Tuesday Open Thread: Jesus and Woody and Ry Cooder

US conservative Christian leaders' willingness to support a president known for lying, cheating and stoking of bigotry has generated calls of hypocrisy. Big Al recently pointed out how "sacred" scripture is being misused to explain away Godawful behavior. Yet from their perspective, the Trump administration has delivered on its promises to advance a conservative agenda.

Unfortuanately, despite how much we belittle these practices and wish they did not matter, the power and money behind them packs a powerful punch. We damned well better realize that fact and find spiritual resources of our own ... or we will continue to be kicked to the political curb.

And that brings us to the immortal Woody Guthrie and his disciple Ry Cooder ...

In a somber chat between Jesus Christ and Woody Guthrie, Jesus cautions Woody that the “engine of hate” that fueled Woody’s struggles last century was back again and “you good people better get together or you ain’t got a chance anymore.” That sums up how Ry Cooder paints today’s world in “Jesus and Woody,” one of the most poignant songs on superb new album.

Woody-Guthrie-Kills-Fascists_1.jpg

Ry Cooder’s latest album, The Prodigal Son, is all America, our spiritual, hopeful voices, our raw cries and our sly provocations, voiced through the songs of the Pilgrim Travelers, The Stanley Brothers, Blind Willie Johnson, and Ry Cooder himself. This is black and white gospel church music, our own history of the spirit, sounding completely fresh and contemporary, framed by Cooder's expressive vocals and graceful, elegant guitar work. Aided by his son, drummer and chief collaborator, Joachim Cooder, The Prodigal Son is a deft commentary on our ailing moral state. This is music for these times, a fearless dive into the country’s soul and the man, Ry Cooder.

the making of The Prodigal Son

Well bring your old guitar and sit here by me
Round the heavenly throne
Drag out your Oklahoma poetry, 'cause it looks like the war is on

And I don't mean a war for oil, or gold, or trivial things of that kind
But I heard the news, the vigilante man is on the move this time

So sing me a song 'bout this land is your land
And fascists bound to lose
You were a dreamer, Mr. Guthrie, and I was a dreamer too

Once I spoke of a love for those who hate
It requires effort and strain
Vengeance casts a false shadow of justice which leads to destruction and pain
Some say I was a friend to sinners
But by now you know it's true
Guess I like sinners better than fascists
And I guess that makes me a dreamer too

In the year of 1945, you saw the killers fall
Many fought and died
But it's the innocent ones I most recall
Well I've been the Savior, now, for such a long time
And I've seen it all before
You good people better get together
Or you ain't got a chance anymore

Now they're starting up their engine of hate
Don't it make you feel lonesome and blue?
Yes I was a dreamer, Mr. Guthrie, and you were a dreamer too

Jesus and Woody

Well I used to live on Broadway, right next to the liar's house
My number was self-righteousness and a very little guide of mouth
So I moved, I moved and I'm living on straight street now
I moved, I had moved, I'm living on straight street now

Before I moved over, let me tell you how it was with me
Old Satan had me bound in chains and I had no liberty
One day my heart got troubled all about my dwelling place
I heard the Lord when He spoke to me, and he told me to leave that place
So I moved, I moved and I'm living on straight street now
Yes, I moved, I moved, well, I'm living on straight street now

Since I moved, I'm really living, I've got peace within
I thank the Lord for everything, so glad I found new friends
Since I moved, I moved and I'm living on straight street now
I moved, I had moved and I'm living on straight street now
I'm living on straight street now
Yes, I moved, I had moved, I'm living on straight street now

Straight Street

Standing on corner, spending my time
Out of a job, not earning a dime
Lady steps up, says I suppose
You're a stylish young man by the looks of your clothes

She said trust me and take a little tip
This building's been sold to Johnny Depp
Who? Take the buyout, relocate
The Googlemen are coming downtown, so don't be late

I said this is my apartment just a hole in the wall
Got to sleep in the kitchen with your feet in the hall
No hot water, no windows and doors
You got to make it past all the real estate agents, junkies and ho's

I live in the heart of the city, ain't no coffee shops around
I heard them Googlemen drink so much coffee, I declare, I think they might drown
Gentrification is here, one thing I know
You can't stand pat, I declare you got to step it up and go

Gentrification is here, sho' is worryin' my mind
Can't understand why an uptown Googleman wants a downtown room like mine

Gentrification

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

Be careful how you treat a stranger
By belying you turn him away
But the fear that he might endanger
Will drive him from your gate

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

Be mindful of your speaking
Careful how you go along
You must always treat a poor stranger right
And accept him in your home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

All of us down here are strangers
None of us have no home
Don't ever hurt your brother
And cause him to feel alone

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
Long ways from home
Everybody ought to treat a stranger right
A long ways from home

Everybody Ought to Treat A Stranger Right

Have you seen that vigilante man?
Have you seen that vigilante man?
Have you seen that vigilante man?
I been hearin' his name all over the land.

Well, what is a vigilante man?
Tell me, what is a vigilante man?
Has he got a gun and a club in his hand?
Is that is a vigilante man?

Rainy night down in the engine house,
Sleepin' just as still as a mouse,
Man come along an' he chased us out in the rain.
Was that a vigilante man?

Stormy days we passed the time away,
Sleepin' in some good warm place.
Man come along an' we give him a little race.
Was that a vigilante man?

Preacher Casey was just a workin' man,
And he said, "Unite all you working men."
Killed him in the river some strange man.
Was that a vigilante man?

Oh, why does a vigilante man,
Why does a vigilante man
Carry that sawed-off shot-gun in his hand?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?

I rambled 'round from town to town,
I rambled 'round from town to town,
And they herded us around like a wild herd of cattle.
Was that the vigilante men?

Have you seen that vigilante man?
Have you seen that vigilante man?
I've heard his name all over this land.

Vigilante Man

Well, it's a change in the ocean, change in the sea
Woke up one morning was a change in me
I put on my pants, my pants fell down
Well, I put on my shoes and they fell off too
I looked in the mirror, was nothing to see
That's how it goes when you're a shrinking man like me

Worried man with a worried song
Shrinking man ain't gonna be here long

Well, sometimes I worry 'bout clothes
'Cause a shrinking man's got to look good sometime
Don't need no sweatshop child
Puttin' shoes on my feet this time
Chained to a sewing machine
Down in hell where the sun don't shine
Look as good as you can
But please don't rob your fellow man

Shrinking man, shrinking man
Nobody was worried 'bout a shrinking man

Sometimes I worry 'bout food
'Cause a shrinking man's got to eat right sometime
I don't need much and I don't pay
No starvation wage
To poor folks out on the poison ground
You don't rob the land
When you're just a little old shrinking man

Shrinking man, shrinking man
Nobody was worried 'bout a shrinking man
Worried man with a worried song
Shrinking man ain't gonna be here long

Sometimes I worry bout prayer
'Cause a shrinking man better be a prayin' man
Once I had a dream that was working
I had good ideas, I made big plans
Now I'm just like a leaf in the wind that's blowing
I hope King Jesus can understand

Shrinking man, shrinking man
Nobody was worried 'bout a shrinking man
Worried man with a worried song
Shrinking man ain't gonna be here long

Shrinking Man

Now you fashion-loving christians sure give me the blues
You must unload, you must unload
You'll never get to heaven in your jewel-encrusted high-heeled shoes
You must, you must unload

For the way is straight and narrow and few are in the road
Brothers and sisters, there is no other hope
If you'd like to get to heaven and watch eternity unfold
You must, you must unload

And you money-loving christians, you refuse to pay your share
You must unload, you must unload
Trying to get to heaven on the cheapest kind of fare
You must, you must unload

For the way is straight and narrow and few are in the road
Brothers and sisters, there is no other hope
If you'd like to get to heaven and watch eternity unfold
You must, you must unload

And you power-loving christians in your fancy dining cars
You must unload, you must unload
We see you drinking whiskey and smoking big cigars
You must, you must unload

For the way is straight and narrow and few are in the road
Brothers and sisters, there is no other hope
If you'd like to get to heaven and watch eternity unfold
You must, you must unload
I think you must, you must unload

You Must Unload

Dr. Cornel West & James H. Cone in Conversation—-Black Prophetic Fire

Chris Hedges first speaks for about 6 minutes introducing both who had recently also spoken at Chris Hedges ordination. This is then followed by a dialogue between both men that is goes from brilliance to humor that only these two men who have known each other so long can evoke. We are also treated to Cornel West reading a short passage from his book. The final 20 minutes of the video is a short question and answer period from the audience.

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Comments

dkmich's picture

Unless the Catholic Church decides to fund a real political revolution, not holding my breath, I think the ship has sailed. Our future doesn't belong to us.

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5 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

@dkmich
"Our future doesn't belong to us"- when has it?
We have options to choose from, but who decides what options to offer? It ain't me, for sure.
To the post; looks like an interesting listen, will check it out.
Thanks.

Stop These Fucking Wars

peace

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6 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

@Tall Bald and Ugly & @dkmich. I don't look to the so-called godly people because most of those I know are quite the haters.

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4 users have voted.

Peace out. Let's be radicals together on twitter. I'm at @Beddy63.

The Aspie Corner's picture

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ggersh's picture

Only you forgot to end it with

"god bless amerika" -s-

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5 users have voted.

"In 2008, Beijing and Washington pumped in massive amounts of money to bail out speculators in the name of saving the economy and helping workers. The reality is that they used workers’ money to enrich parasites." Andy Xie

Lookout's picture

Caught a concert in college with Ry, and have been a fan ever since. I look forward to listening to some of the cuts. Pete was one of my childhood heroes (and still is one of my heroes). My family (grandparents) helped keep his wife out of the internment camps. So I've always had a vicarious relationship with Woody through Pete. Arlo often plays at the Florida Folk Fest but he wasn't there this year.

Chris and Cornel are also two of my faves. I look forward to their discussion as well.

Deportee seem apropos

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Bisbonian's picture

@Lookout

I play the banjo mostly because of Pete.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

enhydra lutris's picture

Chavez Ravine and My Name is Buddy. Hope it is just as good, but assume it will be. Have a good one.

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6 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

detroitmechworks's picture

It fulfills the same purpose in my life. The contemplation of what we are here for and what we we SHOULD do. (Not what we Must do)

Honestly, the German Philosophers just... annoy me. They're too hung up on hairsplitting, winning points on technicalities and totally ignoring the spirit of the game. 19th and early 20th Century philosophy in particular strike me as an attempt to rationalize the cruelty of capitalism, or find ways to gain the benefits of capitalism without the moral and spiritual sacrifices needed to engage in the practice.

I'm far more enjoying the Greeks. Especially the Cynic school. Trying to hunt down a copy of some of the translations online, but while constant references are made to "Translations" nobody seems to have bothered scan em. This is extremely telling to me. It strikes me as very similar to the Romans, who kept the indexes... but lost the books the catalog was referring to. Just scary to me, and really drives home the need to keep PRINT copies. (I have my Grandfather's Shakespeare, over a Hundred years old, and still in very good condition. Worst case scenario, There will still be entertainment at least.)

I'm probably just not looking in the right place, and will jaunt to the last common, the library, to find out more. Smile

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

for highlighting this.....will check it out.

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mhagle's picture

Wow!

Watched part of the video. Love those guys. Cornell and Chris.

You are probably aware of the organizations, Sojourners and Faithful America. They routinely call out the anti-christ christians. Don't know if there is much hope for the prosperity gospel churches, since their whole theology is based on greed. There is hope for individuals of course. But I would think that some of the baptist, and other, denominations could experience some sort of awakening. Waking up to the fact that they voted for Trump should stir something in their collective consciousness.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

but good stuff from the southwest.

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Mark from Queens's picture

Spent the end of my night listening to the West discussion/interview in bed.

Which is not always the best thing to do then. Because he's so incredibly powerful, challenging, edifying and animated that I find invariably find myself so actively engaged and stimulated. His oration skill, poetic alliterations and great sense of humor are riveting, if not electrifying.

Was so good and uplifting that I found myself looking for a transcript (but again, couldn't find the option on YouTube, which up until very recently was pretty much always offered). Just another of so many that I'd like to see as stand-alone Essays of Edification.

The Ry Cooder was great too. Spent some of the morning with the babies at the table listening to a few tunes. Seems he's made a really pertinent record for the times. Thanks for turning me onto it. Thought Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball" was going to do that for me with its strong ant-Wall St message (would like to become more of a fan because I'm not really), but it left me flat musically. This one could be the one I'm looking for. A Woody revival is long overdue.

Thanks again. I really enjoy your collection of stuff each week. Don't get a chance often to stop by and say so.

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4 users have voted.

(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

mhagle's picture

@Mark from Queens

My hearing is such that I really need a transcript or closed captions. I got about a 1/3 of the way into the video, but knew I was missing most of it. If you come across a transcript or someplace where the video is posted with closed captions, let me know please. Smile

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Mark from Queens's picture

@mhagle
Even went so far as to look up the person whose name is on the video (Leigha Cohen) and found her contact info.

Was going to write or even call her to see if we could get a copy to share at C99.

Just don't have time these days, for any of the many things I'd like to undertake.

If anybody's willing to look into it I'd be appreciative. Meanwhile, I'm pretty pissed at YouTube for taking away such a good feature. And am inclined to think it's a conspiracy to minimize the dissemination of lectures/discussions such as these.

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2 users have voted.

(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

mhagle's picture

@Mark from Queens

I appreciate it!

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0 users have voted.

Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo