Pairing Songs

Its been less than a year since I joined the board of the North Carolina Songwriter’s Co-op. My role on the board is to keep the Open Mic listing page updated with the dates and times of open mics across the state. As a result of knowing when and where nearby open mics were happening, I began to go and perform more frequently.

Most open mics are low-key events in a bar or coffee shop. Usually there is a host who monitors a sign-up sheet, opens the show and introduces the performers. The Moondog Meadery has a great open mic hosted by the incomparable combo of comedian Deb Aronin and singer-songwriter Max Rocket. Since its in walking distance from our place, I go pretty frequently. There is a 2-song limit and I generally open with a cover and close with an original.

Every show has its arc, even a two-song show. I like to explore the link between the songs that I can explain quickly onstage to bring the audience along. Last week for Moondog, I was prepared to open with You Ain’t Going Nowhere by Bob Dylan and close with Gaia’s Green Umbrella from the new Living Earth EP. I see them as linked because Gaia’s Green Umbrella describes a Climate Prayer Protest where the prayer is for elected leaders to ‘do something about the climate’. The Dylan tune can be considered a follow-up phrase. I sing the lyrics found on the Byrds album. They work better as a rebuke to wealthy elites who continue to prioritize their own wealth over planetary health!

But instead of doing that pair, I switched at the last minute to the pairing of my opener Roots Go Down and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good to close. When performing, I have started to describe Roots Go Down as a ‘hymn of the future’. I imagine that in 200 years, we will have achieved ecological balance and Roots Go Down will be a song of Thanksgiving held at the Summer Solstice celebration next to the Eno River. Hand drums, Tamborines, campfires, singing together: sacred good stuff. How is Nina Simone’s Feeling Good related? The imagery for one! And she sings directly to Nature of a connection so strong.

Bird flying by, you know how I feel. Sun in the sky, you know how I feel. Breeze drifting on by, you know how I feel.