Wednesday, October 7, 2009

and they will dream the dream my Mother sends to them

During my first year in college '73-'74 I spent my Friday and Saturday evenings watching the amazing assortment of live rock acts on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, Saturday Night Special and ABC's In Concert. For those of you too young to remember those glory days, practically anyone and everyone associated with rock music made an appearance on one of these shows. On any given weekend evening you could watch mostly live performances by The Rolling Stones, Suzie Quatro, Janis Ian, Sparks, The Ramones, etc. I became fans of many of these musicians after first experiencing them on TV.

One performer who captured my attention was Buffy Sainte-Marie. A member of the Cree tribe from Saskatchewan, she burst onto the folk scene in the 1960's, too early for me to be aware of her. By the time Buffy was released in 1974 she had released more than ten LPs. Her 60s protest songs earned her a blacklisting in the recording industry. No doubt trouble ensued from this situation, and so her 1974 album was mostly a collection of pop songs, some written by others. Most reviews were negative, complaining that she had lost her way, punting on her folk background for a rockier, more contemporary sound.

Not knowing any of this, I tuned in one evening and caught her performing Hey Baby How'd You Do Me This Way and Sweet Fast Hooker Blues from Buffy. The former is a lovely, sad pop song that somehow managed to get some airlplay on WKY in Oklahoma City. She put on a powerful performance, and I was so curious that I bought the album the next week. With no expectations, I fell in love with that album. The track that begins side 2 is a potent, scathing, yet transcendental song about politics, Native America, and the future. Words cannot describe it, so rather than attempting to explain how it affects me, here it is for you to hear for yourself. Many thanks to hotskel2546 over at YouTube for posting it along with the lyrics.

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