I admit to being something of an odd duck. It’s quite possible I am the only woman of my generation who harbored a fiercer crush on John Denver than on any of the New Kids On The Block–and I had a pretty fierce Jonathan crush in the seventh grade.
I love folk music. I always have. These days, it seems it’s hip to call it Americana if it’s modern american folk, and you know, that’s cool with me, as long as the music does its thing.
When I write, I often listen to pop music. When I run, I count on rock and rap and punk and ska to push me through the long miles.
When I’m editing, I find myself looking for a feeling for each scene. When I really want to feel, I need something breathtakingly real and honest and spare.
I might need a sense of frustration and loss, and I’ll listen to Chuck Brodsky’s “Bill and Annie” which never fails to make me simultaneously sad and angry.
I might be seeking a sense of family and tradition, and I’ll turn to Greg Brown’s Billy from the Hills.
I find the rhythms and the spirits of the songs filling me and realize that what these writers excel at is finding the magic in the mundane, a sort of enrichment to the small moments that fills them with everything we want to pretend they aren’t when we are trying to hurry through another harried day.
Which reminds me to look for things in each scene that might not be tied to any great epic conclusions I might want to make–things that are just the fabric of the character’s life. If those things aren’t in there, that’s a sign the scene isn’t maybe ready. It could be a line of dialogue, it could be a routine they fulfill daily that connects them to another character.
Rock and roll can move the plot. Punk can establish the characters’ attitude and edge. Rap and pop can settle the words into a rhythm. But the stories of the mundane, the everyday, those little moments that tie a life together. Those are the folk.
I cry, when I hear John Denver now. A great voice–and I’m not talking about his singing–cut too short. Little moments of growing older we will never hear from him, a man who found the thought of growing old a real turn-on.
Life is full of folk moments.