Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Not Joan Baez - PULL THE TRIGGERS...Black Lives Smatter








It's really time for a white folkie to take up where Joan Baez left off, and warble an earnest ballad about misunderstood criminals. That would include gangsta wannabe's who goad police into pulling the trigger. At the moment instead of music, we get MEMES. After Doc Palmer killed a lion for no reason except joyful vanity, the "Black Lives Matter" people began firing up MEMES all over Facebook and Instagram. Like:

Nevermind that many victims of police brutality had been tormenting the cops, pretending to have weapons or resisting arrest. Also a bit galling is that a MEME such as the above is blindly insisting that anyone protesting the death of a lion can't possibly find time to protest one of the many incidents where excessive force was NOT needed and the cops were wrong.

One thing is certain; Baez doesn't matter much these days, and the folk-rock movement is deader than Trayvon. Nobody's a singin' protests anymore. And is that a good thing? Whether Bob Dylan was right about Hurricane Carter or not, it sure was a good song. When was the last time you heard a topical hit song that touched your heart? (Do NOT mention the word "BONO" if you leave a comment. It will be removed as SPAM).

Here's Joan protesting in 1965 (James Baldwin with the barefoot Baez) and in 2005 (re. the execution of "reformed" ex-crip Tookie Williams). But in 1972 the National Lampoon protested her, via parody.

Oh, the sacrilege!

How could they fug with such a well-meaning folkie?

First thing they had to do was avoid using the inflammatory title "Pull the Triggers, Niggers." On the National Lampoon album, the song was punningly if not cunningly titled "Pull the Tregroes." But the N-word was sung on that black vinyl of black humor.

Written by Tony "Going too Far" Hendra, and performed by a Baez soundalike named Diana Reed, the song references George Jackson. In 1970 Jackson and two other inmates killed a prison guard. As one of the "Soledad Brothers" he wrote a few books and joined rivals Eldridge Cleaver and Black Panther Huey Newton as a pet of white liberals, the kind who condoned violence as long as it was "just across the bay."

Liberals with the same perceived Baez bias against law enforcement probably admired Jackson's brother, who later in 1970 stormed into a Marin County courtroom and seized Judge Harold Haley as a hostage. Haley's face was blown off during the getaway, and Jackson was killed as well.

In 1971, after receiving a gun smuggled to him by a well-meaning white guy, George Jackson shot prison guard Jere Graham in the head, execution-style, exclaiming, "Let's see if this works." Two more guards as well as two white prisoners bled to death before Jackson was gunned down and the prison riot brought under control.

While it was actually Joan's ex-boyfriend Bob Dylan who came out of protest-song retirement to release a single called "George Jackson," the Lampoon gang mocked Baez instead.

The mock Joan sings: "Just because I can't be there doesn't mean I don't care. So next time, Brother, off a pig for me." The chorus: "Pull the triggers, Niggers, we're with you all the way, just across the bay."

Later in the song Joan is crucified for being sanctimonious ("I'm the world's Madonna...I'm needed from Belfast to Bangladesh"). She confesses to trying to right "grievous wrongs" by writing "tedious songs." All these years later, Joan Baez is still singing her heart out, and sometimes wearing it on her sleeve.

Pull the trigger on this download.


Brian Prebble said...

I think one reason the Lampooners targeted Baez instead of Dylan was in the late 60's and early 70's Baez seemed to be popping up at most festivals so was getting captured on film a fair bit, being seen by cinema goers (Woodstock being the biggest example) whereas Dylan was still keeping a rather low profile, shoving out his occasional self portraits, only surfacing publicly for odd moments like the Isle of Wight and the Concert For Bangladesh so Baez was more proactive, in the public eye and therefore open to much more ridicule.

True... we really do need protest singers in the 21st Century but of course "pay to play" is silencing them. A pity somebody you mentioned who has a thing about sunglasses can't be silenced... what's his name... Bonehead?

Ill Folks said...

Ha. True indeed. Then came the odd moment of "Rolling Thunder" when Joan and Bob, former lovers, wandered around in identical face-paint, vests and slacks. Who was who? National Lampoon did dig into Bob for disappearing (see, you can't win).

On the 1973 "Lemmings" album, a parody of "Woodstock," there's not only the nasty "Highway Toes" parody of James Taylor, but "Positively Wall Street."

It's Christopher Guest (also a co-writer) as Dylan. With Bob's latest songs being about loving country-pie and noticing horses standing in the sun, the chorus here is:

"Oh, out behind the barn, I'm chewin' on a piece of hay. I'm up to my knees in cowshit. I''m shovelin' my blues away."

The notion is that Bob sold out and was writing lucrative pap (I don't know that "Nashville Skyline" was THAT much of a hit). Another line: "You say I was your leader, you say I turned you on. You're startin' to suspect now it was all a con."

Con-fusin' ain't it.