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Oscar Brand

Oscar Brand

Oscar Brand was certainly one of the best folk singers ever. Oscar began recording in the 1940's and continued until his sad passing at age 96 in 2016.

One of Oscar's later albums - both enjoyable and educational - is Presidential Campaign Songs: 1789-1996 (Smithsonian/Folkways). As the title indicates, Oscar sang the campaign songs from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Sad to say but not unexpectedly, the quality of the "get-out-and-vote" tunes has decreased over the years. How can anyone beat Millard Fillmore's rousing chorus:

Wait for the wagon! The Millard Fillmore Wagon!
Wait for the wagon, and we'll all take a ride!

Or the hubris when drumming up support for James K. Polk:

Hark! The people rising say,
He's the man to cope with Clay.
Ha! Ha! Such a nominee!
Jimmy Polk of Tennessee!

And we must remember "Old Rough and Ready", Zachary Taylor:

Rub-a-dum-dum! Vote for Taylor!
Rub-a-dum-dum! Son of freedom!
Rub-a-dub-dum! Vote for Taylor!
He's the boy can skin and beat 'em!

Although not as well known to the general populace as his contemporary (and good friend) Pete Seeger, Oscar was perhaps the most innovative folk musician of the Twentieth Century. Beginning in the late 1940's, he recorded the first in a series of albums of soldier's songs, bawdy ballads, and at times (we must admit it) down and out raunchy tunes that even now have no equal. Completely uncensored, the albums were issued by relatively mainstream producers, and as far as CooperToons knows, Oscar never fell afoul of whatever authority guards the propriety of folk song morals. If you're willing to view a section of you can read a Most Merry and Somewhat Illustrated Review of these truly unique songs and albums by clicking here.