We Shall Overcome

A memoir on the place of folk song in the New Left
during the era leading to their mutual metamorphosis.

(A section of a much longer essay, illuminating an exhibition of posters
from the folk music scene in Berkeley during the Sixties.)

[Folk Song as a Political Ground]

         What drew me to transfer to Berkeley was not only the awakening of student activism, but the summer I had spent here after high-school, working in the biochemistry lab. In the evenings as I wandered the tree-rich streets, I found the joy of live music pouring into the warm twilight through open windows, as unobserved I watched people playing string quartets, jazz piano, guitar and banjo, singing songs I knew. With this and the labyrinthian riches of Creed's dusty bookstore, Berkeley seemed already a mythical place to live.

         The year was 1956. With McCarthyism finally fading, the Cold War was entering a brief Thaw, and teachers were crawling back out from under their desks to entertain liberal values again. The Weavers with Pete Seeger had just sung at Carnegie Hall, in a triumphal concert celebrating the bold survival of a progressive song movement through the harsh years of repression, and its increasing power to penetrate the pop charts. To kids from liberal families, mid-Fifties mainstream culture seemed a vapid wasteland. We found nourishment wherever we could, and so many of us found it in this music that its central canon -- the songs popularized by the Weavers, the Limelighters, the Gateway Singers, and other such groups of the early Fifties -- became as widespread and strong a body of common culture as any we shared.

         On the record from that Weavers' concert, as I write, they are singing, "Sholom chaverim, peace on earth." The political core of this music was the live repository of our values. It spoke of brotherhood and peace, of suffering and injustice and struggle, the textures of concern and care and history and joy, in the accents and rhythms of a diversity of American (and other) peoples that we had no more direct way to experience. One must review the actual canon to grasp how rich its teaching was and remains. For young people already adrift in the mass media surround solidified by TV's recent spread, these songs offered the voice of an America we could recognize as real and worth belonging to in history -- and they were fun to sing.

         I had no idea then that we might make our own songs, as worthy. When I came home from wandering the tuneful streets to my room in the professor's house, I plucked at an old guitar I found there, and learned a few basic chords. But I was too timid then to sing alone, and had no one to sing with; and left the guitar behind when I went off to college.

         There I found fortunate company. Chicago was one of the busy stops on the folk circuit then, and at the University each Friday night the Folklore Society gathered, from fifty to two hundred strong depending on the draw, to sing ourselves hoarse into the wee hours. There I learned the customs of the folk tradition, which ever since have seemed to me an admirable model of educational process. In the center the best musicians, who know the intricacies of fingerings and texts and lore, and perhaps an interesting visitor. Flanking them, the better apprentices and confident newcomers; and behind them the less confident, out to the door, where one might fumble unheard to keep up with the basic chord changes. And completing the circle around them, the singers, again arranged by the best, the more confident, and so on towards the back.

         Of course the magic wasn't in the geometry, but in the climate it helped sustain, open to anyone to participate and learn at whatever level they were ready for, and empowered by graceful manners. No one was the star, save when common accord granted some visitor prime seat half the time. The lead was shared, passed around among all notable soloists and out to welcome new aspirants; and save for when someone offered a new song alone,  stressed the power and joy of making the music together.

         As our rhythms moved fluidly between offerings and requests, between learning new songs and rehearsing the familiar -- pausing to instruct neophytes or demonstrate a fancy lick -- each song came to us set in tapestries of meaning. When and whence it came from, who brought this version, who sang it how, what part it played in struggle or family, what its obscure references could evoke -- all in time became familiar as the songs cycled round the well of common offerings and the canon one knew expanded -- giving ever more sense to one's intimations that this music spoke truths of history and heart, and a sense also of the tissue of living care that sustained it in life.

         All in all, the ongoing hootenanny was a model for a democratic community of vital learning, of a sort that empowers each participant, however modestly. Perhaps this helps account for the vitality of the music nurtured in such circles, and for their hospitality to the voices of democratic ferment. And surely such qualities leave lasting impressions. Thirty years later, I found myself the lead guitarist of a summer camp for children, passing on the customs I had learned around a Sierra campfire with my buddy, in amateur joy.

[Folk Song and the Birth of the New Left]

         When I transferred to Berkeley, I found the culture I'd met in a Chicago basement alive on the street, as the 1957 poster for the weekly "Folk Song Jam Session" at the Northgate Cafe attests. It beckoned me at the Blind Lemon, comforted my studious midnights from KPFA's broadcasts, offered itself more vigorously in new coffeehouses' rotations -- this living tissue of participatory culture, that lay beneath the flowering of performances on campus and in town, the ambitious summer folk festivals.

         I could hardly respond, for my musical hands were full already: I had learned classical recorder at Chicago, where I organized a consort, and had found some recorder players here with whom to begin another. Besides, I was into politics, a fellow-traveler of SLATE, the first radical student organization of the dawning era. From under its tiny umbrella we crept, to picket for peace on some lonely street or at a Woolworth's to support Southern protests, maybe forty of us on a strong day, more usually a dozen. On the picket-line we were dignified in our silence, still muted as much by McCarthyism's chill as by following the current lead of Southern Negro struggle. But every so often we partied in a friendly basement on Regent Street, maybe sixty people, passing the gallon jugs of rough red wine and singing the songs of politics -- the union songs, Wobbly songs, revolutionary songs, miners' and slaves' and Spanish Civil War songs, that extended the political core of the folk music canon. Sometimes some of the folks who played on KPFA midnights would be there to lead song and lore, as I played along on my recorder.

         By the time we came to May 1960 and the great protests against the House Un-American Activities Committee and Chessman's execution that history records as the official birth-cry of the New Left, we were still silent on the street, even the day after they beat and hosed us down the steps of San Francisco's City Hall. But in its rotunda and at the gates of San Quentin the day before, we had sung "We shall not be moved" and "We are not afraid" and "America the Beautiful" as the Southern students had, in ringing voices shaking with fear as they kicked us apart. And that night, after our silent picket of 1,200 had witnessed the ignominious flight of the HUAC witch-hunters from a courtroom where defiance had been broadcast for days, the hundred of us who had organized Berkeley's share of the protest jammed into an apartment, passed the jugs, and sang "We shall not be moved" again for over half an hour, in ragged exultant harmony, improvising chorus after propulsive chorus -- at least one hundred, at the pace I recall -- as a running, collective chronicle of the affair, the actors and civic forces, the details of action, the stakes and heroes, all we felt, until the guitarists' fingers bled and we paused, exhausted and wild with the sense of victory, of an open future.

         It was a transcendent moment of folk music culture -- and vanished promptly, as only a few folks with file cabinets had thought about documentation yet, and no one had a Homeric memory equal to the task of passing the lyrics on, though tattered fragments of the chronicle were rehearsed at SLATE parties for some years. Even so, I knew I had been caught up in a true spurt of the spirit that makes song from struggle, and was not so surprised to recognize it welling up widely among us a few years later.

[Folk Song and the Civil Rights Movement]

         Someone more deeply steeped than I in the local Civil Rights struggle must tell the song story of the four years following the HUAC protests, for I can only summarize the rich detail of its tapestry. By 1961, we had found our voice on the streets at last, following the SNCC field-workers' lead in the Southern struggle. Briefly silenced by terror during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we exercised it in earnest as Berkeley student activism swelled demonstrations in S.F. from 300 to 1,000 to 3,000 year by year and kindled them on our side of the Bay, forcing chains of auto dealers, hotels, restaurants, and groceries to agree to small toeholds of fair racial hiring practices.

         Sometimes we chanted, sometimes we yelled, especially at the beatings. But mostly we sang. We sang on the picket line, in our homes quietly before daring the venture, in the cavernous lobby of the hotel, on windswept corners as the TAC Squad charged, in the wagons headed for jail, in our cells until they took away our food, and more loudly and gladly after that. Song was our nourishment, song was our communion; song was how we affirmed who we were, more deeply than the blue workshirts and jeans we wore; song was the strongest bond of culture we shared, beyond our existential presence together on the line. Mostly we sang the songs of the Civil Rights struggle, for activists here had still hardly any other focus to compete with this allegiance -- beginning and returning always to "We Shall Overcome," in widening loops of familiarity that embraced a growing repertoire of songs generated from this struggle, and laced it instructionally with union songs, peace songs, and what-all familiar from SLATE parties. Sometimes we made up new verses on the street, sometimes new songs in jail.

         Surely there are other stories as special to be told, by mountaineers, ministers, and chemistry students, of how the Berkeley folk scene extended itself informally in the early Sixties, far beyond reach of poster documentation. But this story is central, for the Civil Rights struggle charged the imagination of my generation, well beyond our growing ranks of activists. It also brought the spirit of folk music abruptly to a new status and role in the nation's consciousness, so naturally that we hardly could recognize this at the time, as we watched the picturesque clips of ourselves on the national newscasts' coverage of that afternoon's demonstration, singing "We Shall Overcome" as they hauled us to jail, in the solemn rhythms we had learned from watching newscasts of the Southern Negro students singing as they were hauled to jail.

         But how remarkable it was, that song should penetrate the consciousness of modern America by any means other than the commercial road of Tin Pan Alley and the Hit Parade! How far back one must search for previous examples I don't know, but surely this was new to my generation -- this exposure to song born directly through life struggle, more real than anything on record, brought home with all the authority of mass media when its news still seemed real rather than managed. That a social movement should have distinctive songs seems only natural; but this one was more identified with its songs, and as folk-musical, than any other in modern times as it came to move the nation. Perhaps this was due as much to its media treatment as to the central place of music in (then-called) Negro culture. But the consequence, I think, was to unleash the spirit of meaning in music far beyond this movement, throughout my generation and our land.

         To appreciate this, one must recall the state of pop music through the early Sixties. Its sounds had grown increasingly charged with hybrid, erotic energies as rock-and-roll had developed from black roots. Yet even after the Beatles' advent in 1963, its articulate gamuts of meaning remained choked by monolithic commerce, expressing virtually no sentiment more social than the pangs of love and a taste for surf -- unless one counts an occasional patriotic cheer, or growing expressions of inchaote alienation from the educational system and meaningless adult life.

         Granted, a fair number of teen-age bands were rehearsing in garages even then. But in retrospect, the great explosion and mutation of rock-music making occurred only after the Civil Rights movement's prolonged announcement that song and song-making could have more than private meaning. How one might prove the casual connection, I do not know. To me, it seems written in the music produced by a growing multitude of bands from 1965 on -- in the way each faced the open mandate to write their own songs and make their own sounds; in the curriculum of their lyrics, which escaped the commercial strait-jacket to explore every dimension of life; and in the very way that their music came to be embraced as meaningful by my generation and the next.


         Scanning the earlier posters of this exhibit for signs of Civil Rights song, only one is obvious -- but it's a beauty. By 1963, when Mary Ann Pollar brought the Freedom Singers here from SNCC headquarters in Atlanta, their benefit concert packed the Berkeley Community Theater. The other traces are implicit. One would have to review the actual programs by Josh White and Martha Schlamme, Rolf Cahn and Debbie Green, and the Cabale's weekly rotations of other visitors and locals, to recount how the songs of the Civil Rights movement came to be offered, called for, multiplied -- not in isolation, but set in context as living threads of the broad tapestry they enriched, by caretakers prepared to recognize what might be passed on for centuries.

         Another sign of Civil Rights influence is so clear that it's nearly invisible. The posters for the rural blues-singers and instrumentalists Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Jesse Fuller, Jimmy Reed and the Rev. Gary Davis seem only natural, as documents of an ongoing effort to unearth and popularize the recent roots of American folk music. Yet their strong representation here, and the very interest in these particular roots, were due not simply to their profundity but also to the tide of politics, the long swelling of concern for African-Americans' predicament and contribution, provoked by their movement's assertion. Like other features of folk music culture, this direct homage to Black roots was repeated in rock music after its messages became meaningful, as the posters for Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, et. al. at the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms attest. Here the homage shows also in posters advertising the second Berkeley Blues Festival (1966) and second Berkeley Jazz Festival (1969), recording the breadth of our preoccupation with African-American heritage -- as well as the narrowness of the preoccupation itself, for posters for the first Berkeley Salsa Festival would not appear till the Seventies.

         One other among the early posters here brings wistful memory. A modest work from 1963 announces the opening of the Jabberwock coffeehouse, which soon became a showcase of the evolving folk scene. Where it says "Closed Monday and Tuesday nights," the "Tuesday" is crossed out by hand, recording the quick expansion of the Jabberwock's programs. I think it was Tuesday nights that we came to play there, booked as the Chutzpah Trio -- the only recorder consort in regular performance West of the Mississippi, and perhaps East as well. I mention this less to confess how close I came to the scene, than to attest to how open it was, weaving Baroque and Renaissance folk-tunes into its evolving tapestry. By the time Joe McDonald came to live behind the Jabberwock, spinning his electric thread, our trio was a memory, dispersed by the drama of the Free Speech Movement.

[Folk Song and the Free Speech Movement]

         By late 1964, the momentum of the Civil Rights movement had prepared the place of folk music in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement -- as well as the FSM itself, which began in defense of students' rights to organize for Civil Rights. As the first major campus struggle, the FSM was a watershed, signaling the turning of America's young activists to engage the conditions of their own lives. From this distance, it bisects the Sixties neatly into Early (1957-64) and Later (1965-72) -- concluding an era of orderly political pregnancy, during which the New Left's growth followed the Civil Rights movement, and opening an era of wild political and cultural mutation, not least in music.

         The division is as sharp in this exhibit as in history. The posters here through August 1964 document the traditional cosmos of Berkeley's acoustical folk scene and its slow evolution, with only one sharp sign of politics. Without visible transition, the posters from 1966 display the radical politicization of folk music and its electric fusion with rock-and-roll, already full-blown. In their sheer number and graphic range, they document also the abrupt beginnings of the political and dance poster renaissances.

         Of what happened in the crucial moment between -- from late 1964 to mid-1966, while things changed so quickly -- there is scarcely a hint here. But before I follow the story through the songs of the FSM, two earlier posters bear mention.

         One announces the 1963 Berkeley Folk Festival. I forget who else played. All I remember is melting in wonder under the hot sun in the Greek Theater, as Pete Seeger introduced a new song from a young folksinger in the East. Bob Dylan was already familiar from records, as a screechy but promising imitator re-plowing Woody Guthrie's furrows of rural and social concern. As Seeger sang "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," Dylan stood revealed in wildly splendid poetry as a signal voice of my generation, engaging the largest political and existential questions in song. For me as for Joe McDonald, hearing him the next year, the moment was electrifying -- not because we were witnessing a song hero in the making, but for the inner thrill of feeling our voice and imagination unbound with his.

         Dylan's voice led the multitude who emerged from the traditional folk scene to sing of our lives after the Civil Rights movement made song widely meaningful. By 1964, his "Blowing in the Wind" had joined the essential canon of Civil Rights song, and "The Times They Are A-Changing" had become the key anthem of our broader Movement. But it was not until after the FSM, at the Newport Folk Festival in summer 1965, that Dylan turned to electric music, sparking the charge of his peers into the rock arena, where he fashioned "Like a Rolling Stone" and other anthems of the emergent counter-culture.

         The second poster belongs in a folk music exhibit only in retrospect. Reprinted here in 1964 from its British origin, it displays the four Beatles, their hair hardly shaggy enough to seem so now, posed for an American invasion already well advanced by air-play and records. Though their songs still begged comment on politics, treading the edge of saccharine tradition, the Beatles' working-class lyrics were pregnant with irreverence, and their music was infectiously joyous, summoning one to dance. Already it claimed our feet and our fingers, even at SLATE parties, where guitarists turned from hamming up the Internationale to hacking out the chords of "Hard Day's Night" in the summer before the FSM, in the moment before rock's mutation engaged our political heads and hearts as well. Two years later, the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" passed immediately into the folk canon of pacifist utopia; thirty years on, the children who come to my camp all know it already.


         Here again, the FSM marks a vital divide, so I'll turn to its music. When I review those three months of seminal conflict, I find no more song than one might expect -- unless one relies on the FSM's many histories, which hardly mention song at all. Still, all accounts recall one instant, the only one that lingers in the memory of mass media; and it's quite telling. As the FSM came to its December climax, ten thousand gathered in Sproul Plaza to join Joan Baez in singing Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing" before she led fifteen hundred of us into Sproul Hall, singing "We Shall Overcome," to begin the final sit-in.

         By then, Baez was well-known nationally as our generation's leading interpreter of the broad folk tradition, and as a pacifist spirit of its politicization. Can a deeper benediction of song be imagined, than her leading us in the key anthem of the movement whose defense had sparked our own transformation? The national newscasts lingered no longer than it took to recognize her famous profile, the familiar tune, before resuming their avalanches of hostile analysis -- but the damage was done, the blessing broadcast intact in the image, reaching students on the fifty campuses that erupted the next spring, the hundred and fifty the following fall.

         All I felt, going up the stairs behind her, was how natural and vital it seemed to be singing thus together. Inside Sproul Hall, as we occupied it and encamped for the night, the spirit of song flickered throughout our communal life. All afternoon and evening, rotations of guitarists occupied the resonant stairwells; I managed to break from Steering Committee meetings for a while to join them on recorder. In one class of the first free university, conducted on the disaster drums stored in the basement, Baez and her mentor Ira Sandperl taught a workshop on pacifist song; and it flowered again in the Chanukah celebration upstairs. Periodically, the spirit would flicker over each section of human pavement in the corridors, as it broke into song for a quarter-hour before resuming the endless collective debate, until night drew on, when we hushed to save what rest we could until the dawn arrests, when we sang again.

         Song was with us this informally from the start, and for one other formal moment, as I'll say. I blush to recall my first impression of the nascent movement's troops, eighty raggedy kids encamped on Sproul Steps for the night, in the first serious protest of the ban on political activity. To this graduate student in math, they seemed a young and rowdy bunch, especially around the guitarists -- who were playing more pop songs than political as I left, which displeased me too. A week later, when I stayed the night with five hundred around the police car that we held hostage, their singing was a comfort. Some were already making songs about the affair.

         During the next months, music flowered in a hundred ways in the community of thousands who came to be involved, though I was too busy with interminable meetings to hear much more than SNCC's Freedom Singers when they came to grace one of our rallies. On Steering Committee, we got our daily dose by listening to the brash young printer David Goines whistle Bach so mellifluously that I dropped my jaw; and through our ritual warm-up chants of Mao, Mao, Mao Tse-Tung, Ho, Ho, Ho-Chi Minh, Reeeeeevolt! For the deadpan sense of humor and joy that inspirited the movement was irrepressible even in this busy center of its operation, and informed our musical offering in the moment of its crisis.

         Barely two weeks before its grand finale began, the FSM seemed defeated. The Regents had denied the key point of our Constitutional appeal. Our avenues seemed exhausted, and our troops as well. Over the weekend, Steering Committee met endlessly with advisors, seeking strategic wisdom to offer the thousands who would gather in the Plaza on Monday. The histories say only that we staged a debate, leading to a small and bitterly-divided sit-in that soon quit, demoralized. But I remember that our first offering was song, and that we sang even as we withdrew.

         In the fertile climate of prolonged conflict, dozens of independent groups had begun related projects. One was working on a musical and rehearsing its songs for a record. We asked them to open the rally, to frame our predicament. From Sproul Steps that noon there rang not the dutiful piety of Old Left song, nor the determined sincerity of Civil Rights anthems, but our own voice in joyful irreverence -- saluting the administration's lies, the faculty's paralysis, the mechanization of education, the moral depths beneath the Constitutional issue, with lilting, sardonic humor, cast in the face of the utter absurdity of the whole affair.

         More sober observers may read those songs simply as witty parodies of the school's fight song, Christmas carols, Beethoven and the Beatles. But I found in them some deeper grasp of sanity than we could manage through rational debate -- as did others, to judge by their later sale. For the Cheshire grin of our song lingered above the Plaza long after our gathered body had dwindled into the abortive sit-in and faded away, promising our rematerialization more securely than political analysis could predict.

         Soon new citations for old "crimes" of our leaders materialized too, inviting the songful sit-in that sent 800 of us to sing in jail and brought 10,000 out on songful strike to shut a U.S. campus down for the first time. Despite the chaos, our unsung heroes kept working. By the time the faculty rallied to support our claim to freedom, the first pressings of Joy to U.C., with ten carols of our struggle, were on the street. While the Regents reconsidered their stance, we sold 13,000 copies of the record. The money went to benefit our legal defense; the message went outward, to friends, to families, and beyond. Participants in the FSM will recall how hard it was to convey what had happened and why, the reality we experienced beneath the newspaper headlines. Perhaps many found the record as much of a tool as they had.

          Quickly The FSM Songbook was published by mimeograph, offering seventeen more songs gathered from eleven other song-writers. Seven of these, plus two more from two other writers, appeared on a related project's record, FSM's Sounds and Songs of the Demonstration. I know of eight more songs on tape; that makes thirty-seven preserved, from seventeen writers. Given how many guitars were among us and how widely the spirit swelled, I imagine that as as many more were written by others even during the conflict and sung to friends and at parties, escaping this chancy net of preservation to lie buried in private scrapbooks or memory. Mind you, this gathering ends three weeks after the big sit-in, with events still in progress; of the songs that must have been written later, there's not a trace.

         In all, I'd bet that the FSM generated at least fifty songs by at least twenty-five song-writers -- a remarkable production, proportionate to our prolific prose, and as telling. For even this captured sample forms a substantial document, offering panoramic views of the FSM's spirit in action. From one perspective, its songs provide dramatic synopses not simply of the complex drama of the conflict, but of our wide-ranging feelings and attitudes. From another, they offer an intimate view of the folk music process at work in the social furnace, in the growing-bud of history.

         Nothing about this was special in our case, save perhaps our antic attitude, and the fact that enough songs were preserved to provide a virtual textbook of the ordinary folk process. Sort through them and you'll find us at work on a dozen fronts -- rephrasing old union chestnuts, copping melodies from popular dance-tunes, parodying sacred songs, writing our own talking blues, our own tunes in bluegrass style, Dylan style, our own styles.

         And so what, if none of these songs ever made the charts, or linger save in the tender memories of some of our grown children, who may yet pass them on? Here was the print of the amateur spirit of song, at loose among us in heartfelt play -- its manners a heritage dating back, I imagine, to prehistory, and its production no finer than such collective, democratic works ordinarily offer -- i.e., a great many earnest efforts, most with some features worth remarking, forming together an expressive panorama, with a few true gems -- and no less fine. In this raw scrap of the FSM's surviving songs is the original material that the stream of folk care gathers from politics as from life's other terrains, to tumble in its flow. Five thousand pebbles disintegrate for each one that lasts two generations.


         I have noted such details about political song, particularly in the FSM, for reasons beyond their relevance to the abrupt cultural transition this exhibit documents. In reading some 2,500 pages of histories and analyses of the Free Speech Movement, I found their cumulative mention of song amounting to less than one redundant page -- collapsing to a short paragraph of facts, mainly about Joan Baez -- until David Goines' recent book added two brief, atmospheric lyrics and a page of anecdote about the production of Joy to U.C. In a valuable appendix, it also provides texts of twenty-six songs from the FSM, but otherwise is as mute as others' books. If the many histories of this seminal conflict contain a single sentence discussing the meaning of music in the FSM or the role of song in our political and cultural metabolism, it has escaped my notice.

         Perhaps I over-estimate the importance of song. But surely something is missing from such readings of political history, which these notes hardly begin to restore. What's missing is more substantial than atmosphere, and as essential as air. I don't think it can be grasped by reading our songs simply as expressing and reflecting what was happening with us. Though such readings can be valuable and rich, they still skirt something deep, taking song as a passive medium and vehicle. In the flowering of the counter-cultural movement after the FSM, the role of song as an active agency of spirit became more overt. Whatever may be grasped of this -- for starters, in the language of cultural anthropology -- applies also to the political song of the Early Sixties, and was at work full-fledged in the FSM, like a foetus brought to term, awaiting birth into the larger world.

         In effect, the social mutation of popular music in the Later Sixties was prefigured in the collective song experience of the FSM. In this momentary cameo, the spirit of social meaning in folk song appeared in full play, with its long-gathering momentum focusing for the first time on the conditions of our own lives as members of the dominant class, discovering an open agenda, in a voice infected with joy and inflected unmistakably as our own. In the next instant -- as campus revolts spread like wildfire, triggering the gestation of hippie ghettoes -- this spirit fused with electric sound to sing full-voiced in popular consciousness. By the time LIFE magazine announced the Haight-Ashbury in 1967, both the music and the lyrics of rock had escaped traditional constraints to explore wildly eclectic agendas; popular music had become evident to all as a political canvas and battleground; and the familiar, intimate world of folk music society had expanded radically, as thousands of bands with local followings rehearsed in a climate that invited them to make their own songs about whatever mattered.

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