I’ve been trying to get some friends together to go to this University of Chicago Folk Festival that happens every year. Now I’m priveleged in that I have a lot of friends who love folk music. They listen to it. They perform it. We sit around and write songs. But somehow, this one weekend is a black hole on the calendar. This morning I felt like I was inviting my friends to a root canal. Several of them had suggestions for me—of other people to invite. Here’s how one conversation went:
Q. Do you want to go?
A. No, I don’t go anywhere on those days.
Q. But it’s an explosion of goodness!
A. Me and goodness have an understanding. . . . and it don’t involve explosions.
I notice that, with my friends, they’re finicky about their music. They like to talk about it and share it, but they also like to think it’s something personal. Folk music lets us expand into new vistas and we’re not quite sure others will understand. Bringing someone else along for the journey may be fun, or they may prove to be annoying. “Folk” means so many different things, and maybe because it belongs to anybody, being a part of it involves the kind of sharing that gets uncomfortable. “What if these people are a bunch of weirdos? What if they think I’m a weirdo?”