The 25th anniversary of “Farm Aid” passed several weeks ago. It was on September 23, 1985, that many rock and country music artists staged a concert in Champaign, Illinois to benefit struggling farmers across the country.
According to www.farmaid.org the concert, which featured artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, B.B. King, Loretta Lynn, Billy Joel and others, raised over $9 million for American farmers.
Since the original “Farm Aid” there have been similar concerts annually to benefit farmers, including the 2010 show. Along with perennial favorites such as Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, “Farm Aid 25” featured more contemporary artists. Among the bigger names were Dave Matthews, Jeff Tweedy, Band of Horses, and Norah Jones.
A nice encore for the 25th anniversary show would have been for the artists to unite to sing a medley of the best songs with some form of the word farm in their titles. Here is a list of possible tunes to include in that medley, in the order they should be sung.
10. Life at a Top People’s Health Farm by The Style Council: The 80s new wave group shows an appreciation for irony in this tale about tough economic times in Great Britain, in which they sing “Thank you Margaret Thatcher, may you never come to harm.”
9. Farmer-Labor Train by Woody Guthrie: The folk troubador advocates again on behalf of the working man in this tune that is just as good as Hard Travelin’ and Do Re Mi.
8. Farm on the Freeway by Jethro Tull: Flute-toting Ian Anderson ponders the image suggested by the title from this track on Crest of a Knave.
7. Junior’s Farm by Paul McCartney and Wings: After scoring several hits from the Band on the Run album, the ex-Beatle reached number three by singing, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, down to Junior’s Farm where I want to lay low.”
6. Pigeon Farm by Marcy Playground: The indie rock band followed up the hit Sex and Candy with an album called Shape Shifters. The cover features cartoon characters smoking a peace pipe, leaving little wonder what might be the main crop on Pigeon Farm.
5. Now I’m a Farmer by The Who: The second track on Odds and Sods has a country feel with Roger Daltrey singing about growing crops, dumping Corn Flakes into the sea, and praising the therapeutic effect of country air.
4. Down on the Farm by Joe Walsh: This cartoonish track from There Goes the Neighborhood contains dialogue of animals having a party, at which a chicken debases a lascivious porker by calling him a pig.
3. Devil, Take the Farmer by Dry Branch Fire Squad: The bluegrass band from Ohio used this clever tune as the opener to the album Fertile Ground. Each image-laced verse describes how big business has been the undoing of agriculture, as the farmer quips “With half the stuff they hand me I could fertilize a field.”
2. Me and the Farmer by The Housemartins: There are overtones of sarcasm on this single from The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, the 80s new wave band ‘s second album.
1. Maggie’s Farm by Bob Dylan: This popular track from Bringing It All Back Home encourages rebellion, making it the rock response to Dylan’s folkish Blowin’ in the Wind.