Monday, July 15, 2013

Swimming the River of Song

Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Odetta, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, The Carter Family, Clancy Brothers, Willie Nelson, Jose Alfredo Jiminez, Billie Holiday, Lead Belly, Elizabeth Cotten, Oscar Brand, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Thunders, everything Alan Lomax ever recorded, Johnny Cash, Freddy Fender, Shamrock Singers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Velvet Underground, Mariachi Vargas, Zombies, Franz Schubert etc. etc. etc.

To clarify:

A song is something meant to be sung. Much rock music doesn't qualify. A song is usually defined as a short poem set to music. With this in mind, a largely instrumental rock track, with the "vocals" added later, as an afterthought, is out. Traditional songs, protest music, children's songs, soul music, jazz standards, Appalachian murder ballads, hymns, show tunes, spirituals, blues, classic country, corridos, R&B, ranchera songs, some punk rock and all drinking songs are in.

We could probably more accurately categorize "rock songs" (and for that matter much dance music, all genres of metal, and so on) as "jams" rather than songs.

Jams are great. But right now I only want to hear and sing and play songs.

I want to wade into them breathlessly, to wash myself in them, to drink their sparkling waters be they hot or cold. I don't care who sings it or where it's from, but I must be inundated in song.