I believe in the sweet sound of guitar strings, powerful lyrics and a passionate voice. I am on the listening end of things. I don’t play the guitar myself. I play the stereo quite well, thank you. This music makes the world just a little bit better. I call it folk music. Some call it it singer/songwriter music. Music is music.
For 18 years I have volunteered at the me and thee coffeehouse in Marblehead, Massachusetts so I can drink in these glorious sounds.
In 1987 I moved from Ohio to Massachusetts. I was amazed to discover there is a 24 hour folk music radio station in Boston. WUMB 91.9 FM had a calendar listing of folk musicians playing that weekend.
Living back in Toledo I had to travel to Ann Arbor to hear the music I liked. I was amazed there was a coffeehouse just down the road from me. I had purchased Bob Franke’s For Real LP in Michigan in 1986. I brought it with me to the Bay State.
Bob Franke was going to be playing at the me and thee. His song For Real tugs at my heart every time I hear it. Here’s just the beginning of it:
“Death took the husband of a friend of mine, On a highway with a drunk at the wheel.
She told me “Keep you clean hands off the laundry he left,
and don’t tell me you know how I feel.”
She had a tape that he’d sent her from a Holiday Inn,
And she never played it much in the day,
But when I heard him say I love you through the window at night,
I just stayed the hell away.
There’s hole in the middle of the prettiest life, So the lawyers and the doctors say,
Not your father nor your mother,
Nor your lover’s gonna make it go away.
And there’s too much darkness in an endless night to be afraid of the way we feel:
Let’s be kind to each other,
Not for ever, but for real.”
Bob takes a gallon of experience from the tree of life and distills it into a 4 minute song. That song can touch my heart, break it or make me laugh out loud whether I want to or not.
There is a simplicity to folk music that reflects its honest heart. There is an honesty in these tunes that says all is right with the world. At least for the evening’s concert.
There is a community in the coffeehouse. The other folks there- I might not know their names, I do know their faces. I chat with these friendly strangers about Bob Franke’s music over coffee and brownies. I am happy to spend time together with my fellow folk fans.
I am a member of the secret folk music society in Marblehead. I know the secret hand shake and the secret code words. I sing along with For Real even though I sing in the Key of Free. Bob autographed my LP. I get to chat with the creator of such a great tune.
More than that I wander home with a heart full of music that echoes for hours. I believe folk music softens a hard week, lightens a heavy heart and is just the best damn music on the planet.
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