Thanks for the insight, Spaw. I had a feeling that this was an ongoing conversation, and I don't mean to drag you back to ground that has already been covered. You make some very good points, and it is certainly true that the more self-indulgent singer-songwriters out there can get tiresome. But I still wonder whether we need to restrict ourselves to only those songs that refer to experiences that are overtly "common" -- such as bringing in the harvest, battening down the hatches, etc. -- and dismiss those that refer to solitary experiences that may also have relevance to large numbers of individuals. Some of these may not even be explicitly described, but nevertheless may strike a chord that resonates in the hearts of people who do not know the songwriter, and are not familiar with his or her experiences. Bob Dylan comes to mind as an example that everyone is familiar with -- an artist who worked with traditional forms, but moved from narratives of "public" events and experiences (the murder of a servant by her employer, the closing of the iron mines, the exploitation of the young by "masters of war"), to more abstract explorations of personal, internal journeys (Chimes of Freedom, Mr. Tambourine Man, and his later, louder works). In many ways his more abstract, and even surreal, journeys may have been more universally understandable than his more traditional "folk" narratives (most of us have never worked in an iron mine or fought in a war, but everyone has a soul). So while there is admittedly an awful lot of self-indulgence among modern singer-songwriters, I would be reluctant to exclude them from the "potential future traditional" category. After all, which song would you guess is more likely to be remembered a hundred years from now -- The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, or Mr. Tambourine Man?
Well, I have gone on at some length here; you may end up regretting inviting me to join you. But I'm pleased to have found a group of thinking people who care about some of the same things I do. Thanks for allowing me into your discussion. -- Steve