Episode 22 marks our first episode centered around music. Tessa and I talked for a while about things we wanted to do, and Tessa found a great reissue of Socialist and Labor Songs over at PM Press. As a historic book, there wasn’t someone to clearly talk to about that book, but talking with Stephanie at PM she suggested that we talk with Mat Callahan, who recently edited a new edition of Songs of Freedom: The James Connolly Songbook.
In the interview, Callahan, a longtime musician and veteran activist, explains that he had long known James Connolly as an Irish revolutionary figure, but later discovered that Connolly was also an avid poet and songwriter. We talk to Callahan about finding the original US print of Songs of Freedom, which often did not include musical scores. Callahan explains the process of writing music to try and fit the tone of the songs, as well as his broader thoughts on the relationship between music and social change.
This episode features “A Festive Song” and “O Slaves of Toil” from the album Songs on Freedom.