Cobain & Ochs & Harburg & Robeson
This week’s marks anniversaries for four iconic figures in the culture of protest. April 5 marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, marked this week by much commentary about his life and death. Cobain’s body was discovered on April 9, the anniversary of the day that Phil Ochs committed suicide in 1976. We’ll hear songs by and about these two that speak to their separate and combined tragedies.
Yip Harburg was born April 8, 1896. One of the greatest popular song lyricists, notable for his wit and his high political consciousness. In recent weeks, Yip’s songs, ‘Brother can you spare a dime?’ and ’Over the Rainbow’ were said, by Simon Schama in his TV miniseries the Story of the Jews to define Jewish immigrant identity in America. It’s as well the 75thanniversary of the release of The Wizard of Oz, a film that Yip, more than anyone else, helped to shape.
Paul Robeson, one of the most famous Americans of his time, was born April 9, 1898. A new musical play about Robeson, the Tallest Tree in the Forest, opens in LA on April 12. We’ll hear the voices and songs of these two—both heavily blacklisted for their politics, (and now both subjects of US postage stamps).