Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (ix)

Another folk song written in the Bronx slum apartment, “Walkin’ In New Haven”, contained the following lyrics:

“Walkin’ in New Haven
I saw you
And hitchin’ in the country
I thought of you
And ridin’ on the railroad
I dreamt of you…”

The following lyrics were contained in another folk song, “Newark Was A Town” that was written around this same time:

“Newark was a town
Where I did roam
And Newark was a town
Where many were killed
And Florrie and Lynn
I see you
Speaking to the students at Rutgers U.
I was wondering just what you do
And why not burn down all of their schools?...”

The “Old John Brown,” “Livin’ On Stolen Goods” and “Give It All Up” protest folk songs were also written in the Bronx slum apartment during this April 1970 to August 1971 period. In addition, during this same period the “Lala’s Song” protest folk love song was also written that contained the following lyrics:

Oh, Lala was a woman who crossed to the other shore
And Lala, you know, I sure wish you were here
You sure knew how to rap, I’d kill if you gave the word
And Lala, you know, it’s time to use our swords

So get your guns
Jail the pigs
Jail them all
We’re soon a-gonna win.

And Lala you’re a woman I know that I can trust
You won’t be like those phonies and call me “a chauvinist”
You were never into bull-shit, your impatience was so clear
And brave, courageous Lala, I wish that you were here.

And Lala I’m so weary of all those selfish “chicks”
I speak of Revolution, they want a papa rich
But Lala I remember you sought equality
And when I almost died, I recalled your beauty.

And Lala I just hope you’re as happy as can be
And whether or not you like me, I’ll fight until you’re free
They’re calling me “narcissus” and many other names
But I’m living like I feel is right and for that I’m not ashamed.”

In retrospect, the lyrics to “Lala’s Song” now seem a little left-sectarian. But at the time they were written, most women under 30 in the 9 to 5 work-world and on the campuses were still anti-feminist and unsupportive of the Black Panther Party’s late 1960s call for all young people in the USA to “become part of the solution, not part of the problem” and fight in support of a Black Panther Party-led Revolution in the USA. Yet at the same time, on the pages of the U.S. counter-culture’s underground newspapers in the early 1970s were many articles which, like “Lala’s Song”, expressed support for the idea of joining the fight for a BPP-led Revolution in the USA.

But I still sometimes sing “Lala’s Song” today because I like the melody, its lyrics reflect the political mood of 1970-1971 within the hip left U.S. subculture, and this protest folk love song reminds me that Lala was the most liberated, most anti-racist, politically strongest white woman I had met prior to 1971 in the United States.

I had purchased a cheap amp, a cheap electric guitar, a harmonica and a Woody Guthrie-type harmonica holder during this period (that was similar to the kind that Dylan used in the early 1960s) during the Fall of 1970. In addition, I also continued to purchase more guitar songbooks and guitar instruction books with the money I was earning as the Writers Guild office boy during this period. I hadn’t yet discovered that both the Grand Army Plaza central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and the Lincoln Center branch of the New York Public Library contained a lot of guitar songbooks and instruction books that I could have borrowed out and used for free. None of my public school teachers or college professors had ever mentioned in class that guitar songbooks and guitar instruction books were available at no cost from these public libraries.

So at the same time I spent my leisure time pumping out new, original protest folk songs and male feminist love songs, I was also using these guitar songbooks and instruction books to teach myself more chords and experiment with playing a guitar in combination with a harmonica or playing a cheap electric guitar with a cheap amp.