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I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ’n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
And try an’ get me soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

~ Joni Mitchell, Woodstock

Our Hootenanny singalong is one of my favorite annual traditions. It just works on so many levels…

  • First, of course, the music itself is inspiring — songs of Progress, Freedom, Change, and Hope. This year, Patty and I will be joined by Amy Blackburn and Susan Clark to lead our shindig. We’re getting together to rehearse this afternoon, and I can’t even describe how much I’ve been looking forward to it! To sing with these amazing musicians is an utter delight and a great privilege.
  • Second, group song is physically and mentally very good for us. Study after study has demonstrated its health benefits. Singing together releases analgesic feel-good endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, and at the same time reduces the amount of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in our bloodstream. When we sing together, we breathe together, and our hearts begin to beat with the same rhythm; we also tend to breathe more deeply, oxygenating our bodies. It’s immune-boosting and memory-enhancing. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that singing together is as salubrious as diet and exercise for the wellbeing of our minds, bodies, and spirit.
  • Third, it is one of the quickest ways to engender a sense of belonging, of community. People who sing together tend to experience greater empathy. And this sense of social connection and common humanity extends beyond the group with which one is singing. The beneficial effects of our Hootenanny aren’t limited to time and space — our song can expand to include all the communities of which we’re a part, and ultimately to embrace the whole world.
  • Finally, it’s one of the most perfectly straight-forward, non-dogmatic, spiritual practices I can think of: simply being together in self-expression and collaborative creativity – connecting to our own hearts, to each other’s, and to the Ever-Loving Everything. That, to me, is the whole point of spirituality.

So… I do hope that you’ll join us this Sunday, at 10:00 am, at Maple Street Dance Space! If you can’t be there in person, I’ll share the recording that we made last year; it has subtitles so you can sing along in the comfort of your home. That’ll be up on by 6:00pm Sunday night. Have a musical, magical week, friends! XO, Drew

©2021 Drew Groves

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