My new "Think Again" column is called “Labor and the ‘Civil Right’ to Organize.”
Tuesday night I went to an extremely well produced benefit for the Blues Foundation in Memphis designed to celebrate (just one year late) the centennial birthday of the (literally) legendary Robert Johnson. Assembled by the actor Joe Morton, the house band was insanely great. Keb Mo, Colin Linden and James Blood Ulmer on guitar; Sugar Blue on harmonica; Willie Weeks on bass; and Steve Jordan on drums. And the lineup: Sam Moore, Taj Mahal, Todd Rundgren, Elvis Costello, Chuck D., Bettye Lavette, Macy Gray, Sarah Dash, the Roots, the Dough Rollers, Shameika Copeland, Living Colour and Geoffrey Wright.
The peformances were, inevitably, hit or miss. Rundgren was a treat. Sam Moore did a quiet, haunting “Sweet Home Chicago.” Elvis sang “From Four Till Late” also rather quietly explaining, “They don’t allow hellhounds on our trail in England..They worst we get is bloodhounds.” The real revelation of the show, however were the songs played by Keb Mo, who, grown up and gray, gives the impression of carrying Johnson’s ghost inside him. His solo versions “Crossroads Blues” and “Love in Vain” were show highlights sent shivers down my old bones. Show was kinda long, but not at all haphazard, and held together, as I said earlier, by the amazing house band. Give some money to the Blues Foundation here.
For the high-minded amongst us, I recommend a recent release by Acorn’s documentary line Athena, of IN THEIR OWN WORDS, a series which features interviews and short readings by Sigmund Freud, George Orwell, Ian Fleming, Evelyn Waugh, among many others, and the only surviving voice recording of Virginia Woolf. It’s never been aired in the U.S., and it’s worth your time. Acorn is also now responsible, somehow for the future of FOYLE’S WAR, which is one my household prized discoveries of the past few years. And you can start at the beginning while they are making new ones.
The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Vols. 1–3. Edited by Melvyn. P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2010. 1999 pp.
Far be it from your humble author to even attempt to do justice to this approximately two thousand page collection of essays by some of the most distinguished diplomatic historians alive. What I find most interesting in thumbing through them is the manner in which what historians agree to be true is often at odds with what our political culture insists must be true. The historiography of the Cold War has gone through many phases from orthodoxy to revisionism to post-revisionism (which some call “orthodoxy with footnotes”) and from being an entirely US-Soviet focused field to one that has engaged historians from many nations who write about Europe and what used to be called “the periphery” as if it were part of a shifting center. Of course these authors take advantage of methods of inquiry that were never dreamed of in the respective imaginations of previous generations of historians and remain controversial to many today.