Peter Lafarge: On The Warpath - As Long As The Grass Shall Grow
1-CD (Digipak) with 68-page booklet, 27 tracks. Playing time approx. 68 mns.
Peter La Farge, Indian activist, folksinger, Korean War veteran and rodeo bull rider, lived a lot in his 33 years. He is best remembered for writing Ballad Of Ira Hayes, a 1964 hit for Johnny Cash which chronicled the tragic death of a national War hero.
This 27-song CD collection reissues the entirety of two 1964-65 La Farge Folkways albums primarily concerned with the plight of Native Americans. (The original Ballad Of Ira Hayes appears here). No great shakes as singer or guitarist, La Farge was nonetheless an articulate spokeman for his people whose eloquent, angry songs evinced a sensibility decidedly ahead of its time.
Article properties: Peter Lafarge: On The Warpath - As Long As The Grass Shall Grow
LaFarge, Pete born 1931 in Fountain/Colorado died 27. 10. 1965
Record Labels: Columbia, Folkways Pete LaFarge, son of Pulitzer Prize winner and rights campaigner for the Indians Oliver LaFarge, was a talented singer and composer in addition to his versatile activities as a poet, dramaturg, painter, rodeo rider and boxer. As a descendant of the Pima Indians, he stood up for the rights of the oppressed natives of America like his father.
He wrote such famous songs as "Ballad Of lra Hayes" and "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow".
Today, when the name Peter LaFarge does occasionally surface, it is usually in Connection with some biographical / anecdotal scrap about Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, the late Phil Ochs, or some other popular musician who emerged from New York City' s vital late 1950s / early 1960s folk music revival.
Though he has been unjustly forgotten before his time (particularly when one considers that his songs were some of the most eloquently crafted of the times, and were also graphic harbingers of a coming era of political activism on the part of the American Indians), LaFarge, as a singer, and even more as a writer, was very much at the center of this movement. For a brief time, in fact, he was one of its brightest stars.
And, with the possible exception of his friend and fellow folk/protest singer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, he gave musical voice to the plight of the Native American as no one has, before or since.
Like his more acclaimed co-equals in the folk movement (particularly his image-conscious friend, Bob Dylan), LaFarge was given somewhat to myth-making and self-invention. Partly for that reason, his short life remains somewhat shrouded in mystery and conjecture.
To country music fans, LaFarge is best remembered as the composer of a handful of angry, but impassioned Native American protest ballads which were popularized by Johnny Cash in the mid- 1960s: As Long As The Grass Shall Grow, and more particularly, The Ballad Of lra Hayes. The latter was a controversial storysong about an ill-fated Indian World War II hero, which topped the country charts in 1964. LaFarge wrote Ira Hayes and ﬁve other selections that appeared on 'Bitter Tears,' Cash 's critically-acclaimed 1964 concept LP which was devoted to the American Indian.
LaFarge himself, who recorded one LP for Columbia in 1961 ('Ira Hayes And Other Ballads'-Columbia CL I795), and five more albums for the Folkways label in the following four years, was himself a full-blooded Nargaset Indian who came of age in both the Indian culture and the white culture. Yet, in his short but colorful lifetime, he was much more: a rodeo rider, an amateur boxer, an actor, a painter, a raconteur of note, a poet and a prose writer. (He wrote a number of feature proﬁles on other artists for 'Sing Out' magazine; and, along with Dylan, Phil Ochs, Julius Lester, and the late Phil Ochs, he was a contributing editor to 'Broadside' magazine, which published many of his original songs.)
Above all, LaFarge was, an immensely profilic songwriter and a dedicated performer. It is, in fact, a telling tribute to the diversity of LaFarge's interests and pursuits to note that he is undoubtedly the only human being ever to have ridden in a rodeo in Madison Square Garden while at the same time performing on the New York stage in a version of Shakespeare's 'King Lear.'
LaFarge's recording career was launched in 1961 when he was signed to Columbia Records by the legendary producer, John Hammond, the man who signed Bob Dylan to that label the very same year. His debut LP was produced by Hammond, who also had a hand in the careers of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Billie Holiday. In 1963, LaFarge appeared at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival. He was also a regular performer in 'Sing Out's' 'Hootenannies at Carnegie Hall.
As Irwin Stambler and Grelun Landon remarked of him in their 'Encyclopedia of Folk, Country, and Western Music': "Sensitive and poetic. LaFarge was one of the ﬁrst of the American 'angry young men' who sparked the folk boom of the 1950s and '6Os. He functioned on many creative levels, providing some of the best of the 'composed' new folk music as well as turning out articles, plays, and poetry in his short lifetime."