Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Spirit and Mind" -> The Music Has Changed

I listened a lot to Woody Guthrie yesterday. When you cut to the early years of the twentieth century, Woody Guthrie is called out as capturing the common man.

Guthrie was a folk singer, and not necessarily one that could ever make it in today's world. If you listen to his recording you are listening to a man and a guitar and not much else.

If, in your mind's eye, listen to his music as if it was recorded today, it would be clearer with better dynamics, but the performance would still be consider not impressive.

I've played around with a web community called GarageBand. In this web community, you upload a song to the community and have other people grade it. So, let us pretend that we upload one of his songs that we had recorded with modern equipment. I can imagine what they would say.

The would make comments like the following:

1. Singer has problem with intonation (pitch)
2. Song structure is too simplistic
3. Voice is very unpleasing
4. Guitar skills are poor

Of course, they never listen to the lyrics in this web community, because none of us listen to lyrics any more.

When you don't have a beautiful voice or great instrument skills, it forces you to listen to the lyrics. And the lyrics is what Woodie was all about.

His most recognized song is "This Is Your Land." The words carry the song. It calls out our connection to this country and the physical attribute of this great land. If you listen closely, you'll hear his call. Guthrie had seen pain. He had lived through the great dust bowls. He understood the great depression. The man was disenfranchised, and he was tracked by our government as a socialist.

Despite this Guthrie had sen much of this land, and he sought the common bond of all Americans.

"This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

This land was made for you and me"

Today, we have forgotten what is means to have words is our songs. Many of our popular sonqs are vapid and milquetoast. This is the plague of the 21st century. Our praise songs rarely have tough theological concepts embedded, and they can be equally sung in an Evangelical Church service, a Mormon church service, or a Jehovah Witness.

Guthrie had a tough life. He got divorced. He got divorced twice. He was a non-father to eight of his children. He died of Huntington's Disease. He was an alleged communist, but, in reality, the communists wouldn't have him.

And he had a great respect for his Christianity. A troubled man, but a man that knew Jesus none-the-less. He was a Christian and a Socialist.

He was a burning light and wrote thousands of poems and hundreds of songs.

He had a philosophy, and it was all summed up in his song "Jesus Christ."

They nailed Him there to die on a cross in the sky,
In the lightning, the thunder and the rain.
Judas Iscariot committed suicide
When they laid poor Jesus Christ in his grave.

When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate,
When the patience of the workers gives away;
"Would be better for you rich if you never had been born",
So they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.

This song was written in New York City,
Of rich man, preachers, and slaves;
Yes, if Jesus was to preach like He preached in Galillee [sic],
They would lay Jesus Christ in His grave.

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