I woke up this morning with the words of the song '500 Miles' and the voice of Mary Travers echoing in my head.
Last night, I watched a PBS program titled '50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary,' and that song was one of those featured in the program. Thinking about the tremendous impact that trio had not only on American music, but on how we as Americans think about ourselves and our nation, made me yearn for a return to the music of that time.
American folk music reached its pinnacle in the 1960s, a turbulent time indeed. Folk music was a vibrant catalyst for social change. It played a prominent role in the civil rights movement, in the anti-nuclear movement, in the farm workers' move for better working conditions, and in the growing opposition to the war in Vietnam.
Folk music had a powerful message. It rallied people to action, and it brought attention to a variety of social injustices. Prominent musicians such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary used their talents to rally people to effect social change. They didn't sing just because they were paid to sing. They sang because they believed in the messages of their music. Some were active participants in the movement to cause social change.
I miss that music. It had a message, it spoke to people and it was easy to listen to. Songs such as 'If I Had a Hammer' and 'Blowin' in the Wind' made me think. This music questioned the status quo and dared us to dream of a better world.
Sadly, it seems that things haven't improved much over the past 50+ years. Pete Seger died earlier this year, Mary Travers in 2009. The voices of a generation, of a series of protests, are falling silent. Folk music and its influence are but a distant memory. We need a new generation of musicians to continue the battle cry against social injustice, wherever it is found.