What are you going to do with your work that you created while at the railroad?
Well, I am sitting on an entire folder of union campaign songs and heaps of poetry that I never recorded or released. Part of the problem seems to be that the people who should be able to figure out what i did while documenting an American Folk working experience, seem to me to be not willing to allow me to tell the story.
Are you bitter about that?
Well, I was getting pretty frustrated with that, i’ll admit especially with the unions and people who are at the top of the heap who do have the connections.
I have several friends who struggle seriously with making a career out of folk music. But, we folk musicians historically struggle and suffer from serious life troubles. and I am in pretty good company. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joe Hill, Utah Phillips, Anne Feeney …
they all had to suffer serious life struggles to get their stories and ultimately the stories of the people past the iron curtain of the music industry.
Why the curtain?
Well, the powers that be would rather they tell the story.
What is the story?
People are human and humans are difficult and do not have a one size fits all package. You can’t shrink wrap folk music and give it a category. People at the bottom are difficult, crass, mad, pissed and work like dogs and are being treated like shit by the people at the top.
and most creative people see a darkness in this world and have this certain calling that makes them want to tell the world how to bring light out of that darkness. I think this is why most creative people suffer some sort of mental illness.
Yes, I told stories about the people i knew back in my twenties when i was suffering from clinical bipolar disorder. I mentioned several of my friends who lost their battle with that darkness.
What seems to me to be the case is creative people, writers, musicians and the like all seem to live somewhere just over the line between dark and light.
What were you doing on the railroad?
Well, working my ass off and experiencing things most people never get to experience. and, doing what folk musicians are called to do. Tell the story.
What is something folks do not get to do?
Hit a person at 50 MPH and hear that sound 10 years later. I co-wrote a song about that with a conductor. The song speaks to how railroaders deal with trespasser fatalities.
Why do you continue to do folk music when you seem to be frustrated and do not seemingly get the respect you think some folk musicians should?
Well, ask a pastor of a church how they feel when the pews are all filled on Easter Sunday and then empty two weeks later. That is how folk musicians operate. It’s a calling.