Sunday, January 18, 2009

That side was made for you and me

Old Pete Seeger must have felt like he'd stepped through the looking glass into some alternate America. He's in front of the Lincoln Memorial - site of the Marian Anderson concert in 1939, & Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963, both were great civil rights events. He's next to his folkie-rocker friend Bruce Springsteen, backed by a chorus of young folks. U2 has just performed. Spread out before him on both sides of the reflecting pool as far as he can see, on a cold, overcast January afternoon, a huge crowd, kids mostly, who don't know from The Weavers & the blacklist. To Pete, just about everyone is a kid. Down front on his right, the President-elect of the United States - a young black man. Bruce says, "Lead us, Pete." Seeger strums his banjo, as relaxed as if he's performing on his porch, says his, "You know the melody we'll give you the words" bit, & leads everybody in a sing-a-long of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Lyrics Woody wrote to the tune of a Baptist hymn because he thought "God Bless America" was too complacent. The President-elect sings along on the "lost" verses, the "dangerous" verses, the ones that rarely get sung:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Then Pete hangs around while Beyoncé & everybody sings "America the Beautiful." The President-elect thanks him. One could be mean-spirited & point out that Pete used to be a Communist. But then, one could truthfully say the same of Bush's foreign policy advisors. Pete didn't start any wars.

I was amazed they could pull off the concert outdoors in the middle of the winter.

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HBO now claims that it owns the pre-inaugural televised event, and has taken down all the YouTubes that have been posted.

I had to rework my critique of the event from one of enjoyment along with posting of the different entertainers and their songs, to one of regret that, once again, a corporation steps in to tell us Americans we are not free -- free that is, to post "their "copyrighted" material.

Fuck HBO. Don't expect me to watch any more of the "events" being "televised," allegedly "free" to the audience.
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