Come light, Shaker light, come life eternal...
October 28, 2008 5:26 PM   Subscribe

The Shakers ...the definitive film on the Shaker movement. --- The New Yorker (30 min, QT)
posted by vronsky (11 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This is a wonderful film. Thank you, vronsky.
posted by bookish at 6:01 PM on October 28, 2008

This is a fine film, but but a later, in my opinion more definitive film on the Shakers, unfortunately not available online, is Ken Burns's The Shakers, filmed for PBS.
posted by beagle at 6:24 PM on October 28, 2008

posted by billysumday at 6:34 PM on October 28, 2008

Thanks for this. Also, from beagle's link — the video clip page says: "Ken Burns made The Shakers in 1985 and many PBS viewers haven't seen the film in over 10 years. . . .You can watch the film in its entirety when it returns to PBS on December 16th." I hope that is current information and referring to 2008!
posted by spock at 6:36 PM on October 28, 2008

I wish PBS would get their internet act together. There are lots of documentaries I would love to see again online. The Elizabeth Bishop one from the Voices and Visions series for example. here is a clip featuring the poem One Art. The American Masters series is usually superb as well, but two of my favorites, a Robert Capa bio and the one on David Hockney's opera sets I can't even find on dvd :( And I saw one last month called Winslow Homer - Society and Solitude that was excellent and I wanted to show it to my mom, who paints, but they wanted 200 dollars for the dvd!
posted by vronsky at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2008

No connection, except (apparently) in my mind, but after hearing those Shaker songs sung— this one came into my head. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,(which is played over the opening credits of O' Brother Where Art Thou):

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains"
posted by spock at 7:01 PM on October 28, 2008

A Shaker song I learned at 12:

Come life, Shaker life
Come life eternal
Shake, shake out of me
all that is carnal
I'll be a Jonathan, I'll be a David
I'll show Michael twice how he behaved

I love the Burns Shaker film.
posted by Riverine at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2008

This book about, and CD of, Shaker music is very good. My favorite is a song about George Washington.
posted by not that girl at 9:36 PM on October 28, 2008

As a child my parents put me in a local childrens choir. One of the the only songs I still remember 20 years later is "simple gifts".

Thanks for the memories.
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:20 AM on October 29, 2008

I visited Pleasant Hill, KY with my parents in, I think, the summer of 1998. We got to hear Randy Folger perform briefly in a meeting hall there. Powerful stuff. He did a little Q&A afterwards, fielding harassment on theological grounds from some Earnest Southern Baptist types who didn't have much appreciation for the nuances of "I am explaining to you what Shakers believed although I am not myself a Shaker". I remember thinking he must be an incredibly patient guy. Apparently he died in a car wreck not too long after we were there. Folger's Gentle Words is one of my favorite pieces of audio, though I'm not sure if it's generally available (cursory Google & Amazon searches aren't very promising).
posted by brennen at 11:40 AM on October 29, 2008

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