This is about a soundtrack to life. If mine had one it would include 3 chords, a fiddle and a strong male lead voice. Oh and definitely a harmonica.
I like the idea that a truly good folk song brings out a story in a way that suddenly becomes relatable. Even if it tells a story which does not closely resemble any of your own life experiences, the melody has a way of becoming your own.
Like take for instance, Wagon Wheel (showcased below): A quick mental scan of my own history tells me that I’ve never been to “Raleigh,” and I couldn’t tell you what a “dogwood flower” looks like, but I’m fairly certain that “I’ve got to get there so I can see my baby tonight.” Don’t ask me why, it’s just what the song says. But you know… maybe those words can be owned by so many different people because they’re just place holders for a different unspoken language.
It explains why Bob Dylan wrote all the good songs of the past 50 years (this point isn’t even debatable so don’t try). He had this coveted recipe for speaking to the greatest majority of us. And he taped into this gift in songs like Blowin’ in the Wind, Rolling Stone, Don’t Think Twice, and Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
Why is it that a really good folk song can make you believe in God? Even if it doesn’t mention a higher being? I wager that it’s because a good folk song can make you feel alive. I know it wakes me up. It provides you with shelter on days when you aren’t sure you want to face the world. A good folk song lets you crawl up inside of it and believe in things that are good, and it makes you want to be a better person. It makes you feel free.