“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
You spend enough time around folk music and you're bound to run into Woody Guthrie, which is kind of like running into an old friend at the grocery store who you end up having a long heart to heart with right there in the cheese aisle and who tells you that you're worth a lot, not just to them but to the world, and that maybe you should stop eating so much processed food, you know, maybe try some whole foods for a change. It's better for the environment and it's better for you, and that is not a real dichotomy because everyone and everything is connected. Anyway, that's how it sometimes feels for us regarding Woody Guthrie.
The first time Scott heard "Hard Travelin" was kind of like that. He had just left Black Mountain, NC a few weeks before Christmas and was moving back to his parents' house after his first next thing after college admittedly hadn't worked out, a 25 year old in an existential crisis, waiting on a refund check. The song came on his iPod as Interstate 40 turned into Interstate 15 in Barstow, CA and he drove through the rain and thought about how he really had been having some hard traveling and that God really didn't know a dang thing about it. He felt simultaneously alone on the road and part of the great highway of travelers who are with him.
Fast forward 7 years, plenty more songs and shows and miles of interstate and this song is still important to us because it tells us we were born good-er than they told us we were. On our way back to Nashville last week, as we went from the flatlands of Kansas and entered the slow roll of midway Missouri, it was hard to believe our hard travelin took us away from the south since February. New England, Canada, the Midwest-- we'd sufficiently hit up most of the USA. And in less than a month, we will be tackling the rest until December, where we will land back in California. Sure, we are happy and healthy. But there's something about swinging back to our PO Box that makes us see the miles wearing on our shoes and on our falling apart camper. But we don't even have the hardest traveling these days. We've got thoughts heading to those having hard traveling times in Houston in the floods. And for those of you and your road ahead-- we are all gooder than we are told. Hope we can all keep singing it.
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