I think that I've probably always been a closet folkie. It's just that it took me a pretty fair chunk of my adult life to finally realize it, and then to come to terms with it once I did. But going back as far as I can remember, some of my favorite rock records — stuff from the sixties by people like Dylan, the Buffalo Springfield, and the Mamas and The Papas — were really little more than folk songs with a beat.
I've also always been attracted by songs that tell a good story. As an admitted bleeding heart liberal myself, all the better if the story has a pointed social or political message.
The problem I've found however, is that when I try to sit down and listen to acoustic based music in large doses, I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes grow a little restless or bored with it. It took me the longest time for example, to really "get" Bruce Springsteen's quieter records - since when it comes to the Boss, I've always preferred the big noise of the E Street Band.
Then something strange happened when I first listened to Springsteen's The Seeger Sessions last year. The sheer redemptive power of the song "O' Mary Don't You Weep," with it's lyrics about how "pharoah's army got drownded," completely washed over me, and disarmed all of my preconceived notions about Springsteen's "vanity project." They simply were swept aside.
I had embraced my inner folkie.
A similiar thing happened when I went to a Michael Moore rally during the 2004 presidential campaign. Before Moore spoke, a pre-recorded mix tape played several songs rock concert style. And I found myself quietly grooving to the folk songs of people like Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs, as they were sandwiched inbetween rock songs by Springsteen, Dylan, The Clash, and John Fogerty. You didn't even notice the stylistic difference because the common message so unified the disparite sounds.
Springsteen, and especially Seeger, are both quite prominent on Sowing The Seeds, the first ever music sampler from Appleseed Recordings. Appleseed is an independent folk and world music label that is equally devoted to spreading a message of social justice and equality through music. In addition to talking the talk, the folks at Appleseed also walk the walk by donating a percentage of every dollar they make to various human rights, environmental, and other progressive organizations.