dust boatman view thought





a flood of thought


The singer songwriter,

writing, composing and singing their own words, delivers the message of the day. 


To raise the voice, to praise, to tell the people.

The written word of songs flourished with the invention of printing,

as the performing ballad sellers joined the worlds of art and commerce. 

Ballad singers wrote and performed songs and sold printed versions to their audiences. 

With the arrival of phonographic recording, then radio,

artist recognition grew, for some, public appeal evolved into celebrity. 

Whether heard live at concert, on radio or recordings, the narratives, with simple chord progressions, of sung poetry focused on the words and meanings and not so much on style.   In another world, the common man singer songwriters like Pete Seeger, LeadBelly with “Jim Crow Blues”, Woody Guthrie lamenting on the “Deportees”, emerged as generational voices.    

And a flood swept over the lands.  Popular day English speaking artists in the 1960s North America and Great Britian cultures began to rise in prominence.  Folk, and folk and country influenced story tellers were gaining a radio pulpit to reach very receptive audiences beyond the size and scope of  any previous bards.

It got more personal.  The storytelling of the earlier bards , evident in old country and pure folk, was what about us.  Now, the singer songwriters were often writing and performing more introspective  material.  In giving a  more personal point of view, sensitive to their own life and social order, they were wondering what about me.   

There was someone for everyone and it all fit together.  Sorry to say, in mentioning names, I will surely not mention more than one someone that warrants mentioning and praise.  Although I have favorites, as everybody does, I am not listing people in order of my idea of importance or contribution.  Tom Rush and Mickey Newbury, Phil Ochs, Sylvia Tyson, Bruce Cockburn and Nick Drake may be lesser known names to some today,  but not any less in stature.  Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Dan Fogelberg, John Denver and Arlo Guthrie, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Jerry Jeff Walker and Steve Goodman, Carol King, Neil Young, each are memorable with special touches in their work.    

Kris Kristofferson ached in putting on his cleanest dirty shirt in Sunday Morning Coming Down.  Comrades like Johnny Cash, Dave Mason, Carly Simon and Gordon Lightfoot, David Crosby, Jackson Browne running on empty, Donovan, James Taylor,  Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Tom Waits and Dave Mason, Bruce Springsteen, give us lyrical scenes sliced out of their lives and ours. 

Singer songwriters are artists.  Their work is subjective, guided and misguided.  It is personal, and you do not have to explain to me whose words, as spoken in songs, we love and why.  We like it, we like it. 


None of the words themselves are offensive or suggestive.  They are words, arranged words, and the images swirling in your mind are your responsibility.  That is the way it is in most songs, of course.  Of course, of course, your ear may hear an exception occasionally.  It seems that Harry Nilsson did not always get the point, got riled up with someone in one of his songs, someone who broke his heart, tore it all apart, so.   

In reverence to each and every other artist mentioned or not, and with no slight or order of importance meant, a distinction of spirit is given to Paul Simon, Ronnie Milsap, Joan Baez, Harry Nilsson, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, all mortals of this earth, and Stevie Wonder of this universe.



dust boatman view thought


“Well I’ll be damned, here comes your ghost again.  But that’s not unusual, it’s just that the moon is full and you happened to call.  And here I sit, hand on the telephone hearing a voice I’d known, a couple light years ago, heading straight for a fall…


Now you’re telling me you’re not nostalgic.  Then give me another word for it, you who are so good with words, and at keeping things vague.  Because I need some of that vagueness now.  It’s all come back to clearly, yes I loved you dearly, and if you’re offering me diamonds and rust, I’ve already paid.”  Joan Baez, Diamonds and Rust   


“Miracles keep happening, the sun rose in the east today, I sat up and sighed for the millionth time, as the dawn was phasing a night away.  The blues can last for just so long, and from the depth, there will arise another song.

And I’ll sit here in the sea and the sun, waiting for that other song to come, that other song to come.”  Joan Baez, Miracles


dust boatman view thought