Music as (folk) Medicine
I cried, really keened and sobbed for hours the other day. I am feeling a bit better, today, though am feeling more and more for humanity and our potential. Some of it is really empowering, but first the tears have had to come. This pandemic has kicked up memories of the AIDS crisis, of friends and acquaintances dying – and how there was so much fear and not-knowing, and for a lot of people, a not-caring. So many sensitive and wonderful and beautiful people and artists gone.
And now, with governors and and some news reporters suggesting the poor and the old are expendable for the economy’s sake is too much for my heart to hold. It’s so wrong.
Saying good-bye to our friends
And again, I have so many friends who are sick, most are recovering, but one so far has died. (And he was young and he was healthy – an athlete). And the musicians who have been leaving us, like John Prine and Alan Merrill, they were my friends, too – in a universal sense – for doing their thing, and inspiring me to do mine. They were our friends – they uplifted our culture.
My Mom and my Aunt, who are old, are hunkered down in their little cottage in the forest. So far, so good, though I can tell they are lonely.
Hope and Revival
Music is empowering. That’s what the status quo was afraid of in the 60s. And it feels like, with all the musicians playing from home, there seems to be an acoustic revival. None of us knows how this is going to play out, but it feels like new movements for art and music and connection are happening, and will grow from this. And for me, making music, doing my workshops, studying the cosmic arts and sciences, making art – it’s my way to add to the collective in (I hope) a good way.
Music is powerful
This video was one of the things that pushed me over the edge the other day. Musicians being arrested for playing in Washington Square Park.
(Can you imagine? Arrested for singing in the park! Now people can gather at state capital buildings with semi-automatic weapons, and all that happens to them is they get news coverage).
My friend Patrick responded to this video – and my sadness over losing the chance to have Bernie Sanders lead the country. Patrick’s activism history began during the Vietnam era. I love hearing Patrick’s stories. He said:
I remember the 1961 Washington Square Folk Music police madness — hearing about it out on the West Coast (though I’d remembered it later as a bit further on, like 63 maybe).
I didn’t know about Bernie then (who knew?), only met him much later when he was mayor of Burlington, VT.
Yes, it’s much more than a shame that we missed this last opportunity to have him as president. Who knows what will happen in November and afterwards, and on our way there???
1966 within a few years of the Village music police harassment incidents, we were hassled and arrested by LAPD over music gatherings in and outside of the Sunset Strip clubs — the Whisky a Go Go, Bido Lido’s, Pandora’s Box, etc. Stephen Stills / Buffalo Springfield wrote their famous song about it, “For What It’s Worth”
I’ve been to a few protests in my life, the last one was after 9/11 in New York City. But I always felt like there are other ways to shift the culture. Patrick also shared this:
We tried to stand our ground a few times against truncheon wielding cops. But I never thought that was of much effectiveness most times. Later when I was helping with the railroad (peace train) to Canada and beyond, I felt like we got some really, really good much needed results in helping people directly. And then, of course, once I started working with Maharishi also at that time, lecturing on many, many campuses and elsewhere and initiating folks into TM, I knew I’d lucked into a means of truly helping bring inner peace to thousands — and spread peaceful influence around the globe, and “on and on across the Universe!”
Thanks for your appreciation.
When some of my friends were wounded in some of the police riot shootings, and/or beaten, and one kicked in the head by a cop horse (!), I never thereafter encouraged anyone to show up at the demos. There was so much more serious effective work to be done in much more silent, powerful scenes, with teaching meditation, and keeping the peace train running, and a few other things of the day. NO POINT in getting killed if ya could avoid it! Live another day to enjoy, grow love, co-create peace–from within! The true, deep nonviolent revolution/evolution — yeah?
I tend to agree with Patrick, peaceful revolution through meditation, running the peace train, making art, writing, making music. Co-creating peace! We can all play our part.
The magic of folk music is how we share it, interpret it, make it our own and give it away. I’ll write it again – co-creating peace.
Peter Paul and Mary doing The First Time Ever I saw Your Face
and Roberta Flack doing The First Time Ever I saw Your Face
and Roberta doing Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Water
My hero Pete Seeger playing Where Have All the Flowers Gone
I think this may have been Pete’s last concert – with his grandson and Bruce Springsteen singing This Land is Your Land. I can’t sing this song without crying.
Neil Young playing Sugar Mountain
Neil Young performing Changes by Phil Ochs.
Before he plays he talks about Pete Seeger and Pete’s guilt about not being able to stop Phil from committing suicide. And Neil couldn’t stop Kurt Cobain either. But we have to keep on going no matter what!
I have to share some more Bob Dylan.
‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ a traditional Irish/Scottish folk song
And the classic – A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall
A few more words of wisdom from Patrick:
And yes, I know the waves of sobbing upsurge of dirge emotions and heartsickness over Bernie and the state of things. Hold fast gently and keep on keepin on. The family shall get through this eventually, even if some of us shall not make it through to Canaan Land this time. But if not, we’ll be sittin pretty wherever we next come to port, and whenever we next shall return…rested and restored and in those energetic little bliss baby bodies to carry it forward even more and enjoy it all much much more. But try to stick around, as long as possible. That’s where the growth scene is POPPIN.
And my friend Paul Spiro, who is likely one of the best drummers I have been lucky enough to be in a band with shared:
As for myself and for many of us; after the great war, we were born “the peace generation”. I believe it’s in my DNA. I never related to the term baby boomers and so have never referred to myself as such. It’s just a statistical term. I am proud of what my generation accomplished in those years…but patriarchy and consumerism may fracture the movement. We are all but human after all. We are not saints. The soul’s aspiration is liberty and justice!! And nothing can stop that yearning! And so the movement… however it looks now… will press on; will prevail! Will progress! Thy will be done!
We Will Prevail
Do your thing! Do it with humanity and dignity. You matter.
I love you!