The fallout of greed and incompetence is once again trickling down to Main Street. Kiss my ass, you greedy Wall Street bastards. And you bureaucrats and cronies can kiss my ass, too. Is there anyone out there who thinks beyond the current economic cycle? Anyone? Is anyone trying to do anything other than make themselves rich, or keep their friends in office? Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg. When I got laid off in 2001, I did a lot of soul-searching, ate a lot of Cancun veggie burritos (they were $3.29; they're $4.99 now), and did a lot of reading at Green Apple. One afternoon, I came across Woody Guthrie's autobiography, Bound for Glory. Now there was a guy who knows a thing or two about hard times. The title is deeply ironic, as Guthrie experienced a lot of hardship, but through it all he had deep confidence in himself and deep faith that he would do great things. Greed, incompetence and bad luck afflicted him, (and millions of others), but life goes on. And if you're a person like Woody Guthrie, you take the hard lesson and you turn it into something like Dust Bowl Ballads.[You should see a little Flash player below each song title; apologies if you don't. Working on it].
Woody Guthrie, "I ain't got no home" [Download]
[audio:guthrie_home.mp3] Of course, I was never close to being caught out on a literal road with other literally displaced people, but this passage deeply affected me:
My brothers and my sisters are stranded on this road,A hot and dusty road that a million feet have trod;Rich man took my home and drove me from my doorAnd I ain't got no home in this world anymore.
2001 was no Dust Bowl, and I was nowhere near as destitute as Tom Joad. But the feeling of alienation and disillusion really rang true to me, the sense that "a million feet" have trod a much worse path gave me comfort, I guess. (Guthrie also hated Wall Street bastards more than anyone, which gave me a great deal of comfort). So the next track is all about turning the corner, finding happiness, and being bound for glory. It's from an incredible collection of music called Art of Field Recording, Vol. 1, a collection of recordings made in rural homes and churches over the past 50 years.
Lawrence McKiver and the McIntosh County Shouters, "Jubilee" [Download]
[audio:mckiver_jubilee.mp3] For me, this track is an excellent reminder that a few people with a lot of spirit and some knee-slapping can make something deeply affecting. It doesn't take much. And that's the first step, perhaps, to being bound for glory.