The Cedar Lounge Revolution
September 28th, 2013
Given that we’re listening to Patti Smith today it seems only appropriate to consider some more politically inflected music. Here is a very positive endeavour, a CD and reprint of the James Connolly Songbook. They’re going on sale at €10 for the book and €12 for the CD and I’ve been given a copy of both and I have to admit they’re great. The book is produced by PM Books in Oakland, a publisher that seeks to ‘create radical fiction and non-fiction books’ to ‘deliver political and challenging ideas to all walks of life’.
They’ve succeeded brilliantly in the book which is a facsimile reproduction, right down to advertising, of the original 1907 New York printing, and in addition to that a 1919 Connolly Souvenir program, for a concert that commemorated the birth of Connolly. There’s also a preface by Theo Dorgan, a Foreword by James Connolly Heron and an Introduction by editor Mat Callahan (for an overview of his interesting career see here).
In a way this sort of approach, one which engages with the material conditions of life that would have been experienced by workers at that time is one which aligns with the intention of the Left Archive, the idea that it’s not just the text that is important, but also the physicality of a document, the way it is produced, the images used, the advertising – if any, that builds up into a coherent picture of what it was like to read it for the first time.
Even better again the accompanying CD has a wide range of songs, as the sleeve notes say, nine with lyrics written by Connolly, three written about him and “The Red Flag”.
As Connolly himself wrote in 1907:
“Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singling of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude”.
There is a launch in Cork on 2 October in the City Library at 6.30PM, but more on that on Monday, and here’s a sample from the album (and many thanks to them for providing this).
Here too is a review from the September issue of SIPTU’s Liberty (and by the way, great credit is due to Jim Lane and others for working tirelessly to support this project).