Senator McCain

It feels like a lifetime ago that I wrote a song about John McCain, who died on Saturday at the age of 81. The song, which I wrote in 2002 and put on my first album, actually envisions his inevitable death as a way to question whether it would be worth giving up his essential decency to join the ranks of presidents of the United States. Was his soul worth having his tiny portrait included on a thin horizontal poster over an elementary school blackboard?

At the time I wrote the song, his challenge to George W. Bush in the 2000 primary was a distant memory, and the 2008 campaign and its associated storyline had not yet occurred. I was actually thinking, for some reason, about Jimmy Carter, and how he lost his reelection campaign in part because of his distaste for the jugular, and his own essential decency.

Over and over, we’ve seen men willing to sacrifice their dignity to get elected. Even George H.W. Bush, who in some ways is equally beloved, had his lowest moment not when he lost reelection, but when he won by working with Lee Atwater to smear Michael Dukakis with the Willie Horton ads during the 1988 campaign. His son won election twice by using Karl Rove’s base tactics to great effect, even taking a nation to war in the process. And of course, the current occupant of the Oval Office needs no introduction. They will be included on that classroom poster, and Senator McCain will not.

But in John McCain, I saw a man who put his country first, who understood that this nation’s power comes from an ability to listen to each other, to agree to disagree, and to find common ground where possible. He didn’t always live up to that, but he did often enough that he will be remembered as a great American. Not every president will be able to say that.

They can have their libraries. You, senator, will always have this song.

Kerrville New Folk

I’m looking forward to returning to the Kerrville Folk Festival over Memorial Day weekend to take part in the New Folk concerts. I am thankful to have been chosen to participate in this Texas event that celebrates songwriting. This is my second time at the metaphorical rodeo — I played New Folk in 2011. I’m looking forward to making some new friends and seeing some old ones. I was pleased to see a few familiar faces join the Class of 2018, including Michael Braunfeld, Susan Cattaneo and Austin MacRae. For more information, click here.

April shows!

Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt will be playing a flurry of shows in April — Philly, the Poconos, and western CT. Check out the gigs page and come join us!

Homey Award nominations

Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt are finalists for four Homey Awards, including Album of the Year! The Homeys are the regional awards in the Delaware Valley, sponsored by WSTW. The other nominations are best folk song (Old Film), best Americana song (Northwind), and best collaboration (Hang On for the Ride).

Nathans & Ronstadt gear up to release new album

The start of October marks our album release month. I hope you’ve been able to keep up on all the exciting goings-on at nathansandronstadt.com. The month culminates with release shows at Rockwood Music Hall in New York (10/27) and Burlap and Bean in metro Philly (10/28). Check out this story from the Doylestown Intelligencer! We have other shows on the schedule. We hope to see you out there.

The new album!

Yes, Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt have completed our second album! If you liked “Crooked Fiddle,” well, this album is the next chapter. It’s like the last album, only more so. We can’t wait to share it with you. We’d love your support as we raise funds to print and promote this album. You can hear music clips from the new album within our Kickstarter video here.

N&R New England shows!

Michael Ronstadt and I are looking forward to playing two shows in New England later this month, a Vermont house concert on Friday, 4/28 at the home of Mary Trerice & Karl Bissex, and Lakeview House Concerts in Sharon, Mass on 4/30. If you’re in the area, come join us!