26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie's Columbia River Songs by Greg Vandy, Daniel Person

By Greg Vandy, Daniel Person

In 1941, Woody Guthrie wrote 26 songs in 30 days—including classics like “Roll On Columbia” and “Pastures of Plenty”—when he was once employed via the Bonneville energy management to advertise some great benefits of reasonable hydroelectric energy, irrigation, and the Grand Coulee Dam. Timed to rejoice the seventy fifth anniversary of this venture, KEXP DJ Greg Vandytakes readers contained in the strange partnership among one in every of America’s nice people artists and the government, and indicates how the yankee folks revival was once a reaction to demanding times.

26 Songs In 30 Days plunges deeply into the old context of the time and the innovative politics that embraced Social Democracy in the course of an period during which the U.S. were seriously struggling with the good melancholy. And notwithstanding it is a musical historical past of a colourful American musical icon and a selected a part of the rustic, it couldn’t be a greater reminder of the way undying and expansive such issues are in today’s political discourse.

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Extra resources for 26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie's Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest

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The childish “Maxim’s,” for example, with its infantilizing refrain of “Lolo, Dodo, Joujou, Cloclo, Margot, Froufrou,” provides a portrait of a regressed Danilo that repeats (and repeats) whenever he wants to escape painful realities, and serves as a foil for the later emergence of a more adult Danilo, who can once again trust his more mature response to Hanna. And “Women,” however much it may masquerade as a rebuke to its subject, more fundamentally rebukes the characters who are singing by revealing them in a similarly regressed state—again as a foil, this time for the first “Merry Widow Waltz” sequence, immediately following.

Operetta as a type—and especially Viennese operetta—in a curious way already represents an inversion of the marriage trope, frequently taking political situations and revealing that, after all, it is indeed “really” the personal relationships that count. S. Pinafore (discussed in chapter 2 of the first volume), it is the preordained alignment of the couples that compels our acceptance of the absurd denouement. What Viennese operetta, more particularly, provides for the final theme of part 2 is a high degree of nuance, grounded specifically within musical discourse, through which we might observe the subtle ways in which relationships take shape, develop and blossom, and sometimes fail.

Often, the assumption has been that the campy disjuncture between expressive means and dramatic substance is to be explained wholly in terms of historical distance; according to this assumption, these laughable artifacts would have been taken seriously in their day, as seriously as their extravagant accoutrement would suggest. Although this is certainly and obviously true—many did take them quite seriously, and many have continued to do so, even in revival—the historical validity of this receptive mode does not rule out the possibility that operetta’s expressive disjunctures were even in their day quite deliberate.

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