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Cougar

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I just saw this movie last night. What a trip down memory lane! I must admit, we fast-forwarded through the interviews with various unknown festival goers. And I could skip most of the Joan Baez stuff. I thought I used to like Buffy St. Marie, but now I'm not sure why. But they had footage of a young Bob Dylan doing a couple classics, and OMG, Peter Paul and Mary performing at Newport was really something. Mary Travers was absolutely un believable! She was SO into her performance, and her voice so rich and full, and throwing her head back with all that blonde hair of hers... she was incredible. But there was a lot more. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band? Hello? A huge lineup... Mississippi John Hurt, Judy Collins, Brownie and Sonny, Howlin' Wolf, Donovan.... Most of the time they don't show an entire piece, but give you a good taste. Seems like they don't make 'em like that anymore!

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IMHO, the music was more "clean" whether acoustic or electric.

 

I guess I could expand on that but... I think the artists themselves in that era, at least (and I'm from that era myself and in ways remain there), were more interested in a clean communication. It seems to me that much of today's artists' work in general has been far more "processed" in comparison.

 

So in "the old days," whether you liked what you were hearing or not, it was a relatively short "wire" between the artist/group and your ears.

 

I think a lot of rockers of that era and forward have taken a different road and exploited the rapidly increasing technology along the lines begun by Les Paul - hence pedals, etc., etc., and more complex recording techniques as well.

 

An interesting example of "the old ways" is the original Circle album with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a batch of old folkie/country artists. Acuff, for example, emphasized getting a piece in one take as a "whole" rather than batching it out with headphones and overdubs.

 

Although a lotta folkies/bluesies may not have listened much to "country/hillbilly" in the later and after the '50s, I think they retained common ground with the older generation such as the Carter Family, Acuff, etc., regardless of stylistic perspectives. And ditto even with the swing era, regardless that they (I) thought of it that way at the time.

 

m

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I think the artists themselves in that era, at least (and I'm from that era myself and in ways remain there), were more interested in a clean communication. It seems to me that much of today's artists' work in general has been far more "processed" in comparison.

 

After seeing Joan Baez again, with her high, thin voice, and her lone acoustic guitar, it strikes me that her popularity must have come from the message, not the medium. She was an anti-war activist. The Vietnam war was an outrage. Donovan's Universal Soldier... It was the message for everyone in those days. And throw in equal rights for all. The times they are a-changing, and man, they were. What major societal wrong has been seen to need "righting" since then, by an overwhelming majority of vocal supporters?

 

By the way, I guess Dylan's hard-rockin' Maggie's Farm performed at the 1965 (?) Newport Folk Festival was a big controversy for not being particularly folksy. The lead electric guitarist Dylan had was all over that song. There's a fair-sized clip of that in the movie....

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OMG, Peter Paul and Mary performing at Newport was really something. Mary Travers was absolutely un believable! She was SO into her performance, and her voice so rich and full, and throwing her head back with all that blonde hair of hers... she was incredible.

 

I was stationed in Wash, DC in the late '60's and saw PP&M in concert at Constitution Hall, and all I can say about Mary Travers in her prime is "absolutely unbelievable". I can still remember parts of certain songs where she would literally back away from the mic and still overpower the voices/guitars of Peter and Paul. What a talent!

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Well... again, having been in that era...

 

Frankly I've never cared much for zealots of any political or religious perspective. Part of that is training, part is personal experience that reinforced the training.

 

Funny thing was that even then, it meant I got along best with most of the older folks/folkies regardless of their perspectives on politics and not all that well with a lotta folks my age who seemed more interested in howling than living. Baez, however, tended to put her money where her mouth was politically as a pacifist. I respect(ed) that. Still, note that I found it easier to work with out-and-out Marxists of my parents' age than with the "left" of my age group, and with the out-and-out fascists ditto. Even as a "kid," I was off-put by zealotry that leads to polarities.

 

For example... I got along rather well on a personal basis with George McGovern but to this day not well with a lotta his followers. He didn't figure he was "the second coming" and a lotta them seemed to think so. Ditto a lotta Reagan followers, btw.

 

I'd not say also that "a majority" were against "the war," but rather a sufficiently vocal percentage of folks who managed to cause enough trouble that some Vietnam era vet friends of mine today have PTSD that I don't think was so much from combat, but from the anti-war folks at "home." I find that extremely sad.

 

Don't forget either that there was a "counter" among country singers of that era too that IMHO has a high probability of being a part of the foundation of our current politics of polarity, in the US at least.

 

I guess I never made much of a hater.

 

m

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