Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who's YOUR hero?

Ellis Paul’s forthcoming album is going to be different from all the others he’s done during his 20+ year career. It has a very definite theme. It is called The Hero in You and he explains the concept this way:

The last decade has been so hard on our national self worth. All the in-fighting, financial misdealings, recession, war, terrorism, and the out and out struggling to get by have taken their toll on all of us.

I spent the last year writing about people who made significant contributions to our culture and in doing so, helped to change the course of our country's future.

From Nelly Bly to Chief Joseph, from Rosa Parks to Ben Franklin, he has written about some of the folks that he admires. His subjects come from all eras and all walks of life including Rachel Carson, Tee Tot, Jackie Robinson, Martha Graham, Einstein, Edison and, of course, Woody Guthrie.

This admirable list got me thinking about who I might want to add. For obvious reasons I might suggest Tesla and Marconi. I’d probably want to honor pioneering folklorists like F.J. Child, Cecil Sharp and Helen Creighton. He has written a song about Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball but what about Josh Gibson, perhaps the greatest player never to wear a Major League Uniform. While I’m at, from the world of sports I might add Bill Russell and Jim Thorpe. Woody Guthrie certainly deserves a place on this album but somebody should consider a song about his traveling partner Cisco Houston. And what about Cisco’s friend (and mine) the poet Tom McGrath? Yes, you’ve probably never heard of him, but isn’t that what Google is for?

If I thought about this longer my list of heroes would be endless, but what about you? If you could suggest a hero worthy of a song to Ellis for a future album, who would it be? And why? As it turns out, Ellis will be joining me Live at this Friday here on WUMB and I’ll be able to share your suggestions with him.

- Dave Palmater

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