Thursday, July 17, 2014

Charlie Haden Tribute 7/18/14

On Friday, July 18, NPR’s Fresh Air will broadcast a special program devoted to the legacy of the great Charlie Haden. The program will include material from Haden’s five appearances on the program, dating back to 1983. These were warm and engaging conversations, often moving, and each revealing Haden's deep commitment to music, and his belief that artists have a responsibility to promote positive social and political values.

Fresh Air’s tribute will excerpt each of these five interviews, covering many facets of Haden's life and career, including his work with Ornette Coleman and the sometimes violent reactions to their music; the Liberation Music Orchestra, and the story of Haden’s arrest in Portugal in 1971. (He was performing with Ornette Coleman, and they played “Song for Che” which Haden dedicated to the Black liberation movements in Mozambique and Angola. The students in the audience were appreciative, but the authoritarian government did not approve, and had him arrested).

There are also many stories about growing up in Iowa and Missouri in a country music family that performed every day on the radio, from a studio Haden’s father built on their farm (he had to get up each morning at 4:00 am to milk the cows and feed the chickens, do the morning radio show, go to school, and then come home and do the afternoon broadcast), which he did from the ages of 2 to 15.

Among the more moving chapters is his telling of how he lost his ability to sing after getting bulbar polio, and how he eventually returned to singing, in part because of the encouragement he felt after singing just a little bit during one of his appearances on Fresh Air.

Please note: though the program will air on most NPR stations this Friday, some stations (including New York’s WNYC, WAMU in Washington, DC, and KPCC in Los Angeles) will air it some time next week.