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Folklore: What makes them great

olddude 26 Oct 08 - 05:13 PM
gnu 26 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM
Gurney 26 Oct 08 - 06:16 PM
Stringsinger 27 Oct 08 - 05:19 PM
olddude 27 Oct 08 - 06:54 PM
quokka 28 Oct 08 - 05:40 AM
GUEST, Sminky 28 Oct 08 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Neil D 28 Oct 08 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 28 Oct 08 - 12:34 PM
Uncle_DaveO 28 Oct 08 - 01:06 PM
Bill D 28 Oct 08 - 01:14 PM
folkypaul 28 Oct 08 - 02:07 PM
quokka 29 Oct 08 - 07:38 AM
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Subject: Folklore: What makes them great
From: olddude
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 05:13 PM

What makes a great performer? I have asked myself that question a million times. It is being an entertainer, is the music enough. Is it how your music touches people, or is it the special effects, dancing girls and mega watt speakers and laser light shows?   

I don't think anyone would question an Elvis, or a Johnny Cash or a host of others we all knew and loved. I saw interviews on TV with Elvis shortly before his death and he said, "I never did know more than a couple of chords" ... I heard Johnny Cash state once " I never could sing a lick". How about a Dylan??

But what is it about them that so many people have liked their music that we all consider great.    If it was the song writing- I am sure there were much better musicians and vocalists that could do their songs and have done their songs.   Take a look at the classic blues guys, most never played more than the 12 bar blues, gruff voices many times off key ... we love them ... look at Tom Waits ... can't understand a word the guy says but I would love to see him in concert...

When I look back at the great country music and compare with today's country music (which to me isn't country music) the vocals are perfect ... the music is complex only because of the major studio talent adding in licks ...but it sure is not the same as some of the old greats ... Why is that?

My point, we love Dylan, or guys like Cash, or Bill Monroe ... or ...Lightfoot, or   (add your own here) what makes greatness in those folks that doesn't seem to exist in most cases today.

I know I would give anything to hear some of the old timers again over anything new right now ... Maybe it is just nostalgic...

Or can greatness only be realized after we ourselves have aged - what are your thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: gnu
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM

Here I am. Laid bare. The truth. Just me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: Gurney
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 06:16 PM

"This is how I see it."

"Hey, that's how I see it, too!"

A great performer or writer speaks to the human experience we have in common.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 05:19 PM

I think a lot has to do with how you define entertainment. One of the key ingredients
is that there is a definable personality.

Another strange aspect is that if you get to know
these incredible performers, you find them shy in social settings. They carry onstage
their need to communicate socially and offstage they retreat into a personal shell.
This isn't true for every performer but the ones that become famous seem to have this
characteristic. They are generally very private people. So onstage, they channel this
energy of reaching out to people and it intensifies before the public.

Personality is more significant than musical skills. It defines for example phrasing
in a song. Louis Armstrong had a sandpaper voice but his personality, phrasing,
and intensity made him one of the greatest living entertainers of all time.

In folk music, the definable personality is one that looks like it's supposed to, of
the "people", probably rural in appearance, easily identifiable with the image of a
folk singer. The look, the intense personality, the interaction with the public who
feels they "know" this person is a package that is sold on one level or another.

This "package" may have a limited audience or reach large crowds.

Some performers are more relevant to a particular time period. Values and mores
change over time and are reflected in the acceptance of the performer.

To say that "greatness" occurs in one period of time and not another just means
that people see "greatness" differently. This has more to do with empathy for
a particular style or time.

As an older person, I am partial to music that I grew up with. I can identify with this
better and so my preferences influence my choice of performer.

What makes a performer great in my humble opinion is their durability over time.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: olddude
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 06:54 PM

Frank "durability over time"
beautiful words well spoken ... I think you hit the right note for me just what i was searching for

exactly, why we still love anon or trad composers ... greensleeves .... John Henry .... if I had a hammer .... list goes on ....

durability over time ....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: quokka
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 05:40 AM

The ability, or talent, or whatever you want to call it, to take the personal and make it universal. I'm thinking here of songs like Dylan's 'Hurricane', Clapton's 'Tears in Heaven', Guthrie's 'Plane Crash at Los Gatos' (Deportees), Christy Moore's 'The Wicklow Boy'. There are lots of examples but these are a few that speak to me.

Cheers,

Quokka


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 06:37 AM

"great performer" and "durability over time" is a chicken-and-egg situation, IMO, one suggests the other.

For me, greatness in a performer is an almost undefinable quality; I usually describe it as their having soul (whatever that means). That explains the greatness of those old blues guys - their sound is raw, rough, edgy but they put soul into their playing/singing.

Ask people who is/was the greatest electric guitarist ever, and most would probably name Hendrix. But for me it was Roy Buchanan. He had that soul thing that Hendrix, despite his technical brilliance, never had.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:27 PM

I don't think it is any one ingredient that does it for all performers. Some may be virtuoso musicians and that's all they need.
Others touch a chord of human commonality that overcomes a somewhat lesser musicianship and sometimes a performer is just likeable.
Different performers appeal to us on different emotional levels and finding which level is their strength is often what brings success.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:34 PM

I think that it is an undefinable 'something'. You can't explain it, but notice when it's absent.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 01:06 PM

Stringsinger (Frank Hamilton) said:

Louis Armstrong had a sandpaper voice but his personality, phrasing,
and intensity made him one of the greatest living entertainers of all time.


Definitely, he was MUCH better than the dead entertainers!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 01:14 PM

To me, it is the ability to make the song the focus of the performance.

I know musicians who are immensely talented, but who 'seem' to try to use the song to showcase themselves.

*IF* the song is done well, it will always be clear that "X" performer is someone who brings songs to life. Gordon Bok is one who comes to mind immediately. You KNOW it is Bok singing, but it is the song that is the star. To me, it was often Johnny Cash who was the star, even though he brought a lot to the song.

   I think of Jeannie Robertson and her powerful renditions of many ballads. You know who is singing, but her presentation makes the story real.

This reflexive quality of raising one's own stature BY not 'imposing' one's persona onto the song is, to me, a subtle mark of greatness.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: folkypaul
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 02:07 PM

"Making it personal", having "soul", both right in their own way.

But I think it's the ability to "sing the song" that's the answer.

There are people out there who I don't rate as either musicians or singers, but every so often someone of that ilk can "sing the song" and just make it special, or if you like great.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What makes them great
From: quokka
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 07:38 AM

And I guess some people are fantastic interpreters of other people's songs, I'm thinking here of Mary Black and Christy Moore...even though they don't write a lot themselves, and then there are brilliant songwriters who sing their own stuff, and you can't imagine anyone doing a better job - Bruce Springsteen's 'The River' or Bob Dylan's 'Masters of War'... I think it's gonna have to be a case-by-case basis...

cheers

Quokka


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