Monday, August 4, 2014

Impecunious: Breadline Blues

Del McCoury Band's 2008 album entitled "Moneyland" opens with Franklin D. Roosevelt espousing a "broader definition of liberty" that allows more freedom and security for the average man than ever known before. Then, the latest news in Bernard "Slim" Smith's 1932 "Breadline Blues" is about the funny relationship between having a job, money, friends, and food. I first heard this 1932 version on the “Moneyland” album, and The Del McCoury Band offers up their own 2008 version of the same song at track 15. 

The Del McCoury Band's title cut on this album establishes a contemporary perspective about the "money disease" and "a thing called greed." Clearly with a thematic message, the album consists mainly of previously-released cuts from additional artists like Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Chris Knight, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris, Dan Tyminski, Bruce Hornsby & The Fairfield Four.

By that point of the album when the new remake of "Breadline Blues 2008" cues up, we’re still left wondering about various moral dilemmas and whether there are any clear-cut answers. Bruce Hornsby had earlier claimed "some things will never change, that's just the way it is, but don't you believe them." 

Of course, the social commentary of "Breadline Blues" between the long-eared mule and the big-mouthed elephant is still relevant today. Timely for its release during the 2008 Presidential election year, the McCourys stated that the only goal of the album was to send a clear message to the politicians in Washington. It’s obvious they took no heed, and Washington has only become more dysfunctional. They should’ve sent complimentary copies to the President and every member of Congress.   

Whether you consider yourself "red" or "blue," these songs go beyond partisan politics. They simply get us thinking about the current state of rural Americans, their communities and livelihoods. We've got to find a way to keep the corn from getting cobbed. FDR was optimistic, and we should be too. Still timely today, FDR's advice was to overcome our arduous burdens and economic calamities by retaining our faith in our ability to master our own destiny. Hmmm, what exactly does that mean? The McCourys attempted to transfer that sentiment to their musical sampler so listen closely for a way ahead to get our economy back on track.

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