This Land is My Land

CaliforniaIf you’ve been reading this blog for as long as I’ve been writing it you can’t help but have noticed that I have kind of a love/hate relationship with folk music and all of its trappings. Ok, perhaps hate is a too strong a word. It’s more of an “I like the music but not so much the going to see the music” thing really. Especially now. You see folk music tends to be a phenomenon that is particularly appealing to members of my era which means that most of the people surrounding me at any given concert are also from my era, give or take a few years which at this point in life becomes rather irrelevant, not to mention too difficult to discern. So what’s the problem? First, let’s face it. We don’t all look as good in our Levis as we apparently think we do. Then there’s the realization that each and every time I’m in a room with my peers I feel as though I am confronting my own mortality. Can’t really put my finger on it but I’m guessing it makes the realities of life just a little too vivid, and certainly more than any self-respecting shallow gal is wont to think about. So trust me when I tell you that it is somewhat of a struggle for me to reconcile my thoughts with my subsequent actions. This time however the tickets were bought, I was over my cold and there was no turning back.

So once again this past weekend I found myself sitting amongst a crowd of folks who were chowing down on their plates of perogies and cabbage rolls (if I were them I’d take it easy on the sour cream) waiting for the night’s entertainment to begin all the while thinking to myself how much things have changed and how much they haven’t. Because for as long as I’ve been listening to folk music it has been pretty clear what these “folks” are going to be singing about. If you’ve been known to take a bet, and I know some of you have, you can put your money on the table that there’s going to be a song about love lost and love found, not necessarily in that order. At some point you’ll be “goin’ down the road” and whether it wends it’s way through the gritty downtown streets of El Paso or the snow-capped rocky mountains likely depends on your country of origin. There’s going to be songs about dreams, for times past and times to come and very likely a protest song or two about a war, or an injustice or possibly eating meat. Before the night is out, if your entertainer is worth their salt, you’ll be singing along to a chorus of “we shall overcome” or something written by Woody Guthrie. But as I sat and listened to the opening act that night it occurred to me that more often than not somewhere, mixed in with the dreams and love and protests and singalongs, there’s going to be a song about California. Which I have to say surprises me just a little bit because California has never really struck me as a place that people who are otherwise introspective and often profound would want to sing about. Before you get too excited, it’s not that I think California is some kind of mecca for shallow people but I do spend a fair bit of time there and it seems to be a pretty good fit. And you gotta admit it’s a tad laid back and there are pockets of, how can I put this gently, complacency. Though who can blame them? They’ve got the ocean, the mountains and some of the best weather in the United States of America. What’s to complain about?

So, at the risk of sounding a little territorial I have to say that there are some boundaries being crossed here. Think about it. There’s no shortage of things in this world for folk people to sing about. I mean let’s face it. There are plenty of wars to protest, injustices to decry and meat eaters to convert. If all else fails, surely to goodness there’s a song to be sung about the “one percent”. But us shallow people, well we don’t have a whole lot in this world to focus our attention on. But California. This land is my land. You know I don’t like telling others what to do and I really hate to sound presumptuous but I would like to pass on a piece of advice to all of the aspiring, singer/songwriters out there. Here it is.

“You ain’t gonna find a cause at Hollywood and Vine.
So I’ll stay off your streets if you’ll stay off mine.

Wow! Now that I’ve said it I think it would make one heck of a chorus.

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