My neighborhoods lean politically rightwards, barbers and taxi drivers grumbling that they’ve lost benefits to which new immigrants seem entitled.
Business colleagues trend libertarian, debating the degree of responsibility people have for their circumstances and the social consequences of free markets and labor unions.
US Facebook friends are vocally Republican, so we parry concerns about net neutrality and the cost-benefit of health care spending.
Everyone takes a snowy winter and a cold spring as direct evidence that climate change is a hoax.
It was thus nice to spend an unreconstructed evening with Julie Felix.
Doubly good, actually: I’d worked hard all week on business plans and funding contacts, so my Saturday devolved into washing, housecleaning, food shopping, packing and unpacking suitcases yet again. The meetings, the travel, the emails eat into the evenings, and I’m not getting that time back at the weekends. I know that I’m falling further behind in grading papers and reviewing manuscripts. My list of unread articles in Pocket and the unwritten reflections in Evernote grows daily.
It was time to set all of that aside. A twilight drive up through the New Forest for an evening of live music, red wine, and close company sounded like a superb idea.
Julie Felix is an American folk singer, expatriated to the UK long ago where she became a resident singer on David Frost’s show, performing on tour with Cohen, Dylan, and McCartney. Her personal life was politically engaged and romantically complicated. Today, at 76 (76!) years old, she still tours extensively and her voice remains as clear and confident as the young 60’s.
She’s a delight in concert, self-effacing and full of small stories ahead of each song. She’s generous with her audience, encouraging people to sing along the familiar tunes and staying late to complete all of the requests. Her age only shows in how her knees bend when she walks across stage to change guitars.
But the politics were nice too: messages about people’s social responsibility, world peace, taking care of the less fortunate, the environment. She apologized for sounding out-of-step retro a couple of times, laughed about how the world seemed to have grown away from her positions after the 70’s. But the audience, mostly children of the sixties themselves, were with her.
As a musician, I felt kind of like a troubadour – someone to spread the news. I feel all artists have the ability, if not the responsibility, to spotlight certain areas in our cultures that need balancing.