Thursday, November 23, 2017

Margo Price's NPR show the day after Trump won. An emotional, but defiant performance by awesome, rising and political country singer

This NPR "tiny desk" features country singer Margo Price on November 9 last year -- the day after Donald Trump was elected. Yeah I know it is over a year ago now, but I've been busy! With many things! Such as drinking, living in denial at the coming destruction of the last remnants of human civilisation, and not listening to Margo Price's NPR tiny desk show from November 9, 2016. It's been fucking hectic.

Over the past few months I've come across Margo Price and she's great. She has been making waves with music that, unlike much of what dominates country radio, is actual country music, stories of of pain and resilience filled with heart. Naturally, Nashville has little time for her, but she is part of a new wave of great women country singers outside the Nashville mainstream, along with the likes of Dori Freeman, Kristina Murphy (who I literally first heard today but already love) and Sarah Shook.

Price's NPR desk show was obviously always going to have to relate in some way to the rise of Trump, but its no real surprise she openly took it on (the notes from NPR below the clip explain the context). Price is explicitly, but not heavy-handedly, political (as an example, two of the three tracks at the NPR performance were not written as political songs, but took on political dimensions with Trump's win.)

Price is political in a way that gets label in the US as "liberal", but that label doesn't do it justice. This isn't about partisan party politics -- with the Democrats putting in a poor showing anyway of actual progressive politics -- but ordinary people and their interests in the fact of systemic inustices.

The show was recorded a few months after after her impressive debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, last year. The album won many accolades and debuted at number 10 on the US country charts -- the first time a female artist has debuted in the top 10 with her first record.

She has since released her second album, All American Made, it is even more political -- filled with anger and defiance as she takes down institutionalised sexism from a working-class perspective on tracks like "Pay Gap".

It goes beyond shallow liberal anti-Trump stuff with gut-level response to systemic injustice. The title track, although it explicitly refers to and ironically inverts Trump's "make it in America" rhetoric, was written before Trump's win. It swings from general points ("everywhere I go, somebody puts e in the dirt") to references to historical events like the Iran-Contra scandal under Reagan in the 80s.

This is not about Trump dropping from the sky, but being an product of modern America -- he is, himself, very much all-American made. It is further evidence to the emptiness of prejudices that country is a reactionary genre.

And, like the debut, it also has some great country songs about pain of love gone wrong, and features a duet with Willie Nelson. It broke into the top 10 US country, folk and indie charts.

Price is the sort of artist that gives hope for popular music in general and country music in particular, as a vital creative force with some reason for its existence, that can relate to the world around it.

The clip, which features the title track for her latest album and two tracks from her debut, is below, followed by NPR's notes.

Bob Boilen | November 28, 2016 — When I greeted Margo Price in the NPR garage before her Tiny Desk performance, tears were streaming down her face. It was Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, the day after the 2016 election. For her — as for many Americans — it was a stunning and bewildering moment in time, a day when life and the everyday took on new meaning. And so when she and her band began to play "All American Made," a song she's sung many times before, those words about America's changes and failures in the 21st century seemed even more powerful. Margo Price is a Nashville-based musician, the sort of country artist that captures the hearts of those both inside and outside the country-music scene. Her debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, is one of the brightest moments in country in a very strong year. As this Tiny Desk progresses, even "Four Years Of Chances," her song of a love gone wrong, feels less about a lousy husband and more about presidential politics. She dedicates her third and final song, "About To Find Out," to Donald Trump; she says it was originally written about a "musician acquaintance of mine who's a complete sociopath." When the song ends, she rips open her red cowboy shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words "Icky Trump"— a play on the title of The White Stripes' song "Icky Thump," which criticizes the U.S.'s immigration policies. She smiles, wipes a tear away: It seems cathartic, but temporary. Midwest Farmer's Daughter is available now: iTunes: Amazon: SET LIST "All American Made" "Four Years Of Chances" "About To Find Out"

You can see also see a longer show with full band in front of live audience.


Here is an upbeat, cheery track all about exploitation and systemic sexual harassment of women in the industry and in general!

In this town everybody's trying to get a piece of everybody else
It gets hard to tell a real friend from a fake one
So many promises, favors, and lies
Most of the town wears a good disguise
And even I, too, have been known to wear one

As the saying goes, it's not who you know
But it's who you blow that'll get you in the show
And if that's not the case I hear you pay 'em
But I don't come easy and I'm flat broke
So I guess it's me who gets the joke
Maybe I'd be smarter if I played dumb

I can't count all the times I've been had
Now I know much better than to let that make me mad
I don't let none of that get me down
From what I've found this town gets around

Now the very first manager I ever had
He was old enough he could have been my dad
He took me out for drinks and talked a big talk
He said, "darling sign on the dotted line
You know, "kiss my cheek and drink this wine
But if you walk on me, then you can just walk

I can't count all the times I've been had
Now I know much better than to let that make me mad
I don't let none of that get me down
From what I've found this town gets around

When I first came here the streets were paved with gold
And you can walk that road, I've been told
But I won't put out or be controlled
I don't write the shit that gets bought and sold
Ask any man
He might know
Who used to live on Music Row
But that was then, and this is now
He told me this town gets around
From what I've found this town gets around

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