Show #16: SUE KAHN
Full Audio & Transcript
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The following interview with Sue Kahn was broadcast August 21 & September 3, 1963 from New York City on worldwide short-wave radio. This historic radio interview was transmitted from the studios of Radio New York Worldwide on the show Folk Music Worldwide hosted by newsman Alan Wasser.

Featuring folk song performances: "Hammer Song"; "El Hanegev"; "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens"; "Land of the Sea and Sun"; and "Yiddish Lullaby". Transcript includes full song lyrics.

 

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 (24:39)

Transcript:

MEL BERNAM (ANNOUNCER): Here is Radio New York Folk Music Worldwide. A program devoted to the best in folk music throughout the world, showcasing the top performers and authorities in the field. Now your host for Folk Music Worldwide, Alan Wasser.

ALAN WASSER (HOST): Hello again and welcome to "Folk Music Worldwide". Today, we've got a charming young lady with us, Sue Kahn, an up-and-coming new American folk singer.

Why don't we give you a sample of her music right away before we get into the interview. Sue, how about we play "Hammer Song"?

[Song Performance: "Hammer Song", by Sue Kahn]

Lyrics:

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin'
I'd hammer in the evenin', all over this land
I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out a warnin',
I'd hammer out love between my sisters and my brothers
all over this land.

If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the mornin',
I'd ring it in the evenin', all over this land
I'd ring out danger, I'd ring out a warnin',
I'd ring out love between my sisters and my brothers,
all over this land.

If I had a song, I'd sing it in the mornin',
I'd sing it in the evenin', all over this land
I'd sing out danger, I'd sing out a warnin'
I'd sing out love between my sisters and my brothers,
all over this land.

Well I got a hammer, and I got a bell,
and I got a song, all over this land
It's the hammer of Justice, it's the bell of Freedom,
It's the song about Love between my sisters and my brothers,
all over this land.

(end of music)

ALAN WASSER: Sue Kahn doing the "Hammer Song". Sue, how did you first get interested in folk music?

SUE KAHN (GUEST): Well I love to sing, I sang all of my life, and when Burl Ives was popular, it interested me a great deal and I thought the songs were very lovely and I suppose I got interested from that time on.

ALAN WASSER: You accompany yourself on a guitar, right?

SUE KAHN: That's right.

ALAN WASSER: You have quite a musical background, don't you?

SUE KAHN: Well, I've studied at the New York College of Music, and a lot of this has been self-developed, as it should be in folk music.

ALAN WASSER: Certainly. The "Hammer Song" is originally a Pete Seeger song, isn't it?

SUE KAHN: That's right and it's become so popular today, all the folk groups use it and I love it, it's one of my favorites.

ALAN WASSER: You do mainly American music, or do you do quite a bit of international?

SUE KAHN: Actually, I have an international repertoire.

ALAN WASSER: Well, what countries do you specialize in? Let's put it that way.

SUE KAHN: Well I have quite an extensive Israeli repertoire, Israeli background.

ALAN WASSER: Would you have any songs in particular you think would be a very good representation of your...

SUE KAHN: Well actually a very lovely song that is fairly recent in Israel is called "El Hanegev". It's about the Negev, which is the southern most portion of Israel, and it takes up, I'd say about at least one-third of the land there.

And it is a desert, it's barren. They hope one day to fertilize and irrigate down there and make it arable. And so they've written a song about it called "El Hanegev".

ALAN WASSER: Well, let's hear "El Hanegev" as done by Sue Kahn.

[Song Performance: "El Hanegev", by Sue Kahn]

[[Hebrew Lyrics]]

(end of music)

ALAN WASSER: "El Hanegev" done by Sue Kahn on "Folk Music Worldwide". Sue, I know you've been working up at Grossinger's, which is a... well, let's think of it... sort of think of it as an older person's resort for the established, the well-to-do out of New York City, somewhat out of Philadelphia and Boston also.

And I always thought of folk music as the property of the young, the college students in the United States. It's interesting to see that it seems to be doing well.

Is it popular amongst the older people up there as well?

SUE KAHN: That's right, it is. But of course, we do get many younger people up at Grossinger's also, middle aged and older. It's interesting to note that the resort has employed me as their resident folk singer this year, and this is the first time we've tried anything like this up there and it has gone over very, very well.

Along with the folk sings, I also give a demonstration lesson on how to play the guitar, by the way, Alan. And I like...

ALAN WASSER: Have you had any promising pupils?

SUE KAHN: Yes, I do. I also teach up there those who wanna take some lessons while they go away on vacation.

That's along with the dance lessons that you can take up there and the art lessons and now we give guitar lessons up there, because I like to show people that you can play the guitar, folk guitar, quite easily. And it has aroused a great deal of interest.

ALAN WASSER: Really? This is really surprising to me.

Do you find that still the most interested are the younger people? Or have you found that the...

SUE KAHN: No, I don't.

ALAN WASSER: ...the established people...

SUE KAHN: I find that the middle-aged people and older people also take an interest in the instrument and in the folk singing. It's a field which allows you tremendous room for expression, and I think that's one of the reasons that it has taken over so well.

ALAN WASSER: Really? I see here on your album "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens", this is obviously not a Grossinger's-type song, but this is where... from the Appalachians, originally from...

SUE KAHN: I believe it is and I originally learned the song from the Lomax book. I believe it's called "Best Loved American Folk Songs". It's a lovely melody, very, very plaintive and appealed to me, and so I put in on my record.

ALAN WASSER: And I would suspect from the title, of course, that it came originally from England as so many of best loved American ballads did.

SUE KAHN: Very possibly.

ALAN WASSER: Well, why don't we play "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens"?

[Song Performance: "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens", by Sue Kahn]

Lyrics:

Come all you fair and tender ladies
Be careful how you court young men
They're like a star on a summer's mornin'
First they'll appear and then they're gone

They'll tell to you some lovin' story
They'll declare to you their love is true
Straight away they'll go and court another,
And that's the love they have for you

I wish I was a little sparrow,
that I had wings, could fly so high
I'd fly away to my false true-lover,
And when he's talkin', I'd be nigh

But I'm not a little sparrow,
And neither have I wings to fly
I'll sit down here in my grief and sorrow,
and weep and pass my troubles by

If I I'd have known before I courted,
then I never would have courted none
I'd a-locked my heart in a box of golden,
and pinned it up with a silver pin

Oo ooo oo

(end of music)

ALAN WASSER: Sue Kahn doing "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens". We'll be talking to Sue Kahn some more and hearing some more of her music in just a moment, but first, this message.

( short pause for commercial )

Well, this is Alan Wasser again back at "Folk Music Worldwide". Before we talk to Sue Kahn again, let me just make a plug here as I usually do for letters.

We always crave them, we're dying for them. We need letters to know if anybody's listening out there.

If you wanna insert any comments or questions or suggestions, requests, that's fine and we'll try and follow them. As you've seen before, we've paid attention to the requests. But please just let us know if you've heard the show.

We're working on another idea. We've got some tapes now from listeners who have gone out and gathered tapes in their own areas of folk singers that we could never get if we just relied on the records available in New York City.

If you know anybody, or if you yourself can sing folk songs, why don't you send is in a tape. It should be at seven and a half inches per second, but this is not vital. What is vital is it has to be single track. If you only have a double-track machine, just use a blank tape and record only on one side of it.

And we're going to put together these tapes and try and make a whole show out of this kind of material, perhaps more than one show. So most of all, write in and let us know if you heard it, but also if you can wanna send in some of these tapes.

Well, back to Sue Kahn. Sue, what other countries have you songs from besides, we've heard now what's probably an old English ballad and an Israeli. Any other areas?

SUE KAHN: Well, I do have an extensive repertoire from the Islands: Jamaica, West Indies. I was fortunate enough to have as one of my teachers, a man called Irving Burgess. His stage name is Lord Burgess.

And long before these Calypso songs became popular, he composed, "Jamaica Farewell", "Island in the Sun", and the one that I'm going to sing now on my record called "Land of the Sea and Sun".

And then they became so popular, as you know, and "Jamaica Farewell" is really a classic now and I think it always will be.

ALAN WASSER: Well, let's hear "Land of the Sea and Sun".

[Song Performance: "Land of the Sea and Sun", by Sue Kahn]

Lyrics:

Many nights I sit here
With memories by the score,
Thinking of the days I spent
With the boy I still adore

Well I'm goin' back to see him
Before my days are done
Goin' back to see him
In the land of the sea and sun

Once he had a notion
'Bout this Bajin girl
He put his thoughts in motion
Now his heart's in a whirl

Well I'm goin' back to see him
Before my days are done
Goin' back to see him
In the land of the sea and sun

Ever since I left him
Nothing's been the same
Think I'll pull up anchor
Go home an' take on his name

Well I'm goin' back to see him
Before my days are done
Goin' back to see him
In the land of the sea and sun

Well I'm goin' back to see him
Before my days are done
Goin' back to see him
In the land of the sea and sun

(end of music)

ALAN WASSER: "Land of the Sea and Sun" as done by Sue Sue Kahn. Sue, if we hurry, we've got time for one more of your songs. What would you suggest as a good song to end on?

SUE KAHN: Well I thought perhaps this "Yiddish Lullaby", which is on my recording. You know that all over the world, mothers love their babies and sing lullabies to them, and this really ties in the fact that folk music is universal.

ALAN WASSER: Well, all right, if we hurry, we can just get in Sue Kahn doing "Yiddish Lullaby".

[Song Performance: "Yiddish Lullaby", by Sue Kahn]

[[Yiddish Lyrics]]

(end of music)

ALAN WASSER: That was "Yiddish Lullaby" as done by Sue Kahn. Well Sue, we're getting awfully tight here on time. I want to thank you very much for coming in, I've appreciated it. I wish you the best of luck.

Do you have any records coming out professionally now, or...

SUE KAHN: Well I hope that in the near future there will be one out.

ALAN WASSER: With most of these songs on it?

SUE KAHN: I hope so, yes.

ALAN WASSER: Any...

SUE KAHN: Well thank you for letting me come here and sing for you and talk to your audience.

ALAN WASSER: Well I...

SUE KAHN: It's been a pleasure.

ALAN WASSER: Thank you very much for coming in, it's been my pleasure. This is Alan Wasser saying so long for "Folk Music Worldwide".

MEL BERNAM (ANNOUNCER): This has been "Folk Music Worldwide." Devoted to the best in folk music throughout the world, spotlighting top performers and authorities in the field.

If you have any suggestions, requests, or comments, why not write in to "Folk Music Worldwide, Radio New York, WRUL, New York City, 19 U.S.A." This has been a Music Worldwide presentation of Radio New York Worldwide.

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