As I do my research, I’ve been spending lots of time in the 1930s and WWII. Trying to understand the context of that era has become one of the lens through which I understand the reunion. On this date in 1936, Jesse Owens won the long jump at the Munich Olympics, ruining Hitler’s master race narrative. More tragically, Anne Frank and her family were betrayed and captured August 4, 1944 by those pursuing that appalling storyline….

One of the more powerful books I’ve come across in this journey is The Liberators: America’s Witnesses to the Holocaust by Michael Hirsch. He interviewed over 150 US veterans, nurses, and concentration camp survivors to tell the story of those last days of the Reich. when the world understood true evil. His mixture of background facts crosscut with the interviews makes a painful yet enthralling read.

Tragically short-lived (1897-1932), the “Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers recorded for the first time August 4, 1927. The two songs in that historic session were “Sleep, Baby, Sleep,” and “The Soldier’s Sweetheart.” Born in Mississippi, he travelled through the west as a railroad man, before settling in Asheville, NC. Although he’d been singing most of his life, Jimmie found his performing “voice,” on the local radio station. When a new studio up in Bristol offered a chance making a record — country music was born. More songs followed including famous hits such as “T for Texas,” and “Standing on the Corner” (also known as Blue Yodel #9). He toured with Will Rogers, and on the “Blue Yodel #9”, he performed with a new young trumpeter named Louis Armstrong. His fantastic career ended five years later as the tuberculosis he had battled for so long caused a lung hemorrhage.

Way Back Down Deep: The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers — A Tribute: a fantastic tribute album, great material and well-chosen performers!
Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes (Bono); Any Old Time (Allison Krauss & Union Station — one of my favorites on the album, she does such a great slow driving beat); Waiting for a Train (Dickey Betts); Somewhere Down Below the Mason Dixon Line (Mary Chapin Carpenter); Miss the Mississippi and You (David Ball); My Blue Eyed Jane (Bob Dylan); Peach Pickin’ Time Down in Georgia (Willie Nelson — one of the greatest titles ever); In the Jailhouse Now (Steve Earle & the V-Roys — some songs just live to be covered); Blue Yodel #9 (Jerry Garcia, Dave Grisman & John Kahn); Hobo Bill’s Last Ride (Iris DeMent); Gambling Bar Room Blues (John Mellencamp); Mule Skinner Blues (Van Morrison); Why Should I Be Lonely (Aaron Neville) and T for Texas (Dwight Yoakam — this one is inspired, both have that lean, hungry intensity)

Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it. –> Jesse Owens
Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. –> Anne Frank

**PS: In other news, history will note that our 44th President, Barack Obama, the first born in Hawaii and the first African-American was born on August 4, 1961.

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