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Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?

GUEST,Lynn 20 Jun 12 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Stim 20 Jun 12 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,Stim 20 Jun 12 - 11:50 PM
Bobert 21 Jun 12 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Lynn 21 Jun 12 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Stim 22 Jun 12 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 22 Jun 12 - 11:58 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Jun 12 - 02:47 PM
Goose Gander 22 Jun 12 - 04:03 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jun 12 - 06:15 PM
alanabit 23 Jun 12 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Jun 12 - 11:10 AM
Steve Gardham 23 Jun 12 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Stim 23 Jun 12 - 09:36 PM
alanabit 24 Jun 12 - 04:27 AM
GUEST 24 Jun 12 - 06:31 AM
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Subject: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 20 Jun 12 - 08:10 PM

Hello!

Soul Asylum - Runaway Train. Would this Qualify as a Folk Song?Thoughts Please!

Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 Jun 12 - 11:30 PM

Probably not. It's got some folk qualities, the melody is the sort of thing that people might hum or sing to some random words that come into their heads, and it has a folkie, guitar sort of accompaniment. The thing is though, it's a pop song, and, at least as far as I know, people are only familiar with it from the Soul Asylum recording.

If it was the sort of song that people who were not professional entertainers liked to play and sing, and if most people in a community knew without necessarily knowing where it came from; if it was just "out there", you might be able to call it a folk song, but just sounding "folkie" doesn't make something a folk song--


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 20 Jun 12 - 11:50 PM

I'll never forget this song, though, mostly because of the video, which was much played on MTV back in the '90s and could break your heart. Runnaway Train Video on YouTube


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: Bobert
Date: 21 Jun 12 - 11:36 AM

I wouldn't classify it as folk either but I've always liked Soul Asylum, have that CD, and love that song...

B~


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 21 Jun 12 - 12:05 PM

Stim.. thank you for your thoughts.. and yes was thinking about the "aspects of what makes a song folk" as to whether or not it could be classified as one. I also like your "If it was the sort of song that people who were not professional entertainers liked to play and sing, and if most people in a community knew without necessarily knowing where it came from; if it was just "out there", you might be able to call it a folk song, but just sounding "folkie" doesn't make something a folk song".. that is what my mind thinks when looking at a song folk or not and I could never get the words roght.. you did for me.. thank you.. may have to borrow afew of those words of yours in my discussions of folk music. :)

Bobert.. thank you for your input as well.

Lynn


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 11:49 AM

Hey, Lynn, I'm glad I could help. I am sort of surprised that this didn't turn into one of those "What is folk music" debates that
Mudcat was famous for.

I have to fess up a bit, as to my "definition"--It kind of came to me after I bought a CD called "Number 1 Arabic Hits", because the person who wrote the liner notes said, "There are no charts, instead, you know a song is #1 because you hear it everywhere, in the shops, in the bazaars, and coming from every stall in the streets."


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 11:58 AM

Back in the early 70s this very retro sounding MOR recording
would most probably be classified as "Soft Rock"..

generically related to other marketing terms such as"Pop Rock" and "Contemporary Folk"...


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 02:47 PM

At the risk of stirring up the old hackneyed debate, I'd say it was very definitely a folk song in several ways. Fistly it has definitely entered the folk consciousness among people of my age (64) and slightly younger. Secondly its title and tune have been adopted into the anonymous English dance tradition, in that the tune is used by ceili bands and there is a whole dance based on it. Thirdly, I often play it on the mouth organ to children in the classroom and although only seldom can anyone come up with the title they certainly recognise it. This is in England. Can't speak for America.


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:03 PM

Interesing comments from Steve Gardham. If he's correct, I suppose 'the folk tradition' is alive after all!


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 06:15 PM

Of course the 'folk tradition' is very much alive in all of its manifestations, but the 'folk scene' is a new tradition all of its own. It's very much confused and compounded due to modern technology but its still there, some features still very strong, but others weakened.


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Jun 12 - 10:25 AM

I like the song and at first I could have sworn it was Tom Petty. I was most surprised to find out that it was by another band. Is it a folk song? I would lean more to the No tendency on this occasion. I think Steve Gardham's comments are interesting. They give evidence that it is in the process of becoming one. It just seems a little early to assert that the process has gone far enough for it to be seen as a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Jun 12 - 11:10 AM

Folk or not, it's a bloody annoyingly hummable tune..

not been able to get it out my head since this thread started & reminded me of it...


Any previous known songs with a similar melody that "Runaway Train"
may have been 'sub-conciously / folk process' inspired by ???


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jun 12 - 06:02 PM

It has close affinities with the 'Johnny comes marching home/hardly knew ye' family of tunes. In fact when I play it in schools the kids sometimes think I'm playing 'the animals came in 2 by 2' which is also a member of this family.

alanabit,
So how far does the process have to go before it can be seen as a folk song? I'm not being facetious, just curious.


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 23 Jun 12 - 09:36 PM

I'd love to hear it the way that you perform it, Steve. It sounds really cool.

From my point of view, something happens to a song when it becomes a "standard" that many performers know. Not sure that it is a folk song exactly, but it doesn't need it's author or first performer anymore, and it lives on it's own.

By the time people start cutting the sleeves off, overhauling the engine, tearing out the seats and putting in a bar, or playing it as a polka though, it's definitely a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Jun 12 - 04:27 AM

Steve, at the risk of stirring up another hornet's nest of "What is folk?" posts, I shall try to answer your question.

As a rule of thumb, I would say that the song would need to have been passed down orally for at least a couple of generations before it began to become a "traditional" or "folk" song. I think that like yourself, I belong more to the "broad church" tendency when it comes defining folk songs. In the case of "Runaway Train", from what you have told us, it would appear that a certain amount of folk processing has already begun. It has been passed on orally to people who have never heard the Soul Assylum recording and it is being adapted for contexts outside the commercial world of the pop industry. Both are good signs for a folk song to be adopted into the culture.

As an aside, one of my songs ("East Looe Boys") is now mentioned in the Wikipaedia entry for Looe. It is listed as "A folk song by Alan Moorhouse". That is very flattering of course, but the very fact that my name is mentioned in connection with the song disqualifies it (imo) as a folk song. It is true that people who have never heard of me have adopted it. However, it can't be a real folk song (imo) until most groups of people say that they regard it as "our" song - rather than associating it with me.

I think that one of the very few people who experienced this in his own lifetime was the late Ewan MacColl. A story (possibly apocryphal) was related here by a Mudcatter. Apparently MacColl heard a fishing community singing his "Shoals of Herring". He remarked, "I wrote that!" The locals replied, "Nonsense! We have been singing that one for years!" Just my tuppence worth, but I would say he made it.

Note to those who feel passionately about these things: Please take no offence. None is intended. I realise I am simply young and unlearned and speaking from my own ignorance!

Cheers Steve!


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Subject: RE: Soul Asylum Runaway Train. Folk Song?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jun 12 - 06:31 AM

Don't know about the apocryphalness???? or not re MacColl but this certainly applied to Hamish Henderson when doing some recording for "The Singing Island"! - I got this from Hamish himself!

Eddie


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