The Folkabilly Files
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Does Folk Music still "Matter?"
Manhattan, KS on a foggy October night. There I stood on the floor of a concrete, cavernous college basketball arena and sang at the top of my voice in unison with the rest of the crowd that I was a part of---"EVEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SOMTIMES MUST HAVE TO STAND NAKED!!"

Bob Dylan first published those lyrics in the song "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleedin'" back in 1965. He still says that he couldn't possibly top the lyrics of that song. People have theorized over the years on what exactly Bob meant, which is what they tend to do on MOST of Bob's songs. While it may have been about Vietnam or maybe the post-WWII military economic situation of the 1950s United States, it still resonates today because we know that whomever is President will have to live under a microscope and answer for their actions.

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago at the Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival in Okemah, OK. I was standing at a little past Midnight, in a cow pasture, singing along with the rest of the crowd as Pete Seeger led us in singing "Amazing Grace" and "This Land is Your Land." I'll admit that tears welled up in my eyes as I stood there, under the stars and absorbed the moment and the feeling.

Both of these experiences that have helped me to realize that, Yes, folk music does still matter. It matters to the individual listener, as well as the collective thought process of society. Even one song can resonate enough to capture the essence of what is happening in our world and what we intend to do about it.But the challenge to artists today is to write something that matters. The only way to do that is to write with honesty, no matter who it offends or who it takes on. Many times, artists are the ones called on to highlight injustice, high crimes, or other social ills that the mainstream officials who should be dealing with it seem to ignore.

Lots of the songs that matter most were written 40 or 50 years ago or even longer. Songs that are being written today can and will resonate for years, but only if the songwriters are not silenced by their own timidity or muted by people who don't agree with them.


Past Folkabilly Files
Maybelle’s Guitar Belongs in the Hall of Fame
The Case for Johnny & Jack
Sing it the way you feel: The Johnny Cash Way

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