Last night I could not go to listen the abortion debate at Ottawa University because I had tickets for Dar Williams. (I was sorry about the conflict.) She’s a beautiful woman, with a beautiful voice and I absolutely love folk guitar music. Transports me right back to the good days—suddenly I’m eating smores and wearing my favourite scratchy Chilean knit sweater for chilly summer evenings.
I got a guitar when I was 16. I really wanted one. First, when I asked for a guitar for my birthday, my parents bought me a keyboard. A brief discussion of definitions and how I could not live out my dad’s lifelong dream of being great on the organ—yes, the organ—and we finally came home with the correct instrument–a classical guitar. I began teaching myself the necessary chords to be able to croon John Denver—leaving many wondering why my dad didn’t stick to his guns and keep the keyboard.
Over years of practicing (annually, or so), oddly enough, I haven’t improved. After breakups with boyfriends, I’d teach myself mournful songs—by playing them on CD repeat—I believe this is called the “learning by ear” method which works, it really works—to drive roommates clinically insane. “Baby can I hold you,” by Tracy Chapman is one such hit that I can still play today—yes that’s right, Paul—”sorry, is all that you can’t say…years (well, it was actually months) gone by, but still words don’t come easily like sorry, like sorry…but you can say baby—baby can I hold you tonight…”
Where was I? On genetic anomalies, that’s where. When I go to these folk fests, invariably there is more than a subtle undercurrent of anti-Bush, anti-war, left wing, now newly-anti-Palin vibes. Well, it’s more than vibes—the singers just come right on out and say it. It’s generally fairly low key, a lot of these people aren’t the excitable type, made less so by their ardent support for healing herbal medicinal treatments…though not always, as with Ani DiFranco who I heard in Calgary back in 2006.
But when I go to these concerts I’m transported away from life as I know it, life as a pro-lifer, life in the policy lane—until such time as the singer begins to make fun of Sarah Palin. As happened last night. At which point the CBC-cheering crowd in the bar is laughing up a storm and I’m right back where I live and work, which was not generally the intended point for my evening.
Dar Williams, by the way—she can say whatever she wants. She’s funny, and she made fun of “her own” last night too—saying “she knows who she runs with” and describing an offended activist type who couldn’t handle one particular concert in Maine when Dar drank from a plastic water bottle—Poland Springs! the audacity—on stage. Said activist was irate—something about poison leaching from plastic to the water… One should never be a humourless activist! Humour means you can say whatever the heck you want—and of course, Dar, up on stage at her own concert, all beautiful and talented can certainly say whatever she wants, and I truly mean that.
But what I want, at least for my evenings out at the folk fests, is the gene that clearly everyone else at those events has—the leftwing folk artist/ folk music appreciation gene combined.
I only got half; I appreciate folk music, and yet, am not left wing. These two things are clearly completely incompatible, so I’m looking into genetic testing so that no one else in the future will have to suffer as I do.
So. I’m sorry to have missed the debate, and that is why I did. I hope to catch it on film at some point, in particular because I gather the pro-choice side was quite good. (I already know Stephanie Gray is good.)by