For the past 15 years, music fans have gathered in southeastern Utah for the Moab Folk Festival.This year the festival includes a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who will perform and teach audience members how to write socially conscious music.
Tom Paxton is known for writing topical songs dealing with different issues in the world. He says writing music is about helping the audience reflect on various problems.
“I think it’s really important for us to learn to write about the world around us," said Paxton. "The world we’re living in right now. Shakespeare put it in better than I would, of course. And he said, ‘Hold a mirror up to nature.’”
Paxton uses irony when singing about nationalist ideas and respect for authority in the song "What Did You Learn In School Today?"
“People have the erroneous idea that topical songs are doomed to a quick death and it’s just not true," Paxton said. "When you think of it our national anthem is a topical song about a particular battle in one of less significant wars. If they’re good songs they hang on.”
Paxton says a singable chorus that is easy for the audience to remember is important in creating a good song and suggests aspiring songwriters write a song everyday.
“You have to write a great deal. It’s like anything in life that we do," Paxton said. "If you want to do it well you have to do it a lot. You know, you learn by doing. You learn to perform by performing.”
To learn more about Tom Paxton visit UPR's Access Utah special.