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Folk rock and meditation Something about playing of best of classic folk rock music naturally puts one in a hypnotic state, and I don’t mean nostalgia over “where you were” when this what that was when you first heard those protest songs. This look at some of the most famous examples of the genre will show how it can serve as music for meditation:

The Judy Blue Eyes suite by Crosby, Stills, and Nash is a song that always chokes me up inside. It doesn’t just send a person’s memories back to Woodstock (most of whom now weren’t even born when that concert took place). Such is it takes you to an inner place that’s always somewhere between Friday evening and Tuesday morning of the mind, where you can “tell it like it is.” The ability to transport you “deep inside” is the essence of folk rock.

Maggie May by Rod Stewart is the ultimate storyline song about the free spirit latent within us, and it’s rhythms and instrumentation is literally based on some Irish and English folk music. In some ways folk rock is simply traditional British European folk music enhanced by some power sound (vocals, electric instruments) to give it an active rather than passive tone. The foundation of it is nonetheless meditative and reflective.

Tangled Up In Blue by Bob Dylan is also a song that floats along much like Maggie May, and goes almost the end of what the genre can do before it turns into the blues (a non-meditative type sound). The difference, again, is reflection, as clean or electrified folk music gives the impression that a whole generation is singing a song, not just one person. Songs that make you think, and along ‘free spirit’ lines are meditative and spiritual in their impact and affect.

California Dreaming by the Mamas and the Papas is the closest thing to a secular apocalypse type song as exists in folk rock, in the soundscape it creates about California in winter. I have thought sometimes they might as well be singing about Judgment Day or the rapture, as only a few lyrical tweaks could turn it into a sermon. The song title gives away that this is a California that exists in the mind, and that state of mind is inspired to seek peace by its dark yet breezy tone.

The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, especially when performed by the duo live, without the heavy instrumentation that exists on the single, is an amazing piece of chamber music that somehow made it into the top 40. The stillness invites the soul to partake in examining injustice and hypocrisy, and invites the listener to purge those two things from their own soul first, even as it references outside world issues in order to do so. It is the best of folk rock, and (in the higher sense) new age music at its finest.


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