‘Where do I go?’
“Absolutely not,” he responded, going on to say that he thinks “children are more knowledgeable today” than the generation before them. “I find that if you skip a generation...” he momentarily mused, before moving on. “As far as my audience is concerned, a lot of folks don’t know that during the war in Vietnam, I worked mostly with vets, and have spent the past 30 years talking with military families and staff. Not a single person involved with today’s antiwar sentiment has ever contacted me to participate in what they are doing... and that’s okay.”
While hardly hiding from his history as a “voice of a generation,” Country Joe concentrates his efforts these days on sharing the Woody Guthrie experience with a new generation, unwilling to allow Guthrie’s legacy to flag. Although his new album (“Time Flies By”) does address issues that threaten society’s past and current comfort zone (ecology, industry, big brother and big business), Country Joe has no complaints. “I’ve had a very interesting, wonderful life” he said. “My kids are happy, I’m happy and consider myself a lucky guy.”
Unable (or unwilling) to not refer to the anthem he created, the “Fixin’ to Die Rag” (“and it’s one, two, three—what are we fighting for?”), Country Joe acknowledged his contribution to the mindset of hippies everywhere, but suggested that in many ways “nothing has changed. These issues are part of our ongoing history,” he said, recommending that we go ahead on ahead. “Keep it simple, don’t get sucked in,” he said. “Woody is as relevant today as 100 years ago: think globally, act locally.”
Armed with some uplifting and sage advice from an (IMHO) fascinating man and consummate entertainer, I glanced at the lyrics one last time. “Follow the river, follow the wind song” seemed apropos as I made my way to the Delaware Youth Center (www.delawareyouthcenter.org) in Callicoon, to participate in the kick-off for “Rollin’ Down the River,” a series of concerts benefiting Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (www.damascuscitizens.org). The afternoon was filled with wonderful music, children’s laughter in the air and community spirit in abundance. Uplifted, I made my way home after stopping for a brief respite on the banks of the beautiful and endangered Delaware.