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The essence of the music to folks

27 Apr 11 - 01:18 AM (#3143142)
Subject: The essence of the music to folks
From: Janie

This may belong below the line. If so, mud elfs, move it.

I don't know what folk music is. I just know what it means to be one of the folks, a relatively non-musical one at that.   It ain't just about the entertainment, and it ain't just about those who can entertaining those who can't.

Let us not forget that folks still exist, and still actually use music to get us through life without thought of performance or entertainment. Here a a few of my own examples. Please, please share your own.


Sitting in a darkened nursery, rocking slowly, softly singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," to sooth my colicky infant son to sleep. 1:00 am. I lay him gently in his crib, and he remains asleep.

Sitting in a darkened bedroom at 1:00 am, beside a delirious and dying father, softly singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." He calms. I think he is at last asleep. I pause, then hear a raspy and coherently whispered, "Precious. Precious." A bony and feeble hand reaches over the rail of the bed to clasp mine. And soon, he is indeed asleep.

A 17 year old son who loves music, plays drums, and can't carry a tune in a bucket, singing off-key and to himself, as he cleans up his room under threat of death from his old ma - a work song he learned from a recording I had captured of Barry Finn at a late night sing at a Getaway.

27 Apr 11 - 01:49 AM (#3143146)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Joe Offer

We have a Sunday afternoon song circle with about eight regulars. Oftentimes, I'm the only male, and I like the odds....these are people I like almost as much as I like Janie and Dani.

We just have such a good time. Sometimes, I think I live for that one Sunday afternoon a month. It's the most wonderful three hours of my month.


27 Apr 11 - 02:12 AM (#3143152)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: J-boy

When I was but a wee lad one of my favorite playthings was a Fisher-Price toy that played "My Grandfather's Clock". That song is amongst my earliest and fondest memories. It just might be the last song I hear when everything else fades.

27 Apr 11 - 08:40 AM (#3143330)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: GUEST,999

I'm with the three of you on the uses of song/melody in every-day life.

J-boy, I have loved that song since first hearing it in the early (?) 1950s. Funny that a song written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work would still resonate with a kid about 80 years after. Heck, it still resonates with me today, fifty-five years after THAT!

27 Apr 11 - 01:07 PM (#3143486)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Musket

Aye, my Mum used to sing "Christopher Robin" to me as a lullaby.

A few years ago, I was about to get up and do a session in a folk club and the floor turn on before me sang it. Silly sod here got up and stumbled when getting on the stage cos the old eyes had welled up with tears.

Music can be the essence of the folks? Too ruddy true.

27 Apr 11 - 01:42 PM (#3143512)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Amos

Ach, Janie, you do yourself a disservice; you are among the most musical of beings, whether you can "carry a tune in a bucket" or play the harp like Saint Peter or not. And you have touched a chord here; the gold thread that "the music" weaves through our lives, through the momnents of high treasured friendship with common voices and the moments of gut-wrenching siolitude when a long-forgotten voice of song appears in the darkness and saves the heart from failing under its burden. These are why we sing, those who have the ears to hear what the music does for the soul, alone or gathered together. This is why "the music" is a life-saver and a life-maker for me. Thanks for the reminder, musical angel!

27 Apr 11 - 02:05 PM (#3143529)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Steve Gardham

For me it's listening to my 80-year-old father-in-law singing a duet with his 8-year-old granddaughter a parody on 'If those lips could only speak'. I'm lucky to be part of 2 families where folk music exists on a number of levels, family, community, semi-pro and pro.

27 Apr 11 - 04:29 PM (#3143614)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Amos

I can still hear my long departed mother teaching us harmony on old tunes like "White Wings" and "Oh, Mister Moon", and older tunes from longer ago as well. It makes for a thread of continuity stretching back across centuries.


27 Apr 11 - 08:38 PM (#3143744)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Janie

A smallish Vietnam War protest in Huntington, WV - a few hundred of us walking down the middle of the street, singing "One, two, three, what are we fightin' for...."

27 Apr 11 - 09:15 PM (#3143758)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Pigstrings

Don't forget its only since the advent of recorded music that most music has been anything other than the songs and tunes people carried in their hearts.

Sure, there was all the grand court music and church music; the rest was, and is, an aural tradition. Long may it remain the song that is forever sung.

27 Apr 11 - 10:04 PM (#3143768)
Subject: RE: The essence of the music to folks
From: Janie

Elkins, WV, circa 1975.   A music party at the house where I was staying for some winter festival. Falling asleep (passing out?) in a big overstuffed arm-chair to the sound of the fiddles, banjos, guitars, upright bass, mandolins and plaintive harmonies. Awakening a couple of hours later to the same sounds, feeling sated and at peace and knowing where the dreams had originated.

No longer a regular church goer, but the musical rituals of an Episcopal service - the congregation may falter on unfamilar hymns if the choir isn't there - but when it comes time to sing the psalm, the sanctus and the doxology, you know you are part of a community, regardless of your reasons for being there to begin with.

Singing, clogging and dancing reels at the nearly 24 hour party after my sister Kaye's wedding. Singing, clogging and dancing reels at the wake after she died - not planned, but old friends who hadn't come together in 15 years showed up with instruments in hand, knowing it was the appropriate way to celebrate her life.