Harry Everett Smith
May 19, 2013
c/o Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch Campus
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, Ohio 43054Hey Mike,I know you’ve been flooded with mail regarding your comments on sizeism, but I wanted to take a second to write you about a project I’ve been working on.As a preface: Your opinion isn’t shocking; millions share the same sentiment. You’ve used your wealth and public platform to echo what many already say. However, it’s important you know that regardless of the numbers on your tax forms, your comments don’t stop anyone from being who they are; the world is progressing in inclusive ways whether you deem it cool or not. The only thing you’ve done through your comments (about thin being beautiful and only offering XL and XXL in your stores for men) is reinforce the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable. Your apology doesn’t change this.Well, actually, that’s not all you have done. You have also created an incredible opportunity for social change.Never in our culture do we see sexy photo shoots that pair short, fat, unconventional models with not short, not fat, professional models. To put it in your words: “unpopular kids” with “cool kids”. It’s socially acceptable for same to be paired with same, but never are contrasting bodies positively mixed in the world of advertisement. The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable. This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful. This is inaccurate, but if someone were to look through your infamous catalog, they wouldn’t believe me.I’ve enclosed some images for your consideration. Please let me know what you think.A note: I didn’t take these pictures to show that the male model found me attractive, or that the photographer found me photogenic, or to prove that you’re an ostentatious dick. Rather, I was inspired by the opportunity to show that I am secure in my skin and to flaunt this by using the controversial platform that you created. I challenge the separation of attractive and fat, and I assert that they are compatible regardless of what you believe. Not only do I know that I’m sexy, but I also have the confidence to pose nude in ways you don’t dare. You are more than welcome to prove me wrong by posing shirtless with a hot fat chick; it would thrill me to see such a shoot.I’m sure you didn’t intend for this to be the outcome, but in many ways you’re kind of brilliant. Not only are you a marketing genius (brand exclusivity really is a profitable move) but you also accidentally created an opportunity to challenge our current social construct. My hope is that the combination of these contrasting bodies will someday be as ubiquitous as the socially accepted ideal.Ever so sincerely,
JesP.S. If you would like to offer me a “substantial amount” to stop wearing your brand so my association won’t “cause significant damage to your image”, don’t hesitate to email me. I respect you as a business man, and my agent and I would be happy to contribute in furthering your established success.P.P.S. You should know your Large t-shirt comfortably fits a size 22. You might want to work on that.
In January Ryan Wendel, Carl Linberg, and I got together to perform a house show of all latin music. It was a rare treat to perform with Ryan, who in addition to being an excellent percussionist makes all of his own drums. Check out his music and unique craftsmanship here at Manito Percussion.
Roommate Rand had a house concert in January of all Latin tunes. There’s a perfectly placed sneeze in track five.
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” - Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird
Two songs from the American musical: Commentary on
American Racial Issues
Show Boat (1927), music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II (based on a book of the same title by Edna Ferber)
Show Boat is centered on a popular form of entertainment through out the 1800s – the show boat. This would be a large barge on which was built a theater for plays and musical numbers, performed mostly by the musicians and actors living on the boat itself. During this time of frontier exploration, must of the American population lived along riversides. As Americans were still settling in newly created towns, theaters and concert halls were rare (if they even existed at all). Travel to larger cities was expensive and difficult, so the entertainment industry traveled to their audiences.
A rough synopsis of Show Boat is of a realistic portrayal of characters working aboard a Mississippi River show boat called Cotton Blossom. The characters sing about falling in and out of love, performing musicals, the mystique of the river, and, perhaps most importantly, issues of race and mixed-race relationships.
It is important to remember the year this musical was produced and the types of musicals this production followed – musical comedies. Audiences were more accustomed to light-hearted themes that would also include discussions of race, but in a scenario that involves satire and quick fixes (think sitcom).
One of the musical’s most memorable songs is sung several times through out the play. The number is performed by Paul Robeson’s character Joe, an African American dock worker, after 18 year old Magnolia (the daughter of Cotton Blossom’s captain) asks for some relationship advice. Joe tells her she should really ask the river, personified in the song as “Ol’ Man River”.
[Dr. Schiller’s Biographical Note (from Lecture 5): Paul Robeson was a supremely talented musician and actor, and also a graduate of Rutgers University and Columbia Law School. Only one generation removed from slavery (on his father’s side), he became a powerful advocate for human and civil rights. Because of his affiliation with the Communist Party, his career was interrupted and virtually destroyed by the anti-Communist witchhunt of the late 1940s and 1950s.]
FIRST VERSION: “Ol’ Man River” by Paul Robeson
The fact that this song, and its performance by Paul Robeson in particular, returns several times through out the production is significant due to its lyrical content. Robeson’s character depicts the hardships of African American workers within a racially white dominated society that “doesn’t care about the world’s troubles” and “doesn’t care if the land isn’t free” – society “just keeps rolling along”.
SECOND VERSION: “Ol’ Man River” by Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson went forth into the Civil Rights movement and fought for the rights of black Americans. In doing so he changed the lyrics of “Ol’ Man River” to depict themes of perseverance and strength.
Portion of the lyrics, with changes in the parentheses:
There’s an ol’ man called the Mississippi
That’s de ol’ man that I’d like to be/(That’s the ol’ man that I DON’T like to be)
What does he care if the world’s got troubles
What does he care if the land ain’t free
Ol’ man river, that ol’ man river
He must know somthin’, but don’t say nothin’
He just’ keeps rollin’
He keeps on rollin’ along
He don’ plant taters, he don’t plant cotton
An’ them that plants ‘em is soon forgotten
But ol’ man river
He just’ keeps rollin’ along
You and me, we sweat and strain
Body all achin’ an’ wracked with pain,
Tote that barge! Lift that bale!
Get a little drunk and you lands in jail/(You show a little grit and you land in jail)
Ah gits weary an’ sick of tryin’/(I keep laughin’ instead of cryin’)
Ah’m tired of livin’ an’ scared of dyin’/(I must keep fightin’ until I’m dyin’)
But ol’ man river
He just keeps rolling’ along
Paul Robeson in a 1936 film version of Show Boat: http://youtu.be/eh9WayN7R-s
Opening number, “Cotton Blossom” (inverted “Ol’ Man River” melody): http://youtu.be/Fo8oJPr-NBg
West Side Story (1957), music by Leonard Bernstein, script by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Steven Sondheim (based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), choreographed AND directed by Jerome Robbins
Jump ahead thirty years in the growth of musical theater and you’ll get West Side Story, another production that depicts American race relations, although this time between white Americans and Puerto Ricans. This musical, however, is set in 1950s New York and depicts the relationships that surround two rival gangs (as opposed to Shakespeare’s two rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets): the Puerto Rican Sharks and the white American Jets.
FIRST VERSION: “A Boy Like That” (1957), original production
As your text states on p. 198, “West Side Story reflects two important developments in the musical during its golden age: the increased importance of the dance, and the use of more sophisticated musical resources.” It is important to note that West Side Story is one of the only musical directed by a choreographer. In this way, dance, movement and rhythm is incorporated into almost every aspect of the musical [Opening Scene: http://youtu.be/m8R9GiLImSw].
Similarly, Leonard Bernstein, upon completion of the music for this production had already written two symphonies and conducted major orchestras across the United States. Bernstein uses influences from Latin, jazz, classical and rock music to inform his score.
Live in the Studio, 1985: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGSGLd1Nm94
SECOND VERSION: “Un Hombre Así” (2008) by Josefina Scaglione as Maria and Karen Olivo as Anita
Though West Side Story went through a revival in the 1980s, Arther Laurents, the original author of the musical’s script, directed a revival in 2009 at the Nation Theater in Washington D.C. that included Spanish lyrics and dialogue in with the original English. These changes put much more emphasis on the cultural diversity characteristic of the Unites States. Additionally, they provide much more authenticity to the characters by allowing them to sing in their native tongue.
Article from the Washington Post about the 2009 revival: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/12/AR2008121200918.html
Live Performance with 2009 cast, “America” (not on the test): http://youtu.be/aJdMqZKG7ic
These musical productions, grown out of the minstrelsy, vaudeville and the satire of musical comedy, developed into a reflection of the times. Topics such as the hardships of early 20th century African Americans (Show Boat) and mixed race relationships (both Show Boat and West Side Story) reflect an increasingly diverse American culture.
Mainstream/Nashville, Outlaw, and Bluegrass
In Country Music Part I, we were introduced to three distinctive country “sounds” that were influential in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s:
1) The “Jimmie Rodgers Sound”: a folksy, unplugged, vocal-plus-acoustic guitar sound.
2) The “Western Swing Sound”: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys; fiddle and steel guitar, plus piano and bass; swing dance rhythms.
3) The “Honky-Tonk Sound”: Hank Williams; electro-acoustic plus steel guitar, the Jimmie Rodgers sound updated.
The three topics we will look at are: The Mainstream (Nashville) Sound, the “Outlaw”/Austin City Limits/”Anti-Nashville Sound” and The Bluegrass Sound
“In the twenty-first century, as profit-oriented industries increasingly demand a type of music that can be all things to all people, there is often little left to distinguish what is marketed as country from what is marketed as pop except for the occasional trace of a rural accent, cliché regionalisms, and with decreasing frequency, the way the singers are dressed.” p. 99
The above quote demonstrates the increasing difficulty in defining the genre of “country”. This lecture will examine the subgenres of country that have developed from the 1950s to the 1970s, but continue to be seen in genres today, from alt-country, contemporary country and pop..
The Mainstream Sound
Patsy Cline (1932 – 1963)
Patsy Cline is often considered to be the forerunner to modern, female country stars due in part to her vocal versatility that allowed for her to become one of the first “cross-over artists”. Candelaria makes a great analogy between Cline and Taylor Swift. These artists were able to exist in both the pop and country realms of music.
What to listen for: Pop back-up vocals – pop drums – country steel
AABA Standard Song Form
A I’m blue again
My friends all said I’d be
I’m blue again
Because you’re leavin’ me
A This heart of mine
So well remembers you
Although I’ve lost your love
To someone new
B The nights are long
So long my darlin’ hear me
I pray that dawn will come
And somehow, you’ll be near me
A I’m blue again
My heart is filled with tears
I’m blue again
As I think of wasted years
The nights are long
So long my darlin’ hear me
I pray that dawn will come
And, somehow, you’ll be near me
I’m blue again
My heart is filled with tears
I’m blue again
As I think of wasted years
To follow up on Cadelaria’s analogy, you can watch this video of Taylor Swift at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards: http://youtu.be/99sX-5GlSuU
What is it in this performance that makes this “country?”
For further reading on cross over artists in country music, here is a short article in the New York Times that just came out about Miranda Lamert. The journalist touches on the “authentic” sound of country, as well as “outlaw” elements that will be discussed later. “On Top of Country but Also Above It”:
So she’s bigger than country, free and clear, not entrenched in anything, it seems. She has written many songs about reckless or enraged women; she has done I destroy men (“Down”) and destroying men is just too easy (“Guilty in Here”), but these are just tropes. For the most part she’s been interested in the details of moral compromise, over acoustic music with rock drums, and bits of studio spontaneity; but loud and chafing electric guitar solos aren’t out of place in her records either.
She is not completely convincing as an outlaw, and this doesn’t matter at all. Though she likes rough voices like Chris Knight’s and Steve Earle’s, hers is animated and clean and agreeable, not particularly spiteful or stubborn. Cigarettes show up regularly in her songs, as metaphors and as weapons, but she has assured interviewers she doesn’t smoke. She and her husband claim to favor the same drink: Bacardi rum and Crystal Light, which sounds either like a private joke or the drink of someone who doesn’t especially care about drinking.
It’s always good to be reminded that the notion of authenticity in pop music is neutral, or perhaps worthless: so far, this may be her greatest and farthest-reaching lesson.
The Creation of the Nashville Sound
A side note….
Here, the use of the “Mainstream” sound vs. the “Nashville” sound can be very confusing. I would associate “Mainstream” with country music GOING mainstream in the 1950s due to commercialization and the inclusion of pop styles (back-up vocals and drums) into country. On the other hand, I would associate the “Nashville” sound not only with the city of Nashville, but also with both the inclusion of pop styles (back-up vocals and drums) AND the elements listed below.
The Nashville Sound:
Since the early 1940’s, Nashville existed as a center for the commercialization of country music due to the WSM radio station and the Grand Ole Opry. Because of the region and high number of country musicians in the area, recording came to take place in Nashville, as opposed to the other recording hubs, New York and Chicago. As people saw the market increase, independent record companies began to sprang up, bringing to town recording and audio engineers, session musicians and song writers.
Some elements of The Nashville Sound:
Elegant Strings (not the fiddle)
Over-dubbing (or multi-tracking)
Bumping the song up a Half-Step: Dolly Parton singing, “Here You Come Again” http://youtu.be/1yyNT7afVSs
Outlaw Country: The “Anti-Nashville” Sound
As you would imagine, when anything goes mainstream, there will usually be some sort of backlash, often this backlash is associated with a younger generation. The PERFECT location for this to occur in the 1970s was AUSTIN, TEXAS due mainly to the combination of cowboy and ranch culture plus the “hippies”, or students, from the University of Texas. Not only was this a meeting of different lifestyles, but it was also throw back to a pre-Nashville sound. Musicians began to look to the music of their predecessors (Jimmy Rogers, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff) for inspiration in the development of their own style.
The best example we have of an outlaw musician is Willie Nelson, pictured below left. Other musicians soon followed in his footsteps. In the ‘80s Johnny Cash, Weylon Jennings and Kris Kirstofferson joined Nelson to form “The Highwaymen”, or as wikipedia puts, a country supergroup.
Hank Williams’ version on a radio show in the ‘50s:
Willie Nelson’s version, performed here in 1975: http://youtu.be/6u8D33fJs4M
Listen for: Stripped down sound – minimal drums – simple instrumentation
The “Bluegrass Sound”
Just as the “outlaws” looked to the past to hold on to tradition, the bluegrass genre behaves in a similar manner, but more so focused on the retention of traditional string instrumentation, like guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle.
A rendition of the African American folk ballad “John Henry” is discussed in your book on p. 25, sung by Arthur Bell. Candelaria includes this song as an example of not only a folk ballad, but also a work song that can have improvisation to extend its length until the task at hand is finished.
Indicative of traditional music coming out of the rural southeast region, bluegrass music is characterized by quick tempo, clear singing tone and virtuosic mandolin and banjo technique. As Candelaria explains in the text on p. 99, the man most responsible for the solidification of bluegrass as a southern music genre was Bill Monroe, most well known for his mandolin playing. Monroe’s high-pitched singing style and quick mandolin technique became part of the “bluegrass sound”, as did the return of the fiddle.
The genre these musicians established in indicative in the music of The Lilly Brothers, led by banjo player, Don Stover. The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover have impeccable Southern Appalachian credentials, but they also had a tremendous following in Boston, where they performed regularly in the 60s and 70s, and throughout the Northeast. In a way, this contributed to Bluegrass being perceived as folk music, rather than a branch of country. This recording features Everett Lilly (b. 1924) on Mandolin and Don Stover (1928-1996) on banjo, and the contrasting timbres of these two instruments comes through very clearly. Bea (Michael Burt) Lilly (1921-2005) is on guitar. The song also represents the incorporation of African-American folklore, the song John Henry, into the bluegrass repertoire.
The Song “John Henry.” “John Henry”, is often considered the most famous American folk song, in terms of amount of recordings, historical importance, and number of variants. For example, the Smithsonian Folkways Archives alone as over 180 versions of the tune.
The hero of this ballad is almost certainly a historical person, an African-American railroad worker who lost his life in an epic contest between his own strength and a mechanized steam drill. The version of the story given on page 25 of our textbook traces the roots of the legend to the Big Bend Tunnel near Hilton West Virginia, ca. 1870. This version is based on the research of Scott Nelson, a professor of history at the College of William and Mary.
Another body of research compiled by John Garst, a folklorist and retired chemistry professor here at UGA, traces the roots of the legend to another railroad construction project near Leeds, Alabama, in 1887. Thus, although some basis in fact can be assumed, the historical roots of the legend remain subject to research and debate.
Our textbook/anthology allows us to compare an traditional African American version of the ballad with the more recent bluegrass version.
CD 1 Track 10, was recorded at Cumins State Prison farm, near Gould Arkansas, in 1939. It is sung by Arthur Bell who was incarcerated at Cumins at the time. In this version, the song seems to be accompanied by the sound of an ax or ax handle, and it retains the characteristics of a song of gang labor blended with the ballad form.
Our current required listening, CD 2 Track 9, is the Lilly Brothers’ bluegrass version, dating from 1956-1957, before their Boston stardom.
John Henry, he was a little bitty boy,
No bigger than the palm of your hand.
His mammy looked down at John Henry and said,
“Johnny gonna be a steel-drivin’ man, lord, lord,
Johnny gonna be a steel drivin’ man.”
John Henry, he said to his captain,
“Captain, you’re goin’ into town.
Bring me back a nine-pound hammer,
For I want to see that railroad down, lord, lord,
I want to see that railroad down.”
John Henry said to his shaker,
“Shaker, you better pray,
For if I miss that little piece of steel,
Tomorrow be your dyin’ day, lord, lord,
Tomorrow be your dyin’ day.”
John Henry went up on the mountain.
He looked down on the other side.
The mount was so cold, John Henry was so small,
He lay down that hammer and he cried, lord, lord,
He lay down that hammer and he cried.
John Henry, he had a purty little woman.
Her name was Polly Ann.
John Henry took sick and had to go to bed.
Polly drove the steel like a man, lord, lord,
Polly drove the steel like a man.
Has anyone ever made a prezume?? with Prezi? should I do it?
hazel dickens forever.
Streaming | (le) poisson rouge -
Watching the John Corigliano birthday bash live streaming from LPR! woot.
RIGHT NOW - Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, The Ensemble Meme
….and I will never read it again.
(Source: memorysong, via thechicletranch)