Thursday, 29 March 2012

Moving pictures 22 and 23: The Great Going Nowhere


A bluegrass legend and a feminist lesbian poet may not seem on the surface to have much in common, but, unbeliever as I am, I like to imagine that if Adrienne Rich and Earl Scruggs, who both died yesterday in their 80s, were by some chance to meet in the queue at the pearly gates today it wouldn't be too long till they'd worked up a banjo-driven version of her poem 'Prospective Immigrants Please Note': 'Either you will go through this door or you will not go through'.

That the two would get on is not quite so far-fetched as it might at first seem. For a country gent Scruggs was left-leaning, protesting against the Vietnam War for instance, urged on by his sons, and cheesing Lester Flatt off by recording Dylan songs. (I rather like their version of Like A Rolling Stone, give it a minute and it has something.) Rich was known as a political poet and activist, but as noted in the NY Times obit, became more free-wheeling the older she got. Both were innovators in their artforms- the headlines on the obits I link to above both label them 'pioneers' - who became respected elders.

Anyway, the coincidence of their deaths - made visible in my twitter stream this morning - leads to a double issue of videos; Scruggs playing outside (in his garden I think) with The Byrds, and Rich with a 2002 poem about the US (and trees).

Rich once said that 'Art means nothing if it merely decorates the dinner table of the power that holds it hostage'. That's a thought to hold onto. As is that great artists 'ain't going nowhere' when they die, they just become more purely their work and its place in our lives.


The Byrds & Earl Scruggs -You Aint Goin Nowhere by pyromanic78

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