Why I’m Proud Of My Folk Rock Roots

Folk Rock to me isn’t The Lumineers, or even Joni Mitchell.  It’s not a sound, a series of chords, but it’s a lifestyle.  I think of the music from my parent’s generation- the vinyl’s in my basement of CSN, Neil Young, America, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan and my heart flutters. Folk Rock is a religion.  It’s true love.  It’s somebody who believes in you. It’s a book you had to read twice because the author wrote down your precise sentiments.  It’s truth and warmth and a kind of genuine conversation you’ve spent your entire life waiting to have.

I can appreciate pop and hip-hop. I like rock and roll, and I spent a lot of high school sitting on my bedroom floor listening to indie. But folk rock is something entirely different. Like I said, it isn’t just music.

Take for instance, these beautiful words penned in 1968:

 

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now

-James Taylor, Fire & Rain

 

You may recognize these lyrics. I pray that you do.  If you don’t, get familiar with them.  Wrap them around you, close your eyes and swallow this song.  It’s medicine.

Have you ever seen someone speak so candidly? So ego-less? So introspective and broken but strong all at once? There is a purity in Fire & Rain that evades us now. When do you ever hear someone singing a song on the radio these days about times that they simply could not find a friend? To ask jesus for guidance? Those are confessions that we are simply too conceited to make these days.

No genre  has ever penned more beautiful, simple, and honest lines in the history of music. Folk rockers changed minds.  They changed legislation.  They changed the way the world felt about things, and even behaved.  The music from my parents generation made me speak kinder, slow down, and think more deeply about almost everything.

Sometimes I could cry thinking about how I missed the 60’s.  Still, somewhere in my head it feels like they’re just about to happen, and maybe in some ways they are.

 

 

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