1) There are apocalypses in the damnedest places. Like "Garden Song," and "Redemption Song," and "Amazing Grace." The world ends every time you turn around.
2) Nobody except Art Garfunkel can keep up with the shit Paul Simon does with meter.
3) The 19th century was full of people dying of syphilis and writing songs about it.
3a) It was also full of murder ballads that make FARGO seem like competence porn.
3b) Alcohol may have been involved.
3c) Snark is not a modern invention. The bit in "Duncan and Brady" where the women go home and put their party dresses on for the funeral is classic.
4) You can turn most Tom Waits songs into rollicking feel-good ditties by capoing a little higher.
5) The narrator of "Greensleeves" is a creepy stalker, as is the narrator of "The Lily of the West." And the narrator of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" is a lying douchebag.
6) Gordon Lightfoot is more self-aware about toxic relationships than John Denver.
7) Bob Hunter and Jerry Garcia are smarter about narrative than I am. Also, it took me five years to figure out the narrative structure of "Brown Eyed Women."
8) Lindsay Buckingham is really smart about how the music supports the narrative, but I spot it faster.
9) The People's Key is "B flat."
10) Pete Seeger.
11) Woody Guthrie.
12) Steal from the best. Really pretty songs are still really pretty no matter how bad you suck. This is why there are eleven thousand cover versions of "Hallelujah."
12a) And nobody can hit that high note in "Hallelujah." Except for k.d. lang, and she can only do it sometimes.
12b) Leonard Cohen.
13) Gillian Welch keeps writing songs that I think are traditional. Until I look them up and realize they were written in 2003.
14) Emmylou Harris knows a lot more chords than I do.
15) And some people can write amazing songs with almost no chords at all.
16) It is impossible to be so bad at guitar or so intoxicated that you can't play "Horse with No Name." This is what "Horse with No Name" is for.