Despite having sung This Land is your Land a thousand times in grade school, I would like to make the case that Woody Guthrie is actually punk rock.
I have been listening to his album, Dust Bowl Ballads a ton lately and I’ve noticed how those times really mirror our own a way. We both are trying to recover from a major economic meltdown (partly caused by foul play in the finacial sector) and both are/were trying to find a unified national identity amongst a very divided population.
As with other folk music of the time the focal point of these songs is definitely not the arrangement or instrumentation. It falls squarely on the ability of the performer to rouse the audience. In that way Guthrie was a master. His intelligent and blunt observations on class differences and “the man” made him very popular and even gave him opportunities to perform at Socialist functions before he renounced leftist politics and got the iconic “this machine kills facist” guitar.
One of my favorite concepts that Woody Guthrie came up with was the “rent party”. When he lived in a New York loft with a bunch of other musicians they would throw a huge hootenanny once a month with a donation plate to pay the bills.
Music plays all sorts of different roles in society from religious ceremony to getting people horny on the dancefloor to pure artistic expression but one of the ways that seems to have fallen out of vogue in recent times (in America at least) is some good ol’ overt political criticism. I don’t just mean a rock band that has an anti-war song on there album but more of something closer to what Pete Seeger was doing; going to picket lines and organizing town hall meetings and strikes.
Maybe it is because these days, any artist that speaks out against in issue usually sounds like a douche. It would be cool to find a way to educate people in smaller towns about local economics and bicycles and skill sharing and corporate wrong-doing etc. and still play cool shows.
Don’t count on my band to do all that boring stuff when we tour. We are just going to get drunk and get girls pregnant.
Lately I have been trying to avoid using the computer to make music and focus on recording the actual live performance. Its easy to get carried away with background vocals and keyboards and effects but I have just been feeling inspired to make stripped down songs in the style of the folk singers of yesteryear.
Its a little strange because my last ep was grouped with a lot of “chillwave” acts and I know this one is going to turn out very differently. I’m sure its fine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about making art is that you just have to follow your instincts and keep growing regardless of how your work will be perceived.
This song is up for download over on the kassette klub soundcloud page and the orginal can be found on my bandcamp.