Sunday, January 19, 2020

Folk songs of the '60s, updated for the 21st century

I grew up listening to folk music.

My sister, Judy, went away to college in 1960, when I was 8. She returned home with albums from the era’s most popular folk singers including the Kingston Trio, Limeliters, Odetta, and Peter Paul & Mary, which she would play over and over until our mother ordered us to turn the damn stereo off. 

I spent hours mooning over Mary’s photo, taken in the rathskeller of some Greenwich Village club, that appeared on the cover of PP&M’s first album. With her straight flowing blonde hair, I was convinced she was the most beautiful creature on earth. I mourned when she died in 2009 and like to think of her in heaven, singing protest songs to stir the angels to revolt for better conditions. 

Unfortunately, most of the folk songs of the sixties make little sense to millennials, whose hippie parents' and beatnik grandparents' embrace of the genre helped pave the way for the socially aware, hyper-sensitive society in which they live today. So I’ve taken the liberty of updating the lyrics of some of my favorites, in an attempt to add some relevance that will hopefully strike a chord (pardon the pun) with the younger generation.

Take a quick look-see at the titles below and if you don’t know these songs, you can skip right over this post. But if you know them, I hope you’ll enjoy this trip back to a kinder, more hopeful era before we all sold out. 

Peace and Love. 

PS: Vote for Bernie.

This Land is Your Land

This land ain't your land,
This land ain't my land.
First and foremost it belongs
to native Americans from 
whom we stole it which 
is why we have no right
to prevent illegal immigrants
from crossing our borders today
and voting in our elections.

Blowin’ in the Wind

How many roads
Must a (choose one) man/woman/ trans
Walk down? 
Before they call that person a
(choose one) man/woman/trans?

Tom Dooley

Hang down your head Tom Dooley,
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head Tom Dooley,
Poor boy you’re bound to get life
which, on appeal, will be shortened
to 25 years and that, thanks to our
overburdened penal system populated with
people who shouldn't be there in the first place,
means you’ll be out in 12 and free 
to murder more innocent young women.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Come gather round people,
Wherever you roam.
And admit that the waters,
Around you have grown 
Thanks to global warming and 
Trump’s rebuttal of the 
Paris Climate Agreement.

500 Miles

If you miss the train I’m on,
You will know your alarm didn't go off
because you forgot to recharge your iPhone. 

Puff the Magic Dragon

Puff the Magic Dragon
Lived by the sea.
And frolicked in the autumn mist
In a land called Hohnalee.
Little Jackie Paper,
Loved that rascal Puff
Which he can now buy legally in 11 states
and in 25 more if he can find a doctor to
claim he needs it for a medical condition.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone

Where have al the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Gone to landfills every one where,
because they’re plastic, they’ll remain
for thousands of years after the young soldiers whose
graves they once adorned have been forgotten.

Cruel War

The cruel war is raging,
Johnny has to fight.
I want to be with him,
From morning to night and now,
thanks to the Obama administration 
which removed the military’s ban on 
women in combat, 
I can be. 

Kisses Sweeter than Wine

When I was a young man,
And never been kissed,
I got to thinking over,
What I had missed.
I got me a girl, 
I kissed her and then,
Thirty years later when I was nominated for the Supreme Court
she showed up but couldn’t remember
when or where it happened.

Lemon Tree

Lemon tree, very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet.
But the fruit of the poor lemon
Is impossible to eat unless it 
is organic, free of synthetic or 
artificial fertilizers and pesticides
and grown on farms
that recycle resources while 
practicing ecological balance and biodiversity.