Songs for America: It's What Woody Would Do

By Keith Wicker

A couple of years ago, the question, "What would Jesus do?" became so popular that the letters WWJD were found on bracelets around many wrists. Sorry, but without his power to turn water to wine or cure blindness, I feel a bit silly in the wake of the September 11 disaster asking what Jesus would do. Perhaps he would fill the desert sands with scorpions. Who knows? Without omnipotent power, many of us ask questions framed by more realistic predictions. Here's one: What would Woody Guthrie do? You don't even have to know much about the freight-hopping folksinger to know the answer: Woody would write a song. Now all Americans have the opportunity not only to write a song, an inspirational ode to the land that is your land and my land, but also to have that song heard nationwide. A group of businessmen and individuals in Louisville has banded together to bring "Songs for America" to the Internet and radio, thus providing an opportunity for listeners to sing along, just as we did to Woody Guthrie's "This Land" in grade school, and for songwriters to have their work heard and rewarded

Headed by Judah Thornwell, President of the nonprofit, consumer-controlled communications organization Four Leaf Clover, the group is sponsoring a venture they call MusicGames. The project will be launched November 5, and the first installment will run for six weeks. Here's how it works. Those who want to listen and vote will log on where they will find a game that moves them to links to the songs. After linking through MP3 or Live at MOM's, listeners will be asked to vote for their favorites. Each week the songs voted into the top twenty-five most popular will be included in the next week`s playlist. Listeners will have fun playing the game, be inspired by great new music that exalts America, and get the chance to send their favorites to the finals.

Songwriters who wish to participate will need to log on to the aite before November 5 and register. These budding Woody Guthries will have to pay a fee of $25 per song for all five weeks or $10 per song for one week. The higher fee ensures that the song is heard all five weeks of the regular contest. The lower fee will mean the song is offered only one week; however, if the song is voted one of the top twenty-five songs of that week, it may move on to the final, big sixth week when that song could win the grand prize of $500. The top song each week will win $100. The top ten songs in the final round will be included on a new Songs for America CD. The CD will sell for $15, with $5 of each sale going to a September 11 relief fund.

Advertisers that wish to join in the fun, games, and music can contact Judah Thornwell at (502) 895-6839. Thornwell is being assisted in this project by Paul Moffett of Louisville Music News, Marvin Maxwell of Mom's Music, John Gage of Kentucky Theater, Dave Krost of A4 Global, and Doug Yeager, former Vice-President of Presbyterian Associates. Although the group hopes to register songs from all over the country, for the kick-off venture, beginning November 5, the voting will be limited to the Louisville area. When the votes are tabulated each week, the top ten most popular songs will receive airplay on Louisville's WVEZ, 106.9.

Woody Guthrie played his songs for migrant workers and hobos before he eventually found a radio audience, but songwriters today don't have to ride the rails. The Internet and a group of businessmen will do the hard work for them. Whether you're a fan or a songsmith, whether you write in rock, country, or bluegrass style, log on to and join in the fun. It's what Woody would do. Now, what's a good rhyme for "patriot?"