FOLK

Cecil Whig - - JUMP­START -

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.

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