Book: ‘Pillar of Fire’ by Taylor Branch

It took me a few years to get from finishing book one to the second of three on “America in the [Martin Luther] King Years,” this time the pivotal 1963-’65. But don’t take my tardiness as in any way undercutting my insistence that the civil rights movement trilogy centered around King is absolutely essential reading. Not just for the story of a major leftist achievement it details and the story of the brave and honorable man who was its spearhead. It’s also superbly written and an engaging read that flows with cinematic vivacity. And offers some reminders about the techniques and strategies that won against the forces of repression, prejudice and reactionary thinking that today’s left needs to take up vigorously to battle the resurgent racism, nativist xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and so much more from the right thing. If we act, we shall overcome.

CD: ‘Carter Girl’ by Carlene Carter

The daughter of the late June Carter and offspring of the first and founding family of country music was a country-rock spark plug from the late ’70s into the ’80s who then made her mark in mainstream country. After going through a tough patch – most all of us do at some point – she has emerged stronger than ever, wise and dignified. And on this wondrously warm and richly musical collection she addresses songs from the Carter Family legacy with her own potent modernist yet rooted style. Plus redoes her own touching tribute to her grandmother, Mother Maybelle Carter, “Me and the Wildwood Flower,” perhaps this fan’s favorite of her compositions. And then to blow the listener away with sweet sorrow, rewrites “Lonesome Valley” (with the help of roots music magic man Big Al Anderson) to recount the deaths of her mother and stepfather Johnny Cash. It’s a masterful disc that sits proudly beside the wonderful works as well of her step-siblings Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash, all announcing that the Carter/Cash legacy is in assured, caring and very talented hands.

Website: Longreads.com

Are you as tired as I am of the short-works-best style of journalism (often so-called) that rules on the Internet and has severely damaged modern news reporting? Then point your browser here where some of the finest long-form writing from a wide spectrum of publications on a cornucopia of subjects can be savored, and be reassured that great journalism is still alive in these all too often shallow days.

From The Progressive Populist, December 15, 2014


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