For over forty years I’ve had a quiet and friendly competition with a good friend of mine. When I was in high school I formed a musical group, two very talented young women and myself, that performed at what we called hootenannies. Hootenannies were gatherings of like minded people who loved folk music and just wanted to sit around, listen to music, and have a good time. We had a great repertoire of cover folk songs, and got to travel and sing all over the northwest for several years. It was fun, and we were so young I don’t think we understood the depth, political power, and psychological impact of the lyrics we were singing. Blowen in The Wind, Where Have All The Flowers Gone, If I Had a Hammer, I could go on, but we believed we were marching off to a brave new world of peace, racial equality, education, and a new liberal and caring democracy. Ah yes! To be young again and that naive.
One of the girls in the group had a boyfriend that I never heard the end of! “He doesn’t play the song that way, his voice is amazing, he writes his own music.” By the time I met him in person, I already hated him. Truth was, he was more talented, a better guitar player, and did write some very good songs and still does. Over the years we have become good friends, but there’s still a healthy sense of competition between us. Because of him, I started to write songs and continue to write music to this day.
It’s funny how our music has evolved over the last forty years. Love songs, a few, protest songs, a few. Most of our material has been personal, and statements about our lives, environment, and what’s happening at the moment. The last two years have been a little confusing and frustrating for obvious reasons. Think about it, how do you write a song about what’s happening today. The songs are already out there. No one can say we haven’t been warned. I try to come up with something new and original and so does my friend, but neither of us can find anything new to say, but we keep trying.
Get this! Children being ripped from their parents at the Mexican border, the wall, racial injustice, mass shootings, the rise of white supremacy, gun violence in general, Internet hacking and bullying, hate speech, the continuing degradation of our environment, the striping away of safety regulations, I could go on, but why? Listen to the music of Marvin Gay, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Woody Guthrie, Roger Waters, Pete Seeger, Jim Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, Bob Marley, Michael Stipe, Ice Cube, Bono, Billy Armstrong, and I could go on, but why? The spiral keeps returning; different time, same dilemma, different space, same disputes, new generations, same doubt, new ideas, same obstacles.
And so the beat goes on. My friend and I continue to look for those magic lyrics that will change the world, make people understand we are all in this together. So far this is all I can come with.
🎼We elected a imbecile
🎼Time for a change
🎼Vote for people
🎼With courage and brains