January 18th - Report to the Stockholders
Report to the Stockholders: Poems by John Beecher - John Beecher, 1977
John Beecher is very, very angry.
You can hear it in his voice, which is aged and weathered and hectoring - the voice of someone who is experiencing very considerable pain but is taking extreme care in comminicating with you. John Beecher is angry about work - how jobs twist us and hurt us, take from us without going back, and even pervert the basic pleasure of doing a task well. He is angry about how, after twisting us for so long, we can be discarded by jobs for the very disorders work has caused. He is furious about racism and the false piety that acts to occlude it. He is enraged by the systems of bureaucracy that allow human beings to be discarded without thought, and he wants us to do something about it.
I had only heard of John Beecher once before, from humorist Brad Neely, who lovingly lampooned his voice in the extremely hilarious Wizard People, Dear Reader. It is kind of a funny voice, but it becomes very hard to think that listening to these poems.
These are perhaps the angriest poems I've ever heard - and I think that this album makes a very good argument for listening to recited poems. Hearing John Beecher haurunge me with his thin, angry old man's voice - his tone ironic as a means to handle the white-hot rage that his own words create - doesn't just make me feel the poems more, it makes me viscerally angry.
Politically, in the United States, some extremely heinous things are being enacted right now. Things have never been good in America, and things are about to get much worse. I think that there maybe now is a very correct time to get very, very angry.
Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways