The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157386   Message #3714696
Posted By: Don Firth
05-Jun-15 - 05:33 PM
Thread Name: Still wondering what's folk these days?
Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
The first songbooks I purchased back in 1952 or '53 were A Treasury of Folk Songs, by John and Sylvia Kolb, a 35¢ paperback (Bantam Books), Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folk Song U.S.A), by John and Alan Lomax, and The American Songbag, by Carl Sandburg. I subsequently picked up other collections, such as Dick and Beth Best's Song Fest, Evelyn Kendrick Wells's The Ballad Tree, and such. I now have about twenty feet of bookshelf space devoted to folk songs and ballads, from academic collections (Sharp) to collections, such as Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, compiled by William Cole.

In addition, I began learning songs from the records of Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and others as I became aware of their records. Miscellaneous Seegers, Ewan McColl, A.L. Lloyd, many others. About six feet of shelf space of LPs, and a great stack of CDs.

I have also learned several dozen songs directly, from people like Walt Roberson, John Dwyer, Bob Nelson, Patty McLaughlin, Claire Hess, and many others who wrote out or dictated the words, and sang me through the tune.

All of these songs have a "provenance," a history, like a piece of antique furniture. People have "used" these songs. None of them were "fresh from the workshop" or written on the bus last week. They've all been around awhile.

I do sing other songs from time to time. But I don't try to peddle a bass-baritone operatic aria from a Bryn Terfel record or comic song I learned from an old Tom Lehrer record as a "folk song."

No, I think I have a pretty good handle on what constitutes a folk song…..

Don Firth