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Politics

Watch This 1980s Bernie Sanders Public Access Show On Recording His Folk Album

Behind the music with Bernie Sanders.

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In the 1980s, then-mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders had his own show on public access television.

The show, Bernie Speaks, aired on the Burlington public access channel Center for Media & Democracy (CCTV) on Channel 17 Town Meeting Television. The show is available under a Creative Commons license from CCTV.

One show was a behind the scenes look at the recording of Sanders' spoken word folk album. The thirty-minute episode from 1987 shows how the mayor and 30 musicians recorded the songs that appeared on the album, "Oh Freedom" and "We Shall Overcome."

In the episode, Sanders can be seen interviewing the recording artists about why they decided to do the album and sharing his thoughts on the mass media.

"The literal fact is that we've doubled the number of billionaires in America in the last year, you've got one guy whose wealth grew by four billion dollars," Sanders says while talking to some of the artists. "One guy is now worth eight billion dollars and you've people sleeping out on the streets all over America."

"How come musicians aren't writing about that and I think the fault is not with musicians -- I think there are thousands of serious and good writers -- they say 'why the hell should I write that, where's it gonna go anyhow?"

The recording took place at Burlington Musician Todd Lockwood's White Crow studio.

Last year, when the album was uncovered, Lockwood spoke to the Vermont alt-weekly Seven Days where he said he called Sanders on a with the idea for the album. Originally Sanders was supposed to sing but they soon realized he was not musically-inclined. As a result, Sanders spoke lyrics while others served as backup singers.

"As talented of a guy as he is, he has absolutely not one musical bone in his body, and that became painfully obvious from the get-go," Lockwood told Seven Days. "This is a guy who couldn't even tap his foot to music coming over the radio. No sense of melody. No sense of rhythm — the rhythm part surprised me, because he has good rhythm when he's delivering a speech in public."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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