At my new venture, work-titled Hogeland’s Publishing WorkSpace, I’m posting what we now call a “long read”: “Coons! Freaks! Hillwilliams!: 200 Years of Roots-Rock Revival (A Memoir).” (I should add that I want and expect the racial slur in the title to startle; I discuss that issue in the “About” section on the other site.) Here’s the opening:
When I was in grade school, cheerful, pretty young women led me and my classmates, well-kept kids born in the 1950′s, in singing doleful lyrics set to catchy melodies. “All the world is sad and dreary,” we sang. “Gone are the days,” and “my heart is bending low.” The songs were written by Stephen Foster, the best-known American pop composer of the nineteenth century. His work had great longevity. A century after his death, I knew it by heart.
But it’s not Foster’s long survival or even his Victorian melancholy that startles my memory now. It’s his most enduring theme. I was born after Brown v. Board of Education. When the first Civil Rights Act of the 1960′s was signed I was entering the fourth grade. Yet throughout my childhood I sang of black people’s unquenchable longing for their days in slavery. Read more…