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Drunked up on Orchestral Balls, a Reminscence on the power of revolutionary music

Sunday 1/31/10,  noon

(I have to go on a raid for a few days, and will leave St George Frederick…we call him Singee, here…on this station. If I can get to a computer with Latin keyboard, I’ll try to look in. We’ve had a bit of a snow and the drive to Dulles may take awhile…)

Lenin once said that he stopped listening to Beethoven because it made him feel weak. I guess I’m a philistine then, for when I listen to some Beethoven I can get really pumped.

Still, I understand Lenin’s drift. He wanted to be able to approach his “work” with total dispassion, and music can make the legs go a little bit wobbly at exactly the wrong time, especially when sending  people out to be shot. Music drives out indifference, and indifference to a lot of “human” things is a necessity once you get into socialist “management”.

Music has always had its revolutionary purposes. In many housing complexes in the Soviet Union, many apartments had little transistor-like receivers attached to the ceiling, through which music was piped in all day, martial tunes for the going-to-work, going-to-school hours, still others for the evening hours. You couldn’t turn it off, but if you stood on a chair, you could turn it way, way down, and then head to another room where you could turn up something loud like Prokofiev’s “Mercutio’s March”. After a day or two you didn’t even know it was there, sort of like listening to the same Baptist preacher every Sunday morning for twenty years.

In China, during the cultural revolution, cars and trucks with loudspeakers would run up and down the street spewing their own revolutionary music, adding to the general din of foot and bicycle traffic in a day when everyone wore drab little commie green suits. If you were walking down the street and you heard that music, very distinctive even to my tin ear, you knew to turn and go the other way. Don’t look for a “Greatest Hits of the Cultural Revolution” release on Amazon.com. anytime soon. There are still people in therapy there, trying to get that damned ringing out of their ears.

Our own revolts in America had their music, too, but alas, there’s no recording of just what “The Bonnie Blue Flag” or “Battle Hymn of the Republic” or “Yankee Doodle” might have sounded like with local bands and a crowd along a parade route, so we have to use our imaginations to try to blaze into our soul’s memory how people might have been moved at the moment. Film sometimes helps. Just know, it’s the “being moved” that matters.

Music is a revolutionary tool of the moment, whether “The Internationale” “Horst Wessel Song” or “Battle Hymn”, and it’s a hobby of mine to study the symbiosis between the music and that moment of “being moved”. Let me explain.

In the early 70’s I spent a lot of time running back and forth between Tokyo and Seoul. Seoul was a neat city in those early days of the Pacific tigers, bustling, but still made up of many neighborhoods without paved streets, running water, people still cooking in the front of their houses, in snow, the same place they tossed their night soil. A city of eight million, four million of which were exhaling at any given moment, the entire city smelled like kemchi…which to me, at least, was a fragrance I will never forget.

But Korea was still under authoritarian one-party rule. Martial law was imposed for weeks on end, usually disguised as threats of sabotage from the North, but most often directed at unions and students who didn’t like working conditions or authoritarian rule. And who wouldn’t like working conditions in Korea? As South Korean companies found out later, in the 80’s and 90’s, when they tried to export their management style to Indonesia and other cheap labor markets of southeast Asia…everybody. Most people don’t like being brow-beaten and yelled at, with the occasional lash across the back. You bet they didn’t like the work conditions.

And just outside the backside of the Naija Hotel there was a police barracks, where in the courtyard policemen trained in riot control; i.e, beating their own citizens. Their training was not defensive in nature, I know, because I watched them outside my window. This is where I learned that you should always be leery of any country that has a national police force. They mean no good, and over my many visits, I had seen goon squads pull up in a van, jump out and grab some student, hold him down and cut his hair on the spot…because it was too western at two inches…which despite being the opposite of Islamo-fascists’ hair length, was eerily the same.

One day, while walking down a side street near the old Bando Hotel, an old black Toyota sedan came down the street, stopped on the corner, and two men pulled out two loudspeakers and placed them on the top of the car. People stopped and turned to watch.

A song began to play. It was not traditional Korean music, but I could’nt understand either the language or even the styling; horns, orchestra, and a chorale somewhat like the Slave Chorus in Nabucco. Starting out slow and distant, then rising, as the words rose, many of the people began to sing along. They knew it. They’d heard it before. Rhythmic, even I began to hum.

Everything stopped for what, three minutes….and people sang…then I heard over my shoulder the sounds of sirens. I looked back up the street to see if they were coming toward us (they were…two police cars), but when I turned around, the street was once again normal, the people walking, heads downcast, the sedan and loudspeakers, vanished. (They must’ve been trained at Darlington.)

I think about that moment a lot, and am thankful I could witness it. I’ve since heard of such doings in the Eastern Bloc, especially Poland during the early 80s, but no one I know has ever caught that sort of moment on film. It was very powerful, for it reflected a solidarity, a strength of spirit of the people which, as the police cars proved, scares the bejeezus out of thuggish regimes.

Searching Tokyo music stores, I never found that song, but heard something similar in the 1980s, Ennio Morricone’s theme to “Sacco and Vanzetti”. I include it here, from YouTube, but found the CD released version a bit more powerful and more like what I heard on the streets of Seoul that day. I recommend that one most.

So, since then, I always search for new music…I’m very eclectic, as are my sons, who send me even more strange and wonderful sounds…with the notion 1) does it give me happy feet? a fairly recent discovery, 2) melancholy/nostalgia (“16 Candles” is getting kinda old, even if it was the first time…) 3) is it the song I want played at my funeral (listed here, by the way, my own death song…we all have one, you just don’t know it yet, so don’t blanch, or 4) is it the sort of song that could possibly cause people to gather together, shoulder to shoulder, to march, or maybe only wreck, as i witnessed there in Seoul in 1973…or can it enlist people over when they see something special they ain’t got?

I look for that kind of stuff. As I said, it’s a hobby, or as Art in Alaska says, in Vino Veritas, for it’s a great way to go through a bottle of chardonnay on a cold winter’s night.

If RedState permits it, I recommend they/you facilitate an exchange here…a legal exchange…just titles (go find it yourself) and links…for music is a powerful thing…so powerful that Lenin, the Old Bastard Himself, decided it best to deny himself. He knew its power. (As did Alinsky.)

I’m not an alarmist, but I think a strong pushback may be in our future. The politics have not yet turned in our favor. It’s always best to plan for Option B, praying it will never have to be invoked. (That’s a standard Cold War prayer, by the way.)

My view is that samizdat music, poetry, books, all these wonderful one-liners I read here, and other tools, while you still have those computer/internet tools at your disposal, (The Russians had to develop them on their own, like making biscuits from scratch) is something you store in you mental bomb shelter, should you ever need to call on them…once on the outside looking in. It can still happen, Sorry.

But more positively, I see here on RedState, and other places, great slogans, bumper-stickers, art, and yes, music…but the purpose should not be to share them selfishly among true believers as some special thing we share together, but rather as propaganda. Let the message go out to the people who think it’s still cool what that Hilton girl wore last night at the American Mucuous Awards. Share with the FM rockers. They aren’t that stoopid. Show them cool and they will turn about-face to be that cool, too.

Actually, only a very few, even Dr Goebbels knew that…but enough to create a shift. I saw it there on the streets of Seoul, remember.

I’d asked St George Frederick (you’ve not heard from him yet, but mid-30s, so more savvy than I am about the pop culture, looks a bit like that fellow on “The Mentalist”, Simon Baker) to make up a CD, but we’d worried about the legality. Napster and all that. So instead -these are a few of my recommendations, as starter.

By the way, my choices are not like the “resistance” music of my generation in the 60’s; Jimi Hendrix, Joplin, Canned Heat, et al. Getting “stoned up” on music isn’t exactly what I had in mind…but once again, we see the difference between how we see our Cause, and they see theirs.

These are not recommendations, just my favorites, but I think it is important that People of the Cause have their/your own music…and share it. Pass it around, if only locally. In the right place, and at the right time, as I witnessed in Seoul, it can have a powerful and antagonizing effect on the Enemy, and while I am lifted by events in Massachusetts, I have to keep my eye on a time when we will have to “communicate” differently, and more indirectly…just as men have done for a thousand years…through music.

And when they finally hang me, it would be nice to hear the rising sound of Morricone’s theme, wafting across the prison walls.

Many of you won’t recognize these songs, but in my estimation, if you want to take a song and make it the property of your Cause, as “insider music”, don’t make it The Who’s theme to CSI. You don’t want to find music that everyone has downloaded on their iPod. Find music you can make exclusively your own, if only in your own town. So, when you all gather on the Mall next year, there will be some common threads you can all share.

Villa Rides, Maurice Jarre, YouTube available, mp3- Amazon, Magnificent Seven, Elmer Bernstein, YouTube, mp3-Amazon, Caravans, Mike Batt, YouTube, Last of the Mohicans, James Horner,  YouTube, (There’s a chase theme in the CD which is even better), La Golondrina from The Wild Bunch, YouTube (not available on the CD), Ride To Agadir, Mike Batt, YouTube, (Few know this song, some incendiary lyrics, Batt is one of those “desert-loving” English), 1492, Vangelis YouTube, Henry V, St Crispian Day Speech, Patrick Doyle (the best half-time pep talk since Knute Rockne, the music stands alone, on the CD) Das Boot by Klaus Doldinger or U 96, YouTube available but there is a more claustrophobic copy out there

The aforementioned Sacco and Vanzetti, Ennio Morricone (I recommend the CD version), Libertad (Nana Mouskouri), Youtube (in French, also available in Spanish and English, the English the worst rendering to my mind. The Germans don’t have a word for Liberty I think, so unable to find in that language.)

Come Maddalena, Ennio Morricone (you could write an entire screenplay around this song), Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, Kay Kyser, (some idiot Leftie made a parody film of Bush-Cheney, never believing anybody could actually have written such a song, even in WWII), available in mp3 on Amazon.com, The Lonely Bull, (El Solo Toro) Herb Alpert,

As for death songs, I choose Serpico, but couldn’t find this funereal song anywhere on YouTube. I found it on a Greek movie music CD from one of the companies that went down in the twin towers on 9/11. Greenfields of France, Davey Arthur and the Furies YouTube, an anti-war song, but a good sentiment. Almost any song backed up by cello is worth a listen.

God Bless America, Irving Berlin/Kate Smith, YouTube, mp3. What can I say?  Miss Kate says it all. Symphony #9, (New World), Antonin Dvorak…a wonderful paean to America, Movement #2 especially powerful for me. We’ll Meet Again, Vera Lynn/Dr Strangelove, YouTube.

Feel free to use this diary as an exchange site if RS does not provide one. I’d love to hear some new sounds, and comments.

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