William Elliott Whitmore has been called a folksinger, a roots troubadour and an heir to Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. He grew up in the "fertile crescent" — his words — between the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers, on his family's horse farm.
He still lives there, where he works out the dark, rich dirt under his fingernails on the frets of his banjo and guitar, and sings songs about pain, hard work and politics.
Much of Whitmore's new album, Field Songs, is an ode to family farmers. "Field Song" is its anthem.
"I live in Iowa," Whitmore tells NPR's Neal Conan. "These are things I think about a lot, so it's my little way to try to put a poetic spin on it.
"I kind of predict a return to the small farm," he says. "A lot of them got swallowed up by a lot of the big factory farms, and that was just sort of the way of things."
But Whitmore predicts a coming paradigm shift in the other direction, toward "sort of a more sustainable way of farming, something that's going to make the land a lot happier."