Unlike Rap, Pop and other popular music, Folk, Soul and other mature music tends to show more allegories hinting at social justice. Of course you see this in every genre, but folk music writers tend to be of a sophisticated level and share unique views into politics, whereas many popular genres couldn’t care less about politics.
Folk music, with guitar and harmonica, played by a single singer can be a devastating weapon in the war for social justice. One singer with a guitar can inspire a whole nation to act differently. Many say the pen is the most powerful weapon, but in the ancient tradition of oral speech in pre-Christian times when nearly everyone was illiterate, music was the greatest means of sharing ideas, music and the recited poem where no pen was needed. In ancient Greece, the ability to memorize powerful speeches was praised unlike it is today in the Age of Information, which is rather ironic. But today memory and recital still plays just as important a role as it did back in ancient Greece. We have illiterate people today in First Nations communities and in Africa who are arguably more intelligent than most New Age thinkers. Music for these people can be played without a pen, and it is so powerful for their people that it is in some cases the center of cultural growth. The emotion that you can feel from a bagpipe is no different than the emotion you feel from reading a dramatic book. Unlike writing a book, all music requires is a passionate heart, talent and the motivation to create. Unlike a book, you can go on the street and music can be heard by everyone. Without even words, the sounds of music can drive a listener to act in a more positive way, to appreciate the beauty around them.
Today, on this quick note, I want to ask you to never take music for granted. Music is taught in universities for a good reason, and in medieval times it was one of the central seven arts of teaching, right up there with astronomy and mathematics.
As we step away from the profanity of popular music and reach back into the root-music of our cultures’ origins, we find a kind of sophistication that reaches out to us and asks us to question our morality. Whether it’s the Soul of the African American ghetto or the Rockabilly of the rustic farmland, we hear stories of love and self-sacrifice so beautiful they make grown men and women cry. Today it’s so rewarding to see young people shedding away from trying to be “hip” and “cool” by blaring pointless music about sex and fancy cars, because these young people are the Peace Warriors of tomorrow, and the power of music will drive them to unthinkable levels.