Zeb And Haniya – Dadra

“Two days after a bombing in Lahore killed over 70 Pakistanis at an Easter gathering this year [2016], the pop duo Zeb and Haniya released ‘Dadra,’ which they dedicated to their beloved city. It’s a sweet lullaby of lament, the Urdu lyrics guided by an electric guitar’s undertow. Zeb and Haniya have found an especially strong following in South India. Zeb says she was surprised and touched by how many Indian fans wrote with sympathy from across the border” (The Economist, “1843 Magazine,” June/July 2016, p. 25).

Zeb and Haniya, cousins, are American college educated Pakistanis. They blend pop music with traditional melodies from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

A Pakistani branch of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack. It appears to be a failed political mission: it killed mostly Muslims, and women and children, though the group’s apparent intent was to target Christian men.

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Bruce Cockburn – Call It Democracy


Canadian folkie Bruce Cockburn argued back in 1986, that the foreign policy of powerful countries is about making a buck, not lifting people in poor places out of their misery. As well, that international organizations are not benevolent, either. The International Monetary Fund is a target in one verse.

The IMF goes back to 1944, and on the face of it, with almost 200 member countries, seeks to encourage financial stability in countries dealing with low revenues, high debt, inflation, high unemployment, and more. The IMF works to foster international trade.

Cockburn figures the IMF does more harm than good, leaving developing countries in debt.

More generally, the IMF has been criticized for the conditions it has sometimes imposed on countries to get into their version of fiscal shape. This has meant getting troubled countries to reduce public spending to address government debt. The IMF has also been criticized for not been sensitive enough to local conditions and on-the-ground needs of the places it exists to serve.

Also by Cockburn: If A Tree Falls, If I Had A Rocket Launcher

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Coon Creek Girls – Banjo Pickin’ Girls

It’s toe-tapping time!

The Coon Creek Girls beat Hillary Clinton to the Oval Office. In 1939, this all-girl, early country music outfit gigged at the White House. There, they entertained King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Politics can be divisive, and the string band players who had success in a male industry, went separate ways by the end of the year.

Bob Dylan – Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

November 2014 marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1961-89), which separated Germany into, roughly, capitalist and communist, the West and the Eastern Blocs. A divided Germany was a Cold War epicentre.

This 1964 bootleg Bob Dylan song parodies some of the paranoia about finding and ferreting out “Reds” (communist sympathizers in America). Bob looks everywhere, and starts investigating himself!

That may have been not such a joke, since Dylan played in East Germany in 1987, invited by communist officials. The German secret police made a report on Dylan, “Robert Zimmerman, No. HA XX 17578.” The report described him as “an old master of rock,” not likely to cause much trouble because he did not resonate much with the youth at the time.

I guess Bob needs to keep searching for commies!

(The John Birch Society was an advocacy group going back to 1958 that was anti-communist. It’s still around: http://www.jbs.org/).

Ernest Van “Pop” Stoneman – The Titanic

Born in a log cabin, motherless from a toddler on, and proficient at many instruments, Stoneman (1893-1986) helped pioneer American country music. This song, from 1915 or 1916, is also known as “It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down” and “Titanic (Husbands and Wives).” Its composer is not known.

There is something about popular culture that loves tragedy, the way drivers also slow down to get a look at a car accident. Some critics of government like to claim that high profile accidents and disasters are used as excuses for further state intervention in our lives, and correspondingly, less personal freedom.

Thus, a ship sinking leads to oceanic regulations, the way a terrorist attack leads to phone tapping with the U.S. Patriot Act?

See also: Céline Dion – My Heart Will Go On

Moses “Clear Rock” Platt – Run, Nigger, Run

Yes, this song is today unfortunately named.

Around the middle of the 19th Century, black slaves needed passes to leave plantations. “Sneaking off” occurred, though with fear of being whipped if captured or found out later by a patrolman.

Moses Platt, imprisoned in Texas, was recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax. His nickname may have came from killing men with rocks.

The song was used in the 2013 movie, 12 Years A Slave.