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Sellars
Jun-29-2004, 11:22am
Hi all,

I want to write an article for an european bluegrass/country magazine which focusses on songs about how technology affects peoples daily life.

What I mean is songs about technology (e.g. telephone, trains, radio, computers, factories, etc.), which have a clear opinion about the technology (either positive or negative).

For example:

Pro technology song: "Thank God for the Radio"
Anti-technology: "The Engeneers Don't wave from the trains anymore"

The reason I find this an interesting topic is that technological advancements began to invade peoples lives rapidly from the 1900s on This invasion by technology was sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. I want to see whether this is reflected in the music people made.




So who can help me with songs, titles, lyrics and/or information on technology in songs?




I do not want to restict this to one particular genre of music. The reason I am posting this in general discussions is to avoid a lot of cross-topics in the different sub-sections for each musical style. Also I am aware that this is not a mando-tpoic per se, but since it is on American music from roughly 1900 to the 1950s I thought there should be plenty of mandolin featured.

I hope this story makes sense?
Thanks!
Roel

Michael H Geimer
Jun-29-2004, 11:36am
John Henry

Couple snippets ...

The Captain he said to John Henry,
I'm gonna bring that steam drill around,
I'm gonna bring that steam drill out on the job,
I'm gonna our that steel on down, Boy,
I'm gonna pur that steel on down.

But John Henry he said to his Captain,
"You know a man might be nothin' but a man,
But before I let that steam drill beat down on me,
I'll die with this hammer in my hand, Lord,
I'll die with this hammer in my hand."

Tom C
Jun-29-2004, 11:36am
I once heard Tim O'brien sing "A letter from my Darling" and he updated all the lyrics like ....."An email from my Darling" throughout the whole tune. I do have it on CD if you would like it. -Audience from GreyFox

John Ritchhart
Jun-29-2004, 11:56am
Muhlenburg County: verse 3
Well, the coal company came with the world's largest shovel,
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land.
They dug for the coal 'till the land started shaking,
And they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

Chorus:
And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenburg County,
Down by the Green River where paradise lay.
I'm sorry my son but you're too late in asking,
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.

GVD
Jun-29-2004, 12:00pm
How about Aragon Mill? It was written by Si Kahn but I learned it from a Dry Branch Fire Squad CD.

Aragon Mill
#
At the east end of town At the foot of a hill
There's a chimney so tall That says "Aragon Mill"
But there's no smoke at all Comin' out of the stack
For the mill has pulled out And they ain't comin' back

And the only sound I hear is the sound of the wind
As it blows through the town, weave and spin, weave and spin

There's no children at all In the narrow, empty streets
Since the looms have all gone It's so quiet I can't sleep.
Now I'm too old to change And I'm too young to die
And there's no place to go For my woman and I.

And the only sound I hear is the sound of the wind
As it blows through the town, weave and spin, weave and spin

Now the mill has closed down It's the only sound I know
Tell me where will I go? Tell me where will I go?

And the only sound I hear is the sound of the wind
As it blows through the town, weave and spin, weave and spin

GVD

Ted Eschliman
Jun-29-2004, 12:05pm
Joni Mitchell (not Amy Grant...) "Big Yellow Taxi"
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me
Spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

mandopete
Jun-29-2004, 7:56pm
Got all these kind of gadgets 'sposed to make my life complete
Clean my clothes, feed my dog and tell we when to eat
But when the power goes, lordy knows, everybody flips their lid
Time to disconnect buddy, get off of the grid

Times, times they are a changing
Time to pull the plug from the wall
My life needs rearanging
Too much information, bound to fall

- Mandopete - "Times Are Changing"
© 2002

Bandersnatch Reverb
Jun-29-2004, 8:50pm
Not really a mando tune, but "She Blinded me with Science" is a favorite...

It's poetry in motion
She turned her tender eyes to me
As deep as any ocean
As sweet as any harmony
Mmm - but she blinded me with science
"She blinded me with science!"
And failed me in biology

When I'm dancing close to her
"Blinding me with science - science!"
I can smell the chemicals
"Blinding me with science - science!"
"Science!"
"Science!"

Mmm - but it's poetry in motion
And when she turned her eyes to me
As deep as any ocean
As sweet as any harmony
Mmm - but she blinded me with science
And failed me in geometry

When she's dancing next to me
"Blinding me with science - science!"
"Science!"
I can hear machinery
"Blinding me with science - science!"
"Science!"

It's poetry in motion
And now she's making love to me
The spheres are in commotion
The elements in harmony
She blinded me with science
"She blinded me with science!"
And hit me with technology

"Good heavens Miss Sakamoto - you're beautiful!"
I -I don't believe it!
There she goes again!
She's tidied up, and I can't find anything!
All my tubes and wires
And careful notes
And antiquated notions

But! - it's poetry in motion
And when she turned her eyes to me
As deep as any ocean
As sweet as any harmony
Mmm - but she blinded me with science
"She blinded me with - with science!"
She blinded me with

pathfinder
Jun-29-2004, 11:08pm
Pro-technology? #How about "Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone" by Hoyt Axton? #Anti-technology? #How about "Throw Away Your TV" by John Prine, or "L.A. Freeway" by Jerry Jeff Walker, or "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones? #Hmmm....playing the "Satisfaction" riff on mando! #
Nah, wouldn't work. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

mandroid
Jun-29-2004, 11:15pm
Song project: the ballad of Ned Ludd.
or the ode to the wooden shoe, (aka Sabot)

Michael Lewis
Jun-30-2004, 12:16am
Check out Tom Lehrer (not sure of the spelling). He was a professor at one of the ivy league colleges in the 50s, and wrote many songs that contained technological and scientific terms. Mostly they were pretty funny songs.

justwrite
Jul-04-2004, 8:23pm
The title of "Muhlenberg County" is "Paradise," and Guy Clark wrote "LA Freeway," but Jerry Jeff did the definitive version. How about -- "Video Killed the Radio Star," "Detroit City" (By day I make the cars, by night I make the bars); "Radar Love"; a couple of other great Guy Clark songs, "Texas 1947" (me I got a nickle smashed flatter than a dime by a mad dog runaway red silver streamline train) and "The Last Gunfighter Ballad; (he gets killed by a car as he goes for his gun)" "Nine Pound Hammer;" "Sixteen Tons;" "Route 66;" all those old Beach Boys songs about cars; "Roll on Columbia" (Your power is turning our darkness to dawn); I could go on all night.

John Flynn
Jul-04-2004, 10:05pm
"The City of New Orleans" - Arlo Guthrie

"...this train's got the dissappearin' railroad blues."

Fred_Murtz
Jul-05-2004, 5:26am
I remember hearing a song on a John Denver album years ago that went something like,

"Blow up your TV
Throw away your paper
Move to the county
Learn about God....."

Thats all I remember of it.

pathfinder
Jul-05-2004, 7:30am
Yeah, John Denver covered this song that John Prine wrote. #

Blow up your TV
Throw away your paper
Move to the country
Build yourself a home
Have a lot of children
Eat a lot of peaches
Try to find Jesus
On your own.

DPrager
Jul-05-2004, 10:11am
Here's a link to a song that clearly addresses some technology related issues.

It's not quite bluegrass, but there is a banjo and mandolin in the mix.

www.offcenterdesign.com/Music/Audio/Swine/The%20Swine%20-%20Mr.%20Bill's%20Machine.wma

derrickrc
Jul-05-2004, 12:20pm
One song which automatically comes to mind is
"Turn your Radio On" which is a gospel song that compares prayer to listening to the radio. It is an older song that came from the golden age of radio. I think it was written by stamps Baxter. Although it isn't strictly about technology it shows how technology effected our religious life.

Sellars
Jul-06-2004, 1:41am
Super guys! keep 'em comming!

fatt-dad
Jul-06-2004, 7:02am
John Hartford - Steam Powered Aeroplane

JiminRussia
Jul-06-2004, 7:49am
"Turn your radio on"

rixter
Jul-07-2004, 11:45pm
How about that old Norman Blake song "Highland Light"?

All up and down the Blue Ridge Mountain chain they're digging coal
Sending it across the seas to Japan so I'm told
See the mighty wheels of progress turn and the lanes of commerce run
A cornucopia of junk it flows from the land of the rising sun.

All across this mighty country friend, the oak trees turn to gold
But we can't afford our timber, we cannot buy our coal
Cause the foreigners want houses, lifestyles like ours they see
So we trade our own resources for transistorized tv's

chorus:
So get on board the highland light train of my fantasy
And ride to hell or glory, makes no nevermind to me
This train she's not crowded and the ticket there is free
But it's a long hot dusty ride backwards to 1933

And way down in Alabama, on the old Brown's Ferry shore
The TVA Nuclear Reactor sits like a child of war
Just sending out the kilowatts down the girdered peak flow lines
A detriment to society and a threat to all mankind.

chorus, etc.

justwrite
Jul-09-2004, 8:53pm
I believe the John Prine song you mentioned is called "Spanish Pipedream," and I'm sorry, but Steve Goodman wrote "City of New Orleans," although Arlo did do the popular version. What can I say? I'm a Steve Goodman/John Prine/Guy Clark fanatic.

Does anybody know the name of that Don Henley song that starts out, "Used to work for Harvester, used to use my hands,
used to make the tractors and the combines
that plowed and harvested this great land.
Now I see my handiwork on the block
Everywhere I turn
And I see the (clouds???) cross those weathered faces
And I watch the harvest burn."

rhetoric
Jul-11-2004, 6:27am
If you expand your notion of technology (machines) to include technique or efficiency (the rationalizations that drive technology) you could add lots of songs about the meaninglessness and lonliness that comes from living in the modern world (Don Henley's "New York Minute," for one). But I've always liked Pete Seeger's "Tiny Boxes," a light-hearted critique. I'm sure there are zillions more. I'd love to read your article -- great thread.

8ch(pl)
Jul-11-2004, 6:40am
"Turn Your Radio On" was written about 1932 by Alfred Brimley, who also wrote "I'll Fly Away". I may be off on the date.

pathfinder
Jul-11-2004, 10:06am
To 'justwrite' -- you are correct. #The John Prine song was called 'Spanish Pipedream'. #

Anyway, Neil Young used to do one (with mischief in his eye) called 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking'. #It was about problems he was having communicating with a girlfriend. #It had a 'three chord' upbeat C&W tempo which would be great for mando. #The lyrics went like this:

Back in the days of covered wagons, a man had his own way
Whether talkin' to a woman, or crossing the U.S.A.
No telephones were ringing, no angry words exchanged
I wish I was back in the saddle now, riding on the range.

#Chorus:
#Let your fingers do the walking, call me up some time
#I'm listed under 'Broken Hearts Looking for a Good Time'
#I can't reach out and touch you, you're hung up on the line
#I'm your disconnected number now, and you're a private line.

Well, I used to be so happy, when you gave good 'phone.
I could call you up from anywhere, for a little bit of home
But now my heart is aching, after every call
By the way you talk you'd think you'd never, gave good 'phone at all.

Chorus (twice).

Chip Booth
Jul-15-2004, 12:07pm
a couple of much more modern examples, sorry very little mandolin here :-D

Rush: Virtuality
Rush: 2112(ok more scifi, but still a technology driven song)
Rush: Manhattan Project
Rush: Countdown (celebtrates spce flight)
Rush: The Analog Kid
and many more, you get the point, Neil Peart thinks a lot about this stuff

Spock's Beard: The Good Don't Last
[I]We could have watched 'Black Like Me'
Instead we watched the big guns
And everybody knows the words
To "seasons in the sun"

Could have had give
Could have had take
We could've made anything we wanted to make
So we made 'Wheel Of Fortune'
And all the popular songs
We made a land where #### is king
And the good don't last too long[I]


Any other Beard fans out there?

davestem
Jul-15-2004, 12:43pm
Also, there's the obvious (to me) Harley Allen song "Simple Life" :

"And I live a simple life
Cell phone when my old car dies
The Internet to show me where
GPS to get me there
Everywhere there’s satellites
Oh I live a simple life"

...which seems to indicate that he takes technology in stride.

mandroid
Jul-17-2004, 11:34am
How about Malvina Reynolds' 'Little Boxes' ,that Pete Seeger does so well.

Peter Hackman
Jul-17-2004, 12:17pm
One song which automatically comes to mind is
"Turn your Radio On" which is a gospel song that compares prayer to listening to the radio. It is an older song that came from the golden age of radio. I think it was written by stamps Baxter. Although it isn't strictly about technology it shows how technology effected our religious life.
But the true classic in that genre is Radio Station
S-A-V-E-D that Roy Acuff recorded way back.

You'll get news direct from Heaven from that
station up on high
where there is no interference or no static in the sky
All the programs are of happiness and never know despair
it's the only radio station that is never off the air

mandocrucian
Jul-17-2004, 8:18pm
Get hold of the soundtrack album to the documentary Atomic Cafe which features such gems as "Sputniks and Mutniks", "U-Ranium", "Atom And Evil".

"Every Breath You Take" - The Police (surveillance)

For Orwellian police state scenarios...there's probably something along those lines #by Pink Floyd. #Maybe Blue Oyster Cult, Frank Zappa or Capt. Beefheart etc. #

"Do You Want My Job?" - Little Village. #John Hiatt song about dumping nuclear waste in third world countries.

Windflite
Jul-19-2004, 12:20pm
How about...

"The Man Who Turns The Damn Thing Off and On"
Words and music by Shel Silverstein
Recorded on Bob Gibson's "Making A Mess of Commercial Success", 1995


The world's not what it used to be
In love or war or industry.
We face the harsh reality
That this sweet land of liberty
Now contemplates eternity
Plugged into electricity
And programmed by technology
For maximum efficiency.
For instance, see
What happened to me...

When I went down to the factory,
I said, "Hey, you got any job for me?"
They said, "Son, the days of the workin' man
Are dead and gone."
They said, "Computer now does everything
But there does happen to be one opening
For the man who'll turn the damn thing off and on."

Now I'm the man who turns the damn thing off and on.
I give it a twist in the evening like this
And a little bitty flick at dawn.
I know I should be overjoyed.
I'm the only one in town employed.
I'm the man who turns the damn thing off and on.

So, feelin' exhausted from my first day's labor,
I went home to see my baby.
She was lyin' in bed with a smile on her face,
And I heard a buzzin' sound.
She said, "I don't need no mortal men.
This vibrator does the work of ten,
But since you're so in love with me,
I'll let you stick around
And be the man who turns the damn thing off and on."

I give it a twist in the evening like this
And a little bitty flick at dawn.
I know I should be gratified...
She lets me lie here by her side
And be the man who turns the damn thing off and on.

mad dawg
Jul-19-2004, 12:51pm
A couple of 80's contributions: Working in a Coalmine, covered by Devo, and Police's Ghost in the Machine.

mad dawg
Jul-19-2004, 1:39pm
And the hits just keep on coming:

Major Tom, by David Bowie, and Peter Schilling's response, Major Tom (Coming Home).