Acoustic American Poem
…is where Melody’s at the wheel with Harmony beside her
and rhythm never rides alone.
It’s blues and bluegrass and songs of the sea,
Pickin’ and grinnin’ and do-re-mi.
It’s songs of the cowboys, the mountains and plains,
Of border rancheras and the wind and the rain.
It’s Cajun and Celtic and Quebecois,
From fais-do-do to fa-so-la-ti-da.
It’s nights on the desert beneath a carpet of stars,
Step-dancing Cape Breton and whiskey from jars.
It’s a buncha damn songwriters with something to say,
In search of sweet notes to polish and play.
It’s new, old, trad – even alt-and-post- folk,
Finding your smile when you’re down, and you’re broke.
It’s Beethoven’s Ninth with its fine Ode to Joy,
Bob Wills and Gene Autry and Trigger and Roy.
It flows with the water, it’s the river at Memphis,
The music of protest and finding consensus.
It’s the Appalachian hollers, it’s washboard and spoons,
Harmony and shape note and singers who croon.
It’s good-time old-time and ragtime and horns,
And a New Orleans anthem, sweet and forlorn.
It’s Django gypsy jazz, and tunes from the prairie,
Songs from the barn dance, the farm and the dairy.
The Rockies, Adirondacks, the Sierras and Cascades,
The bayou and the flatboat and Sand County ‘fore it fades.
It’s the underground miner and the hammer of John Henry,
And disaster in the coal mine and the bosses and the gentry.
It’s echoes of Ireland and Scotland and Wales,
The plaintive steam whistle and ridin’ the rails.
It’s jigs and it’s reels with a quick pennywhistle,
A washtub bass, a dulcimer, and skiffle.
It’s walking the towpath with a mule named Sal,
Among the far-flung boatmen of the Erie Canal.
It’s Mississippi paddle wheelers’ tall fluted stacks,
And John Hartford, Steve Goodman, and ol’ Ramblin’ Jack.
Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Blind Blake,
Odetta, Muddy Waters, oh those blues that ease the ache.
Maybelle Carter and Jean Ritchie, Jimmie Rogers, Bill Monroe,
Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips, Kate Wolf and Julie Gold,
Harry Chapin and Jim Croce and Nicolette Larson,
Dylan and John Denver, and we can’t forget Gram Parsons.
Civil Rights in Alabama, water fountains in the South,
The songs that give you courage just to open up your mouth.
It’s inspiration, lamentation, age-old dreams and wants,
And it’s the right-now relevance of the acoustic renaissance.
Sally Goodin wears a yellow ribbon playing Garry Owen,
Dan Navarro sings the songs that he wrote with Eric Lowen.
It’s an ode, it’s a ballad, it’s a tribute that exalts,
A two-step, a polka, a round dance, a waltz.
It’s accordion, melodeon, harmonica, and strings,
A French hurdy-gurdy and a wooden flute with wings.
It’s Acadian and Texican, Norwegian and Canadian,
Hawaiian and Italian, wanderin’ and American.
It’s the Maple Leaf Rag and the blooming purple sage,
The sound of labor’s struggle for a living minimum wage.
It’s a roomful of fifty for a coffeehouse evening,
A farewell at the station when a soldier’s train is leaving.
It’s banjo and fiddle, mandolin and guitar,
For a front porch jam or a dark sawdust bar.
It’s stage lights and cheering and a thousand people dancing,
Or the sound of one pure voice that doesn’t need enhancing.
It’s piano and a spotlight on a player and a song,
The rhythm of the rails when the journey’s cold and long.
It’s an anthem sung for peace and a song of awkward love,
The eagle in his majesty, the poise of the dove.
It’s irreverent, it has grace, it’s timeless, it’s disposable,
It rallies realization the intolerable is opposable.
Passionate expression, and sharable reality,
Genteel and bohemian, house concert hospitality.
The magic of a festival, stretched-out on cool, green lawn,
Adjourning to a campfire, making music until dawn.
It’s hillside bowls and gardens, parks and concert halls,
Band shells and gazebos, late spring to early fall.
It’s summer ‘neath the soaring pines, a six-string at the beach,
Pure exhilaration with the highest note you reach.
It’s composers and arrangements, it’s homegrown words that rhyme,
Classical that’s accessible from anywhere in time.
It’s friends who inspire our songs, since nothing is autonomous,
And gratitude for muse’s gifts, and that writer named Anonymous.
– Larry Wines, (c) © 2010
You can read Larry’s Acoustic Americana Music Guide with its extensive descriptions of upcoming folk-Americana and acoustic renaissance performances, and its companion, the Acoustic Americana Music News; both are updated frequently. He contributes regularly to No Depression. Contact Larry at email@example.com.