HEADS TALKING is an interview series where we use our shared love of music to bridge divides and start a friendly conversation about the world around us. We want to foster a non-partisan dialogue between musicians and their fans (using Facebook Live) and inspire everyone to participate beyond the ballot box.
Our first guest was G. Love. The full conversation can be viewed here and the highlights are written below. Please note that the views expressed by the artists are live and uncensored and do not necessarily reflect the view of the HeadCount organization.
HeadCount: Welcome to Heads Talking! This is the first edition of the Heads Talking discussion series, we want anyone listening to comment and ask us questions while we’re chatting with Garrett. What brought you out here Garrett?
G. Love: Well I’m in New York City playing a couple shows, I played at the Bowery Ballroom last night and tonight at the Brooklyn Bowl. My friends here at HeadCount asked me to come up to join this segment of Heads Talking!
Obviously there are a lot of things on people’s minds and a lot of change going on. It's been a really crazy politically with millions and millions of people marching the day after the inauguration, great women's marches all across the country, and of course President Trump getting right into office and signing a lot of very heavy handed bills and legislation, and overturning a lot of things like the [blockage of the] Dakota pipeline. There are a lot of things going on that people don’t agree about so I thought just to kind of get the ball rolling we could try to find some common ground between all the disparaging views. I thought we would start off today by trying to find some common ground with education and music education. I’m a musician and this is something that's important to my cause – music education.
As far as music education goes what work are you doing, do you have anything lined up to bring music into schools?
One of the organizations I work with is called Little Kids Rock, you can look them up at LittleKidsRock.org. This is a great organization that seeks to bring music programs into impoverished public schools around our country that have lost their funding for music departments. I'll go into a public school then they are able to open a program and they bring in a music teacher – and this is great because it's not just a one time thing, they're setting up an independently funded music class and program taught by a professional music teacher in these schools and it's really wonderful. A lot of public schools here in New York and all around the country have lost their music programs so Little Kids Rock does a good thing to bring back some of those programs.
(Question From Angel Rodriguez via Facebook) – What do you think the role of the modern songwriter is in today’s political climate?
I’ve been on tour since the election and just since being on tour since the election – people are fired up, you can sense a renewed energy in people, a feeling like, wow, music is going to be kind of important to me in the coming years. Because people are discouraged right now, there are a lot of people that are very upset. Music has the ability to bring hope to people, to bring focus to people, to kind of put the popular whatever you believe in, the voice of the people, within a song. So I think right now you're going to see a very strong movement in the arts, you're going to start hearing more protest songs, you're gonna start seeing more protest street art, you're gonna see a lot of very poignant art coming out in the next years. I strongly believe that and I already see it… I think the goal of the songwriter is to be the voice of the people or at least express whats going on out there.
(Question From Jesse Bryant via Facebook) How do you write a song that is political and genuine rather than writing a political song just to write a political song?
The most important thing about writing a song is for the song to be genuine. I think the best songs are like knee jerk reactions, right? And aside from political songs – love songs, songs about simple things that we see on the street, breakup songs – any type of songs that you write should be genuine. They should come from a place that's not forced or trying to be something. Some days you might be writing a song for the wrong reasons. I think some of the wrong reasons to write songs are to write a song to make money, to write a song because you think people will like it – and as a writer of course I’ve slammed away for a day trying to force a song out but those songs are never very good.
The songs that are good are the songs that you grab out of thin air and are real, pure expression. And whether they're political or not, I think the key thing right there is what Jesse asked about- the word is genuine. When any writer is out there thinking right now, ‘I want to write a song about what's going on in the world today,’ well this is a great opportunity to pick up the newspaper and there's a ton of stuff to write about whatever you believe in! So I hope everyone is out there writing away. If you have a pure inspiration – say you wanted to write a protest song about why they shouldn't be making this pipeline – that's a good opportunity to pull up a couple articles and research what are the facts here and then write a song about that using some of those facts, that's an interesting way to write as well.
(Question From Steve Boyce via Facebook) Who wins a harmonica duel between you and John Popper.
C'mon man he’s like the Mozart or Jimi Hendrix of harmonica! But John and I are great friends, actually we just toured together all last summer, John’s a great guy. I snuck over the fence at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia when I was 16, Blues Traveler was opening for the Allman Brothers. I jumped over, made it all the way to the third row for Blues Traveler. During intermission, I went back up to general admission but then I got booted out ‘cause I was like slinking around without a ticket, jumped back over the fence and made it all the way to the front row for the Allman Brothers after which at the end of the show I got to shake Warren Haynes’ hand and Gregg Allman's hand. I was, you know, shitting myself and I'll never forget that night. So I always tell Warren that story and I always tell John Popper that story and it's great because you know, my harmonica style is a lot different than John. Actually, if you were at any of the shows we did this summer you saw us, we would do a dueling harmonica – not so much a battle, more just like a jam. It’s always a pleasure and an honor to get to jam with John Popper.