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Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!

Rick Fielding 27 Apr 02 - 11:43 AM
wysiwyg 27 Apr 02 - 11:54 AM
GUEST 27 Apr 02 - 12:03 PM
Jeri 27 Apr 02 - 12:51 PM
wysiwyg 27 Apr 02 - 01:04 PM
Joe Offer 27 Apr 02 - 01:23 PM
SINSULL 27 Apr 02 - 01:25 PM
Hollowfox 27 Apr 02 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 27 Apr 02 - 05:01 PM
toadfrog 27 Apr 02 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Russ 27 Apr 02 - 05:20 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Apr 02 - 05:38 PM
Lonesome EJ 27 Apr 02 - 05:55 PM
Jeremiah McCaw 27 Apr 02 - 06:04 PM
JohnnyBGoode 27 Apr 02 - 06:20 PM
Peter T. 27 Apr 02 - 06:26 PM
Mudlark 27 Apr 02 - 06:57 PM
Jim Dixon 27 Apr 02 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Ed 27 Apr 02 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,Ed 27 Apr 02 - 09:01 PM
Maryrrf 27 Apr 02 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Ed 27 Apr 02 - 09:11 PM
Rolfyboy6 27 Apr 02 - 11:41 PM
Celtic Soul 28 Apr 02 - 12:26 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Apr 02 - 12:33 AM
Bert 28 Apr 02 - 02:04 AM
hesperis 28 Apr 02 - 02:51 AM
Jeri 28 Apr 02 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,jonesey 28 Apr 02 - 09:17 AM
wysiwyg 28 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Arnie 28 Apr 02 - 10:39 AM
JedMarum 28 Apr 02 - 10:47 AM
GUEST 28 Apr 02 - 11:15 AM
Naemanson 28 Apr 02 - 02:17 PM
Dani 28 Apr 02 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,jonesey 28 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 28 Apr 02 - 08:41 PM
Little Hawk 28 Apr 02 - 08:56 PM
Rick Fielding 28 Apr 02 - 11:09 PM
Little Hawk 28 Apr 02 - 11:17 PM
Little Hawk 29 Apr 02 - 12:14 AM
Peter T. 29 Apr 02 - 07:29 AM
GUEST 29 Apr 02 - 08:02 AM
Big Mick 29 Apr 02 - 08:59 AM
Peter T. 29 Apr 02 - 10:13 AM
DeanC 29 Apr 02 - 11:07 AM
Mary in Kentucky 29 Apr 02 - 12:30 PM
JenEllen 29 Apr 02 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Marion 29 Apr 02 - 06:48 PM
ddw 29 Apr 02 - 09:58 PM
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Subject: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 11:43 AM

Hmmmmm....been thinking a lot about this one for the last few days. Thought I'd throw it out for some general thoughts.

In a few days I'll be playing one set for some inner city kids at an 'alternative' school. I've been hired by one of the teachers (a friend of mine) to sing and talk about 'protest' in music. Now for years I've done workshops and stuff on Labour music, civil rights, Joe Hill songs, the whole historical setting right up through Dylan, Ochs, and some of my own songs on these various subjects. In fact I've sung at this school dozens of times....but not in the last eight or nine years.

But the bottom line (for me) is that I'm no longer even remotely relevant in these areas. Truthfully I'm sick to death of singing "Solidarity' and "We Shall Not Be Moved" etc. whether it be to a group of activists interested in the history of the Labour movement, or to members of a Union earning far more in a year, than I could make in three. Same with things like "The Times They are a Changin'", and "I Ain't a Marchin' Anymore" etc. This music had a strong effect on me when I was in my twenties, but if someone's gonna sing 'em today with any real passion....well "it ain't me babe".

The kids I'll be facing at this school have their OWN music...it's angry, in your face, and reflects THEIR experience. Their support circles are the various gangs they belong to, their instrument is the boom box, and their perceived foes are people who all look like me.

Now I guess Pete Seeger just takes on a challenge like this by throwin' his head back and singin out "John Henry" or "Rock Island Line", and maybe the kids get caught up in his special magic, but I never had either his confidence or his "right to the bone" belief system, so I'm doin' a LOT of of thinking right now. Any feedback?

Thanks

Rick


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 11:54 AM

Good LUCK! My former high school hired me to give a presentation to seniors on parenting, at their parent ed module in health class! I felt much like YOU do. I turned it around, and said they knew more about good and bad parernting than I could, because they are still BEING parented and I'm not. We went around the circle, each one saying what they had seen of good and bad parenting models in their own lives and in their friends' lives. ("What has been good about parenting you are familiar with, and what would you like to see parents do differently?") Then they shared how THEY planned to parent, and it was pretty hot stuff.

I think what you have to do is lead with all the trouble their "protest ancestors" got into for protesting, and say how they used it politically, and how their views matured over time and how their music rallied people instead of merely arousing anger... how heroes always have something positive shining through even their anger.... maybe say how the Palestinian suicide bombers are good examples of negative approaches to handling protest.

I would have a little songwriting exercise where they are challenged to take some of their issues and write (or help you write) a song about it that rallies people to a positive cause instead of parading a negativity.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 12:03 PM

Palestinian suicide bombers are good examples of negative approaches to handling protest.

Rick,

You make that statement and you'll be laughed out as a pretentious idiot.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Jeri
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 12:51 PM

So where did "Voices of Struggle" come from? Seems to me folks have said the same thing in different ways for years. Woody wrote this, and it seems as angry and "in-your-face" as much of those kids' music.

The songs about solidarity are about dreams. Seems like the kids' music is often about anger. It's the difference between expressing feelings and telling folks what they should do about those feelings. If you were an "angry young man" when you were younger, those kids may be there right now. Maybe songs like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" will mean something to them - just because you've been there/done that doesn't mean they have. And aren't a whole lotta blues songs about crappy stuff that people in authority have done?

I guess you have to be willing to do it for them and find things they'd find relevent. You have to either care about the music or the kids enough to do it. The overall feeling I'm getting from your first post is that you're anticipating a hostile audience. I don't think that's likely to happen unless you make the kids feel dumb for feeling the way they do.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 01:04 PM

You can always use the spirituals.... they get through to everyone and they are a distant ancestor of rap, hip hop, etc. Show how they moved through time into protest music ("gospel origins of civil rights songs" thread? see spirituals permathread), make up some new ones about today's issues..... good old floating verses....

~S~


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 01:23 PM

Hi, Rick - take a look at what Billy Bragg has done with the old stuff. Leon Rosselson is another one who bridges the generation gap.

But hey, I sang "This Land Is Your Land" at a punk rock concert and met with thunderous applause. The crowd wanted me to sing a duet with my son, and they all sang along.

Don't be scared. They'll love you.

-Joe Offer-

Oh, and just because I gotta boast. My son's band, !!! (Pow Pow Pow)
was mentioned in Rolling Stone last month as one of the up-and-coming bands in Manhattan...


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: SINSULL
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 01:25 PM

Rick,
Have you heard Inobu's tribute to Amadou Diallo? If not, I can overnight a copy for you to play. It will hit home with this audience. And given Larry's association with the Labor movement...


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Hollowfox
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 04:41 PM

Well, I haven't seen your workshops, and I don't know what ages the students are, but some thoughts do come to mind. The idea of getting on trouble for being honest, for one. You could tell them about Victor Jara's execution in front of a football stadium full of witnesses by having his hands cut off so that he couldn't play guitar any more, and his response by singing for those last minutes he had to live.
For non-lethal results, you could use Pete Seeger, both the environmental (Sloop Clearwater) and political (McCarthy hearings) aspects.
I'd see what I could steal, er, learn from Grit Laskin, James Keelahan, Si Khan, and Utah Phillips. I'd ask the kids to turn you on to songs from their chosen genres.
If there are problems with kids wearing "gang colors", you could show how that old St. Pat's chestnut, is about people being killed by the government for wearing green.
Just some random thoughts, I hope they help.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 05:01 PM

It is simple Rick

COMMUNICATION!!

Just LISTEN. They have a lot to share. AND they WANT to be HEARD.

Begin a dialogue.

Treat them as peers who have something which will enrich YOUR life...you have the background TO THEN share and connect two - at the most three songs - which reflect the same angst from another era.

PROMISE YOU - THEY WILL BEG, PLEAD, AND PROTEST until they have you back again. The second time they will listen more.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: toadfrog
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 05:04 PM

That's always a problem. A bunch of us went out at the end of the 50's to sing songs to farm workers in the Valley. Things like "We Shall Not be Moved." Typical reaction: "I guess that church music is o.k. I like Okie music myself." I suggest you sing gang-related rap tunes.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 05:20 PM

Really tough.

Ok.

How about coming up with a list of songs you really DO care about that you really WANT to sing. Then get creative. Figure out how they can be seen as protest songs. The idea is not to try to fool anyone but to look at the songs from a different angle.

A song doesn't have to be about the Viet Nam war or unionization to be a protest song. Think of "Hard is the fortune of all womankind." No matter what a woman's age or race or home town that's got to ring a bell. "How can a poor man live in times like these" will probably be relevant forever.

Any song that offers a vision of how the world could be a better place is as much a protest song as a song that complains about the world as it is.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 05:38 PM

Hmmmmm....very interesting so far. Thanks.

I've been doing this kind of work (along with my harmless folksinging thing) for close to thirty five years, and have faced (and succeeded with) some verrry disparate audiences, including prisoners, entirely Gay groups both male and female, some real political hard-asses and even Corporate groups (why THEY wanted 'political music' is another story altogether) and this is the first time I've really been concerned about my approach.

I think it's the fact that the kids are so young (14-17) and have grown up with so much different information than me. Pride is a HUGE value among their group, and much of THEIR music tells them it's not only OK to go to the wall over what I'd consider trivial (a dirty look or a pair of sneakers) but to NOT do so is a sign of weakness.

I'm getting some ideas from things mentioned here, which I'll try and relate in a day or two, but any other thoughts are still appreciated.

Thanks

Rick


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 05:55 PM

Rick, how about songs that describe a tragedy of workers victimized? Granite Mills or Woody's Ludlow Massacre. Give them a little history about it first.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 06:04 PM

Friend of mine had a somewhat similar school gig. One youngster, not impressed with folk music asked (challenged) him if he did any alternative stuff. My friend's reply, "Hey, we ARE alternative. We're as alternative as it gets. They don't play our music on the mainstream radio stations." The kids all settled down and listened. Turned out to be a great gig.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: JohnnyBGoode
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 06:20 PM

Susan and Jeremiah, what fantastic comments!


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 06:26 PM

Don't get Rick started on Amadou Diallo....

An anti-school song of any generation will go down well -- but all I can think of is Folsom Blues....You need to sus out if it is a real "alternative school", i.e. street kids, or an artsy "alternative school" -- if it is an artsy alternative school you can do any of your repertoire, they are all children of the upper middle class. Stay away from anything on Eric Clapton's Unplugged though -- I am sure they are sick of it.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Mudlark
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 06:57 PM

Lots of good ideas so far, Rick. Just wanted to add that altho I've been a political hothead ever since I was a kid, I've NEVER liked "protest" songs, polemics, etc., set to music. There are a few, like "What have they done to the rain" and Patriot's Game that have real melodic value, but for the rest, when I went to rallys, etc, I'd rather hear a rousing speech, and then GOOD music. I agree with those that say, if you feel out of touch, get IN touch by letting them tell you about how they perceive music and its relationship to protest and change.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 07:05 PM

Rick: Congratulations on the fact that you're even THINKING about this problem and that you're willing to work on it. Do you have time to learn any new songs in the next few days?

How about The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. The story practically tells itself. I think the kids would be able to relate to it. It happens to be the first "protest song" I ever heard (I think) back when "protest song" was a new term (to me at least) and Bob Dylan was just beginning to be talked about. Dylan sang it on Steve Allen's show. I think it was his first TV appearance. It galvanized me when I was about 16 years old. I think it would work today.

How about Masters of War or God on Our Side? Or Paxton's What Did You Learn in School Today? (assuming they can appreciate irony).

If you dare broach the subject of drugs, there are lots of songs out there about cocaine, "jake," Canned Heat, etc., that show that drug addiction is nothing new. And if you choose the right song, no one would object to the message.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 08:53 PM

Interesting question, and with all due respect I think that you're all pretty much missing the point.

Folk Music is about the human condition

Sure, "The Times They Are A-Changin" may not have the same resonance to these kids, but find me a teenager who doesn't relate to:

And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command

Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose...

If it were my gig, I would concentrate on songs that illustrated these things.

I would play "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "I Ain't a Marchin' Anymore"

I would however try to explain that they were songs written by ordinary people who were pissed off with the status quo and wanted to change things.

Hope I've made my point well enough to be understood.

Ed

PS

These sleeve notes from a Martin Carty LP maybe reinforce what I'm trying to say:

Latterday equivalents of the leading characters in the great ballads still appear in local newspapers today: the enraged husband who thinks his wife is unfaithful, the lovers who wait for each other through years of separation, the woman who kills her own illegitimate child, the girl who prefers to die rather than submit to an arranged marriage with a man she hates, the incestuous and jealous brother, and so on.

These are still very much with us, even if they are not necessarily members of the aristocracy and their steeds are made in a Japanese factory and live in garages rather than stables these days.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 09:01 PM

Re-reading my post, I may not have made myself clear enough.

Basically, I think you should introduce your first song with:

"This is a song written 300 years ago, but it explains how you're feeling right now, pretty well"

Does that clarify my previous message?

Ed


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Maryrrf
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 09:04 PM

Rick, I don't have anything to add to whats been said - all good advice, but please let us know how the gig goes!


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 09:11 PM

Maryrrf:

but please let us know how the gig goes!

Oops, I forgot to mention that there's always been 'soap opera' too

Ed


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Rolfyboy6
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 11:41 PM

Since I know Rick knows the blues he might use the 'hidden meanings' and 'understood messages' part of the blues for an illustration or example. The blues lyric message looks simple but carries a wealth of unstated freight among it's listeners.
"Asked my Captain for the time of day(2x)
He took out his watch and he throwed it away"

"Big Boss man, don't you hear me when I call(2x)
You ain't so big, you just tall, that's all."


The railroad section workers sing within the white boss's hearing:
"When ya getta section, lemme be your straw[boss]
And when ya getta daughter, lemme be your son-in-law

(I sang that for my wife, a Mexican Section foreman's daughter. She sucked in her breath with a hiss at the insult).
There's a lot that can be done with this with the proper introduction of the material.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 12:26 AM

This isn't folk, and it's at least a few years out of date as well (Early 90's), but check out "The Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy" for some relatively recent protest music.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 12:33 AM

Using the old protest songs would mean a lot of explanations. A lot of this is now footnotes in old history books. I remember when my kids were protesting the Vietnam War. Now a grandson is touring in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. Another generation and he, and the young people he meets there, consider it ancient history.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Bert
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 02:04 AM

Try looking for some newer or rarely heard protest songs. Such as "Heart of the Appaloosa" or "Goodnight, Loving Trail" or something by Tom Paxton. Write at least one of your own for the occasion. And you're always welcome to sing "Plastic Flower Seeds"


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: hesperis
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 02:51 AM

Well, ancient history can be really fascinating - if someone brings it ALIVE for you.

Listen to them first. Then go from there with what is relevant to what they told you.

And what IS protest, anyway? It's not just complaining... its action.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 08:30 AM

Rick, some more thoughts...
As to being out of touch, you will NEVER know the specifics of their lives. Even if you were in constant contact and heard everything they had to say. But you never know the specifics of any audience members lives. You don't know what music they listen to at home and you don't know what's in their hearts. At some point, you have to still care if your material is relevant to them, you still have to communicate, but you have to do the music that's relevant to you because you're job is to show them how and why it's still relevant. That may be the biggest problem - the music you think fits is no longer relevant to you.

Some folks, me included, have suggested looking for protest in different sorts of songs. Maybe it's the big picture, the abstract, that doesn't blow your skirt up anymore. The songs are often preachy - the "we will all join together" stuff. They're fine if you sing them to people who have similar sentiments, but if someone hasn't made up their mind, the songs can push them away as likely as draw them in. The smaller, more subtle songs about one person's struggle may mean more to you and to them.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,jonesey
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 09:17 AM

Beck has a great song about himself and some of his friends getting in trouble when teenagers. It's written in a 'traditional' style. It's very funny. You might try learning it as the sarcasm is ruthless and the settings are pod malls, McD's, 7/11's and the like. Very relevant and would make a good ice breaker. I've posted before about having a fun band with my nephews. We've developed a broad repertoire over the years as I've made an effort to adapt songs from their referencing to fit what we do. They in turn don't roll their eyes when I break out a Marty Robbins song. I realize you're making an educational presentation and most of the stuff we play is pop music or 'alternative', but maintaining a 'students' attitude towards material and searching out songs by rap artists or new singer/songwriters is a great way to keep music fresh. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM

Hey, you could always do it about the FAILED protests... you know, join the kids' cynicism, talk about how screwed up the world still is despite all the efforts made in the past... ask them how they think protest music is better now or should be done now!

Isn't it going to be a problem with the school administration if this presentation stirs up some action from the students? "Oh yeah, Fielding. Isn't he the guy that got the kids to burn down their school?"

Maybe the best thing you can do is follow your heart and NOT do the thing you were asked to do, but give them something else, something better. Give them something to counter the negativity... give them something lovely, something healing, something encouraging.... what do YOU think they really need, kids these days? I think THAT would be the really courageous and Fielding-like thing to do. Give them heart and humor and SENSE?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 10:39 AM

Rick - you are always best at doing what you are really comfortable with - and that quality will not go un noticed by the young folks. I think you'd do well to sing them the songs that you already know will deliver strength and honesty. Give em some comedy along with the serious stuff e.g. I'll go to School No more (or whatever you call that). If you make them laugh a bit - you'll have them in the palm of your hand - (and don't forget to play the banjo!) Arnie


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 10:47 AM

Kids'll see right through any lack of interest or belief you have in the music. I would simply look at the task as a performance - and play whatever songs are your favorites, at the moment. Talk about your long and varied career in music, play examples of songs you played in days gone by - but keep the whole thing in context of what you LOVE to play/sing right now.

The joy of your music is what opens the door to their appreciation - any wisdom you impart from your introductions, stories or the lyrics is gravy! It's Rick Fielding that is the primary lesson, and I'll bet that's the easiset to display.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 11:15 AM

I don't think Rick has provided enough information for anyone to give sound advice.

Rick, why are you avoiding telling us who the audience really is? In other words, some time back, Peter T asked the class question: will you be playing to kids of upper class parents, or to kids who have been thown out of the public school system's mainstream schools? Both types of "alternative" high schools can be found inner city, and Peter is right, the audiences (and therefore your choice of material) would be completely different.

For us to help, we also need to know their race. Like it or not, and no matter how PC we think we are with "we are all the human race" sentiments, that is NOT the way inner city kids of color see it. And again, your choice of material can be different depending upon the group you are playing to, ie Latino, black, Asian, American Indian, or white. Whether the group is recent immigrants matters too.

I think people could give you some really solid advice if you would show more candor and honesty about your audience.

Just a thought.

Another issue you don't seem willing to mention here


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Naemanson
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 02:17 PM

As some of the others said your best bet is a dialogue. Find out what they listen to, what makes it work for them and then sing something that realtes to that idea. the idea is to help them see that they are not the first and they are not alone in their feelings. We have all been young and we have all experienced the trauma of youth. And some of us, unfortunately, did not make it. I believe that happens because they do not realize their feelings are not unique, that they are just feeling the way kids have always felt. And because they don't know what to do about it.

Hmm, getting off track here. Anyway, the idea, as was clearly stated above it to communicate clearly whatever your intention is. If you are only to entertain then do so. If you want to teach you might want to sneak that into a performance. "Here you go, guys, a song of youth and drug dependency. It just happens to be 50/100/200 years old."


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Dani
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 02:56 PM

Jonesey, point us to the Beck song? I like some of his stuff, but couldn't find this.

Rick, I have not a damn thing to add to this excellent advice, except to re-emphasize that you'll know, when you are with them, the direction to take. You have the music in your head, and the love in your heart. If your friend, who knows these kids, thinks you're the guy for the job, and you can LISTEN and they know you're an honest soul, it'll be good.

And if they're mostly Black kids, I'm with Susan. Show them the roots, and the continuum, of the music.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,jonesey
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 08:26 PM

Hi Dani, Just e-mailed my friend who played it for me to find out and I'll report back to this thread when I've got the info. I couldn't find it either. I think it was part of a compilation before he broke big.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 08:41 PM

Recently ran across this post-modern love song just loaded with tender sentiments on Google- forgot where, but I took it down for a grandson. Just the thing for your program.

Lyr. Don't Add: STEAMROLLER

Well, I'm a steamroller, baby, I'm bound to roll all over you.
Yes, I'm a steamroller now, baby, I'm bound to roll all over you.
I'm gonna inject your soul with some sweet rock 'n roll and shoot you full of rhythm and blues.

Well, I'm a cement mixer, a churning urn of burning funk.
Yes, I'm a cement mixer for you, baby, a churning urn of burning funk.
Well, I'm a demolition derby, yes, a hefty hunk of steaming junk.

Now, I'm a napalm bomb, baby, just guaranteed to blow your mind,
And if I can't have your love for my own, sweet child, won't be nothing left behind,
It seems how lately, baby, got a bad case steamroller blues.

Ah, Let Me Call You Sweetheart.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 08:56 PM

I'd say Gargoyle had some good advice there, and I'd also say...just sing some stuff you REALLY LIKE at the moment. Good luck!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 11:09 PM

Some really fine suggestions....and I'm ruminating on them. They're definitely going to be a big help.

A couple of things are a bit confusing though....Peter T. said
"You need to sus out if it is a real "alternative school", i.e. street kids, or an artsy "alternative school" -- if it is an artsy alternative school you can do any of your repertoire, they are all children of the upper middle class."

I think my description was pretty plain back in the first post
"The kids I'll be facing at this school have their OWN music...it's angry, in your face, and reflects THEIR experience. Their support circles are the various gangs they belong to, their instrument is the boom box, and their perceived foes are people who all look like me." That sure ain't upper middle class.

Even stranger (to me) is the suggestion made with total anonymity that I was being "PC" about the racial make-up of the kids. This is Canada...generally it ain't a front burner issue. For what it's worth, my guess is the kids will be Caucasian, Oriental, Black and Middle Eastern. Their folks probably come from dozens of countries. If that makes it easier for you to throw out any suggestions Guest, go for it...I'm open.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 11:17 PM

But if all that doesn't work...try this:

Wear a baseball cap with some corporate or team logo on it, and be sure it's on BACKWARDS. Wear an oversized T-shirt with some other logo on it. Wear REALLY baggy pants that are several sizes too large. Wear grundgy, horrible old sneakers. Get a couple of nose rings, earings, eyebrow rings...whatever...enough hardware so you have a truly magnetic personality. Get your hair died flourescent green, red, blue or orange. Swear a lot! Say things like: So I, like, met Pete Seeger, eh, and he's like "Wassup?" and I'm like "Not much, dude..." and he's like, "Got any smokes?" and I'm like "No prob" and so we, like have a smoke, eh, and I'm like, "Hey, is that a Gap jacket?" and he's like "Whaddya think? It ain't a Hilfiger!" and I'm like "Cool!"

This will, like, put them at ease, and then you can, like, slip in some protest songs...like...y'know what I'm, like, sayin'?

- LH


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 12:14 AM

I see I have rendered you speechless with delight...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 07:29 AM

Sorry, Rick, I missed that sentence in the original.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 08:02 AM

Of course, Rick. These aren't upper middle class children, so you assume they are all in gangs? That they all listen to which variety of "angry, in your face" music? I'm gonna guess rap, because after all, these are kids of color who attend an alternative school--they only listen to rap, right?

No stereotyping there.

Maybe you should just sing em cotton pickin', coolie, and wet back songs, Rick. It would be so historical for them. I'm sure them listening to a guy like you will be for their own good, too. They really need to be lectured to by some white guy who is so clueless and insecure he has to "play down" to his audiences when they don't look the same or have the same tastes, as him.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 08:59 AM

Fuck the slug that posted before me, Rick. Pay them no mind. Let's get on with the question.

I have been thinking quite a bit about this question which is why I didn't post before this. I have quite a bit of experience with this, but your question made me think it through instead of just "winging it" as I usually do in these situations. Here is what I come up with. Seems to work for me.

First rule, be yourself. If these young ones are at all similar to the young adults that I have met in these situations, they will spot a phoney in a Toronto second. You walk in there trying to talk like them, dress like them, ......... in other words "trying to relate" by being something you are not, and they will go to sleep on you, at least, and be abusive at worst.

Second rule, show them what you have in common. Communication only occurs when the sphere of your experiences overlaps the sphere of their experiences. Imagine two circles that are apart, then move the circles until they overlap. That space where they do is your opportunity to bridge the gap. I have sat and talked with you for hours on end, and I am telling you that despite the difference in years, you have many things in common with these young ones. Just take the time to find it.

Third rule, get them to focus on the message of the music and don't worry about the delivery. You couldn't do rap if you wanted to and I know you don't. If you have taken care of the first two rules, they will already like you. If you can show them the "message" in your music, they will be hooked. Think about the music of the young people you are talking about here. It is all message driven. Ever notice how much of the music of today has sampling of music from our youth? A fair amount. This music is spawned by the same things that spawned the music of our time, the music of Woody Gutherie, the music of Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood. Your "relating" to them should come on what you have in common. Talk about the conditions that spawned the music that you are performing.

One good tactic is to pick a couple of the students to interact with, but not exclusively. I usually look for the leader and poke a little fun with him/her. Look for the joker and make a few jokes, the loverboy/girl and tease them. I also look for the quiet one and try to draw him/her out a bit. Some of the best revelations come from these.

I think the most important thing, at least in my experience, is to make damn sure it is a dialogue and not a lecture. Find the way, no matter what, to make sure that this is a conversation with mutually beneficial results. If you it is done right, both you and these young ones walk out with a better, more accurate view of the world.

Bottom line here, my very dear friend, is that you have much more in common with these kids than you realize. I have always found these encounters to be very refreshing and inspirational. Sometimes we old radicals get caught up in the trap of age. We have spent so many years believing a certain set of facts that we alienated ourselves from the ones who are going through their own fires, the same ones that tempered us and made us what we have become. The ability to relate is lost when we forget what that was like or we get caught dwelling on "the old days". I usually end up learning much more from these young ones than I teach them. And it gets me in touch with what is happening now. Many of the "heroes" I see every day are young ones facing more than I ever imagined they would, and dealing with it heroically. Get excited, buddy, you are going to love this if you do it right. I know you will. The fact that you asked this question proves that to me.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 10:13 AM

Guest, you are a jerk.

Mick is of course right. They won't think you are an old dope.

But it is an interesting subject to work over.

Upon reflection, I think a slide blues would go over great, especially a resonator slide. What occurs to me is that kids don't really know what you can do with an acoustic guitar using a slide. I think they would be fascinated, compelled by the sound: you should borrow a National guitar or equivalent. Just a thought: hot tinny, swoopy sound. This is how an electric guitar works when the batteries are dead!!!!!

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: DeanC
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 11:07 AM

Rick,

I have just about no experience at actually doing this kind of thing, so feel free to ignore me completely, but is seems to me like some of the answer to your query depends a bit on whether you look at your performance as entertainment or education. Of course, it will be some of each. From what I have heard of you I don't think you need to worry about the entertainment aspect. It sounds to me like the teacher who is hiring you is looking for the history of protest. That's good because I have always felt that there is a lot of history to be learned from folk music. It's bad because the subject is so broad.
Some of the songs you mentioned may not have the vitality for you that they once did, but they are still good songs. I think that to a degree you have to rely on the quality of the material to get the kids interested. Your commitment to the ideals in the song are probably less important than your commitment to the song. (As an example I sing lots of Christian music without beleiving in or even thinking about the words. It is rare that I will refuse to sing one of these songs because of the words as long as it's good music.)
I also think that it is a good idea to give some thought to why these songs were once very meaningful to you but aren't anymore. It's probably because the context of the song is in the past and you (as well as the rest of the world) have moved on. I think it would be useful to talk to the kids about that aspect of protest. I think that the kids will find your own experience to be interesting.
This has been a very interesting topic for me to think about. Thanks for bringing it up.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 12:30 PM

Good advice from Mick.

I wasn't surprised by the question about what kind of alternative school...Around here, an alternative school "the A school" is where all the discipline problems get sent. It's an alternative to dropping out of school. Usually the kids are quite savvy (street smart, or at least smart at disrupting a classroom) and any break in the routine is just an excuse for practicing the disrupting skills. These classrooms are extremely structured and usually supervised by someone retired from the military or police.

My only advice, besides Mick's "dialog" advice which he expressed more eloquently than I could, is...try to find out how many will be in your "audience." I taught adolescents hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital...never more than 6 at a time...you could interact individually with them. The support they had for each other in this situation was phenomenal. As Mick said, there is usually a leader (ham) who will gladly participate. I used a portable keyboard here, and usually you can "wing it" with a small group, let them participate, engage a dialog, show examples of music that expresses what you're talking about.

I've also taught a classroom of "inner city" demographic types, with some real discipline problems thrown in...and one of the keys here is to not try to move around too much. They are comfortable in a familiar room, but if they have to go to another room, can get out of hand. It takes a very experienced person to go outdoors with about 20 of these kids. And an even more experienced and familiar person to take them on a field trip.

The race/cultural questions are not out of bounds either. I witnessed a young, extorverted Japanese girl teaching a formal tea ceremony to a group of discipline problem kids. The roof was about to blow, and she was unaware of the connotations of things being said.

Years ago I attended a Job Corps concert. The Job Corps is a camp for teaching young drop outs job skills. After several kids noisily walked out of the concert, the ones who remained seemed to enjoy it. (But there is a stigma to "sucking up" amonst the peers...so you don't won't to show any kind of recognition publicly.)

Let us know how it goes.


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: JenEllen
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 01:06 PM

Why treat it like a 'set'? This is not going to be your typical 'audience', is it? My experience with alternative school students has generally been that somewhere along the line these kids missed a serious dose of someone listening to them. They have very effective walls that can easily fend off being 'talked to'.

Is your friend willing to make it a project instead of a concert? The kids could be asked to bring in their own protest music, probably along the lines of POD-type stuff, you listen to bits of it together, find out what makes this applicable to them, and from there slip in your own "Ya know, that's a little something like "X" (your analogies are your own) You can discuss how well historical protest music worked, and learn about how they feel their world is being changed by theirs.

Mick and Mary have the right idea. The only thing I could add would be to not lay the whole greasy mess out on the table for them. Part of the so-called 'street smarts' is essentially self-preservation. People get sized up really quickly. You can be a source of learning, or you can be just some old dude that came to class--all depends on how you bait your hook.

Best of luck,
~J


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 06:48 PM

Hi Rick. I don't have any advice - I had no idea how to relate to kids even when I was one - but here's a story you may find encouraging.

In my school, every single year for Remembrance Day they had us sing "Oh God Our Help in Ages Past," "He Sees the Little Sparrow Fall", "Oh Canada," and "God Save the Queen" for music classes and the assembly.

But then the year I was in grade 8 our French teacher decided that we could do without French for a day. He brought in his guitar and taught us a bunch of anti-war songs: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", "Study War No More," "One Tin Soldier," and (the one that really got me) "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya."

It was a revelation for me - that there was another take on Remembrance Day, and that these old songs existed to express it. As far as I can remember, it was also my first real contact with folk music. I clearly and fondly remember that class and that teacher (who has since passed away).

Marion


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Subject: RE: Rick's dilemma..outta touch wit da kids!
From: ddw
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 09:58 PM

Lots of good advice here -- especially Big Mick's well-thought-out response and Peter T's.

Something that crossed my mind is that kids nowadays do respond well to jump blues, especially if you talk to them about where it led in R&R and other forms they're familiar with. Which leads me to think they would also go for the precursors to rap (some of the talking blues, particularly the "Signifyin'" songs) and competitive dancing songs (Kill It Kid Rag) and things like that. Once you get their attention, I think you could lead them pretty well anywhere you wanted without resorting to some of the old preachy tunes that turned our cranks back in the '50s and '60s.

Good luck,

david


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