Has anyone ever seen Leon Russell and Walt Whitman in the same place at the same time? Think about it.
Upset about election results? Living in a “blue state” [see what I did there]? In what turned out to be a real nail-biter of a race, Pennsylvania is sending Washington its newest Most Conservative Senator, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act, has been replaced by someone who thinks it “inappropriate” for a member of congress to be publicly critical of taking military action. Also, the bootleggers, prison union and alcohol lobby proved too much for California’s Prop 19.
Well, then here’s something to pick up your spirits. “There’s No Tomorrow” is from the recently releasedLeon Russell/Elton John collaboration Union.
I actually saw Leon Russell a few years ago at a pretty awful Allentown, PA venue with a name that strangely foreshadows this year’s collaboration, Crocodile Rock Cafe. I remember an awesome rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” As a bonus, here’s one of my favorites, from Russell’s Carney (1972).
Here’s a Tuesday track for the Gingrich-Palin-Reid demagogues who’ve succeeded in making such a big ado about the proposed Burlington Coat Factory YMMA, from British noise pioneer Muslimgauze’s 1995 double album, Izlamaphobia. It’s different and scaaaaaaaaaaaary!
Some of you know that my brother has been teaching English in another country for a little over a year now. Last year, on July 4th, instead of the usual lesson he decided to lead a discussion in his advanced class about patriotism, national identity, and America by playing for them two songs that together make for a pretty thought-provoking contrast, which, for the benefit of all of us, I’m reproducing here.
The bullet-ridden body of Sergio Vega, aka “El Shaka,” was laid to rest yesterday. Vega is only the latest in a growing list of narcocorrido singers to fall to drug war related violence in the northern states of Mexico.
Narcocorridos are songs that often glorify the exploits of those in the drug trade (think Outlaw country or Gangsta rap but with polka).
The life of a narcocorrido singer can be highly lucrative, since rich gangsters – who make profits estimated at 3,000 per cent on drugs smuggled from Central and South America, where they are produced, to the USA where they are largely consumed – are prepared to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be immortalised in specially- commissioned songs.
It isn’t exactly a safe line of business to be in, though. A singer who writes catchy songs honouring the criminal activities of one gang immediately puts himself somewhere near the top of the hit-list of rival syndicates, who dislike seeing praise publicly heaped upon their enemies. Vega was no exception. A translation of the chorus of one of his recent hits reads: “I’m going to ask you a favour/Shaka told his people/I want to have some coca paste processed/Because that’s what the customer wants/At the end if it rains and I get wet/You will get wet as well.”
In gangster argot, “making it rain” means to shower bullets on a victim. (The Independent)
The following is the video for one of Vega’s recent hits, “Cuando el Sol Salga al Reves” (When the Sun Rises in Reverse):
“Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.” -Albert Einstein (on alcohol prohibition)