Joe Klein, Rodney Crowell and Me in PA/Ohio/Detroit

Last week, I spent a few days in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan with TIME Columnist and author Joe Klein (Primary Colors, Woody Guthrie: A Life and four other books), who is on a month-long roadtrip across America to hear from voters as we approach the mid-term elections.

He began the trip on Labor Day in Philadelphia and is now heading toward Colorado. In Pennsylvania, we hung out with congressional candidates. In Ohio, we met the candidates for governor. Then it was off to Detroit. As part of his trip, he has been inviting traveling companions. So, after a couple of days in Ohio, Joe picked up his friend Nashville singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell for a few days in Detroit. You may know Crowell’s music from his many country albums (he started his career playing with Emmylou Harris before embarking on a very successful solo career) and a hit song he wrote for Bob Seger — “Shame on the Moon” — in the early 80s. He’s also the father to three of Johnny Cash’s granddaughters with former wife Rosanne Cash.

The weekend in Detroit began with an Eid al Fitr feast at the home of Victor Begg, a prominent leader of Michigan’s Muslim community. On the eve of September 11th, with all the controversy lately about the proposed Park51 Islamic center and mosque downtown in New York, and the Islamophobia that has been clear and present these days, those topics dominated the conversation (which was smart and elevated above usual rhetoric).

Throughout the weekend, Joe met with other Joes of the regular variety — at a breakfast with one of his swampland readers, with UAW leaders at the TIME Detroit bureau/house, and at a dinner arranged by a former Commerce Department appointee.

I only heard Rodney sing once that weekend, when Joe asked him to sing one of his more populist tunes for the UAW folks — one of whom was a Rosie the Riveter type that reminded Joe of a character in a Woody Guthrie song. Rodney doesn’t perform the song “Don’t Get Me Started” much anymore, but he agreed to sing it after I found the lyrics online.

Here are the three stories from last week (vodpod isn’t working, so I can only give links):

Joe Klein Begins Election Road Trip 2010

Joe Klein and the Ohio Governor’s Race

Joe Klein’s Weekend in Detroit

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