Comment of the Moment: Some Thoughts on Americana Songs
With two songs from Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse out now ("Oh Susannah" and "Jesus' Chariot" (She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain), the opinions are starting to roll in.
From a comment on Some Thoughts on New Video "Oh Susannah" by D. I. Kertis:
Judging from that video footage, Neil is not romanticizing the past here--which, you know, does fit with the whole concept he mentioned about highlighting the similarities between America's problems when these songs were first played and the ones we're facing now. I have to admit that the smoking kid makes me squirm a bit, but it's definitely best not whitewashed over.
Musically, I have only good things to say about the songs I've heard so far from 'Americana', though I'm actually even more interested to hear Neil and the Horse's takes on 'Gallows Pole', 'This Land is Your Land', and 'Tom Dula'. After hearing 'Jesus' Chariot', I suspect 'Clementine' should be interesting as well, and 'God Save the Queen', especially after all the (in my opinion) unwarranted brouhaha about its appearance on the track list.
I've actually gotten to be more and more interested in folk music as time goes on. When I say folk music, I don't just mean the American, either. I think it has a lot to do with the notion of it having been created by people in a pre-mass media age, trying to amuse themselves. So they had to be more creative themselves, because they couldn't just access other people's art and entertainment so easily like we can today.
If you listen to folk songs not just from America but from European history as well, they have their unique conventions and forms, signs that they were originated by every day people, not "artists" in the sense that we often think of them today. My fascination is also partly because this is music of the people: commonly owned art. Many of the songs on 'Americana' we all take for granted the right to perform again and again, to come up with our own variations/evolutions of per the folk process. It is lovely to think there is art and music that a whole community (the whole human community, really) can own and have creative domain over, that we can share and each take our own angle on.
Folk music, at some level, seems to represent such a free spirit of art and creativity, and can be incredibly culturally and historically rich. Because these were often songs written by or from the perspectives of everyday people, they tend still to resonate with the common man even today.
Especially in songs with universally applicable ideals or messages, there is a great potential for music (or art of any kind) to bring people together, bring about sharing, cooperation, potentially sparking even more creativity and art.
Thanks D. I.! Yes, music & art bringing people together is something we need more of right now.
More on Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse and the music videos for the songs ("Oh Susannah" and "Jesus' Chariot" (She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain).