Flashback Friday: Bob Dylan's Only a Pawn in their Game

I'd like to take you back to 1963 for today's Flashback Friday and hopefully catch a fresh glimpse at the incendiary Bob Dylan classic Only a Pawn in Their Game. The song is about the deplorable assassination of Medgar Evers by Byron De La Beckwith. Medgar was a WWII vet, a civil rights activist in Mississippi, and a NAACP field secretary. His main ambition at the time of his assassination was to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. Meanwhile, in Alabama the newly elected Governor George C. Wallace called for "…segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever" in his inaugural address. Medgar Evers was murdered on June 12, 1963 and on that very morning President John F. Kennedy gave a nationally televised speech in support of the civil rights movement.

In this song Dylan indites the cowardice of the of the murderer while at the same inditing the entire southern political atmosphere that enabled men to hold their heads high in the Klu Klux Klan. Later in the year Bob Dylan would perform this song at the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King gave his famous I Have a Dream speech. What I love so much about Bob Dylan's protest songs is that they are direct, accusatory, and informed. The were ripped from the headlines of newspapers and plainly stated facts before offering opinions. Even this far removed from the song's premier and the surrounding events I am moved by the plain language and the stark presentation of the man alone on stage with his guitar and his voice. You dig?


1971: Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You: Wilson Pickett

It's time for another installment of Flashback Friday's and this time we're going way back in the alley to 1971 for Wilson Pickett and his tune Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You. I've wanted to write this article since last month when I bought my new (old) bicycle. It's a Schwinn SS from 1971 in great condition with all the original parts from the factory in Chicago. Naturally my next step was to try and pin point its personality with a song from the year of its creation and Mr. Pickett won this decision hands down. 

However, the first time I rode it I was overwhelmed with the sense of history which I was connecting with via my butt and the bike seat. Who where the owners before myself? What were they like? Why did they give up the bike, and what incredible things did they experience during there time with it? 

Read on and get the full low down on what was going on in the world when my bicycle was made and Wilson Pickett was still the king. 

Wilson Pickett: Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You


Flashback Fridays: 1987 Steve Winwood's Valerie

A short while back I posted an article about a Debussy piece for cello and piano which was composed in 1915, and for my purposes performed in 1967. I tried to humanize both the composer and the performers by throwing out a bunch of significant cultural happenings from the respective years. If you are interested in the original article you can find it here. I really enjoyed writing this article and looking up all the seemingly insignificant facts like the debut of new Boeing airliners and Elvis's wedding date. 

Today I am going to take this approach to Pop music and post the first installment of a light hearted feature I'm calling Flashback Fridays. The idea here is that I will post a song or video which has become dated and throw up a bunch of touchstones from popular and social culture to hopefully drag this thing out of isolation and back into its full picture. The first piece for the installment is from 1987. It is a reissued song from Steve Winwood entitled Valerie. It was off his compilation album Chronicles. Read on to get the low down on this tune and the year that surrounds it.