Go tell that long-tongued liar. #PlagueSongs, no. 25

This week’s plague song goes out to that long-tongued liar, his regime, and all who have enabled it over these past four years — whether actively or via silent complicity. The earliest recording of the song is from the Golden Gate Quartet in 1946, but it’s been recorded in many genres, by many artists, and under…

What’s that sound? #PlagueSongs, no. 24

This one’s for U.S. Election Day 2020, in which we address two key questions. Will the U.S. continue down the path of autocracy? Or will it commit to the work of rebuilding democracy? When 21-year-old Stephen Stills wrote (and his band, the Buffalo Springfield recorded) “For What It’s Worth” in 1966, America was in tumult….

Barnaby Vol. 4 is here!

Well, it is almost here. Barnaby Volume Four is in press. The book will officially be released on December 1st. I hoped to have an advance copy to show you by today — Crockett Johnson’s 114th birthday. But I don’t. I do, however, have a pdf from the page-proofs stage. One of the classic comic strips,…

This Mix Kills Fascists

I am posting to inspire those fighting for democracy in the United States, and anywhere else where liberty is in peril. It has two parts: Part I: This Mix Kills Fascists Part II: 3 Quotations to Keep You Fighting Part I: This Mix Kills Fascists Here is my annual “RESIST!” mix, featuring many genres of…

A Democracy, If We Can Keep It.

Worried about the 2020 US Elections? I haven’t slept well in months either. But I do have some words of encouragement. Donald Trump’s presidency will end in January 2021. This is not wishful thinking. And his removal from office will require our active participation. But there are many reasons for hope. And that should inspire…

Banish sadness and strife. #PlagueSongs, no. 22

Bringing you the words of Buddy DeSylva and the music of Jerome Kern to — as the song says — “banish sadness and strife.” Written in 1919, this is the earliest in my Plague Songs series and the last regular weekly Plague Song. Appropriately, perhaps, this song dates to the pandemic of a century ago. Written for…

Mann, wer hätte das gedacht, dass es einmal soweit kommt #PlagueSongs, no. 21

The balloons are not red, and there is no toy shop. The narrator doesn’t dream of red balloons either. But, like its English-language counterpart (“99 Red Balloons”) Nena’s “99 Luftballons” (1983) is about an accidental, apocalyptic war triggered by 99 balloons. Luft means air, and ballon means balloon. So, literally, a luftballon is an air…

4′ 33″ #PlagueSongs, no. 20. AND 43 notes on silence, time, & the corona era

1 There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. — John Cage, “Experimental Music” (1957), in Silence: 50th Anniversary Edition (Wesleyan UP, 2011), p. 8 Philip Nel, guitar and vocal, Manhattan, Kansas, 26 July 2020. 2   John Cage’s 4’33” was first performed…