Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Song of the Week: Jonah Tolchin

Jonah Tolchin may be relatively young in number of years wandering the planet, but his voice is one of an old soul, one that is deep and little bruised and weary, but a weariness that still keeps getting up and moving along those dusty roads, speaking the truth of all it's seen.  Jonah has been gaining well deserved attention since the release of his album, Criminal Man, and his performance at the Newport Folk Music Festival this past summer.

Criminal Man, as a whole, is golden, but there are a couple songs that have found a place stuck in my head and have been blissfully dancing around up there on repeat.

Unless We Change
The first thing that pulled me into this song was the cadence of the music; it gives you the feeling of being of a train, maybe in an open boxcar, maybe in a passenger car, but most definitely rambling down the tracks, putting the past behind you and aching for the future ahead of you. I am also a sucker for call and response choruses and banjo solos, and tambourines. Trifecta!

But the message of the song is just as moving. Many will argue that the best love songs out there are the romantic boy meets girl love songs. But I disagree, the best love songs out there are revolutionary and protest songs, tunes that sing and shout that we love lives, our dreams, our world, our fellow human travelers enough that we won't let injustices and cruelty and indifference destroy them. We will (we must!) change and fight and work for the world that we, that all of us, want and deserve. That is love. And this is a love song.

Godforsaken World

If you know me well, you know that I don't throw around Woody Guthrie references all willy nilly, but the first time I heard 'Godforsaken World', I heard the whispers of Woody, quietly intertwined in the verses. Dates on the calendar may change and technology may change and the sheer amount of things we add bacon to may change,  but the core of the human experience, that of figuring out how to survive our humanity, doesn't change, and really hasn't since the beginning of time. The good and true songwriters out there, and I am counting Jonah in that that group, can sing about all this strife that we call life, with a little glimmer in the eye, reminding us that at times our burdens may be heavy, but we don't need to be crush by them. 

Jonah's music is available on bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon, and if you are a Daytrotter member you not only get a gold star for the day, but  can also download his album length session for free.  He also does a wonderful cover of Springsteen's 'State Trooper' on the tribute album, Long Distance Salvation, which I know you guys have already downloaded, since the talent on the album pretty much melts your face off. In a good way.  

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