Some of my happiest musical moments in the past decade have been listening to, of all things, the upstate New York Reggae band, John Brown's Body. My concert-going time was limited for a couple years until child #2 turned three years old this summer, but now we have been having a lot of fun again introducing the kids to our favorite music. We took the family to the Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg in July, where John Brown's' Body played delightful headline sets on their own and with the Meditations. We will go again this coming year.
The homespun soldier's song that inspired the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the original "John Brown's Body" is on the playlist at my untalented but enjoyable nightly bedtime singing sessions with my kids. You might think that's morbid, but consider the competition -- all of the more typical children's songs on the playlist are also about death anyway. Rock-a-bye Baby, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Freight Train, the Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night, Cockles and Mussels, and dozens more. The title, "John Brown's Body," makes a witty name for an upstate New York Reggae band, given the abolitionist's political message, the song's history, and the fact that Brown's corpse actually is buried in upstate New York.
Why write about this in U.S. Food Policy? I occasionally write about related music and songs, and hope to do more. Today's occasion was simply that my foot was tapping as I worked to the song "Bread" from the band's latest album, Pressure Points: "Oh, the people they must all eat bread!"