Plain Songs will be an account of the making of a new work – or more likely and properly of “new works” – to be done during a long journey through the United States in 2012-2013 and perhaps longer.   The intention is to make a portrait of America, in keeping with my previous works, Speaking Directly: Some American Notes, made in 1972-3, and Plain Talk & Common Sense (uncommon senses), made in 1986-7.  Like those it will be a poetic evocation of the place, a people, and a time, and it will be in the same moment analytical – an attempt to understand what America is, how it became what it is, and why.  It will delve into our history, our present, and attempt to find guides to our likely future.  I anticipate a length of 8 to 12 hours.

In keeping with the new technology which will be used – HD video, the internet, and various social networking tools – this new work will be multi-faceted, and this blog will be an integral part of it.  Here I will include writings, a diary of the process, photographs, and I hope a weekly video posting.  We’ll see how the energy holds up.

For the moment I will make this blog available at no cost, and, depending on the results of a crowd-funding effort, I hope I can keep it so.  However I may find it necessary to institute a subscription policy, making access available only with a payment.   Sometime in the coming months I’ll try to raise funds to help cover the costs of this journey – 12 to 18 months on the road, living much of the time in the back of my 1991 Subaru, camping in Federal Forest campgrounds ($4 a night for seniors), in National and State parks ($5 to $25 a night), and with friends.  If anyone would care to put me up, let me in on interesting local places/people/stories, it would be much appreciated (contact me through   At present funding for this is coming out of my “retirement” funds – what I was able to save during four years of playing Professor in Seoul.  I have no pension, SS, or anything else aside from these modest savings, my wits, and stamina.  Any help in coping with this reality is welcome.