The other night I saw Bob Dylan in concert. He is amazing. Not just because he’s old and still rocking, but also because his repertoire of songs spans generations of change and a whole lifetime of emotions. I thought about how his song Blowing in the Wind became the theme song to the Vietnam War protests. And how We Shall Overcome (which he did not write) became the theme song to the Civil Rights Movement. Then I thought…we need a theme song to the organic food revolution!
There are a lot of great songs about farming: Amarillo Sky, by Jason Aldean, Rain is a Good Thing, by Luke Bryan, International Harvester, by Craig Morgan. But none of them really carries the right message.
What about songs about food? There is a song from the ’80s that could qualify: Moving to the Country, Gonna Eat a Lot of Peaches, by The Presidents of the United States of America. Heard of them lately? No. But I did have the thought as I watched Bob Dylan sing Just Like a Woman and Tangled Up in Blue that seeing Bob Dylan is kind of like seeing ALL of the Presidents of the United States of America. For decades, he’s been one consistent thing through all of them.
I think it must be really hard to write a good political song. Jackson Browne spent decades trying and still, all we want to listen to are the love songs. (The exception is My Personal Revenge.) And while there are TONS of great songs and music out there today, either the words are subtle and discreet or the topics are not appropriate to being our theme song.
So I’m asking all of you to help me out. Think about any song you know. Or if you know musicians, ask them to write a song that could be the theme song for the organic food revolution. Does anybody out there know Bob Dylan? I think his new songs are just as great as his old ones (Spirit on the Water, Beyond the Horizon…amazing!) Maybe he can put his creativity to work on food—although, as one friend said to me, he looks like he’s shrinking. Maybe he needs to eat more.
I wrote on a Facebook update that I love the line from Spirit on the Water that says, “Pour some sugar in my bowl.” And another friend said that it just wouldn’t sound the same if he sung, “Pour some high-fructose corn syrup in my bowl.”
I suspect there are a lot of great country musicians out there who really want to write radical songs about the organic food revolution but are afraid of offending their conservative fans…. C’mon Kenny! Keith! Gwyneth! You can do it! Or how about the Avett Brothers? Their fans wouldn’t be offended at all.
So, let me know if you know any good songs that might work as our theme song. Or pass this post on to your musician friends. In fights like this, songs are so much more powerful than swords.
Willie Nelson & Neil Young should have done this awhile ago.( maybe they did?) Esp. since they are the founders of Farm Aid, which strongly supports family & organic farming.
Organic Food Song
By Mark & Joan Lipman
I second Laura’s comment that Neil Young and Willie Nelson would be perfect to put something out with their Farm Aid connection. (I attended the first Farm Aid in Champaign, IL years ago!)
Could they be “approached” somehow? Certainly Neil and Willie truly support this cause.
Until then, I’ll be “rockin’ in the free world…”
My absolute favorite is “Producer” from Rage Against the Machine, which is very raw and rocks WAY too hard for the general public, but the lyrics are brilliant; particularly “a victim of a social experiment” and the inference of injected seeds. Maybe a remake in the future??!
Some lyrics from Producer:
Earth shares what Earth receives
And now only blood brings life
A tiller brings life, producer brings life
Protector brings life, soiled hands bring life
The tree of democracy shall be watered by the blood of revolution
So go plant a seed, go plant a seed for harvest
Go plant a seed for harvest producer
And it all shall fall by the grace of the people…
I first met you and the ideas you uphold while incarcerated
A victim of a social experiment
Eventually addicted to your eight hour injections of hypocrisy and arrogance and greed
Forced to sit with complicity in front of my executioners
As they bludgeoned me with their so called superior values and demanded my submission
I became an indentured servant in a factory
Where I myself was the product
Whos’ useful quality was to protect their palaces
Every word uttered from their mouths strangled me
(Go plant a seed – now those are fighting words!)
I heart Bernadette! Rock on, woman!
How about Neil doing “Homegrown” at (I think last year’s) Farm Aid Concert? Fun, upbeat! I think it’s a theme song for a new generation of Foodies and Farmers.
I have always thought that the song “Let it Grow” to be an inspirational one.
“Round and round, the cut of the plow in the furrowed field,
Seasons round, the bushels of corn and the barley meal,
Broken ground, open and beckoning to the spring,
Black dirt live again!
The plowman is broad as the back of the land he is sowing,
As he dances the circular track of the plow ever knowing
That the work of his day measures more than the planting and growing
Let it grow, let it grow, greatly yield.”
But I think if ‘we’ could find someone who could write a song specific to the Organic plight, it would be better than any not so specifically written. I think asking Willie Nelson and or Neil Young to consider it a great idea. Someone well respected in the music field across the genre. Anyone with an inside edge?
Shoppin’ in a Label Free World (written for EcoFarm 2008 coffeehouse)
You could consider hosting a contest for the Indie Music scene (see CDBaby or DiscMakers). Indie scene is so vibrant and easy to tap into with today’s online tools. Also wouldn’t need to deal with copyright or royalty issues from music corporations.
At the suggestion of another reader, I tried posting these the other day but for some reason they did not take, so I will try once more. I wrote this parody of a Neil Young song for the Ecofarm conference talent show in 2008. Then my buddy John and his kids helped perform and film electric and acoustic takes in their basement studio. It’s hard to believe that was all almost three years ago (maybe time for a reprise). I think the lyrics still hold true and that we’ve still got a long haul to keep food healthy, local and safe. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Shoppin’ in the Label Free World
Try some Green Day!!
Timeless ‘protest’ songs do more than protest, they inspire us. We _shall_ overcome. The Times They _Are_ A’changin’. And real folks can sing ’em. You don’t need studios, amps and rock stars, just a voice or two and maybe a old guitar.
From my gardener’s-eye (worm’s eye?) view, Dave Mallett’s The Garden Song has been an anthem for me since a fellow Peace Corps ag volunteer in Togo taught it to me many years ago:
And I’ve been singing the good ol’ Banana Slug String Band’s Dirt Made My Lunch (featured in the great movie, Dirt) for even longer:
But I got to say, the competition is pretty tough!