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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Janet Greene, a Girl, A Guitar and a Message

"Janet Greene's grand unveiling as the radical right's answer to liberal folk star Joan Baez occurred at a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on October 13, 1964. Incredibly, just a few short months before, the raven-haired singer-songwriter had been a local television personality in Columbus, Ohio where she had played Cinderella on a popular kiddie program of the same name. Greene had been convinced by Dr. Fred Schwarz, a bellicose physician and professional anti-Communist from Australia to abandon her local celebrity to move to California and fight the Reds through song. ..." (quoted from 'Introduction: Coming Out Party')

Conelrad has interviewed [in 2004] Janet "The Anti-Baez" Green.

A short excerpt as follows:

CONELRAD: So he thought your recordings and your contributions to CACC were kind of beyond reproach?

GREENE: Oh, he thought (the music) was great. He really, really liked it. He said it put the icing on the cake.

CONELRAD: Who named the anti-Communist songs?

GREENE: I did. I think Fred and I discussed titles and usually he'd settle for what I picked in the first place.

CONELRAD: From what we've been able to research, all of your singles were released in '66. Does that sound right?

GREENE: Probably, yes. I never kept too much track of it, 'cause I didn't get money for them or anything, you know.

CONELRAD: The money all went to...

GREENE: All went to the Crusade, yea.

CONELRAD: And that was the arrangement? You would record these songs as part of your job as Music Director?

GREENE: Uh, yes, it was.

CONELRAD: Your song, Inch By Inch, could you talk a little bit about how that was written?

GREENE: He (Schwarz) had made a speech about how termites are and you don't hardly notice and the first thing you know, they've got you under their control. So it was based on that. And I felt very, very sad for our boys who were fighting in Vietnam at the time because the people weren't supporting them. And I didn't like the war. I hate war. But to not support our boys who are giving their lives through no fault of their own. I don't know how a person could be that cruel, to not support their own boys.

CONELRAD: And then there was your song that was actually titled Termites. Was that a similarly inspired song?

GREENE: Yea, they were all from his speeches.

CONELRAD: So, Fascist Threat as well?

GREENE: Yes, because he was comparing fascism with communism which is very, very similar. It is actually the same thing as it turns out. The idea of Communism sounds great in the beginning because you think people should be more equally…you know, so people aren't so starving and others are rich beyond…So the idealism of it sounds good, but its when they get at the Leninism into it that's the, uh, just like the czars are worse controlling everything and like Big Brother, whatever.

CONELRAD: Well, we've noticed that you have a diverse approach to the music styles on your recordings. In fact, Fascist Threat has a Calypso beat to it.

GREENE: Yea, it did. I thought that would be cute to have that kind of beat.

CONELRAD: Was that inspired by Harry Belafonte?

GREENE: I'm trying to think where I got that. I think I got that idea from the Chiquita Banana girl (laughs).

CONELRAD: I have eight songs that you recorded for CACC. Did you do any others?

GREENE: I think I wrote one — it was an inspirational song, not an anti-Communist song— but I used to sing that at the meetings and the people really liked it. It was called I Am Only One.

CONELRAD: Was that released as a single?

GREENE: I don't remember. It's been so long. I just don't remember, 'cause I didn't have much to do with the recordings after they were made. I made the recordings but after that they sold them however they wanted to. (Editor's note: This song was never recorded as a single, but appears on Greene's 1980 self-released LP "Country and Spanish Flavors.")

CONELRAD: Do you have a favorite song from this period of your show business career?

GREENE: The one I thought was kinda funny and the best was The Hunter and the Bear.

CONELRAD: You mentioned you were against the Vietnam War, but for the troops. Did this ever cause Dr. Schwarz any concern?

GREENE: No. He understood it. He was for not letting them getting encroached in our own country and spreading farther and father through the world. That's what he was for.

CONELRAD: Whose idea was it to adopt a folk approach to your persona?

GREENE: Well, it was kind of my idea and Dr. Schwarz and we both talked it over and he says 'well they have Joan Baez, we don't have anybody,' you know? Uh, I'm not saying she was a Communist. She was just a liberal. You know that time, the sixties, all the, mostly young people were swept away by free love (laughs) and all that stuff. She was a wonderful artist, I thought.

CONELRAD: We were going to ask you about Joan Baez and what you thought of her.

GREENE: Oh, she was great. I went to one of her concerts.

Whatever you do - don't forget to tune in to listen to The Janet Greene Songbook. Red or blue. This is cutting edge pop culture archeology.
But I suggest you make yourself a really big sandwich and a bowl of coffee and read the article from the beginning. Like I did.
The work and effort put down into this makes me smile and my heart warm.
Anti-Baez: The Ballad of Janet Greene.