Edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson. Hal-Leonard, 2015. 300 pages. $22.50 (7×10) or $25 (9×12)/spiral bound. Discount for 15 or more copies.
More than simply an additional 1,200 songs’ lyrics and chords for f/Friends to sing together around a song circle, a piano, or a campfire at yearly meeting or a sequel to the beloved Rise Up Singing songbook, Rise Again is a manifesto about the power of song. As the preface by Pete Seeger, foreword by Billy Bragg, and introduction by Annie Patterson and Peter Blood all posit, singing together not only is a way to build community and share emotional experience, but “singing together makes us realize we’re human beings.” It reminds us we’re not alone and “gives us courage to face hardships and discouragement, empowering us and moving us forward out of isolation.” In our world that is increasingly mediated by a digital screen (even our social movements), Bragg points out that “you can experience a download, but you can’t download an experience.” This songbook is an invitation to experience song together in person.
While I cannot (yet) say—as I can about Rise Up Singing—that I know more than one song per page, I do recognize many songs and welcome the addition of newer ones by beloved singer/songwriters of Generation X and Millennial generations, plus lots of older works that were not included in the last book. Styles include blues, jazz, swing, rock, country, motown, R&B, bluegrass, musicals, and pop as well as Friendly favorites in the Peace, Hope, Struggle, Earthcare, Faith, Dignity & Diversity, and Freedom sections. And, in a leap forward from the teaching CDs (and earlier teaching tapes) of the previous book, there is now a website (riseupandsing.org) which includes YouTube videos, lead sheets, and many other tools to learn and share the songs. In the near future, it will also include a searchable song database of more than 2,500 songs from both songbooks and beyond. Additional resources in the book itself, for both singers and players, include a chord chart inside the back cover and multiple indices.
In the new public song circle our meeting hosts monthly, Rise Again is proving to be a wonderful addition to Rise Up Singing as a resource for sharing and learning songs. While there are smaller and larger formats of this book, the larger one could hardly qualify as large print, so some singers may still have to use magnification or hold the book closer to make out the lyrics. Still, lyrics are printed in a consistent, easy-to-read typeface; the familiar line drawings, while less frequent, are still comfortingly present.
In addition to familiar favorites, this new resource reminds us to stretch our wings by learning and teaching songs, so we grow our common repertoire and experience across age and background. One 19-year-old song circle participant taught a song from Rise Again, written a mere four years ago, at our last gathering, and it was a joy to be led by someone we rarely get to see. This is the potential. If “the only bad thing you can do to a song is not sing it,” this is a wonderful new resource to sing many more songs together.