The Spectacle Blog

Re: Odetta, RIP

By on 12.3.08 | 10:40AM

The death of Odetta reminds me of the scene in "Animal House" where the Deltas go on a road trip and pick up girls at Emily Dickinson College, who are in mourning ("Sophomore Dies in Kiln Explosion") as the soundtrack features Odetta singing a sad spiritual.

The folk-music boom of the 1950s and early '60s that elevated Odetta to star status was a left-wing phenomenon. Pete Seeger and other comrades pushed the Leninist idea that folk was the only authentic revolutionary music. So you had all these lefty boho college kids sitting around digging Bolshevik wannabes trying to play bluegrass at "hootenannies" in Village coffee bars.

Meanwhile, of course, the lowbrow greaser youth of the lumpenproletariat were listening to that crass, commercialized, reactionary music known as rock 'n' roll.

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