Sunday, September 18, 2005

NATIVE AMERICAN-BASED POP PART II: NATIVE AMERICAN BASED POP


Coyote, the trickster, titled that last post!

Now, I will really talk about Native American-based pop!

In the New York Times Magazine last month, there was an article by Jack Hitt entitled "The Newest Indians" about the recent surge in the Native American population of the US. One source of this boost is the increasing number of white Americans discovering (legitimately or not) their Native American heritage. In a nutshell, it's becoming relatively cooler among middle-class white people to NOT be middle-class white people (BIG SURPRISE!). To gauge the harshness and/or fairness of the previous sentence, read the article for yourself here.

Anyway, this is not an entirely new phenomenon. Hippies have been wearing Native American jewelry and hanging dream-catchers in their VW buses since Jim Morrison took a walk in the desert. Probably even before that.

An important artifact in the long and complex history of Native American relations is the 1971 Paul Revere and the Raiders song, "Indian Reservation". This song is no obscure oddity. It hit NUMBER ONE on the US charts in the summer of '71.

In it, Paul Revere proclaims:

Though I wear a shirt or tie, I'm still part RED MAN deep inside.

This song, sung by a white man who spent most of his career dressing up as a famous COLONIST, looks like schlocky exploitative crap in 2005. However, it struck a chord with the Americans of 1971. Experience the tense and angry vibe of this song yourself:

Paul Revere and the Raiders - Indian Reservation

Two years later in 1973, another pop song about the Native American experience in America topped the US charts: Cher's "Half Breed". In the song, Cher, who is 1/16th Cherokee, conveys a sentiment that many of the "Newest Indians" could relate to:

I can't run from what I am





"Half Breed" has 70's-style string arrangements similar to "Indian Reservation", but ups the ante with a semi-tribal drum beat intro.

Cher- Half Breed

In 1986, Swedish pop-metal group Europe (famous for "The Final Countdown") took the Native American pop lament to an international level with their song "Cherokee". Songwriter/singer Joey Tempest lambastes the "White Man's greed" in the verses while solemnly evoking the tribe's forced relocation in the stark chorus:

Cherokee - marching on the Trail of Tears


There's a searing guitar solo that segues into a series of triumphant keyboard arpeggios, perhaps representing the possibility of the Cherokee Nation's return to glory.

Europe - Cherokee

CONCLUSION POINTS:

-Cherokees are THE tribe for a lot of people. 100% of the Native American-based pop I could think of was about Cherokees.

-Political songs are easy to dis, perhaps because the pop song is so low on the art forms-totem pole. Fuck that; these songs have heart.

-Don't waste your time studying Native American-based pop if you want to learn about Native Americans; this music is an entity unto itself.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ezra

It's fun to have thematically connected blog entries, but how about making sure the music is actually good too.

yours,

Letdown in Louisiana

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Jed said...

Ezra, this is jed again and now i am completely in the dark about what is really going on in your blog...i asked you to write about drama----you refused...now it is all over the place w/o a specific theme...please fill me in--

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Bob B. said...

omg y'all idiots! dont you feel the internet vibes? you shits dont get it! maybe the stick up your fucking itchy assholes are preventing you from feeling the internet vibes!

5:23 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

Jed,
I admire your gumption and bravery. The purpose of this blog is to "feel the internet vibes and understand them."
The basis of drama is desire; desire to get something you want, desire to make other people act the way you think they should, desire to gossip, etc. Desire is the root of all suffering. Let's escape this vicious cycle of Samsara by truly understanding it. Understanding the whole world can take a lifetime; right now I seek only to understand the "Internet Vibes".
We can help each other understand these vibes through insight, meditation and compassion.
Thanks for your concern,
EZRA JAMES KOENIG
ps - are you related to Jed Lubin from Glen Ridge?

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Jed said...

Ezra,

no relation here with Jed Lubin from Glen Ridge---didnt know you were so deep....explain the internet vibe, i dont think i fully get it--and the drama that i seek has nothing to do with desire, it is more about reality...reality is the heart of drama...the truth--its freedom, no secrets, no closed doors, no lies...just clean, naked, truth--if somehow you can connect this internet vibes (which i am still going to need an explanation of) with the drama/truth that would be awesome..

-waiting for a response
Jed

9:02 AM  
Blogger Ezra said...

OK Jed. I come from the post-Mary J. Blige generation in which the word drama isn't associated with "the real" but with the superficial masquerading as the real.
To me drama is about conflict; in fact its the glorification of conflict. If we can realize that our petty differences, wants and desires are only illusions preventing us from embracing a more knowledgable worldview then we will come to regard drama as negative.
The "Internet Vibes" are the vibrations of truth which radiate through all things. As we approach subjects like Native American-based pop or New Age music, many of us will immediately recoil. We think "This is not MY kind of music. This is shitty music." This is to ignore the Internet Vibes entirely. My mission is to know the Internet Vibes AND to understand them NOT to judge them or hurt them.
By exploring the Internet Vibes, I am expressing my perception of the truth.
This mission is not to be done alone which is why I appreciate your comments, Jed.
-Ezra

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ezra you should check out the lewis and clarke expedition. they were colgems records second attempt at the monkees (who obviously failed miserably, since you've never heard of them). anyway, they have like this 8 minute song called "memorial to the american indian" that is sweet. it's like a 3 part proto-prog, psych-freak-out, call-to-indian-revolution song.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous a lake said...

you should check out the journals of the lewis and clark expedition
clark has an awesome and terribel spelling style! he is basically making up words at times

"I [Clark] joined the Boat theis morning with a fat Bear & two Deer, last evining I Struck the river about 6 miles (by land) abov the Boat, and finding it too late to get to the Boat, and the wind blowing So hard Down the river that She could not assend, I concluded to Camp, altho I had nothing but my hunting Dress, & the Musquitors Ticks & Knats verry troublesom, I concld to hunt on a Willow Isd. Situated close under the Shore, in Crossing from an Island, I got mired, and was obliged to Craul out, a disegreeable Situation & a Diverting one of any one who Could have Seen me after I got out, all Covered with mud, I went my Camp & [s]Craped off the Mud and washed my Clothes, and fired off my gun which was answered by George Drewyer who was in persute of me & came up at Dark we feasted of meet & water..."

WE FEASTED OF MEET AND WATER!!!!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Jed Lubin said...

Hey, I'm Jed Lubin from Glen Ridge.

3:05 PM  
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