Yesterday was Easter Sunday.
We went to an easter egg hunt that included activities for the 5 and under crowd, a word scramble, a special egg hunt for high school kids and a massive carrot and egg hunt for school aged children. There was food for everyone and a four-block scavenger/treasure hunt when we ran out of eggs. My daughter dutifully filled her basket with eggs, ate a small chocolate egg and then spent the next hour or so either spinning on a T-bar that hung from a tree or waiting for another chance to spin on the t-bar hanging from the tree.
What is it with kids and spinning?
At one point, the kids who joined in the fun started to take really long turns on the bar. She had to wait longer and longer for her turn. But she did it beautifully. When she finally got her turn, she forgot all the vital safety steps involved in grabbing a bar and spinning. She threw her body into the spin without grabbing the bar. She landed on her back and then in my lap. But after a few cuddles she was back in line, waiting to spin again.
After a really good nap (for both of us), my aunt came to visit. We sat in the back yard and drank cool drinks and sang songs and danced and chatted. And then we went to dinner (sans daughter!) and a tribute to Malvina Reynolds.
I learned that my aunt had been a camp counselor with Malvina’s daughter when they were both in high school. During that time, Malvina was transitioning from writing poetry into making songs and would test her tunes and lyrics on the campers. When we walked into the coffeehouse, the concert had already started. I looked around to get my bearings and immediately recognized a woman inside the front door.
I grew up with the woman’s daughter. The woman is a filmmaker (her daughter told me that she was a caterer about 20 years ago and I never questioned it or asked again!) who had made a documentary about Malvina Reynolds. Her latest work had to do with VBACs and was put aside while she raised her kids. She saw my bulging belly and told me she may be interested in filming my birth. We spoke briefly of the weird legal/medical restrictions that surround birth in this country and made a plan to meet for a longer talk at a later date.
My husband, aunt, and I sat in the coffeehouse, sang along with songs that we recognized and learned some new ones. We had a moment to reflect, through the story-telling that inevitably accompanies and folk concert and through the powerful lyrics of the songs themselves, on the world around us and the roles we play in creating and supporting society.
After the concert we drove home speaking about popular music and the changes that my aunt had witnessed over the years. She talked about the Beatles as a band that helped the transition shift from songs of protest to songs about nothing. Where the energy had been so focused on coming together and social awareness, the attention moved to frivolous star-tracking. She was unaware of many popular artists focusing on change through lyric and song.
My husband countered that he knew of a number of albums dedicated specifically to certain political topics. The music world is still rife with protest. The music companies just don’t want you to know it.
I agree that there are protest songs being written and performed. However, I find a lot of them inaccessible. The songs are not written in a way that would encourage an audience to go home and memorize the lyrics. They are not written in hopes of unifying the voices of a gathering of like-minded people. The music showcases the talents of the singers/songwriters. The performer does their bit but doesn’t take the time and effort to teach the audience to sing along. There is no assumption that the audience can or should keep up.
And people don’t tend to gather in the same way any more. It takes a lot to get people to make a public showing of sentiment. So you have songs that are powerful but don’t give direction or a sense of belonging to the audience AND you have a group of people that probably have not come together to take part in an event as much as hear an individual sing. And you lose the power of the song’s voice. It becomes saleable.
And so both my aunt and my husband are right. People write the songs but they’re not connecting.
And how sweet is it that my aunt looked up an old campfire friend and invited some family in on the gig. We got there any I got to reconnect with an old campfire friend(‘s mom) and her work. I went home happily thinking of celebrating my next birthday with a campfire.