Folk music. Remember when that crap almost caught on?
Always my favorite Martin Mull quote. You don't hear much from ol' Martin these days but, to me, he's right up there with Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Bennett Cerf and Benjamin Franklin for wise guy wisdom.
In this particular quip he was surely preaching to me. Anything presented by the pop press as the next threat to rock'n'roll was the evil subject of my personal jihad. We had already beaten back calypso. Harry Belafonte never touched a hair on the King's head. Now these white guys with weejuns, flattops and banjos, were bellowing about some lion sleeping. And socks! I mean no socks. These idiots with weejuns and flattops and banjos weren't wearing socks. Worse, sometimes they were wearing white socks.
Prejudice dies slowly. Who knew.
By 1967, '68 my ambition was to save the world. Still is, I suppose. Chuck Berry and Elvis had led to the Beatles. They wanted to hold your hand till Bob Dylan and marijuana made growing up an option. Now America's poet had found Woody Guthrie after following Little Richard.
Folk music had an opening. Rock'n'roll didn't.
When I got an e-mail inquiring about my availability to play the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival years ago, I figured there was some kind of mistake. Now, let's be honest. I don't get many invitations. I mean I'm going to a family reunion next month but I'll bet they get together secretly to decide whether or not to invite me. I was available for Woodyfest.
Turns out I'm a folksinger. Woody was a rock'n'roller, too. If he had been able to keep a band together, I suspect he might have duckwalked all over this land.
Over the years, finding myself shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Pete Seeger and Steve Earle and Jimmy LaFave singing about this land being our land and looking out into the faces of folks singing it back to us, I am humbled.
That's how prejudice dies. You learn something. You love. Folk music's just rock'n'roll doing something. The heavy lifting.
You don't need to tell me that the world's not saved. Yet. I'll be going back to Oklahoma in July.