All posts tagged: Music

Pete-Seeger-NYC

Pete Seeger: UnAmerican, Communist, and a People’s Songster

By Saswat Pattanayak  Pete Seeger was not the “American conscience”, as he is being now crowned by the corporate media after his demise. In reality, he was the UnAmerican conscience. And to understand this, it is important to underscore the extent of his internationalism, his commitment towards humanity, his selfless unpatriotic journey as a fervent communist, his lifelong quest against American militarism, adventurism and exceptionalism. Most importantly, to use history as a weapon in the class struggle, as Pete used music as his tool, it is pivotal to not let go of the “unAmerican” label that was imposed upon him by the American power, because he was perceived to be a communist, when in August 1955, he was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and he refused to testify against his comrades or to pass on any information regarding the Communist Party that could help implicate any office-bearer of the party. Saswat Pattanayak with Pete Seeger (Photo: Amrita Misra) Unlike many entertainers and intellectuals who gave in to the peer pressures or social benefits, …

Radical Roots of Gangnam Style: Psy, Kim Jong-Un and Challenges for the Fascist Standards of Sexy

By Saswat Pattanayak Psy has surpassed every artist in history by attaining one billion views, but that alone is not instructive. The measure of greatness in Park Jae-sang remains in his consciousness-raising about capitalistic contradictions and imperialistic warmongering in undiluted terms. In a Eurocentric world dominated by the disturbingly unifying English language, where American narratives grip past and the present times, it is easy to wonder why a Korean wields such an influence. The answer is as easy: why not. After all, Korea is like no other. It indeed is the center of the universe – the site for contestation of ideologies. The country that sparked the Cold War and divided not itself, but the world into two. Who can better define its historical role than the most savage of chroniclers, Winston Churchill: “The importance of this bloody place lies in the fact that it has led to the re-arming of America.” Korean resistance against the imperialists led to Truman’s NSC 68 – the most significant document outlining American ambitions to control the world. In …

Tribute to Woody!

By Saswat Pattanayak Woody Guthrie, the labor organizer and agitator who redefined the entire genre of folk music through his political philosophy was an unrepentant Marxist-Leninist, an avowed supporter of Joseph Stalin and a lifelong adherent of Communism. By today’s standard, it certainly is not a flattering introduction to the man America has glorified to a postage stamp and whose centennial is being celebrated across corporate media in full flair without any mention of his political legacies. But to understand Woody Guthrie’s contributions, it is critical to explore why he has been stripped of all the aspects he held closest to heart. If he is exalted as the father of protest music, it is crucial to know what exactly was he protesting against, and who prevailed upon eventually. Even Nora Guthrie, his daughter who curates Woody’s archives insists today that he could not have been a communist. The Richmond Organization, Woody Guthrie’s publishers deny biographers any permission to quote Guthrie’s songs which praise Stalin. And more famously, “This Land is Your Land”, an authentic narrative …

Gil Scott-Heron :: Revolutionaries Live Forever

The brother who prophesied that the revolution won’t be televised is no more. Many of us did not believe in his cautionary words. Some of us caricatured the concept of revolution as manifesting in fast cars and expensive elections. Those in Egypt claiming themselves to be revolutionaries even held up signs to proclaim revolution was indeed being televised. Some Iranian protesters claimed revolution was being Twitted. Indeed, during his lifetime, Gil Scott-Heron was ridiculed, neglected and relegated to a hopeless corner. After his passage, he will probably be obliterated from prospective history narratives, as our liberalized society continues to glory itself in post-racial illusions. After all, Gil Scott-Heron was not a gem or an ornament in any literary tradition. In obituaries he will probably be called a Godfather of Rap, but he consciously distanced himself from such tags. Naturally enough, he was neither a millionaire nor a philanthropist. He was not a best-selling poet on New York Times lists either. And certainly he was not counted among Time Magazine’s most influential persons of the century. …