now on Amazon, Available Spring/Summer 2010
pp. softcover 2010
American folk singers have striven to leave their
world a better place by writing songs of social protest.
Musicians like Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger,
Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez sang with fierce moral voices
as they tried to relieve human suffering and transform
what they saw as an uncaring society. But the personal
tales of these guitar-toting idealists were often
more tangled than the comparatively pure vision their
art would suggest. Many singers produced work in the
midst of personal failure and deeply troubled relationships,
and under the influence of radical ideas and organizations.
This provocative work examines both the long tradition
of folk music in its American political context, and
the lives of those troubadours who wrote its most