Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, RIP


This music video says about itself:

I am REFUGEE—SOLIDARITY Forever… to LIFE!

29 August 2015

Leonard Cohen sings Pete Seeger’s hymn, actually for victims of the Vietnam war but I think it fits for the refugee drama of our days as well! AGAINST INTOLERANCE, STUPIDITY and HATRED against refugees from all parts of the world!

By Chris D’Angelo of the Huffington Post in the USA:

Legendary Musician Leonard Cohen Dead At 82

The Canadian singer-songwriter’s death comes just weeks after the release of his new album, “You Want It Darker.”

11/10/2016 08:56 pm ET

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, whose voice was as golden as his lyrics were moving, has died, Sony Music confirmed on his Facebook page Thursday. He was 82.

See also here.

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in Los Angeles November 7 at the age of 82. His manager Robert Kory subsequently revealed that Cohen, who had cancer, died in his sleep after falling during the night: here.

Painter Hieronymus Bosch inspired #1 hit song


This music video is called Boudewijn de Groot – The Land At Rainbow’s End.

Dutch folk singer Boudewijn de Groot recorded this song in 1966, 450 years after famous painter Hieronymus (or: Jeroen) Bosch died. The song refers to Hieronymus Bosch, and his imagery of strange beings: ‘All creatures from the circus of the late Hieronymus Bosch‘. The lyrics are here.

In January 1967, the record came out.

For the release of the song in Britain, Boudewijn de Groot called himself Baldwin. The record did not become a hit in English-speaking countries.

The Land At Rainbow’s End is the translation of the Dutch original Het Land van Maas en Waal. Which did become a #1 hit in the Netherlands.

This video is an animation of Boudewijn de Groot’s Het Land van Maas en Waal, with Hieronymus Bosch-like imagery.

The Land van Maas en Waal in the title is the region north-east of Den Bosch city (where the painter Bosch lived and worked), between the Meuse and Waal rivers.

This music video was recorded on 12 February 2016, the day of the official opening of the big Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in Den Bosch, commemorating that the painter died 500 years ago. As a parade with Jeroen Bosch-inspired costumes, and the king of the Netherlands and other authorities pass, rappers Ali B and Brace rap their own version of Het Land van Maas en Waal.

Boudewijn de Groot, now grey haired, congratulated them at the end of the song.

United States singer Pete Seeger spied upon by FBI for anti-concentration camp letter


This folk music video from the USA is called I Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister (Almanac Singers). The lyrics are here.

From Associated Press today:

FBI files: Military questioned Pete Seeger‘s wartime loyalty

By MICHAEL HILL and GEORGE M. WALSH

Dec. 19, 2015 2:06 AM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As Army Pvt. Pete Seeger eagerly waited for a chance to fight for his country during World War II, military investigators quietly built a case that the young folk singer was “potentially subversive.”

In a security investigation triggered by a wartime letter he wrote denouncing a proposal to deport all Japanese Americans, the Army intercepted Seeger’s mail to his fiancée, scoured his school records, talked to his father, interviewed an ex-landlord and questioned his pal Woody Guthrie, according to FBI files obtained by The Associated Press.

Investigators concluded that Seeger‘s association with known communists and his Japanese-American fiancée pointed to a risk of divided loyalty. …

The investigation, forwarded to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, is detailed in more than 1,700 pages from Seeger’s FBI file, released by the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act.

The musician and left-wing activist known for such songs as “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” died in January 2014 at age 94. …

But the newly released files show the lengths to which the government went to keep tabs on the singer’s travels, performances and rally appearances at least into the 1970s. The archives plan to release additional Seeger files in the future. …

Based on these records, Seeger underwent what appears to be his first major investigation after writing a letter to the California American Legion in 1942 criticizing the organization’s resolution “advocating deportation of all Japanese, citizens or not, and barring all Japanese descendants from citizenship.” This was during a time Japanese Americans, many of them from California, were being forced to live in government internment camps.

“We’re fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism,” Seeger wrote.

What followed was a wide-ranging probe by the military into Seeger’s background. Investigators found that Seeger — referred to as the “Subject” — was “intensely loyal at this time” and eager to be transferred overseas from Mississippi to fight fascism.

But they didn’t like the company he kept.

Investigators found Seeger was a “close friend and associate” of Lead Belly, or Huddie William Ledbetter, the folk legend they described as a “negro murderer.” The Almanac singers were described in the files as “spreading Communist and anti-Fascist propaganda through songs and recordings.”

Swedish musicians against neo-fascist racism


This video says about itself:

Silvana Imam Discusses Speaking out Against Neo-Nazis, Describes Swedish Rap & ‘Power Pussy’

16 April 2015

A strong women with little fear when it comes to speaking her mind, Silvana Imam is taking Swedish music by storm by making music that takes on right wing Swedish Democrats. We recently had the pleasure to have her on Sway In The Morning to outline her movement and what she thinks needs to change in her country.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sweden’s Folk Musicians Against Racism join chorus against far right

Stockholm festival sees people of all ages gather to take Swedish folk music and traditional costume back from the anti-immigrant SD party

Emma Hartley in Stockholm

Sunday 9 August 2015 19.03 BST

On the cobbles in front of Hasselby castle – a peach-coloured 17th-century confection run these days as a hotel – around 70 musicians play a stately polka on fiddles, nyckelharpa, clarinet, flute and accordion. The youngest looks about five, the oldest in his 80s, and a handful wear Swedish traditional costume: the women in full skirts, aprons, lace collars and red woollen stockings, the men in waistcoats, shorts and socks with ribbons. Nearby, a Danish klezmer band on a big sound stage is lifting a crowd to its feet.

But music wasn’t the only thing on the agenda at this year’s Stockholm folk festival. The mass play-in on the cobbles was a demonstration organised by a group called Folk Musicians against Racism (FMR) and their outrage was directed squarely at the third-largest party in Sweden’s parliament, the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), who won nearly 13% of the vote in last year’s general election.

Earlier in the week, an advert on Stockholm’s metro paid for by the SD, addressing tourists in English, said: “Sorry about the mess here in Sweden. We have a serious problem with forced begging. International gangs profit from people’s desperation. Our goverment (sic) won’t do what’s needed. But we will!”

“Everyone knows this advert was directed against Romanians,” said Kim Persson, 23, of Tunnelbaneorkestern, a Stockholm band made up of three Romanians and him. “And the SD knew that people would get really angry and tear the ad down. Running the ad in English was a PR trick.

“But the best way to deal with SD is to meet them with good arguments. They have an obscene dream that 100 years ago everyone had blond hair and blue eyes and was very happy. But 100 years ago we had the Sami people, as we have now, and Sweden was really poor. Hunger drove many to emigrate to the United States.”

Sweden led Europe last year in the number of asylum applicants it accepted per capita; in absolute numbers it was second only to Germany, a country with a population eight times larger than that of Sweden. But an electoral backlash to the longstanding policy has resulted in the fracturing of its centre-left political consensus and a public self-examination that many say has barely begun.

The relative youth of many of Folk Music Against Racism’s leading activists is noticeable. Anna Gustavsson, 24, said it started because folk traditions have come in for special attention from the SD. “It began really when Jimmie Åkesson – the leader of the Sweden Democrats – wore a traditional costume when entering parliament in 2010. Many parliamentary people have worn the national costume to the opening but when he did it, it became clear that the aim was political and that the clothing was worn not only as formal wear.

“Also nationalistic papers have visited folk festivals in Sweden and sent journalists to report about the ‘true Swedishness’ of the event and written about how good and white the folk scene is.”

The problem, Persson says, “is that the Sweden Democrats are the only party talking about immigration”.

“The other parties dare not address it, so it seems to ordinary people that there is no other way of thinking about immigration except as a bad thing. When nobody else has a contribution to make, people find it easy to believe the Sweden Democrats’ version of events.”

This nyckelharpa kills fascists: Swedish folk musicians stand up to the racist right: here.

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.

Declassified: Pinochet Ordered Assassination of Diplomat in US: here.