Daily Archives: January 3, 2010

240. Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips – “Fellow Workers”

So it turns out Ani DiFranco actually popped out three albums in 1999. I had forgotten about this curiosity that has gathered much dust on my shelves since its purchase.

Here ADF hooks up with a Santa look-alike named Utah. He is (or was) a fascinating character – a folk-singer, story-teller, poet, activist, anarchist, and train-jumper (amongst other things).

Di Franco’s musical contribution here is fairly limited, merely adding some strumming and rhythms and occasional vocals loops using lyrics from Phillips’ tales. Utah weaves some fascinating stories of union struggles, forgotten warriors of the class struggle and the like. Think Lisa Simpson:

This isn’t the sort of CD you’d listen to regularly (I certainly haven’t), or play as background music (the spoken voice is too hard to ignore). But the yarns are well-told, engaging and humorous on occasion. It might serve as a defacto old Grandfather for those of lacking such (as I have a Communist granddad in my past, it could well play this role).

Ani was doing a good thing here; giving much-needed exposure to a voice many would not have heard otherwise. It doesn’t quite count as music to the ears, but perhaps to the brain.  Here’re some nutrients for you (not from the album):

File under: Hail fellow well met