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WILD One & Boot HILL – Wild & Hill Songs

On July 30, 1966, the Troggs started a 2 week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “Wild Thing”:

“Wild Thing” is the inspiration for the theme of the first of two playlists this week, songs including the word Wild in their title.  Among some great songs are “Born To Be Wild,” “Wild Night,” “Wild Summer Nights,” “Wild World,” “Wild Is The Wind,” “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Wild Horses,” “The Wild Boys.”  A few Wild derivations lead to the inclusion of “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Wildfire” and “Wildflower.”

Perhaps one of the greatest pairings of a song and movie scene is “Born to Be Wild” in the 1969 movie starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson – Easy Rider:

In a somewhat surprising collaboration between two dissimilar artists, “Wild World” performed by Cat Stevens and Chris Cornell:

And in a pretty unusual video, though par for the course in the 80’s, Duran Duran with “Wild Boys”:

And who can forget Ton Loc doing the “Wild Thing:”

I always liked this video of “Wildest Dreams” by the Moody Blues:

On this day in 1958 Kate Bush, British singer and songwriter, was born.  She had the 1978 UK No. 1 single “Wuthering Heights” at the age of 19.  Her 1985 UK No 1 album Hounds of Love spent 1 year on the UK charts.  She is having a bit of a resurgence with the prominent placement of her 1985 hit song “Running Up That Hill” in the 4th season of the Netfilx series Stranger Things.  Since the start of the new season, the song has gone viral, racing up the Billboard charts:

The song title lends itself to the second playlist featured this week, which includes songs with the word Hill in their title.  Among the song greats are “Blueberry Hill,” “The Fool On The Hill,” “Solsbury Hill,” “Red Hill Mining Town,” “One Tree Hill,” “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “Boot Hill,” and “Beverly Hills.”  Though not containing Hill/s in the title, I took the liberty of including the following song for obvious reason: “the hills are alive with ‘The Sound of Music’…” 

In this video of Led Zeppelin in 1973 performing “Over The Hills And Far Away” it becomes apparent the reason many consider Jimmy Page and John Bonham among the best rock musicians ever:

Also on July 30 in 1955 Johnny Cash recorded “Folsom Prison Blues” at the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was inspired to write the song after seeing the movie “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison” while serving in the Air Force in West Germany.  If you haven’t seen the 2005 movie “Walk The Line” it’s among the must-see music biopics, along with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Ray,” “The Doors,” “The Buddy Holly Story,” “La Bamba,” and “Judy.”  Reese Witherspoon won best actress for her portrayal of June Carter Cash, and Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for best actor:

Also sharing a birthday with Kate Bush on this day, though born 13 years earlier, in 1945, is saxophonist David Sanborn.  His remarkable career included playing with the likes of James Brown, Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens, Roger Daltrey, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Loggins, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Elton John, Carley Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, Roger Waters, Steely Dan, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, and Toto.  He will be one of the featured artists in one of my upcoming blogs on saxophone and horns prominent in rock and pop music.  Stay tuned.

And now on to the playlists – the Wild playlist, WILD One:

And the Hill playlist, Boot HILL:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

Here Comes The SUN – Fun Sun Songs

July 24, 1969 the Beatles recorded “Sun King” for their Abbey Road album.  Since we’re in the midst of summer, I though in addition to my recent Summer Songs and Summertime Fun Songs playlists, I’d feature a playlist of Sun songs to enjoy during the summer, or any time of year, if trying to be bright, cheery, or warm up.  Songs include those with various iterations of Sun in their title, including Sun, Sunny, Sunshine, Sunrise, Sunset, and Sundown.

The song “Sun King” is, per John Lennon, “a piece of garbage I had around,” and, per Paul McCartney, utter nonsense.  Its title is a nod to King Louis XIV, also known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, as the universe revolved around him.  His reign of over 72 years is the longest in history for any monarch of a country. 

The lyrics borrow a few foreign words strung together in meaningless fashion, along with a Liverpool expression, “chicka ferdi,” that while John says means “ha ha ha,” Paul intimates it means “f*** off.”

A few other Beatles gems are on the list, including the playlist title song “Here Comes The Sun,” “I’ll Follow The Sun,” and “Good Day Sunshine.” Here is a brief snipet of George Harrison along with Pete Ham of Badfinger doing an acoustic version of “Here Comes The Sun” in The Concert for Bangladesh:

MonaLisa Twins, a sister duo group originally from Vienna Austria, now out of Liverpool, known mostly on YouTube for covers of the Beatles and other ‘60s bands, offer their version of the song, with beautiful guitars and lovely harmonies:

And an American roots version including mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and upright bass by the Petersens:

And a fantasic acoustic guitar cover by Gabriella Quevado:

And I have to give Macca his due, after featuring George, with “I’ll Follow The Sun” from his 2005 US Tour:

I had never seen the video to the Police song “Invisible Sun,” their first release off Ghost In The Machine, which ponders people’s ability to find the will to go on living in countries plagued with war, poverty, and strife.  This seems particularly relevant for our current world, in particular the Ukraine, though with continued conflict in places such as Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Israel, South Sudan, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Yemen:

The Animals performance of “The House of the Rising Sun,” recorded in 1964, is vocally and musically superb, their cover arguably the best of the over 600 versions. It was originally recorded in 1933 as a blues song by Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster, but has never been better than that offered by the Animals:

Though I do love this version by my girl Haley Reinhart, American Idol alum:

And such a different era, the following from the Ed Sullivan Show, Gerry & The Pacemakers “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying”:

And this has to be one of the greater duet concert moments in history, with George Michael and Elton John in 1991 on “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (viewed over 140 million times on YouTube!):

This song is a nod to my daughter, from a favorite artist of hers, Chris Cornell, with “Black Hole Sun” by his then band Soundgarden:

And here’s a beautiful acoustic version by Chris – so talented, so sad his life cut short:

Another American roots song “Being A Woman (Is Like Being The Sun)” by a new favorite of mine, Caroline Jones, who has toured with Jimmy Buffett and the Zac Brown Band:

A great cover of “You Are My Sunshine” by The Dead South follows:

Ginger Baker, one of the world’s best drummers, paired with Eric Clapton, one of the world’s greatest guitarists, along with Jack Bruce on lead vocals and bass in a Cream reunion performance of “Sunshine of Your Love” at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005 is just spectacular:

MonaLisa Twins do Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” justice, with some great slide guitar, from the Cavern Club in Liverpool:

And holy 1969 Batman, again a different era, The 5th Dimension with “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” like, far out!:

One of my favorite soft rock Canadian artists (along with Bruce Cockburn, Michael Buble, and Celine Dion, with Rush, Bryan Adams, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Steppenwolf, Triumph, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell,Robbie Robertson/Rick Dank (The Band), Aldo Nova, April Wine, Loverboy, Corey Hart, Men Without Hats, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies, Nickelback, and Justin Bieber all hail from the Great White North), here’s Gordon Lightfoot singing “Sundown”:

Song greats on the playlist include, in addition to the songs above, “Waiting for the Sun,” “Soak Up The Sun,” “Seasons In The Sun,” “Behind The Sun,” “Sunny,” “Sunshine,” “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine,” “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” “Sunday Morning Sunshine,” “Walking On Sunshine,” “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Heart of the Sunrise,” and “Sunset Grill.”  Another fun summer playlist:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the sunny moments.

Listen to the MUSIC!

All SUMMER Long – Summer Songs

The start of summer is heralded by the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, June 21st.  But more importantly is signals the sense of relaxation that comes with warmer weather and time off from school and work, with time spent outdoors at parks, pools, picnics, the beach, water sports, outdoor concerts, outdoor seating at restaurants, summer cocktails and frozen drinks – the overall summer vibe.

This “Summer” playlist is a compilation of songs featuring the word Summer in their title or prominently in their lyrics.  Next week’s playlist will feature summer vibe songs, not necessarily including summer in the lyrics themselves, but in the feel they engender.  Today’s playlist starts with The Cars singing “Summer, it turns me upside down…” and Meat Loaf’s iconic “On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses…”.  Trivia about the song and album – Todd Rundgren and Edgar Winter were contributing musicians.  Other musicians on the list include The Beach Boys, Bryan Adams, Don Henley, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Mungo Jerry, Eddie Cochran, U2, The Who, The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foo Fighters, Some Country artists on the list include Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line, Martina McBride, Faith Hill.  Several memorable summer songs with a great summer vibe include:

“Summer Nights” – Olivia Newton John and John Travola from the Grease Soundtrack.  A classic end of summer remembrance of summer love.

“The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley with a romp on the beach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeBTFjSUNMM

“Cruel Summer” – Bananarama taking us back to the 80s, with some great views of the NY Skyline, including the then relatively new Twin Towers.

“All Summer Long” – Kid Rock, gaining inspiration Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and borrowing heavily from Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London,” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”  How could it not help but be a smash hit?

“All Summer Long” – The Beach Boys – from the American Graffiti Soundtrack.  Such an iconic movie about Rock & Roll in the early 60s, and a springboard for Ron Howard and Cindy Williams for Happy Days, and eventually propelled George Lucas to create Star Wars with Harrison Ford again in his cast.

“Summer Breeze” – Seals & Croft, a band comprised of James Seals and Dash Crofts, both hailing from Texas.  The duo was one of the most successful soft rock acts of the 70s, best known for this hit, as well as “Diamond Girl.”  James Seals’ younger brother Dan was half of another successful 70’s soft rock duo England Dan & John Ford Coley, with hits “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” “It’s Sad To Belong,” “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again,” “Nights Are Forever Without You,” and “Love Is The Answer”. Quite a talented family. Sad to lose Jim Seals:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTv0K2SUlCY

“Our Last Summer” – from the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack.  Who wouldn’t want a summer in Greece?  Such beautiful beaches and countryside.

And check out Celeste, oft compared to Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, and Adele, and promoted in the media by the likes of Elton John and James Cordon. Some golden oldies on the list include Natalie and Nat King Cole’s “That Sunday, That Summer,” Andy Williams’ “A Summer Place,” Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind,” Nat King Cole’s Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer”.

Let this playlist run at your picnic or at the beach.  Slip on those shades.  Slide into those flip flops.  Lather on that sunscreen.  Have fun.  Kick your feet up.  Relax.  It’s summertime!

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the summer moments

Listen to the MUSIC!

FATHER Figure – Songs in Celebration of Fathers

Father’s Day is a holiday in honor of fatherhood and paternal bonds.  When attending church on Mother’s Day in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised with her 5 brothers by her father alone, conceived of the idea of establishing a day in celebration of fathers.  In the US the day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.  Predating the US day in honor of fathers, the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages established St. Joseph’s Day to honor the first father of the Church as well as all fathers.

Some great literary quotes about fathers:

Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later… that the man before him was not an ageing father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them.  In doing so, he really stands in their place.  He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A father is the one friend upon whom we can always rely.  In the hour of need, when all else fails, we remember him upon whose knees we sat when children, and who soothed our sorrows; and even though he may be unable to assist us, his mere presence serves to comfort and strengthen us.

Emile Gaboriau, File No. 113

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us.  We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum


When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.

Mark Twain

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.  They move on.  They move away.  The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments.  It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.

Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet In Heaven

It is a wise father who knows his own child.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

And some of the best dad’s in literature, according to readers polled by BookBub include Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Matthew Cuthbert from “Anne of Green Gables,” and Arthur Weasley from the “Harry Potter” book series. And great TV dads include Danny Tanner from “Full House,” Philip Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” James Evans from “Good Times,” Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family,” Jason Seaver from “Growing Pains,” Carl Winslow from “Family Matters,” Mike Brady from “The Brady Bunch,” and Ward Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver” among many others.

I’m your father.  It is my job to protect you.  It’s a job I refuse to quit, and at which I can’t afford to fail.

Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Well, just remember when children seem the least lovable, it means they need love the most.

Danny Tanner, Full House

Who are some of your favorite literary, movie, and TV fathers?

So what would a Father’s Day blog be without some dumb dad jokes?  Thankfully from my kids perspective, I didn’t riddle them with dumb dad jokes too often over the years, but I would occasionally tell one or two, usually to the rolling of eyes and lack of the full enthusiasm and laughs that they deserved to engender.  I remember while waiting in the car with my daughter when stumbling upon this gem on Facebook.  I thought it was so funny that I was almost laughing too hard to even tell it to my daughter.  She was less than humored – it still baffles me why:

Did you hear about the cow that jumped over the barbed wire fence?  It was udder destruction.

I since tracked down more dad cow jokes, including some of my favorites:

What happens when you try talking to a cow?  Everything just goes in one ear and out the udder.

What does the farmer talk about while milking a cow?  Udder nonsense.

What do you call a sad cow?  Moo-dy.

What do you call a cow that can’t make milk?  A milk dud.

How do you make a cow be quiet?  Press the moo-te button.

Why did the cow cross the road?  To get to the udder side.

Where do cows get all the medicine?  The farmacy!

What do you call it when one cow spies on another?  A steak-out.

Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Cows go.  Cows go who?  No, silly, cows go MOO!

And if we’re going to talk dad jokes, Men’s Health dedicated an entire article to them. Here are some of my favorites:

What does a baby computer call his father?  Data.

I only seem to get sick on weekends.  I must have a weekend immune system.

Which days are the strongest?  Saturday and Sunday.  The rest are weekdays.

My friend was showing me his tool shed and pointed to a ladder.  “That’s my stepladder,” he said.  “I never knew my real ladder.”

Did you know that the first French fries weren’t cooked in France?  They were cooked in Greece.

People in Athens rarely get up before sunrise.  Dawn is tough on Greece.

I asked by date to meet me at the gym but she never showed up.  I guess the two of us aren’t going to work out.

Never date a tennis player.  Love means nothing to them.

What’s Forrest Gump’s password?  1forrest1

What do you call a bundle of hay in a church?  Christian Bale

Have you heard about the restaurant on the moon?  Great food, no atmosphere.

I don’t get why bakers aren’t wealthier.  They make so much dough.

I hate it when people say age is only a number.  Age is clearly a word.

And while it took me a few seconds to “get” these two, they are pretty funny:

I just found out I’m colorblind.  It came out of the purple.

I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon.  I’ll let you know.

The beginning of the playlist contains songs with the word Father in their title.  Subsequent songs contain Son or Daughter in their titles, as they seemed fitting, given children are what make a man a father.  Several songs relate the bittersweet nature of the relationship between a father and a daughter through the years as it transitions to her leaving the home to spread her wings and fly in a life of her own.

Cinderella

She spins and she sways to whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I’m sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders
It’s been a long day and there’s still work to do
She’s pulling at me saying dad I need you
There’s a ball at the castle and I’ve been invited
And I need to practice my dancin’
Oh, please, daddy, please

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She says he’s a nice guy and I’d be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancin’
Oh, please, daddy, please

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh-oh-oh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone
She will be gone

But she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, dad, the wedding’s still six months away but I need to practice my dancin’
Oh, please, daddy, please

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh-oh-oh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

STEven curtis chapman

I shot this video 2 months ago when Steven Curtis Chapman was right here in little old Bluffton, SC.  He’s such an amazing, singer, songwriter, and guitarist – a truly gifted, humble, down-to-earth, faith-filled man.  What a talent:

Butterfly Kisses

There’s two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she’s daddy’s little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night

She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes
And I thank god for all of the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all

For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
“Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it’s my first ride.”
“I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried.”
Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right..

She asked me what I’m thinking and I said
“I’m not sure-I just feel like I’m losing my baby girl.”
She leaned over
Gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
“Walk me down the aisle, Daddy-it’s just about time.”
“Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don’t cry”
Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong I must have done something right.
To deserve her love every morning and butterfly kisses
I couldn’t ask God for more, man this is what love is.
I know I gotta let her go, but I’ll always remember
Every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses…

Bob carlisle

A father’s love often goes unnoticed, with much attention rightly being afforded to the love of a mother.  But the importance of fathers is often found in the significant void created by their absence.  Many songs center on the loss of a father, through death or abandonment, or the pains of a bad father – think Genesis’ “No Son Of Mine,” Journey’s “Mother, Father,” or Crystal Bowersox’ “Farmer’s Daughter,” or Kane Brown’s “For My Daughter”:

For My Daughter

Someone to play catch with, out in the backyard
To pick up the pieces of your first broken heart
Someone to say slow down when you turn sixteen
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be

Someone to scare the monsters when it’s dark in your room
Someone to put their foot down when you want a tattoo
And not just say I love you, but show you what it means
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be

They say dads are supposed to shape you, in a way I guess mine did
I knew what I wouldn’t do if I ever had a kid
They say history repeats itself
Well, I guess that’s up to me
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be

kane brown

In thinking of movies with scenes of fathers with their children, these two are my favorites of a father with his son, and a father with his daughter. This scene from “Father of the Bride” just melts my heart every time I watch it:

And for any son who’s ever thrown a ball around with his father, especially if you lost your father at a younger age, this one just kills me – I cried at the theater watching this scene, I found it so moving, having lost my own father when I was 19:

I’d like to honor and express my love and thanks to inspirational father figures and role models in my own life: those already passed – my father, John, my step-father, Fred, my Uncle Bill (like a father to my mom, and a grandfather to me), my Uncle Sal, and those still alive – my step-father-in-law Bob, my friend Jim Rispoli (though more the age of an older brother to me, still an inspiring father figure in my life, especially after my father died), my brother John, who has been such a great father to his 3 boys and 2 adoptive girls, my lifelong friend Jim with his 3 great kids, and my friend Scott, one of the most amazing fathers I know, both a father and mother to his son Asher.  And of course I have to express my love forever for my children, Josh, Ryan, and Kate, who have been the center of my life for the past 3 decades, filling my days with joy, laughter, excitement, adventure, and wonder.  And last but certainly not least, my wife Regina, the woman who made me a father – to her I express my gratitude for carrying, bearing, and nurturing our 3 wonderful children.  I couldn’t be the father I am today without her by my side.

As I suggested in my Mother’s Day blog, if your dad, grandfather, or other father figure has left this world, say a special prayer, while recalling the wonderful memories of times spent together.  If you have strained or estranged relationships with the fathers in your life, try to mend them as able.  And if they are broken beyond repair, work on forgiveness or at least finding some semblance of peace and acceptance.

Now for the playlist:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment (and your “dads”)

Listen to the MUSIC!

This Land Is Your Land – American Folk Music Celebration

The inspiration for this playlist was my neighbor, who casually commented on one of my blog posts that she only knew folk music.  As my “about me” blog entry states “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music.” (Albert Einstein), I of course thought what a great idea for a new playlist!

American folk music encompasses several musical genres.  Songs tend to be traditional, often sung for generations, many tracing root back to Great Britain, mainland Europe, or Africa.  Non-electrified instruments are the norm in folk music, including acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, harmonica, and hand percussion. Mike Seeger, folk musician and half-brother to perhaps the most famous folk musician Pete Seeger, offered that American folk music is “all the music that fits between the cracks.”

In Folk Music, the earth sings, the mountains sing, the rivers flow, the crops sing.

Gandhi

I think American folk music can be described by paraphrasing US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous 1964 quote to describe his threshold test for obscenity “I know it when I see it.”  I can’t fully define the parameters that define folk music, but “I know it when I hear it.” 

American folk music is a broad musical genre drawn from a wide array of musical traditions from populations and ethnic groups.  It includes several genres and themes, such as Appalachian music, bluegrass, railroad songs, protest songs, cowboy songs, and sea shanties.

Rising to popularity first in the 1930s thanks to the Carter Family, with songs such as “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”  In the 1960s, folk music became a part of pop culture, with themes including the Civil Rights Movement as well as countercultural influences.  Popular folk singers included Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Denver, Arlo Guthrie.  Also popular were The Kingston Trio, The Serendipity Singers, The Journeyman, The New Christy Minstrel, The Seekers, The Brothers Four, The Limelighters, and The Rooftop Singers.  Some folk blues and folk country artists appear, including Lead Belly, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, and Roy Acuff.  And even more mainstream folk and pop artists included Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, The Youngbloods, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Mamas & The Papas.  The Singer-Songwriters of the 70’s and 80’s, think Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Carole King, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Chapin, Don McLean, Dan Fogelberg, Tracy Chapman, often had folk offerings, though with a bit more of a pop sound, as part of their repertoire.  The folk tradition is being carried on by some current artists, including the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Old Crow Medicine Show, Nickel Creek, Dave Rawlings, Sean Rowe, and Gillian Welch.

Since my initial posting, in my music listening I stumbled upon one of my favorite artists of all time that I forgot to include in this blog. As he has evolved in his career, he has becoming much more folk, and much less rock and pop in his style. How I left him off, I don’t know – Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame.

Music Themes include:

Spirituals, originating with white ministers setting European folk melodies to religious lyrics, as well as African American adaptations with themes including slavery and emancipation, such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” and “We Shall Overcome,”

Work Songs, including Cowboy Songs and Sea Shanties which functioned to lighten the burden of work and keep rhythm as a team, such as “Blow The Man Down” and “Shenandoah,” as well as Railroad Songs, such as “The Ballad of John Henry” and “Frieght Train.”

Protest songs were prominent in the 60s, with the very popular songs “If I Had A Hammer,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are A Changin,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone.”

Appalachian Music, such as “Wabash Cannonball” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, with popular artists including the Carter Family and Doc Watson, influencing country artists such as Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, as well as Folk and Rock artists Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, all included in this playlist.

My Spotify folk playlist “This Land Is Your Land” is organized (if you have the premium version of Spotify) as follows:

Standout folk songs: a collection of my favorites, by great folk artists

Female folk songs: a very “easy listening” style of folk

Wow, Mama Cass, Joni Mitchell – singing “Both Sides Now” and Mary Travers all in one room together:

And the same song from the Apple TV Academy Award winning movie CODA:

Pop/mainstream folk song: very pop styling, by the likes of The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, and CSN (though a very limited selection of CSN songs on Spotify since Neil Young withdrew most of his music in protest of Spotify COVID misinformation podcasts)

Holy 60’s, Batman, check out The Byrds version of “The Times They Are A Changin’”

Guys & Gals folk songs: often lamenting lost love, unrequited love, bad blokes, or just songs in celebration of men and women.  Some of these are lots of fun, such as “Old Dan Tucker,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Cotton Eyed Joe,” “Clementine,” “Oh, Suzannah,” “Tom Dooley,” and “Mr. Bojangles.”

What a cool duet by James Taylor and Johnny Cash of “Oh, Susannah”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sui84FJgQAU

Location folk songs: often invoking the countryside or wilderness, though sometimes cities, including “Angel From Montgomery,” “Coming Into Los Angeles,” “Cumberland Gap,” “Rocky Mountain High,” and “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

And who can forget Bonnie Raitt’s version of “Angel From Montgomery” from the No Nukes concert:

Railroad folk songs: with images of the railway or travel, such as “500 Miles,” “Freight Train,” and “Hobo’s Lullaby.”

And this version of “500 Miles” shocked me, performed by Justin Timberlake (really!):

Water and Sea folk songs: with images of sailing, the ocean or rivers, with “Calypso,” “Blow The Man Down,” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

I haven’t seen this Netflix series yet, but the cast sure does a great job singing “Blow The Man Down.”  You can see how these functioned as work songs:

Spiritual folk songs: including “Michael Row The Boat Ashore,” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “I Saw The Light,” and “We Shall Overcome.”

Yet another movie I need to see, about Hank Williams, “I Saw The Light” (song clip at the end):

Assorted folk songs: more great folk songs by a variety of artists

“It Ain’t Me Babe” – Johnny Cash (covered by Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line)

Singer-songwriter folk songs: 70s and 80s singer-songwriters sang folk style and themed songs in their repertoire, such as James Taylor, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Harry Chapin, Dan Fogelberg, Carole King, and Tracy Chapman.

Kind of a cool video with a historical perspective of Dan Fogelberg’s “Sutter’s Mill.”  Again a true folk theme:

Modern folk songs: 21st century folk songs by contemporary artists including Bruce Springsteen, The Old Crow Medicine Show, Nickel Creek, Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch and Sean Rowe.

I love Darius Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel” just as much as Old Crow Medicine Show’s.  From his video, you can see how well its theme fits into the folk genre.

I hope you have as much fun exploring this folk music as I have.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

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