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Holly Near
Early Warnings



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track listing

1.The Meek are Getting Ready
2. Don't Let the Singer Down
3. War of the Flea
4. Watch Out!
5. Step It Out Nancy
6. The Train Song
7. Couple of Friends
8. She
9. Nicaragua Night
10. Sun Won't Stop
11. Child
12. Skydances
13. West Virginia Friend
14. Quiet Early Morning

More than a dozen tracks from two of Holly’s out-of-print albums, most available for the first time on compact disc
Guests include:
John McCutcheon, Trapezoid, 
Michael Manring, Darol Anger, Barbara Higbie, Nina Gerber, John Bucchino

Long before the events of September 11, 2001, reminded Americans of their vulnerable status as potential casualties of our troubled world, Holly Near was singing and writing songs about war – the battles of insensitivity and ignorance, the crimes of cruelty and suppression, the daily struggles at home and abroad. Early Warnings is a thematic collection of songs selected by Holly from two of her previous recordings, Watch Out! (1984) and Sky Dances (1989), which reflect on war, abuse and the indomitable spirit required to rise above these human dysfunctions.

Many of the fourteen songs on Early Warnings were written or co-written by Holly, who has been a pioneering musical activist for peace and human rights for almost thirty years. Both Watch Out!and Sky Dances were originally released on her much-missed Redwoods Records, one of the first independent artist-owned record labels, and have been unavailable for the past decade; the nine songs taken from Watch Out! are making their CD debut here.

As Holly describes the contents of Early Warnings, “Most of the songs included in this reissue were written in the 1980s. Reagan was president…Fear-based thinking and fundamentalism were on the rise. There were many early warnings…and the storms just keep on coming.” The song “Watch Out,” from 1983, warns that “there’s the rumble of war in the air,” pointing a finger at the Reagan administration’s militarism. In response, the political “death machine” and the religious right wing are put on notice that “the meek are ready, armed with a loving hand,” on “The Meek Are Getting Ready.” “War of the Flea” is about the battle of the small against the large; “Child” recounts the abuse by the  large of the small. Holly’s strong feminist beliefs are the basis of  “She,” which Holly calls ”a mythological song about the rise of women in the face of oppression, “Step It Out Nancy,” in which a woman rejects an arranged marriage, and “The Train Song,” described by Holly as “the lament of a poor woman who can’t seem to get out of her situation of bad times and hard knocks.”

Not all of Early Warning’s songs are of confrontation. “Sky Dances,” which has become a signature song for Holly, is a Native American paean to nature. “Couple of Friends” and “West Virginia Friend” are tranquil reflections on friendship, and “Sun Won’t Stop” is about Holly’s father, “who had a wonderful clarity about death and its inevitability.” Holly’s rendition of Pete Seeger’s “Quiet Early Morning” ends the CD on a hymnlike note, reminding us “We can still have singing tomorrows.” 

Holly’s strong, warm, unafraid vocals are accompanied on the songs from Watch Out! by the world-renowned instrumentalist John McCutcheon (dulcimer, banjo, guitar) and members of the  chamber folk ensemble Trapezoid, including guitarist Paul Reisler and violinist Freyda Epstein. Musicians on the Sky Dances selections include the noted New Age bassist Michael Manring and longtime Near associate John Bucchino on piano. 




other releases:

also appears on:
where have all the flowers gone
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 1
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?


The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 3

sowing the seeds

Sowing the Seeds - The 10th Anniversary