CW: And where did you go from there? How did you start your professional career?
MJ: Well, I began performing what I called “earth concerts.” These were concerts for colleges and schools and fairs and libraries, that were interested in nature and earth and tradition. And it really caught on in the natural resources cabinets of several states. They invited me to
do hundreds of concerts in schools across several states.
I finally recorded my first album after playing like 4,000 shows … and nobody knew who the heck I was. Billboard Magazine said I was the most famous, unfamous person in America. [laughs] Which was fine with me, ‘cause I wasn’t pursuing a record career, I wasn’t pursuing a commercial career. I wanted to be a folk singer. I was interested in the human community of it, not the commercial part. I learned really quick there’s a rea-
son why “folk” rhymes with “broke.” [laughs] But when you love it, you keep going.
CW: So how are things now? Have they slowed down for you?
MJ: Dude, my wife had twins 24 months ago — no. [laughs] Hasn’t slowed down at all. We live in a log cabin on seven acres in Kentucky and … we do Woodsongs [his long-running radio and TV concert series that features new artists] every week. I travel the country doing concerts, this year I had two albums come out.
CW: Given the way you talk about peace, it seems you’re somewhat interested in a musical spirituality.
MJ: That would be way presumptuous for me to suggest. But I do think that as a musician, there’s a role for us to play as peacekeepers. I think the arts is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world, because nobody fights when they listen. The act of listening stops fighting by nature. Musicians and songwriters, their reason for being, is to make people stop and listen. So my view is that the arts is one of the world’s
greatest peacekeeping forces. So in that case, maybe that’s a spiritual thought. But it’s also too realistic to be spiritual.
CW: So then do you feel more of an obligation to fill that peacekeeping role in times of crisis or unrest?
MJ: I feel that there’s more of an opportunity, but the obligation is already there, because I’m doing what I love. I love it. I think love is the greatest fourletter word in the history of the world. We don’t use it enough. When we see this anger and — it is hatred, what we’re seeing is hatred
between fellow countrymen, it’s ridiculous — that word love transcends the kumbaya cliché, and it becomes something that reminds us: you want to make America great again? Love one another.
Has nothing to do with politics, or who’s president, or who you voted for, or whether you go to WalMart or an organic farmer’s market. It’s, how are we showing genuine love for each other in a practical way that has nothing to do with that hippie, kumbaya thing? This is medicine for an injured planet.