

Oppression by the US authorities fed into Carawan’s life. It didn’t cause him to keep his head down and hope he’d be left alone. He became even more of a singing activist.

He had already visited Highlander before his trip to Moscow and Beijing and he went there again in 1959 and a year later taught the song to 70 young activists, following which they and he went to the founding conference of the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC), who took it and made it their own.

The SNCC Freedom Singers, Rutha Harris, Cordell Reagon, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Chuck Neblett travelled the country singing on college campuses, in churches and community centres, raising funds and awareness. The rest is history. As the New York Times described it in in 1963, We Shall Overcome became “the Marseillaise of the integration movement.”

But the song, and Carawan’s part in making it an international anthem of struggle, tell us something we need to remember about individuals and their relationships with the communities for whom they become the voices. Carawan never gave up.

Joe Hill, a previous singing agitator, told us on the eve of his execution: “Don’t mourn. Organise!” That would be a suitable response to Carawan’s death at a time when the forces of evil seem to be triumphant throughout the capitalist world.