Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stories in words and music: folk edition

In a previous post I mentioned that if you were in a rut and wanted to change how you tell a story you could, in order of increasing difficulty, either:

1. Make your story into a poem (become a poet)

2. Add music and make it a song (become a singer-songwriter)

3. Sing that song a capella

4. Make a music video of that song

The best songs are “instant oldies.” After you hear them once or twice they seem to have always just been there. We now have YouTube and other video repositories where we can find both studio and concert performances of songs. Here are three folk singer-songwriters.   

Josh Ritter grew up in northern Idaho. In the chorus of Wings he says:

“...Well, it’s my home. Last night I dreamt that I grew wings.
I found a place where they could hear me when I sing.”

Early in his career Josh played in Ireland, and you can find three of his songs in clips from the video Other Voices: The Other Side, Me and Jiggs, and Come and Find Me

Since there is a Blarney Stone in Ireland, there also should be a Bone of Song. Josh sings about it accompanied by the classical violinist, Hilary Hahn

Two of Josh’s other recent songs are Long Shadows and Folk Bloodbath.

Quaker singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer describes a whole soap opera worth of the regulars and refugees who eat at Betty’s Diner. The chorus says:

“...Here we are, all in one place
The wants and wounds of the human race
Despair and hope sit face to face
When you come in from the cold...”

Her twelfth album is Before and After, which along with the title song contains the song Stones in the River. I heard her play in Boise when she was working on her previous one, The Geography of Light. It contains both Geodes and the hilarious e-mail lament, Don’t Push Send.

In his most blatantly bipolar song To Live is To Fly, Townes Van Zandt said:

“...Well to live is to fly, all low and high,
So shake the dust off of your wings,
and the sleep out of your eyes.”

Four of his other songs (with lyrics) are: I’ll Be Here in the Morning, Like a Summer Thursday, She Came and She Touched Me, and the heartbreaking Tecumseh Valley.  

The image of an acoustic guitar came from here.

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