Pete Seeger delivers this old tune with emphasis accompanied by a trusty banjo
The operant phrase is translated “My thoughts are free”
I think as I please
And this gives me pleasure
My conscience decrees
This right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater
To duke or dictator
No man can deny
Die gedanken sind frei.
Among George Harrison songs on the 1970s All Things Must Pass, a masterful album, is this small gem. Among the boogeymen are greedy leaders, saved for the final verse, accompanied by a sinister echo, appropriately.
Interesting line: “While Weeping Atlas Cedars.” Among fans, it has kicked off a lot of comment, better left to other posts by folks more informed than I.
Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness.
…Grind You Down
The Toasters, an underground group, cut this tune in 1997, the lively ska beat carrying the protest along:
I’m living in a world where I don’t really fit
Every day walking through the same old shit
I’m gonna get my gun, gonna get prepared
I’m not impressed and I’m not scared.
…Get You Down
Kris Kristofferson, country/rock figurehead, cut his pointed take on the theme in 2003:
And I’ve just got to wonder what my Daddy would’ve done
If he’d seen the way they turned his dream around
I’ve got to go by what he told me, try to tell the truth
And stand your ground
The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack documentary helped interest me in the life of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, his inability to stay in one place, his ups and downs in personal relationships and his partnerships with folk-singing greats.
Put him on stage and give him room, he’ll sing and tell stories with the best of them.
Here’s a sample: a take on Woody Guthrie’s Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues.
This piece is probably one of the best-loved rock-prog-jazz tunes of all time.
This recording is circa October 1969
Buried in fuzz and distortion is a verse which arguably references the Vietnam War. With every U.S. presidency and an unaware electing public are collateral damages.
Blood rack, barbed wire
Politician’s funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty-first century schizoid man
The Dave Matthews Band has a reputation for being a jam band. A recent live concert included a number of songs (and jams) with a theme of longing for peace, tolerance and respect for diversity.
One of the tunes sent me to DMB recording, Before These Crowded Streets.
Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:
And how is this
Hate so deep
Lead us all so blindly killing killing
Fools are we
If hate’s the gate to peace
This is the last stop
[By the way: Keep your ears open for the banjo licks.]