Gut Rumbles

December 27, 2004

hits, part II

Here is a post I wrote in March, 2002, after I spent four days at merelfest. THAT is one hell of a music festival--- not just the stage acts, but all the very good picking that goes on in the jam tents and around the campfires at night. That experience made me wax nostalgic for my musician days.


My friend Willie and I were singing along to the car stereo on the way back from North Carolina last night. He has a tape he made of songs he's learned to play over the years and some old Peter, Paul and Mary popped up in there. Their version of "Blowin' in the Wind" is about as mournful and depressing as anything I've heard recently. If you listen to their version of that song, you can feel the sense of immenent doom squeezing their hearts and taste the salt in the bloody tears they cry. Yep, back then we were all gonna die any minute now.

I believe they recorded that song in 1966 or thereabouts and they probably are disappointed that the world didn't blow up during the last 35 years. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," another mournful dirge, just doesn't go over like it did during the Vietnam War, now that we want our military to go out, kick ass and take names from the people who attacked us. Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to daisy-cutters, every one, and dropped right on the heads of those who want to kill us.

I missed out on the height of the folk music craze of the '60s, but those songs influenced a lot of my larval stage of musicianship. Once I started playing as a solo in the bars, however, I realized quickly that I was not there to be an artist, and I DAMNED SURELY wasn't there to depress people. I was there to sell drinks, pack the house and make locals come back again. If a musician can't do that simple task, the bar owner will fire you and buy a jukebox. It's cheaper in the long run.

So I learned a lot of lively stuff, did the requests people wanted to hear, and wrote a lot of cutesy-nasty songs that no one ever will hear on top-forty radio, but are well-received by people consuming alcoholic beverages and hoping to get laid. I've been making music for a long time, and I believe I know the ropes.

But ten year-old boys cut my butt in the picking tents at Merlefest. I think they pick up guitars, banjos and fiddles just as soon as they turn loose of mama's tit. Damn, but they can play.

That's okay. They may be swift and they may be good, but they are small enough for me to strangle their narrow, guitar-burning necks if they really piss me off.

Besides, what does a ten year-old know about selling drinks?


You remember the Great Folk Music Scare of the 60s, right? That shit almost caught on!

--Spider Robinson, paraphrased.

Posted by: refugee on December 27, 2004 02:46 PM

Got a DVD from my Son at Xmas. 'Legends of
Flatpicking Guitar' Includes some footage of Tony Rice at what looks like MerleFest. Just sweet. I envy
you for having been there.

Posted by: John on December 27, 2004 03:44 PM

Is "Merelfest" anything like the famous Merlefest ??


Posted by: MommaBear on December 27, 2004 04:45 PM
Post a comment

*Note: If you are commenting on an older entry, your
comment will not appear until it has been approved.
Do not resubmit it.