I wrote this post right after the guilty verdicts came in for the Derek Chauvin trial in the murder of George Floyd. During the past couple of weeks, there have been marches in Minneapolis and Chicago for recent police shootings, including a thirteen year old boy.
My current thoughts are a general feeling of relief, and that these marches and protests will continue, peacefully. I believe that the Black Lives Matter protests in the streets for the past several years actually helped create a positive result in the Minneapolis courtroom last Tuesday.
New police shootings of unarmed people of color seem to happen every week. The black body count continues. The difference now is video- from phones, security cameras, and police body cameras. This is why the purpose of shining a light by the Black Lives Matter movement is not going away.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a continuation and renewal of the civil rights movement started in the early 1960's. It's actually a wonderfully simple branding that harkens back to the, "I Am A Man" posters carried by the black Memphis sanitation workers in their 1968 strike, and at protests shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King’s death.
As a sixty-six year old white man, the Black Lives Matter movement has given me a better understanding of what black people deal with everyday in America.
The Black Lives Matter movement simply presents the fact that white lives have always mattered in a dominant Anglo-American society, but with particular favor compared to people of color in our criminal justice system.
Of all the things for and against the slogan, "Black Lives Matter," I believe Michael Che has said it best way back in his 2016 Netflix special.
In the Chauvin trial, one realizes that justice itself is something much systemically larger than a singular guilty verdict of a police officer methodically killing a black man in the street. But, I'm hopeful that this may be 'the catalyst event' in our history to begin the process for the transformation of law enforcement in our country. The blue wall of silence was not a factor during this particular trial, and I'm encouraged by the testimony of the many law enforcement individuals called to the stand. The factor that made this guilty verdict possible was in large part due to the brave citizens who stood witness, and most importantly video-taped what the Minneapolis Police Department initially reported as a "medical incident."
Darnella Frazier (Center)
My thoughts are with the eyewitnesses who also testified at the trial. I can't get out of my head seventeen year old Darnella Frazier who recorded the entire killing on video, as she was crying on the witness stand,
"When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles," Frazier said. She said she has stayed up some nights "apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life."But, she said, "it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he (Chauvin) should have done." (USA Today)
Darnella, the whole world watched your video, you're a hero.
We don't need to "Defund the Police," a stupid liberal branding that in fact does not help solve the larger problem of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
We have to move forward with national strategic planning to completely 'transform' NOT 'reform' law enforcement as it currently exists. To me, policing reform initiatives are like buying retread tires where new tire tread is molded onto an existing tire, for an old car. Criminal justice transformation is entirely different, it's like designing and building a new car not dependent on dinosaurs.
The planning and implementation required for such a transformation will in fact need MORE funding to help structure an entirely new criminal justice system. A new justice system that systemically performs at least to the low bar expectation that the lives of all people of color 'just matter' in interactions with the police. This verdict is not justice, it is rare. Hopefully it's the beginning, that spark in time for a new standard of accountability in law enforcement.
In my search for new music this month, I found an Allison Russell song on Spotify who will be releasing her debut solo album, Outside Child in May.
Allison Russell is a new find for me and so I began to search her on the Internet. In that discovery, I found her moving spoken word essay, Dream of America published on YouTube (10/30/2020) just before the Presidential election. As I listened to Ms. Russell talk about her life experiences, I found it an important piece that continues to help my awareness of race and culture, and where we need to be as a people, for the people.
I would suggest that if you don't have the time right now to view this video, that you come back to view it later as it will be well worth you time.
My usual moaning in new music searches for rock 'n' roll and Americana genres of music is that there is just sooooo much music coming out every month. Actually, a nice problem to have in a world full of real problems, don't you think?
I look at lots of different 'New Releases' reviews and playlists from many of the music streaming services or major (and even minor) online music publications out there.
So why check out my little music publication every Monday?
My answer, I generally curate a new playlist every week. I do this from artists' EP's or albums over just 'singles' releases. It doesn't mean I don't do singles, I include them in almost every playlist I make. It's just a marked contrast with the commercial music streaming playlists today that are typically put together with a mix of singles only.
As a distinction from the pack, my YouTube playlists are most often a mix of 2-5 songs from an album or live video recording with individual artist singles mixed throughout. My hope is that you'll come away with at least one familiar or new artist that causes you to further seek out their songs or albums.
With that said, here's 68 songs, most you've probably have never heard before. Believe me, I'm often just a couple of weeks or even days ahead of you on that one, but in channeling my inner Stephen Colbert I'll say, "A curated mix of my taste in music, found in album, sifted and separated by song, and carefully sorted, that is my segment... A Playlist."
The last couple of weeks I've featured two entire albums from April 1971, James Taylor's Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon, and the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers. A complete album feature is often the kiss of death in terms of people hitting the blog post and/or sampling the playlist. I did take a drop in the hit count these past couple of weeks, but for 1971 we are still very much in the sweet spot of the classic generation of the rock 'n' roll era, and I plan on featuring more entire albums in the months ahead from fifty years ago, and the continual roll in time.
April, 1971 also featured fine albums from John Denver, The Doors, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, John Sebastian, James Gang, and CSNY.
John Denver's Poems, Prayers & Promises was not on my hit parade in 1971, but by the time I became a summer camp counselor for individuals with disabilities in 1976 at Camp-A-Lot on Palomar Mountain, John Denver was in heavy rotation at the campfire sing-alongs. I'm tripping back right now to a memory of friend Mark Hunter playing and singing Sunshine On My Shoulders with the band of acoustic playing counselors while a beautiful young camp counselor named Kim provided sign language with a ton of good vibes interpretation.
I believe in the summer of 1977, John Denver did in fact visit the Palomar Observatory for a television special he was filming that featured some of our campers from Camp-A-Lot, and a dream come true for many of them to see and interact with him on that day... take me home country roads.
In 2014, I reconnected with music in a big way after years of doing the day job career thing. That special girl and I wanted to start going to concerts again, and she found out online that Dan Hicks would be performing just north of San Diego, in Escondido. We hopped at the chance and got tickets right away, as this was to be our first concert together after many years. Shortly after, we found out the show had been cancelled as Dan had developed both lung and liver cancer. Dan Hicks died in 2016, and we didn't get that chance to see him live. I'm sure his many fans miss him dearly, and I never skip his songs when one comes on during a run.
This past week I also enjoyed listening to John Sebastian's, Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian (1971). Like Dan Hicks, Sebastian's a good musician and terrific entertainer who puts a smile on all who listen to his records or see him live. John Sebastian, born in 1944 and raised in Greenwich Village grew up in what would be the epicenter for folk music in the early 60's and is part of the folk and rock 'n' rollers that influenced a generation, and... a younger girl keeps rollin' 'cross my mind.
Opting for the above promo photo shoot for the Rolling Stones 1971 album, Sticky Fingers is probably the better decision than blowing up the Andy Warhol designed album cover.
By 1971, 'The Stones' weren't holding anything back with the new album title and cover photo, and were certainly living up to the band's shortened name.
As iconic as the Sticky Fingers cover was with its functional zipper the bad boys of rock had just left their record label Decca and Mick wanted a new logo for their own record label.
A London artist, John Pasche who had done some poster work for the band, created the lips and tongue logo over a weekend for 50 pounds (around $76). The logo was first introduced as the inside cover sleeve of Sticky Fingers and has now gone on to be the band's logo for fifty years. The tongue and lips graphic is in fact the most famous of all band logos, if not one of the most recognized icons used on t-shirts and promotion products around the world.
The logo pictured above was used to commemorate the band's 50 Year Anniversary in 2012, and works well here for the 50th year of Sticky Fingers, a masterful album full of hits with new bandmate Mick Taylor aboard for his first full-time studio Stone's album.
Here's the complete Sticky Fingers with a couple alternate tracksincluding my mix from the Sticky Fingers Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions of live tracks in 1971 as your must listen to playlist this week to get you rolling.
My first thought after looking at James Taylor's third album, Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizonwas, is James wearing the same blue shirt as his second album, Sweet Baby James? After examination, they're two different shirts, but wait a minute, yes he's wearing another blue shirt on his fourth album, One Man Dog.
What's my point? I don't really have one. You've just got to love the simplicity that is James Taylor and maybe his fondness for the color blue. During this time in James' life, he was going with Joni Mitchell as she sings backup vocals on three Mudslide Slim songs. I've always loved their voices together. In June of 1971, Joni would release her now revered album, Blue, so maybe a theme was developing.
Here's a 1970 live version of You Can Close Your Eyes, a song James wrote for Joni, where they did a couple of shows together in Europe. Man, what I would have given to have been there. I've always loved this version as a duet with two of the best of all-time during this magical time of acoustic music.
Here's a great story by James about being with Joni Mitchell.
Here's a video by Peter Asher about the making of Mudslide Slim.
Enjoy my friends, stay well and mask-up.
And, here is Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon, released in April, 1971.