Kingston Trio/Kingston Trio
My riding around music this week is the Trio’s four-disc box set The Capitol Years. Newly acquired. Lots I haven’t heard. Promises to be bottomless. (God forbid I should ever be able to afford the Bear Family boxes!)
And, hey, after a Friday-night-into-Saturday-morning when the channels I usually surf were bouncing back and forth between mourning the slaughtered innocents in Newtown, replays of the NRA’s principal spokesman advocating for an even more massive police state than the one we already have to “proctect” us (all in the name of preserving individual liberty of course) and Quentin Tarantino stuttering about his new movie (which I gather is going to finally explain slavery in such a way that we’ll all have to stop feeling good about it–at least I think that’s what he was trying to say)–that is, between variations on the unbearable and the merely vile–I needed something bottomless!
So mostly I was just smiling and humming along, going about my errands today.
Then, in the middle of Disc 3, I hit the new-to-me “Jesse James,” which begins with a recitation that insists if you spent your childhood “foraging” for rutabagas and roots, you’d be mean, too, and ends with the priceless aside “Killing 19 people doesn’t make a boy all bad,” delivered with the kind of cheery aplomb Randy Newman and Warren Zevon could only dream about in later days.
Then it dropped straight into the long-remembered chords of their version of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” Pete Seeger’s prophecy of the Viet Nam Syndrome (released months before the first Kennedy assassination and thus years before we thought of Viet Nam as a war, decades before we thought of it as a Syndrome and half a century before we realized-without-necessarily-admitting its incurability) which has the kind of mournful aplomb only folkies ever really master.
And when the song played on, I was reminded that this was the one time they mastered mournfulness to such a degree that even Mary Travers couldn’t compete.
Merry Christmas, America, it seemed to say.
If you haven’t shaken it off by now, you never will!
Boy, do I find odd ways of cheering myself up….