21 years old, Art Student, Illustrator, Photographer, Writer, Thinker, Existentialist.

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Monday, 12 September 2011

Hard Travelin'

I've only recently discovered Woody Guthrie, but his songs are amazing and it confounds me as to how contemporary they sound. It's mind-blowing to think that his songs were written in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. I love this quote, it shows life today isn't much different to how it was in the 40's. Mainstream music is still banal, society continues to be dumbed down by it. Even with all of the technological advances we have, society is still the same. His music offers hope and tells you of things that are important rather than irrelevant, capitalist bullshit. I'm folk mad, me.

"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard travelling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think that you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow."
— Woody Guthrie

Recently I went to an art exhibition and saw very much the same work, just in different rooms and done by different people. I'll give you an example, Rob Ryan style papercuts - I think people have come to consider these as 'nice' and safe things to do, they know that people will like them and that's why they do them. The point I'm getting at is why should I look at their work when I can just as easily look at Rob Ryan's?
I've done papercuts, but rather than doing precise cuts and decorative scenes I chose to do things that were crude and not as inviting or pleasant as Rob Ryan's style of work. I did something I wanted to do. I didn't do it to play safe or because I knew that people would instantly accept it, I want to make art that challenges both myself and the people who view it.
Maybe the inclusion of this quote is not even a connection, I'm just stating that music, art, TV, film, society et al is in a state of sedation and nothing seems to want to change this.


  1. And to think Lady Gaga fans find her "Born This Way" ideals somehow original and groundbreaking. This bloke was way ahead of his time, interesting.

  2. His poetic power and wonderful wit really do pack a punch. Woody Guthrie was truly a man ahead of his time. Hardly anybody is singing about things that are happening now and that actually matter, there is something striking with songs about the 'here and now', it's haunting.
    There is a folk song by Chris Wood called 'Hollow Point' about the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, when I heard it it made stop what I was doing and listen; seldom any song makes me do that.
    I love folk music because you get to know the lives of the characters, make connections and it gives you a chance to try and understand them. I couldn't give a flying fuck about spending my money on bling or shagging about, I want songs that change me as a person and make me learn something new.

  3. I agree. Today's music isolates the people that it's marketed at, which is ironic. This massive emphasis on money, "good looks", sex and popularity has turned many young people into selfish, fame hungry twats who's main focus is their own self importance and status.
    Difference with a genre like folk is it's music BY the people and FOR the people as you said, which is bound to generate a completely different reaction from listeners. It's the kind of music that's much more likely to bring people together.
    Only way you can relate to modern singers is by dancing around in your pants, getting really pissed and getting off with anyone in close proximity. We end up in a culture where those who don't "fit the bill" feel low self worth and unhappy and I'd say that's probably a huge amount of people. Not everyone is rich, conventionally "good looking" or socially adept.
    Lady Gaga can harp on about "Born This Way" all she wants, it's relatively easy when you're a skinny white woman in designer clothes who's in a really privileged position.
    Don't get me wrong, there are some hip hop artists I LOVE, but my personal opinion is that when it became mainstream and the rappers got richer, when they started wailing all the time about whores and "bling" and their big houses every other kind of pop music seemed to follow suit; this was about 10 years ago. Sad really cos as a genre it's greatly not about those things at all, for example amazing political stuff like Dead Prez who actually have a message. I'd say a lot of it has turned pop culture into meaningless throwaway garbage though, as those dicks like "Dr DRE" own a lot of record labels and sign people hand over fist.

    *ramble* but yeah..sure you get my point. x