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Folk blues artist Karen Dalton was born 86 years ago today
Photo by Elliot Landy
Karen Dalton, folk blues artist, was born 86 years ago today.
Born Karen J. Cariker, Dalton was a Cherokee folk blues singer, guitarist and banjo player. She was associated with the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene, particularly with Fred Neil, the Holy Modal Rounders and Bob Dylan.
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, Dalton’s bluesy, world-weary voice is often compared to jazz singer Billie Holiday, though Dalton said Bessie Smith was a greater influence. She sang blues, folk, country, pop, Motown — making over each song in her own style. She played the twelve string guitar and a long neck banjo.
Dalton's first album, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best (Capitol, 1969), was re-released by Koch Records on CD in 1996.
Dalton's second album, In My Own Time (1971), was recorded at Bearsville Studios and originally released by Woodstock Festival promoter Michael Lang's label, Just Sunshine Records. The album was produced and arranged by Harvey Brooks, who played bass on it.
Piano player Richard Bell guested on In My Own Time. Its liner notes were written by Fred Neil and its cover photos were taken by Elliott Landy.
Both of Dalton's albums were re-released in 2006. It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best, on the French Megaphone-Music label, included a bonus DVD featuring rare performance footage of Dalton. In My Own Time was re-released on CD and LP on November 7, 2006 by Light In The Attic Records.
Known as "the folk singer's answer to Billie Holiday" and "Sweet Mother K.D.", Dalton is said to be the subject of the song "Katie's Been Gone" (composed by Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson) on the album The Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan.
Dylan wrote of Dalton that "my favorite singer...was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed... I sang with her a couple of times."
Dalton was closely associated with singer/songwriter Tim Hardin, whose songs she covered. She was among the first to sing his "Reason to Believe." She was married to guitarist Richard Tucker, with whom she sometimes played as a duo, and in a trio with Hardin.
She died from an AIDS-related illness in her mobile home in Woodstock, New York at age 55 in March of 1993. The trailer is still located in a clearing off Eagle's Nest Road, outside the town of Hurley, near Woodstock.
According to her friend, Peter Walker, Dalton had been living with AIDS for over eight years.
Karen Dalton performs “It Hurts Me Too.”
George McGovern with Frank Beacham
Photo by Margo Re
George McGovern was born 101 years ago today.
A historian, author, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election, McGovern grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he was a renowned debater.
He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces upon the country's entry into World War II and as a B-24 Liberator pilot flew 35 missions over German-occupied Europe. Among the medals bestowed upon him was a Distinguished Flying Cross for making a hazardous emergency landing of his damaged plane and saving his crew.
After the war he gained degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University and Northwestern University, culminating in a PhD. He became a history professor.
McGovern was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958. After a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 1960, he was a successful candidate in 1962.
As a senator, McGovern was an exemplar of modern American liberalism. He became most known for his outspoken opposition to the growing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He staged a brief nomination run in the 1968 presidential election as a stand-in for the assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.
The subsequent McGovern–Fraser Commission fundamentally altered the presidential nominating process, by greatly increasing the number of caucuses and primaries and reducing the influence of party insiders. The McGovern–Hatfield Amendment sought to end the Vietnam War by legislative means, but was defeated in 1970 and 1971.
McGovern's long-shot, grassroots-based 1972 presidential campaign found triumph in gaining the Democratic nomination, but left the party badly split ideologically.
The failed vice-presidential pick of Thomas Eagleton also undermined McGovern's credibility.
In the general election, McGovern lost to incumbent Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history. Re-elected Senator in 1968 and 1974, McGovern was defeated in a bid for a fourth term in 1980.
Throughout his career, McGovern was involved in issues related to agriculture, food, nutrition and hunger. As the first director of the Food for Peace program in 1961, McGovern oversaw the distribution of U.S. surpluses to the needy abroad and was instrumental in the creation of the United Nations-based World Food Program.
He died at age 90 in October, 2012.
A frame from a 16mm film clip of (a very young) Frank Beacham interviewing McGovern for the first time outside his Senate office in 1968
George McGovern: A Personal Remembrance
Today, on the 101th anniversary of George McGovern’s birth, I can’t help but be wistful about the sad state of our national politics.
As one who knew McGovern, followed his work and reported on it, listened to his speeches, drank with him and always admired him, I can honestly say the man might have been one of our greatest presidents. But sadly, it never happened.
In college, being from the poor state of South Carolina, I came to Washington in 1968 to report on McGovern’s hearings on hunger. I could not help being impressed.
Yes, he was a liberal of the highest order — one who wanted to help poor people live a better life. He was attacked for that. I also appreciated his opposition to the Vietnam War, especially since I was very high on the list of young men about to be drafted in 1968. He was attacked for that too.
George McGovern was one of the most decent men to ever run for political office in the United States. It was a time — before money had totally corrupted politics — when good people could still be elected to office.
In 1970, I worked on Capitol Hill just out of college for Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. I would go to a little bar across the street from my Senate office after work. McGovern was often there with his chief aide, Gary Hart. Hart would later become a U.S. Senator himself from Colorado.
I knew and liked both McGovern and Hart and we’d often drink together. I knew them as both really good people who genuinely cared about the world.
One day, Gary Hart asked me to lunch in the Senate Dining Room. He offered me a job working for McGovern, who, he revealed, was planning a long shot run for the presidency. Skeptical, I turned him down. I was sick of politics at this point and wanted out. Writing was my thing, I told him.
The position, which seemed so lowly at the time, would later be taken by Frank Mankiewicz, the son of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who co-wrote Citizen Kane with Orson Welles. Mankiewicz would later become press secretary for McGovern in the 1972 campaign and press secretary to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in New York.
Though I don’t regret passing on the job, I had off and on contact with George McGovern throughout his entire life. He is the only politician I ever had deep respect for.
In the era of Richard Nixon, whose reign in power turned out to be far more toxic than anyone could even imagine back in the 60s, McGovern offered an alternative of incredible decency and solid thinking. America’s rejection of him was tough for me to swallow.
I heard McGovern speak again in 2008. He was then 86. Even at his advanced age, he was dead on right with everything he said. I still wanted him to be president, but it was not to be.
Brian May is 76 years old today.
An English musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist who achieved international fame as the guitarist of Queen, May uses a home-built guitar, the "Red Special."
Queen's albums include numerous May compositions, including "Tie Your Mother Down," "I Want It All," "We Will Rock You," "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Who Wants to Live Forever."
He was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 for "services to the music industry and for his charity work.“
May earned a Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College in 2007 and served as the 4th Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 until 2013. He resides in Surrey.
May is considered one of the greatest guitarists playing today. Throughout Queen's career, he frequently wrote songs for the band and has composed many significant songs. Typically, either Freddie Mercury or May wrote the most songs on every Queen album.
Following the death of Mercury in November, 1991, May chose to deal with his grief by committing himself as fully as possible to work, first by finishing his solo album, Back to the Light, and then touring worldwide to promote it. He frequently remarked in press interviews that this was the only form of self-prescribed therapy he could think of.
Said Def Leppard vocalist, Joe Elliot: "It was undoubtedly an enormous and terrible blow to lose someone he was so close to. Personally, I know it ripped the heart out of Brian, but having said that, he was in great spirits after the album was finished."
Here, May performs “Fat Bottomed Girls” in 1998.
Edgar Degas in a self-portrait in 1855
Edgar Degas was born 189 years ago today.
A French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, Degas is especially identified with the subject of dance — more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist.
Degas was a superb draftsman and masterly in depicting movement — as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, race course subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.
At the beginning of his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art.
In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life. During his life, public reception of Degas's work ranged from admiration to contempt.
As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865 and 1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic, Jules-Antoine Castagnary.
He soon joined forces with the Impressionists, however, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements and elitism of the Salon — just as the Salon and general public initially rejected the experimentalism of the Impressionists. Degas's work was controversial, but was generally admired for its draftsmanship.
His La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, or Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, which he displayed at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, was probably his most controversial piece. Some critics decried what they thought its "appalling ugliness" while others saw in it a "blossoming."
Recognized as an important artist in his lifetime, Degas is now considered "one of the founders of Impressionism.”
Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions, his dynamic paintings and sketches of everyday life and activities, and his bold color experiments, served to finally tie him to the Impressionist movement as one of its greatest artists.
Musicians in the Orchestra, 1870
Painting by Edgar Degas
Lizzie Borden, ax lady, was born 163 years today.
Borden was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. The case was a cause célèbre throughout the United States.
Following her release from the prison in which she had been held during the trial, Borden chose to remain a resident of Fall River for the rest of her life, despite facing significant ostracism.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected to charge no one else with the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden. Speculation about the crimes still continues.
The case was memorialized in a popular skipping-rope rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Folklore says that the rhyme was made up by an anonymous writer as a tune to sell newspapers. Others attribute it to the ubiquitous, but anonymous, "Mother Goose."
In reality, Lizzie's stepmother suffered 18 or 19 blows. Her father suffered 11 blows.
The song was popular with The Chad Mitchell Trio. Here, the Trio performs the song in a 2010 appearance.
On this day in 1958 — 65 years ago — the manager of The Drifters, George Treadwell, sacked the entire group and hired the unknown Ben E. King and The Five Crowns as their replacements.
Here are The Drifters in the original lineup. From left to right, Bill Pinkney, Willie Ferbie, Clyde McPhatter, Andrew Thrasher and Gerhart Thrasher
Commander Cody was born 79 years ago today.
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen was an American country rock band founded in 1967. George Frayne IV, who founded the band and was Commander Cody, was born in Boise City, Idaho and died September 26, 2021. He did vocals and played on keyboards.
Other members included Billy C. Farlow on vocals and harmonica; John Tichy on guitar and vocals; Bill Kirchen on lead guitar; Andy Stein on saxophone and fiddle; Paul "Buffalo" Bruce Barlow on bass guitar; Bobby Black on steel guitar; and Lance Dickerson, who died in 2003, on drums.
The band’s name was inspired by 1950s film serials featuring the character Commando Cody and from a feature version of an earlier serial, King of the Rocket Men, released under the title, Lost Planet Airmen.
Frayne had a subsequent solo career, touring and releasing albums from 1977. He was also a visual artist, receiving a bachelor's in design from the University of Michigan in 1966 and a master's in Sculpture and Painting from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies of the University of Michigan in 1968.
Frayne taught at University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and had his art exhibited at numerous shows. He was a student of cinematography and has a video (Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries) in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent video archive.
Some of his paintings were oversized, most were medium-sized acrylics and present pop art images from media sources and historic photos. His book, Art Music and Life, was released by Qualibre Publications in 2009 and is a mix of his best work and anecdotal comments and related stories.
The band's style mixed country, rock 'n' roll, Western swing, rockabilly and jump blues together on a foundation of boogie-woogie piano. It was among the first country-rock bands to take its cues less from folk-rock and bluegrass and more from barroom country of the Ernest Tubb and Ray Price style.
A pioneer in incorporating Western swing into its music, the band became known for marathon live shows.
Here’s Commander Cody performing “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette).
Jan Rose Kasmir, 17, offers a flower to soldiers during a Pentagon antiwar protest, 1967
Photo by Marc Riboud