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Music: Running for the Drum – CD and DVD by Buffy Saint-Marie

[ 0 ] August 1, 2010 |

When I play Running for the Drum, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s latest album, in iTunes, it displays the genre as “folk.” Sure, of the many songs that she recorded, some can be classified as folk, but she is by no means a folksinger. I certainly won’t attempt to classify her or Running for the Drum in any genre. The album is a mix of styles. It exemplifies Buffy’s vast talent, knowledge, insight, dreams and love.

Running for the Drum renewed my love for her music, and my goal now is to collect everything Buffy recorded. She was so prolific that I am going to be a busy man seeking out all of her albums—she recorded fifteen between1964 and 1976 alone.

The CD: “No No Keshagesh” provides a concert feel and a rocking start for Running for the Drum. Buffy likes to educate people and these lyrics are loaded with meaning. My favourite line is, “Ole Columbus he was looking good, / When he got lost in our neighbourhood.”

“Cho Cho Fire” is a mix of driving rock interspersed with the traditional sounds of drumbeats and chanting. There are few performers who can do this mix this well. Buffy takes advantage of her band and backup singers on these first two songs. “Listen to the drumbeat . . . That’s my heartbeat.”

“Working for the Government” is another danceable mix of traditional chanting and beats, but the traditional sounds are more prevalent in this song than in “Cho Cho Fire.” Then the music mellows but the lyrics continue to hit home with “Little Wheel Spin and Spin,” which nearly creates a clash between a sweet singing voice and the hard-hitting words. The guitar triplets on “Too Much is Never Enough” enhance the message in this song. By now I am realizing every song on this album has a strong message.

I can visualize the audience swaying when Buffy and her band are playing “To the Ends of the World.” And then we’re getting downright jazzy and soulful when we get to “When I Had You.” Many musicians claim really slow songs are the most difficult to play, but Buffy and her band display their professionalism with this tune.

Now we’re back into rocking, with Taj Mahal tickling the piano keys and adding a blues feeling to “I Bet My Heart on You.” “Blue Sunday” is like another clash, with soulful moans and a story about her baby leaving her set against a foot-stomping beat. I love it! Then the album slows down again for “Easy Like the Snow Falls Down.” Buffy has such a unique voice and beautifully sustained notes in this song.

Canadians love Buffy as a Canadian; Americans love Buffy as an American. On this album, the first hint of Buffy as an American is in her Southern twang at the beginning of “America the Beautiful.” I got a sense of Buffy’s strong character when I listened to the lyrics of this song. She was tagged as a potential enemy of the state in the 1960s, but this has never phased her. Canadians share Buffy with America and that’s okay.

Finally, you wanted folk, you got folk with the exiting song, “Still This Love Goes On.”

The DVD: Don’t be fooled—blind guys like me can enjoy DVDs. How? It’s simple: my wife describes them to me.

We both enjoyed Buffy’s DVD, Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life. The documentary reveals Buffy’s thoughts and feelings about her life as a star, educator, philanthropist, mother, farmer and mate. The most memorable remark my wife made was, “Her eyes really sparkle.” To me, this speaks much about Buffy’s state of mind.

Category: Music

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