Saturday night Marti and I attended a theater/concert event at our local playhouse entitled I Dig Rock ’n’ Roll Music: A Celebration of Folk-rock Then and Now. It was basically a musical guided tour through the years 1962 – 1975 — a time that embodied an incredible pop music explosion of creativity and social commentary.
The performance took place amidst an intriguing juxtaposition of generations. The audience was almost entirely made up of boomers. The performers were all in their twenties and thirties, which amounted to a group of “kids” young enough to be our own children (maybe in some cases, grandchildren) performing our own music back to us. It was an amazing testament to the power of music to capture the emotions of history and make them relevant to any age. They couldn’t possibly have grasped all that was in those songs, but they were capable of conveying that power to us through the magic of music. They were basically singing our youth back to us.
Our good friend and Catch member, Noel Paul Stookey, had a hand in developing this show, and he and Peter Yarrow, the surviving members of Peter, Paul and Mary, were instrumental in some of the song choices. One of Stookey’s newer songs, “Standing on the Shoulders (of giants)” was written for the show and captured beautifully the mentoring aspect of this relationship. The young musicians were obviously moved by what they received from spending some time with Stookey and Yarrow, and the metaphor of standing on the shoulders of another generation was a fitting one for this show, and indeed the experience we shared that evening. There was great love expressed in this mutual exchange.
One of the performers passed on something that Peter had pointed out to them that these current days are manifesting what he called “a black hole of empathy” — an inability of people to stand in someone else’s shoes and care about their fellow man. According to him, music was a way of bringing back that love, concern and connection with others. Certainly this music was a step in the right direction. “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” When is that ever out of date?
When it was over, we realized that these performers and creators of this show had created a love fest out of our music. No matter what the music was up to 50 years ago, the message and what it captured was timeless, and indeed, what we all need again right now.