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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security
Sheet music for one of Janet Greene's other hits

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Poor Left-Winger: Janet Greene [1966]

This satirical first-person lament about a liberal duped by an unkempt Communist folksinger was produced in a modern country style and is notable because it is performed by an artist whose stage persona was manufactured to be a kind of right-wing answer to Joan Baez. During the '60s, folk music was regularly attacked by conservatives as being a front for leftist propaganda. It was Dr. Fred C. Schwarz of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade (CACC) who acted as Greene's 'Col. Parker' and molded her into his very own Anti-Baez. As reported in The Los Angeles Times, on October 13, 1964 Schwarz unveiled his new musical weapon against Communism at a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel in L.A. With Greene at his side, Schwarz stated to the assembled press that he had "taken a leaf out of the Communist book" by adding a conservative folk singer to his organization. "We have decided to take advantage of this technique for our own purposes.” He then added, "You'd be amazed at how much doctrine can be taught in one song." With that Schwarz ceded the stage to his new discovery and Greene performed one of her earliest compositions, Commie Lies ("When I was young it seemed to me, the whole world would soon be free. But Communism is on the rise and Satan has a new disguise, be careful of the Commie Lies…"). A star was born.

Janet Greene was born Janet Marcum in 1930 to a poor family in Hamilton, Ohio and grew up during the depths of the Depression. Janet recalled in a rare interview that her hometown was so racked by poverty that three other families shared her house during her early childhood. Contrary to what might be expected of an artist who would later align herself with an anti-Communist religious organization, her family was not particularly God fearing or ultra-conservative. "I think we were conservative in some ways and liberal in other ways," she said.

Growing up, Janet, the middle child (she had a brother and sister), fell in love with classical music and opera. Greene remembered that she would listen to a Saturday afternoon opera show sponsored by Texaco every week without fail: "I didn't know what they were singing, of course, but I was absolutely enchanted by it." By age five she had declared to her parents that she wanted to become an opera star. Naturally, for parents reduced by economic circumstances to hand out fruit to their children as Christmas presents, the idea of music lessons for Janet was out of the question.

Several years later, after the Marcum family had moved out of their crowded house and into an apartment, the aspiring singer was discovered. One day a neighbor, who was a locally prominent Irish tenor, overheard 9-year-old Janet practicing her singing. The tenor was so impressed with the young girl’s voice that he introduced her to his vocal coach who eventually arranged for her to study at The Cincinnati Conservatory Of Music. Janet attended the Conservatory until she was 17. It was around this time that she met a salesman by the name of David Greenroos and they married a short time later. Shortly after her wedding, Janet adopted the stage name of Janet Greene, and began singing at various Cincinnati night clubs.

In 1954, while she was still in her early twenties, Greene succeeded in being hired to replace an actress who had been playing the character of 'Cinderella' on a kiddie show on Cincinnati's WCPO-TV (the previous 'Cinderella' had gotten pregnant). Greene became a local star in the role and everything was going smoothly until she was sexually harassed by the station manager. When Greene made a commotion, the station manager fired her and the next day when she returned to retrieve her guitar and other belongings she was immediately arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to jail. After a trial in which she was acquitted, Greene eventually won a settlement from the station in the amount of $2,000 plus court costs. In the interim she had been hired to play 'Cinderella' again by another local station in Columbus, Ohio. She played the role on the new station until 1964 when her zealously anti-Communist husband persuaded her to attend a lecture by Dr. Schwarz. Upon seeing Schwarz in action, Greene was very impressed and recalled: "He was a really good speaker." Schwarz was impressed with Greene, too, and suggested that she and her husband join his 'crusade' in Long Beach, California. Five months later Greene had left behind her local stardom in Columbus for the improbable career of an anti-Communist folksinger.

It was Schwarz who came up with the strange idea to counter the left's perceived monopoly on folk music by presenting Greene as a conservative folk singer. Greene recalled him saying to her: "They have Joan Baez, who do we have?" Ironically, Greene actually admired Baez and had even been to one of her concerts shortly before becoming the singer's right-wing doppelgänger: "She was a wonderful artist, I thought."

Between 1964 and 1967 Greene toured the country with Schwarz performing songs she wrote based on his lectures. In 1966 she recorded these songs as 45s on the CACC's label, Chantico. The songs also appeared on an LP side included on a box set of Schwarz's diatribes entitled 'What Is Communism?' The songs were Commie Lies, Inch By Inch, Fascist Threat, Termites, Comrade's Lament, Poor Left Winger, Run and The Hunter And The Bear.

In 1967 Greene decided she had had enough of fighting the Red menace and quit the CACC. She tried unsuccessfully to pitch a kiddie show to several Southern California television stations and then decided to return to her roots and sing in Long Beach and Los Angeles night clubs. Incidentally, when asked, Greene emphatically confirmed that for this phase of her career she had made a conscious decision to permanently retire her anti-Communist repertoire. Greene performed country, pop and even opera in various clubs and lounges for the next 30 years. Along the way she divorced her first husband and remarried. Her last record was the self-produced and self-released LP 'Country And Spanish Flavors.' Greene is now retired.
LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Poor Left-Winger: Janet Greene [1966]

I’m just a poor left-winger
Befuddled, bewildered, forlorn
Duped by a bearded singer
Peddling his Communist corn
In the Café Expresso
Sounds of guitars could be heard
Twanging a plaintive folk song
Spreading the Communist word
Hair hung around his shoulders
And sandals were on his feet
His shirttail was ragged and dirty
Making the picture complete

I followed him off to college
The man that I came to adore
Where student demonstrations
Blocked every classroom door
We led the march on the White House
And forced the cops to come in
We claimed each one was brutal
As we kicked him in the shin
It was all so intellectual
What glorious tales I was told
Of history’s certain progress
Into the Communist fold

I fell for those empty falsehoods
But now I know full well
Those little words on the posters
Were all that he could spell
Those dialectic phrases
Made a marvelous spiel
But hidden behind that beard
Beat the heart of a frustrated heel
Now all my illusions are shattered
About the man I admired
I’m just a poor left-winger
Befuddled, bewildered and tired!

Janet Greene [1966]
Poor Left-Winger
(Janet Greene)
Chantico LP 'What is Communism?'
Janet Greene Sings – Nature Of Communism Series
UB 2160

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