tv Grown- Up Anger CSPAN June 11, 2017 1:01pm-2:00pm EDT
plant became part of the domestic war effort in world war ii and the plant stop making vehicles and started turning out artillery shells. and of course tucker and had been from here had his own big moments in 20th-century history so i just like that sweep of history. >> and of course before i knew anything about this community, or had met anybody here, i have a sense that i might find an interesting politics. i just thought there might be something interesting about old uaw town was represented by scott walker and the state government were represented in congress by paul ryan in a statement by scott walker. >> book tv back alive inside joe's prep high school in chicago for more of the 33rd annual printers through a fifth. starting now author daniel wolf tells the story of 1913 massacre in michigan.
tuesday is "grown-up anger: the connected mysteries of bob dylan, woody guthrie, and the calumet massacre of 1913". as the title suggests, it gives three tales the biographies of bob dylan, woody guthrie and the back story of the tragedy in michigan, the tragedy he puts in the context of the early labor movement in this country. the review calls this book a dazzling richly researched story, impeccably told. karen lewis says if you are not true with unions consider daniel wolff blank "grown-up anger" a must read. music is a main character and i've told people youtube is an essential companion to the buck. you want to hear the songs he writes about so the founding member is joining us and will perform a few of the songs that are particularly important in this fascinating book. so, for a thought provoking entertaining hour please welcome
daniel wolff and emily kane. >> it's not mentioned in the title but it's the first sentence of the book i was 13 and angry and it leads into the discovery of bob dylan and threw him the discovery of woody guthrie. can you tell the back story that will introduce the first song we are going to hear? >> it's great to be here. i was 13 and angry is a redundancy. that isn't useful. it's just true. i can't help but i am. when i was 13, like a rolling
stone tea came over the radio ai heard that and said he understands. he knows why i'm angry. he's telling the truth. i could barely understand the words that are often the case the words of mr. dillane. this guy is truly pissed off. i went back three or four records by them to go back to find out who he was and when i got to the first record, there was a song called a song to woody which was a song to woody guthrie. i thought there is some connection and a new kind of who he was. i knew that he had written this land is your land that i had no idea if he was alive or dead. so it seemed to me to be revealing the man that would dep me understand among other things by anger.
song ♪ ♪ about a funny old world that's coming along the ♪ ♪ seems sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's ♪ ♪ it looks like it's dying and it's hardly been born ♪ ♪ i'm sending you a song but i can't sing enough ♪ ♪ cause there's not many men that i've done the things that you've done ♪ ♪ here's to cisco and sunny and leadbelly to ♪
♪ and to all the good people that traveled with you ♪ ♪ here's to the hearts and at the hands of the men the ♪ ♪.com with the dust and are gone with the wind spee ♪ ♪ i'm leaving tomorrow that i could leave today ♪ ♪ somewhere down the road someday the ♪ ♪ the very last thing that i want to do ♪ ♪ is to say i've been hitting some hard traveling too ♪
♪ [applause] >> you discovered this to bob dylan had used had been swiped from a song that woody guthrie had written, which is an incredible turning point for this narrative for your exploration of the topic. explain that. explain how digging into the canon of bob dylan, you discovered what the guthrie and how that changed. >> this is, for you young people, when you have to go through the record bins to find music. i tried to find out more about what he guthrie and there wasn't much. they didn't have very many records imprint. the best i could do was arlo guthrie, his son, who was famous at the time. he put out a record that had
some nice songs and bob dylan covers on it. i am now sort of getting the college. this research takes a while. and i -- you can tell the song that is beautifully done is haunting. it's both admiration for woody guthrie and the past, and the kind of sad is that it's gone. i wouldn't like to say i've been doing the hard traveling myself, but the greatest days are over with this kind of the feeling of the song. so i'm listening to this and there is a song called 1913 massacre. i listened to the 1913 massacre and its about a strike in michigan and some people that die in the process of it somehow. i didn't quite understand. i thought that song is really familiar to me somehow. and i played it again, picking up the needle, taking it all back and putting it on the track again. i thought wait a second, it's the same melody as a song to
woody. i thought this is a clue, this is the mystery. i'm heading down the track now. >> this is interesting because woody guthrie was known for taking other peoples melodies and putting his own words in. i believe you said in the book come in this melody he swiped or adapted from an old english channel. >> let me briefly see how this happened. it's called the folk process. it means you steal things. [laughter] but there was a theory about it. joe hill was an early writer of songs and the organizers of this sort of turn-of-the-century and early part of the 20th century started writing songs to hymnal melodies because when they had a rally, the salvation army would show up and start singing hymns and they would be drowned out. the solution was to write new words to the same melodies so they could drown out the salvation army.
so come it became a sort of technique, which is if you had a melody people were already halfway into the song they cared about. so, in this case, i think bob dylan said i'm going to do a tribute by taking a melody. let me just add he knew the song was amazing because it was on a record that sold probably seven copies and was out of print by the time he was found. >> dot dylan does this in other songs. woody guthrie does this, but it also gets to one of the things that is fascinating to both of these guys in particular is that i believe you call of self invention. neither one is what they wanted people to think they were. bob dylan grew up -- they both grew up in comfortable surroundings. both of them have this image of someone who is, you know, just
barely scraping by. woody guthrie writing on the top of the train and so on, but both grew up in comfort; correct? >> real quickly, bob dylan is robert zimmerman from a middle-class jewish family in minnesota. just before he wrote that song, he went to the university of minnesota where he discovered woody guthrie and turned himself into the man. the pictures of him posed the same way with his cigarette held in the same way. he just wanted to be woody guthrie. >> woody guthrie wasn't actually woody guthrie. >> woodrow wilson guthrie was born in oklahoma to someone that had quite a lot of money. how do i say this politely, trading with the indians is the very nicest way to say it. stealing a lovely and in the oklahoma territory before it became a state and then after it became a state. but they had a bunch of money, then the family fell apart which is a longer story i won't go into. but when guthrie went west into
california and discovered the old oakies we discovered from grapes of wrath, he said i'm going to be the biggest of them all. he created a persona of this sort of ultimate oakie and people said you've really lived the life. he said nope, but i studied the life and i can give a good impersonation. people want our heroes to be authentic, so he ended up the oakie. >> it seemed he may have said that, but there was a sort of impression that he was this authentic oakie. and then bob dylan comes along and basically doubles down on it. in some ways, it seems like bob dylan in his early days was almost more of a phony is the wrong word, but more of an impersonator than even guthrie. >> i start a chapter in the book saying he is a liar, bob dylan, because he says that.
he says i make things up. it helps me. part of what the book is about as it helps him get to the truth by creating these personas they can figure out a way to say the things they need to say which they couldn't if they were the son of a store owner in having minnesota. >> so you find this song coming into this leads into the third part of this book, which is a very deep history. michigan is about 300 miles from here. it's way out i up in the upper peninsula of michigan. and your story goes back. at one point you can say it's a prehistoric times but you take a very deep dive at what made you an author and researcher and journalist certainly that made you decide you're going to do that deep of a dive into the story behind this.
they believed they were telling the truth and they were motivated in the kind of sequence. dublin got inspired and woody guthrie told the truth. that's the truth i've got to figure out their story. so it is following this line of anger. at the instigation was the early part of the 20th century and the progressive movement when there was going to be a labor movement to counter capitalism and industrialism and one of the key evidence of that for him was the strike of northern michigan because it was a moment when workers looked like they were going to take over and share the wealth. it didn't happen. this song he wrote about was a lot about its failure and he wrote it in about 1944. it has the same sad melody.
the regret of this one is 1913 when it happened in about 1944. woody guthrie thought he was fighting world war ii to get rid of all fascists and capitalism in general. he got to the end of it and was in the merchant marines and he said, you know, yeah we beat the nazis but the system hasn't changed and he was a very optimistic guy. this is not his most optimistic song. >> it is the back story to the massacre but if you gave us a thumbnail. >> i know it is asking a lot. >> so, this was a very paternalistic operation in michigan. michigan. this northern wilderness and so people from boston invested money and turned it into a place where you live in a company house, and your kids went to the company school, you get buried
in the company cemetery. it was a close circle essentially. and they came out and tried to organize into consideration came to try to organize because people were not getting paid very well and it was very dangerous. they were about to introduce new machinery which meant new jobs. so the strength was essentially lost. the owners held out the winner of northern michigan you will make it through if you have a job, you certainly won't make it through if you don't. so they knew the workers would back down. on christmas eve, as the strike was essentially wearing down and dying out, they had a party for the kids of the strikers to try to encourage them, many of which were immigrants, finnish, italian. they had -- do you want me to tell the story? >> i think the song is more
powerful when you are straining to understand it. >> so, they have this party and they are up there about to hand out presents and somebody walks in, never identified through, and yells fire. people panic and start going down a stairwell and can't get out and they crushed each other and then there are 74 people dead. sixtysomething of those under the age of 12. depending upon how you read this, it is either a man's murder when they yell fire and there is no finer as a deliberate act or it's a terrible accident. i will go on after the song about the debate on that if you want. but that is the lead up to it and it didn't end the strike totally because money started coming in. but it's a story that i think is a major part of american history that people don't know about.
and part of my interest was i often hear the stories about strikes and things and i think this is the last making up the history. do we really believe the haymarket i guess we do so they answered the question is i wanted to dig down to see what the facts were as far as i could tell. if i got there maybe i could see why guthrie wanted to write a song about it. i could see why bob dylan got inspired and white like a rolling stone got through to me so well on the radio. >> those of you from the chicago area that have been around for a while will have a memory of the nightclub disaster does that ring a bell and that was an incident not too far from here where a second-story nightclub there was a fight that broke out and 21 people were killed on the stairwell, people were rushing to get out of the nightclub so
singing and dancing everywhere with the people you see ♪ ♪ and watch the kids dance around a big christmas tree ♪ ♪ you ask about work and ask about pay ♪ ♪ they will tell you they make less than a dollar a day ♪ ♪ working and risking their lives ♪ ♪ so it's fun to spend christmas with children and wives ♪ ♪ is talking and laughing and phones in the air ♪ ♪ a bit of christmas is there everywhere ♪ ♪ before you know it you're dancing around and around in the
whole ♪ ♪ ♪ to play the piano you've got to keep quiet ♪ ♪ ♪ they stuck their head in the door and one of them yelled and screamed at the fire ♪ ♪ they hollered there's no such thing, keep on with your party there is no such thing ♪ ♪ there were only a few and just scaring you ♪ ♪ a man grabbed his daughter and
carried her down ♪ ♪ but he could not get out ♪ others followed and then hundreds more but most everybody remained on the floor ♪ ♪ while the children were smothered on the stairs by the doris ♪ ♪ such a terrible sight i never did see ♪ ♪ week. our children back up to the tree and the children that died there, there were 73 ♪ ♪ the piano played a slow funeral tune ♪
♪ and the town was lit up by a cold christmas minimum ♪ ♪ the parents they cried and the miners they moaned ♪ ♪ see what your greed for money has done ♪ [applause] >> you're going to go on talking after that. >> i know. some people feel in part of the book you actually went up to calumet and talk to people and i think there is a quote that what do they call it, they didn't
like it. lousy miserable song. why is that, what was the truth that you discovered behind the 1913 massacre? >> in that song, he says the copper boss held the door at the bottom of the stairs and there was a long debate about this at the time, whether the bottom of the christmas hall doors opened al gore in. -- were opened in. if the crowd was coming down it wasn't the people outside have told them. if someone was leaning on the doors and kept them closed, then that meant conceivably these people have been murdere had bet was not just an accident. guthrie read a book about it and believes they were actually holding the door. i don't know if they were holding the door or not, but with a set of leader plaque to
honor or commemorate this event, they said the doors opened in which meant that no one had killed them. if you look at the blueprints and talk to anybody that lived there, everybody knows the doors opened out. it meant opening in was a way of saying don't worry this is nobody's fault, we can all heal together. and it was a way if i think covering over the incident. as i say, the strike was lost. people had to go back to work there. it was i think 1940 something before they got a union up there. and this sort of centered in the town and the region and the plaque was a way to make peace. when they heard woody guthrie's song, they think he's trying to make trouble again by saying this is the way the doors open. in fact he was probably closer to the truth than the official
plaque that has changed to not mention the doors at all. >> the song commemorates a failure in the labor movement. and as you look back on this part of labor history and the promise that it never materialized and this is the source of guthrie's anger and then it becomes a source of bob dylan tinker. >> dylan's anger is a little different. it's partly that he comes to new york to meet woody guthrie in 61 and he's incapacitated by a nerve disease, can't play the guitar but even larger than that, there is no union movement and bob dylan thought i'm going to go to new york not only to meet woody guthrie but we are going to have a big union and there were not any in 1961.
he couldn't find the movement he thought he was going to be part of, so for him to borrow that melody it didn't work until 1913 and that is the tone of the song. he's going i guess it's not going to work in 1961 either. >> van dylan turns away from the folk tradition. he rejects a lot of that. a lot of his lyrical movements go away from that as well. is this a turning point? >> she's going to write the times are changing. that's all in the future so he's going to keep pursuing that for a while but if it's the idea that they are these superhuman people and movements at 19 he said that isn't going to be the
case i don't believe it. >> take me through the story a little bit more. he didn't go out and become the icon right of way. he bounced around from coast to coast and was trying to find his identity. he was going to be a commercial singer at the time of the epiphany that was to go to la and become gene off trade and that is what jean did. he's being kind of ragged pan and says this machine kills fascists, kind of a left-wing hero. he's got such curly hair he can't get it parted on the ones i do very well.
the situation of a lot of people what he called the starvation army, people without work and he also ran into the communist party that made a lot of sense to him there were people in the fielfield over organizing better than anybody else. he apparently never joined the party that he came pretty close and as the other people that were researching at the time, john steinbeck, carey mcwilliams that wrote a book called the factory in the fields or something like that were all interested in communism because it looked like the present system didn't work at all. so guthrie started doing that and eventually he got thrown off the radio station and started doing cowboy songs because he was such a partyline communist. if we have bernie sanders i guess i could say socialist and we would all feel more comfortable if he came to new
york not long afterwards where he was greeted by the communist party. there was a quote in one of the papers that said one ended and now guthrie is going to sing it. he didn't think it was going to work. he still believes it but he doesn't think they are going to get there in 1944. he's taken this version of events and put his own spin on it. >> it was for propaganda. it sort of works but as i discussed in the book it depends on who you think it is. he's talking about the owners of
the mine saying you busted the strike and therefore you've told these people but there's also the sense that he's talking to us. i want to throw my hands in the air like i did and do it. but we do it a little bit and it made his movement impossible to succeed. >> is it your sense that gwendolyn at guthrie gets changed his view and trajectory of his career? >> he said i can't follow this guide is nothing to follow anymore. that's what he called the first substantial song. he was going to write about joe hill but then he started writing songs and they swerve. here we have bob dylan as a nobel laureate in a strange sort of events but what happened
wasn't so much the folk music that was rejected as the whole value system. there were these are dreams people were talking about that don't exist anymore. got very involved in the civil rights and then he turned his back on that and said you know, this i can to be an advocate this way. i've got to write my music. i'm very mixed about that. the individual, go your own way. woody guthrie would argue that was part of the problem that people were being individualist. they were not getting together to organize. >> his career takes a turn from folk to rock to the acoustic to electric. this is part of this evolution and they were going to close the program.
it's a rejection of the song that it borrows the melody from. i don't think that it was as big as it is made out to be. i think what he was saying when he was writing even masters of the war is i've got to tell it my way. i can't be woody guthrie. i can't be joe hill. it's going to be different every time. he kept reporting and trying to tell the truth and fighting the fight but it was a whole different way and a whole different sound to go with it. >> when you look at what happened in calumet and other situations and how it was the private sector and you look back and see where they made a
mistake and undermined to take the actions that they should have. >> i'm not going to walk into that trap, good try though. [laughter] >> what did happen is in the 60s i was never sure that it was such a revolutionary as some people claimed that part of what happened if america was incredibly prosperous. unions made deals with business to keep its prosperous and it's totally understandable. we look back now with some nostalgia, car manufacturing jobs that guaranteed major gains for the union but it wasn't changing the system. he would have argued that as a band-aid on the situation. from the 70s on the wages had
not increased in real value if yowithyou to the corresponding s and i think there was an illusion that somehow we could work out a prosperity for everyone by the union management compromising. >> was at dylan's version at one point did you feel that was connected to the philosophy with that kind of a specificity? >> you wrote the song union sundown that was a good idea once we got in the way. i think he kind of believed it. i don't think that he was interested in the popular movement at the end of the day. he was interested in writing good songs, but the politics were always a little -- there's an amazing interview i found on the march of salamat that had been very close to all the organizers in the civil rights. he doesn't go to the march on
selma. he goes to finish a record and do some promotion of his own career and then he gets interviewed and they say what do you think about selma. it's not going to change anything. if they vote it will be the same politicians we have now. there's something more fundamental we have to do here and that rings a bell with me but the way that we pursued it was to go to try to tell the truth as much as we could choose what got me started on this. that is the truth. so, it works in a way but it's a different approach. >> it seems like tellin has morn his role in the 60s like he's not going to that event. he does this amazing
transformative thing with the black panther party is putting their news together this is what, late 60s could they put on the stereo as bob dylan that is the sound of what we want to do. i'm going to get this right and told the truth. let's organize. it's a different approach to these things. >> has he ever been playing a song as a political rally that introduced the candidate. he wanted to be a singer and
songwriter sophie stayed away from the tough. i think that he's written songs certainly the crusading songs but i don't think he's ever wanted to organize even like someone is springsteen. >> guthrie spent most of his time playing for communist gatherings. >> he died in 67. we never know what would have happened in his career had he lived long enough. what do you think he might have done? >> he couldn't play guitar essentially he was in a hospit
hospital. he had jobs, radio jobs, national radio jobs and said i don't like the feel of this. he was kind of a star but always was getting everybody to same. we are all in this together and i suspect he would have gone that route. can you give a quick introduction to joe hill, it is a song that is important to the story and then we will go right into saint augustine.
>> i dreamed i saw joe hill last night and it was this idea what trimmer the heroes of the past to go forward. he claimed he never heard the song. maybe, maybe not. then what amounts to an answer song called i dreamed i saw saint augustine meaning joe hill and it speaks to what we have been discussing which is dylan saying a ♪ ♪ i dreamed i saw joe hill last
♪ arise arise a voice without restraint of ♪ ♪ kings and queens hear my complaints the ♪ ♪ none are among me now that you can call your own ♪ ♪ go on your way accordingly ♪ know you're not alone ♪ i dreamed i saw saint augustine alive with fiery breath ♪ ♪ and i dreamed i was amon on te ones that put him out of today's ♪ i awoke in anger, so alone and terrified ♪ ♪ i put my fingers against the
glass of ♪ ♪ and i bowed my head and cried ♪ i dreamed i saw joe hill tonight alive as you and me ♪ ♪ you are ten years dead ♪ ♪ ♪ >> the book is "grown-up anger: the connected mysteries of bob dylan, woody guthrie, and the calumet massacre of 1913" he will be around to find this book. >> a round of applause. [applause] >> thank you.
thank you for attending today's event. books can be purchased and assigned outside of the auditorium. thank you for coming. you've been listening to offer daniel wolff discuss his book "grown-up anger." booktv will be back live in a few minutes with more from the printers row lit fest. in audible conversations [inaudible conversations]
bill of rights cases shout out their names. gideon, brown, roe v. wade, madison, griswold v. connecticut, brown v. board of education, "new york times," citizens united. i can't fool this crowd. with that said, half of the cases that you shouted out are not bill of rights cases. so, before the constitution, madison is original and isn't any great principle of liberty.
i will add a few more. gideon versus wainwright, griswold versus connecticut, "new york times" versus sullivan, brown v. board of education, roe v. wade, lawrence v. texas, none of them is a bill of rights case. why not tax because the bill of rights originally applied only against the federal government. it's about states rights and in between the celebration of the local juries and bill of rights was anti-federalist teen party suspicion of local government. and that's important. but that isn't the power bill of
rights today because you believe some of the most fundamental rights need to be protected against states and localities. brown v. topeka and kansas, gideon versus wainwright in florida, roe v. wade and texas, lawrence versus texas, sullivan was an effort by alabama to shut down free speech. miranda v. arizona, griswold versus connecticut. most of the cases that ordinary people think of as bill of rights cases are not bill of rights cases because the amendments are only about limiting the federal government. so, what kind of cases are gideon versus wainwright and texas when they are not bill of
rights cases you now know enough to know the answer was cases are they. they are 14th amendment cases. no state or localities shall make or enforce any that is the second founding. a second bill of rights that is more intuitive for most americans today because the states misbehave because matheson lost. no state shall violate the senate didn't go along so he lost that fight but he wins in the end thanks to the 14th amendment and we gave madison the credit for the final amendment but it's a little bit ironic because all of this is precipitated this 14th amendment by the slave of crises and the abuse of power and madison and jefferson were charter members
of that and found it a political party whose base was basically a southern base that benefited hugely in the electoral college and elsewhere from the presence because of the three fifths law jefferson and madison and their party is going to get extra electoral votes because the southern states are voting for them are getting extra seats in the house of representatives and therefore the existence of slavery. it's both ironic through the 14th amendment through lincoln. >> you can watch this and other programs on linux booktv.org. >> printers row lit fest continues