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Haven’t had much time to post recently but here’s a piece I wrote for the Guardian last week about Ramy Essam, El Tanbura and the sound of Tahrir Square.
July 28, 2011
Categories: Uncategorized . . Author: Dorian Lynskey
Article seems to illustrate what Woody Guthrie was also pointing out in a July 15, 1946 letter, when Woody wrote the following::
“I think that I have proved that a folk singer, to sing best what the people have thought and are thinking, is forced to turn his back on the bids of Broadway and Hollywood to buy him and his talents out. I feel like my work in this field will someday be seen as the most radical, the most militant, and the most topical of them all…
“Every folk song that I know tells how to fix some things in this world to make it better, tells what is wrong with it, and what we’ve got to do to fix it better. If the song does not do this, then, it is no more of a folk song than I am a movie scout…
“When you ask yourself which of the so-called folk singers live up to the real name, you can cross lots of their names entirely off of your list…Ask yourself, does the singer, (artist or poet), take part in the fight to win a better world for the worker? There is only one big fight with a million and one legs to it, the fight of the worker to win his fair share from his owner (boss, etc.). The more the owners allow a singer to be heard around, the less he can sing the tale of the worker’s fight. Before your voice can be heard or your face fotographed, you must actually turn into a weapon of the owner against the workers. I know from a hundred cases of my own experience that any work of protest, fight, militance or plan for the worker, was blue penciled, and censored a dozen times. Any word that was too true, too strong, or too loud in criticizing the world owned by the big boss was scratched out by several hands under a thousand reasons.”
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DORIAN LYNSKEY is the author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, published by Faber and Faber (March 2011) and Ecco (April 2011). He writes for the Guardian, The Word, Q, Spin and Empire.