I've kept an eye on this thread and commented, early on, but feel a little of an outsider as a guest . However I feel I need to add my bit In response to somethings you have said Jim
"People wrote songs to capture what was happening around them - what made them laugh, or what made them angry, or sad..... loss, achievement, death, birth...whatever."
Of course people still do this.
"They became folk songs because they were memorable and because they were universal enough to take root wherever they landed - not the introspective, navel gazing, angst-filled singer-songwriter stuff that masquerades as folk-song now."
Introspection to my mind includes capturing what makes people laugh or sad or angry, dealing with personal loss etc etc…. which seems to contradict your previous point. However, what in your view constitutes a good contemporary song Jim ??? (forget whether we term it as folk or not as this will lead nowhere )…
"They were articulate and clearly understood for the ideas and emotions they carried - not the loud cacophonous stuff of the pop scene."
This seems very subjective to me Jim, but it kind of brings things down to a basic denominator of you either like a song or you don't…..