Since the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group kind of coincides with my Battle of the Bands schedule, I'm combining the two. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting #IWSG every month. Be sure to visit his site for more information.
Getting Paid for the Work
Talk about insecurity! Stephen Collins Foster wrote some of America's biggest hit songs and is now known as "the Father of American Music", yet he saw little money from his efforts and died penniless in a charity ward in New York City in 1864. People knew his name, but his fame didn't pay the bills. It's nice to be remembered in history, but getting a good paycheck while one is alive would be nice.
What are your ultimate writing goals? Do you write for the money, the recognition, or personal fulfillment?
Battle of the Bands: Oh! Susanna
It's the 1st of the month and that means another Battle of the Bands is here. This is the twice monthly event that is brought to you by the fine bloggers at A Far Away Series and Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends. Be sure to visit both of their sites and vote on their battles. Other possible participants are listed at the bottom of this post. If you'd like to do a Battle of your own let us know in the comments so we can come to vote on yours.
This battle is the first of a two parter that I think you'll find rather interesting. The installment that will appear on July 15th is one that might surprise you and will hopefully entertain you. But first the Battle at hand...
Al Jolson "Oh Susanna" (1939)
Now we recognize the racism of the concept of minstrel shows, but it was a highly popular form of American entertainment from the 1840's and into the mid-20th century. Al Jolson became famous with his blackface performances of popular songs. I offer the first clip only for perspective to give you an opportunity of hearing the way the popular song "Oh! Susanna" was traditionally performed.
Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) was the first great American songwriter. Trained in classical music he took an interest in the music he heard played in the black community and wrote a number of songs in that style. Many of his songs were taken by touring minstrel shows and were published under the names of the performers.
Foster wrote "Oh! Susanna" in 1847 and it became a national sensation which in turn gave the composer a good bit of fame. Please don't vote on the Jolson version as I would prefer the battle be between the more modern versions that follow. But since it's a short clip I encourage you to give the great Al Jolson a listen. He was a huge star in the first half of the 20th century.
The Byrds "Oh! Susannah" (1965)
The folk rock group The Byrds recorded their version of this song for their second album. They certainly give it a sound of that time.
Yambo "Oh Suzanna" (1999?)
Not sure what to say about this group. From the information I found on them they are a Euro-pop girl dance group from Germany. They changed the song lyrics to fit what they do, but the melody is the same. Just goes to show the timelessness of the popular song from over 150 years ago. This version to me is strange, but strangely compelling. Give it a shot. I've chosen the live action video version since the studio version had a pretty boring video.
Now for the Vote
Now it's time for you to pick your favorite version of "Oh! Susanna". Let us know your preference in the comment section and tell us why you chose that version. I'll announce the winner next Wednesday.
Here are some other bloggers who may or may not be participating in the Battle of the Bands. Please visit their sites to vote on their battles:
Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends
Your Daily Dose
Did you used to sing "Oh! Susanna" in school? Have you ever seen any Al Jolson films? Do you enjoy Europop?