Friday, October 3, 2008


Nick Reynolds, a founding member of the Kingston Trio, died Wednesday in San Diego, California. His smooth tenor voice helped the trio popularize folk music back in the 1950s and 60s. The Kingston Trio had huge hits with traditional ballads like "Tom Dooley," as well as comical tunes like "MTA" shown in the clip above, in which Reynolds sings lead.

“Nobody could nail a harmony part like Nick,” said Bob Shane, another founding member of the group. “He could hit it immediately, exactly where it needed to be, absolutely note perfect, all on the natch.”

The trio was wildly popular, but folk purists considered them commercial, and put them down for avoiding the political music of other folkies such as The Weavers, who were tarred as un-American traitors during the McCarthy Era witch hunts of the 1950s. (Students of history, take note: the right-wing Republican cultural wars are nothing new)

Later, as if in response to the folk purists, the Kingston Trio produced a wonderful album of political folk called "Time to Think," which was a favorite around our house when we were growing up. There has always been a-- dare I say it?--"liberal" tradition in America, and these songs reflected the struggles of the common man, the working family, the downtrodden, the screwed-over, the people working in fields and mines who wouldn't have any rights at all if they didn't organize and stand up for themselves.

Don't believe these hardshell Republicans who want to revise history and claim the flag as theirs alone; the American eagle has always had a left wing, too. The only difference is, in the past people knew the difference between miners and mineowners, and they voted accordingly. They weren't so easily bamboozled by "folksy" phonies like Palin who act like the average Joe but shill for the corporate status quo. Joe six-pack? Closer to Joe McCarthy, if you ask me.

Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who played on people's fears and appealed to their patriotism while leading the witch hunts in the 1950s

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