Maybe tonight you need to hear something hopeful and human.
Two of my heroes are Moe Asch and Studs Terkel. Asch created his Folkways record label in an ambitious attempt to document the “entire world of sound”; Terkel, with his tape recorder, long-running radio show, and epic books of oral histories, attempted, similarly, to preserve as wide a swath of human experience as he could, beginning in his own backyard of Chicago.
One place their visions come together is in the 1965 album, Born to Live, originally conceived and broadcast by Terkel as a radio documentary for Chicago station WFMT, his home base of operations, and soon thereafter released on the Folkways label, where you can still find it today (Asch, again ambitiously, vowed that every Folkways album would remain forever in print — when the Smithsonian eventually acquired the label, they made it their business to honor this design). The album opens with the voice of a young survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, then weaves together a variety of voices. Some of the speakers — James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Pete Seeger, Simone de Beauvoir, Miriam Makeba, and others — are celebrated figures; others are the ordinary, everyday sorts of people Studs Terkel spent his career talking to.
So: if you need something hopeful and human tonight or tomorrow — or just something to pass the time — here is Side One of that album.
And here is Side Two.
(And here is much, much more from Smithsonian-Folkways, and here is much, much more from Studs.
Have at it.)
P. S. For another recent post about Studs, if you missed it, click here. And if you like this sort of thing, or any of the other sorts of things you see on this site, please consider doing any of the following: follow this blog by signing up on the righthand side of this page; follow @lostchildradio on Instagram; or “like” my book and/or radio show on Facebook. You can purchase my book with Alabama jazzman “Doc” Adams online or at your local bookstore. Heartfelt thanks, sincerely, for any / all of the above. See you next time.
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