About these Essays
The Song Train was not a sudden whim, and it is rather the culmination of my 40 years of playing music and circulating
among the players, fans, teachers, gigs, open mikes and festivals of American acoustic music. It is an honest project,
because what we suggest you to do is exactly how we learned to play.
I don't consider myself to have excessive musical ability, and will openly confess that Joyce has a
better ear and more natural talent than I. If I have a gift, it is the gift of loving music and wanting to play it
and share it. I still do not understand where this passion comes from, and can find no genetic or cultural things that
could have instilled it in me. I had no relatives or mentors, and pulled the music I love from the pile of music that
is dumped on all of us out of the hundreds of millions of speakers blaring all over the world. I have good hands, and
I have trained them to do amazing things on the guitar, but none of that came without long hours and great effort,
that could not have been sustained without a profound belief in the beauty and meaning in the music and in the sounds
of the instruments themselves. It was the desire to sing songs and to generate that magical feeling that pulled me
in and that still keeps me going after all these years. Money, ego, applause, reviews etc are all just by-products
of the deeper relationshiop between me and the song I am playing, which is where it all begins and where it all ends.
Those of you who know me know that I tend to think too deeply about everything, and The Song Train was
no exception. I did not want anything but music and love of music to be the focus of the book itself, but here on the
internet where ideas flow more freely, I decided to expound on this web site a bit about the project, the choices we
made, and the fuzzy edges of things.
So here are a number of essays about the choices of songs, how we arranged and presented them, and about how we chose
to try to explain messy things like music theory and tuning. I am going to try to restrain myself when I delve into
the really thorny issues of music learning in general, about which I have some pretty strong feelings.
The whole point of all of this is to share a lifetime of music, and to encourage others to jump in a pool that still
feels good to me after thousands of gigs and decades on the road. The old story rings in my head of a holy man (or
maybe it was the Buddha himself) traversing a difficult path, and observing that it is commendable to be able navigate
the path oneself, but a higher and better calling to remove obstacles and make it easier for others to do so. Joyce
and I have had many long discussions about this, and decided that the Song Train was the best thing we could do to
help to achieve that result.