BF Presents: Why We Write


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Editor’s note: Basic Folk is pleased to introduce our listeners to one of our favorite podcasts by sharing an episode in our feed! Why We Write features conversations between folk music reporter Kim Ruehl and a hand-picked array of great songwriters, presented by Folk Alley.

So much goes into a song—the songwriter’s intimate life, their upbringing, their worldview, what they see going on in the world. What moves them to put pen to paper? How do they do it? When, where, and why? Ruehl explores all of this with some of the finest songwriters working these days—old favorites, up-and-comers, and everything in between.

Kim is one of my favorite music writers and (frankly) one of my favorite people. Her laid back demeanor is easy to vibe with and does well for her scholarly approach. Kim is basically a folk-brainiac and cannot be stopped. I first met her while she was the editor in chief at No Depression. She's since gone on to publish her first book A Singing Army: Zilphia Horton and the Highlander Folk School. A former singer/songwriter herself, Kim not only brings her big writer's brain and cool attitude into these conversations, but she has a unique musician's perspective that her guests can feel and relate to.

Basic Folk is pleased to share Kim's interview with Rosanne Cash (This episode was originally published on June 9, 2021). There is much that could be said about Rosanne Cash’s number-one hits and Grammy awards, her family legacy and her celebrity. But whether she’s writing songs, articles, essays, or books, Cash is always a writer’s writer.

She has a knack for catchy, chorus-worthy turn of phrase, sure, but she also has a generally superb literary sensibility. Thus, the opportunity to discuss writing with her for this episode of Why We Write was a bit of a no-brainer.

One of the things that strikes me most about Cash’s songwriting is the way she sets her songs and stories very strongly in a specific place. So, we began our conversation with the relationship between story and place. Press play and come along for the ride.

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