Monday, October 30, 2006

Work songs from a Texas prison



I don't know about y'all, but I thought this is pretty friggin cool; grim, but ... man, what dramatic footage. I'll bet it really was something to see, and something goddawful to be a part of. Still, somehow, the images of their raw, degrading forced labor retain a sense of dignity, don't you think? Men stripped to nothing, treated as beasts of burden, still maintained cultural bonds and personal solidarity through music, of all things, and right there in the face of the armed guards forcing them to work. Wow! "It makes the work seem easy, even when it's hard, when you're singing," says an inmate in the longer version of the film.

What a powerful force music is, isn't it? In this case the merger of work rhythms and musical rhythms, the political implications of retaining cultural symbols like blues music even in bondage, the simple functionality of the song (to keep people from hitting each other with an axe), all of it's fascinating to me.

This is just something I randomly found on YouTube. View the whole 29 minute film here.

UPDATE: More from the Underdog Blog.

1 comment:

Jon Katz said...

Thanks, GFB-

This blogpost inspired me to write the following blogpost: "When governments cage people", http://markskatz.com/blog2/serendipity/archives/59-When-governments-cage-people-See-this-powerful-video..html

Thanks again. Underdog