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Monday, December 19, 2022

No More War - Jacqueline Sharpe



No More War
Songs Composed and Sung by Jacqueline Sharpe
With Arrangements by Walter Raif
Jacket Design by Stanley Chamberlin
Cover Photo by UPI
Cutty Wren Records a Division of International Arts and Sciences Press, Inc.

From the back cover: I have been writing or singing one thing or another ever since I was a child. In school and then in college (where I learned a lot from John Malcolm Brinnin), I wrote poetry. In graduate school at Radcliffe, I contributed to Poetry and to a literary magazine in Cambridge called Foreground. In the Vassar College Choir, I had loved singing the great liturgical music of our heritage. With friends in Cambridge I sang French, Italian and English madrigals, and the songs of Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Faure and Poulenc. The music dearest to me was the chamber and piano music of Beethoven. It still is.

I never though about folk music at all, until I fell in with a folk song group in Boston, headed by Bess Hawes, and learned that I had been missing something. We went around with our assorted voices, guitars, banjos, ukuleles and washtub basses, and sang for meetings and dances. Later we wrote topical songs for the Boston mayoralty campaign of a wonderful guy, who finished last in a field of four, though he was by far the best man in the race. It was during that campaign that Bess and I came up with a topical song that years later, by accident, became a hit and a "folk standard" – the M.T.A. or Boston subway song.

In 1950, the folk song magazine Sing Out, which is now one of the outstanding publications in this field in the country, was founded. I contributed a couple of songs to it in the early years: one calypso satire called Peace, It's Wonderful and another called Boom Boom And Bang Bang (otherwise known as Children's Peace Song) which I sang which included Pete Seeger, Leon Bibb, Betty Sanders and Elizabeth Knight, among others. 

During the fifties I was in New York (the city I was born in), studying singing with a superb and beloved teacher, Max Margulis, and developing a repertoire of international folk songs. In 1960, a few months after my marriage to Mike Sharpe, we spent a good part of the summer in the USSR, where I sang in concerts from Sochi on the Black Sea to Leningrad. In 1960-61, I conducted a weekly radio program on WNYC called Journey Into Folk Song.

With the birth of my two children in 1961 and 1962, I lost with developments in folk music, though I was aware that a new surge of creativity had enriched the field of topical song. And one evening in September 1965, as I was singing for some friends in my own house, I felt urgently that I must try again to put together those two forms, music and words, that had always been at the center of my life. At the same time, the war in Vietnam was eating away at my soul, as was my deep hatred of the hypocrisy which characterizes so many aspect of contemporary life.

The songs in this album were all produced between September 1965 and June 1966. Some are optimistic, but most are bitter jokes. The one for which the album is titled – No More War – was inspired by the impassioned speech which Pope Paul VI gave before the United Nations on October 4, 1965. A number of people concerned with the dangers of war joined me in presenting an album containing a recording and manuscript of the song to His Holiness through the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, because of his enthusiasm for the song, The Vatican's Secretary oof State sent me a letter of thanks on behalf of Pope Paul, together with the Pope's commemorative medal of his United Nations visit, which reads, "Alumna Pax Amoris" (Peace is the Foster Child of Love).

There are two other songs which share with No More War an affirmative quality and a vision of a better future: Love Song and I'll Take My Chances. But there are many more in which I wanted and needed to express my bitterness at the cruel and slick exercise of American power, and at our national vice of pretending to be terribly "nice" people while we casually indulge in mass murder. That bitterness underlines Chant For The Murdered, Lullaby, Honor Our Commitment, Cardboard Apples, To The Right – March! and Mind Your Manners, Boys. The last-mentioned was inspired by New York Times report in the spring of 1966 that a Marine commandant in a pacification area near DaNang was perturbed by the behavior of his men toward the local population. He therefore issued "Ten Commandments" to them, which included admonitions to wave at all Vietnamese, to respect the other's hands, not to liberate the goods of the population, etc. I couldn't resist. I had to out those "commandments" into a song – with suitable embellishments, of course.

One song in this collection, the Folksy Rocksy Sick And Easy Blues, has provoked varied reactions. Some people thing it's the best song of the lot. Others don't think it belongs with this group of songs at all. Actually, it is my reaction to the more recent work of Bob Dylan, whose expressive power I acknowledge, but whose negativism I profoundly disagree with. The song is not about war and peace; it is about art and the artist, and I think it belongs here.

I dedicated this album to the cause of peace on earth, good will to all men. It is the most fervent hope of my life. Perhaps it is also yours – Jacqueline Sharpe

Love Song
Honor Our Commitment
When I was A Young Thing
Drum Majorette
No More War
Chant For The Murdered
Mind Your Manners, Boys
Cardboard Apples
To The Right – March!
Folksy Rocksy Sick And Easy Blues
I'll Take My Chances

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