Saturday, April 16, 2011

The OTHER People's Historian: David Rovics

New World Notes News Vol. 4, No. 16 -- April 16, 2011

Once again, the formatting is all messed up--though not quite as bad as in the previous entry--and my attempts to fix it aren't working. We are not amused.

This week in New World Notes, radio program #163, April 19, 2011

The OTHER People's Historian: David Rovics

In brief

David Rovics makes history interesting, relevant, occasionally inspiring. This week we offer four Rovics songs on historical events plus some background and commentary by me. The topics are

  • deindustrialization & decay of once-vital cities (specifically, Danbury, Connecticut)

  • the (anti-slavery) Abolitionists John Brown and Henry Ward Beecher

  • the revolt of "the little guy"--particularly war veterans--against the bankers, government, and other powerful interests after the Revolutionary War (Shays' Rebellion, 1786-87)

  • the first great Arab revolt of 2011, by the people of Tunisia.


  1. Used to Be a City

  2. John Brown*

  3. Berkshire Hills

  4. Tunisia 2011*

*from Rovics' new studio album, The Big Red Sessions.

Rovics is good indeed at writing "bottom-up" history--which stresses how the world was experienced by the common people. He works in the same genre as did the late Howard Zinn. On top of that, Rovics is a very talented singer/songwriter and musician. So listen to him for the excellent music, if not for the history lessons. (See below for the address of his free archive.)

Above: Danbury Fair, Connecticut (1970s?). ("Used to be a City.") Below: Monument commemorating the last battle of Shays' Rebellion, Sheffield, southwestern Massachusetts. The government and the bankers won. ("Berkshire Hills.") Most graphics: Click to enlarge.

Notes, credits, & links

David Rovics' recorded music is available for free (payments also are accepted): New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "Boardwalk") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford. You can listen to any installment of New World Notes online or else download it (as an mp3 audio file) for later listening. The show is archived at both'> and (from #90 onwards) The Internet Archive. Either link should get you a reverse-chrono listing of available installments. Or browse the show's Web site: Each installment has a page, and each page has links to the recorded audio. Series overview: Political and social commentary in a variety of genres. Exploring the gap between what we want ... and what they're trying to make us settle for.

Above: Abolitionist John Brown, in Kansas Territory, holding a Beecher's Bible (viewer's left) and King James Bible (right). ("John Brown.") Below: Mohammed Bouazizi, Tunisian, d. December 17, 2010. His self-immolation touched off the first of the great revolts of the Arab peoples in 2011. The revolt drove Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to resign and flee the country. Rest in peace, Mohammed. ("Tunisia, 2011.")

Coming soon (Tuesday air debut date shown)

  • April 26 -- They Warned Us! Featuring George Carlin, Michael Parenti, and Jello Biafra.
Catch New World Notes (all times Eastern):

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