Folk Like the Blues

On nights like this one, after a stressful day, I like to light the candles, pour a cup of Earl Grey, and turn on my Mellow Music Pandora station. It comes to me through an app on the telly, which is connected to some awesome speakers, so the songs sound just as good as they did through my component stereo system back in the 1970s and '80s.

In the days before the internet, cell phones, iPods, and video games (except for my sons' Atari system which I never really played) my friends and I got together to make music. We'd gather in someone's living room, bringing jugs of wine, bags of chips, and our guitars, and we'd settle in for a long night of music, chat, a little political discourse, and a lot of warmth...

Conscious that these were special evenings and that time was precious, I treasured them, hanging onto every passing minute as hard as I could. Although we jammed together as a group, anyone could perform a solo any time they wished, the rest of us backing them up on our instruments and with our harmonies. But you knew a song was really something when no one joined in and the room fell quiet in appreciative silence. And when you saw eyes closing you knew you were really flying. People respected songwriters back then. We were considered the poets of our age and people wanted to hear every word, unlike today's audiences who whistle and cheer and woot all the way through Art Garfunkel's other-worldly performance of Kathy's Song. Gr. I can't even listen to that recording without getting pissed off. LOL.

One such song was written by Diana, a dreamy-eyed, long-haired blonde with a slightly smoky voice. It was called Scrolls, and I thought it was one of the best folk songs ever written, with the exception of maybe Visions of Johanna by Bob Dylan. Anyway, I've gotten a bit off-track here.

Folk music is to me what the blues must be to a blues singer. It gives me pain not unlike putting pressure on a toothache; it just hurts so-o-o damn good. Tonight I found myself in tears over a number of songs, each with a different story to tell and a different mood to convey: My Darkest Hour by Arlo Guthrie, One Too Many Mornings by Dylan, and A Case of You by Joni Mitchell, among others.

On nights like tonight I allow the music to take me on its journey in and out, within and without, weaving me through each artist's experience behind their song. From a stone tower to a cold water flat in Greenwich Village to a wood frame cottage in Laurel Canyon, the songs pulled me in. Then, another facet of the pleasure-pain of folk music came when I thought about each of my folky friends. They're all gone now, either to parts unknown, or to the Other Side. Many of the artists are also gone: Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, Stan Rogers, Jim Croce, Mary Travers... As I sit listening I'm flooded with feelings.

Kind of makes me want to write a song.