Portrait of Billie Holiday in Down Beat magazine. Taken by William P. Gottlieb
Continuing the republication of podcast review columns from The Tribune newspaper - this column appeared in the Weekend edition of February 27: http://www.tribune242.com/photos/galleries/2015/feb/27/02272015-weekend/
Soul Music (BBC)
“That strange fruit is still out there, it's just in a different form.”
So says the cousin of Emmett Till, a teenager lynched and killed in 1955 for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The story of the 14-year-old's death is just one strand of an episode of the Soul Music podcast on the BBC website, looking at the story behind the song Strange Fruit.
The Soul Music series has many episodes, each looking at the background behind a particular piece of music, but the Billie Holiday episode has many aspects to it – from the horror of lynchings that inspired it, through the story of the Jewish New York schoolteacher who wrote it and who later adopted the children of two people executed for being Soviet spies, to the people today inspired by the song, such as the quiltmaker who quietly stitched and sewed with golden thread the names of everyone killed in lynchings before quietly, defiantly adding: “I stand for these people. If no one else remembers them, or remembers their names, I stand for these people.”
The song plays, and the story unfolds.
Website: www.bbc.co.uk and search for Soul Music
Love + Radio
Walking along the street one day, Ana – in Oakland, California – was catcalled by Jerome in the street. Ana pulled out her microphone and asked him if he could repeat what he said to her, and the latest episode of Love + Radio presents the conversation that followed.
The goal of Love + Radio is to present interviews with unexpected subjects. For example, the site suggests a starting point if you want to work out what kind of things it covers, and it points you to the episode The Wisdom Of Jay Thunderbolt, about a man who runs a strip club from his home.
There seems to be a freshness and an honesty to the approach, an uninhibited freedom in the topics covered and the language used – some explicit.
That honest approach can bring great results – in the catcalling episode, An Old Lion or a Lover's Lute, Jerome gives straightforward answers as to why he does what he does, but the earnest questions continue and reveal a lot about his viewpoint, and the uncertain ground it is built on.
Time for a little escapism, and Pseudopod is a very elegant place to escape to. This is a website devoted to horror stories. There's something old and something new here – stories written by modern writers and sometimes a gem unearthed from the past. Readers are also warned this is not a site for children, as horror stories can most certainly be gruesome. I started off with Lost In The Fog, a story published in 1918 by British novelist John Davys Beresford (whose daughter would later create children's characters The Wombles). It's a story of a man taking the wrong train, getting off at the wrong place and learning of many other, very wrong things taking place there. The readings are professional quality, with not too much of an introduction before you get to the meat of why you're visiting, plus analysis at the end. There are plenty of episodes – Lost In The Fog is episode 420 – so you won't be short of a shiver or two as you draw up the blankets and turn up the volume.
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