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Chapter 9 – Folk, Folk-Rock, and Singer/Songwriters

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1 Chapter 9 – Folk, Folk-Rock, and Singer/Songwriters
“The tradition of folk music was always political… Folk music became the liturgy of the consciousness of change in America” Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary McGraw-Hill/Irwin Copyright © 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 Folk Music Folk music traditionally takes liberal political positions – against racism and war College students in the sixties concerned about the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War related to statements made in folk songs Sense of equal rights for all races seen as fair U.S. involvement in Vietnam seen as a problem because of great numbers of American deaths by middle sixties, and required draft that came to be seen as a death sentence. (The Vietnam military was not all made up of volunteers…) 9-2

3 Folk Music, continued Traditional folk music came from Britain and other parts of Europe, old songs continued to be sung Such songs collected and published in such books as Folk Song U.S.A. (1947) Folk singers often sang traditional songs, accompanied by acoustic instruments… avoided amplification and drums Folk groups such as the Hutchinson Family Quartet (19th century) wrote new folk-styled songs about political concerns of their times: destructiveness of alcohol need to abolish slavery woman’s right to vote The Almanac Singers (started by Pete Seeger in 1941) sang about: development and support for strong labor unions civil rights need to end war 9-3

4 Woody Guthrie ( ), member of the Almanac Singers, songwriter, singer, guitarist most famous for songs: “This Land is Your Land” “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You” Travelled the country singing in support for organization of workers’ unions Early fifties, hospitalized with Huntington’s chorea, degenerative disease of the nervous system Some other folk singers performed traditional folk material, John Jacob Niles and Burl Ives New folk-styled songs by the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, and others 9-4

5 Bob Dylan (1942- ) Follower of Woody Guthrie, visited Guthrie in the hospital Folk song texts and messages mean more than melodies Dylan’s first album, Bob Dylan (1962) contained mostly traditional songs Second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963) gave him a protest-singer reputation Many songs more popular when covered by more commercial sounding groups such as Peter, Paul, and Mary 9-5

6 Bob Dylan, continued Folksinger Joan Baez sang some Dylan songs and toured with him in 1963 Dylan refused appearance on Ed Sullivan TV show because of song choices 1965 Newport Folk Festival introduced new sound for Dylan – singing with electric instruments and drums played by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band– this shocked folk-purist fans Dylan began to have pop-chart hits when he used rock instruments – the sound called Folk-Rock Late sixties, country influences in Dylan’s sound Late seventies/early eighties, fundamentalist Christian songs Later music continued based on songs in support of working people and general social and political issues 9-6

7 Listening Guide “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Peter, Paul, and Mary (1963) Tempo: 78 beats per minute, 2 beats per bar Form: 8-bar phrases organized into verses with 4 phrases each. Verses ask questions, then end with the answer is “Blowin’ in the Wind” Features: Three singers accompanied by two acoustic guitars and string bass 8-bar instrumental introduction establishes a smooth, gentle rhythm String bass plays on the beats, often with pickups Mary sings alone in some verses, Peter and Paul do in others Lyrics: The song foreshadows both the civil rights and antiwar movements in the immediate years to come. Charts: Pop, #2, British hits, #13 9-7

8 Folk-Rock music Folk-styled singing and songs accompanied by rock instrumentation The Byrds The Mamas and the Papas Simon and Garfunkel Barry McGuire Janis Ian Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young 9-8

9 Listening Guide “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan (1965) Tempo: 168 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 4-bar instrumental introduction 10 verses vary in length, first two repeat as a refrain Features: Vocals by Dylan Instrumentation includes strummed acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and harmonica No accent on backbeats Recording lasts 5 minutes and 30 seconds Lyrics: Series of surrealistic images, generally seen as drug influenced and “Mr. Tambourine Man” as the dealer 9-9

10 Listening Guide “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds (1965) Tempo: 122 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: Only four of Dylan’s verses are sung, the first two repeated at the end Features: Group sings refrain in close harmony, McGuinn sings verses alone. A second voice sometimes heard above the melody, a style used in country music Instruments include twelve-string electric guitar, electric bass, tambourine, drums, and a thickly layered background Strong backbeat by the drums and tambourine Recording lasts 2 minutes and 14 seconds (3 minutes 16 seconds shorter than Dylan’s version) Lyrics: Hints about drug use remain from Dylan’s version, but many of the images are missing Charts: Pop, #1, British hits, #1 9-10

11 Listening Guide “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (1965) Tempo: 108 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 1-bar instrumental introduction, 5 verses, most of which are 15 bars long Melodies repeat, with some variations to fit text Features: Electric guitars play using folk-style picking patterns (picking across the strings instead of strumming) Electric bass guitar and drums enter in second verse Drums accent backbeat Simon and Garfunkel sing in harmony Lyrics: Singers are Old Testament prophets claiming that commercialism has l ed people astray resulting in general alienation and inauthentic human relationships Charts: Pop, #1 for two weeks 9-11

12 Listening Guide “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire (1965) Tempo: 118 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 6-bar introduction: 2 bars on timpani imitating bombs, then 4 bars of strummed acoustic guitar Verse and refrain lengths are either 10 or 12 bars Features: Even beat subdivisions Strummed acoustic guitars provide most of the accompaniment Strong backbeat in drums Harmonica used at ends of refrains McGuire sings verses with speech-like inflections and gruff, forceful vocal timbre Lyrics: Events of the summer of 1965, seeming leading to destruction: border skirmishes on the Jordan River, civil rights marches, violent backlash in Selma, Alabama, an ongoing cultural evolution in “Red China,” and a 4-day Gemini space mission. Charts: Pop, #1 9-12

13 Listening Guide “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970) Tempo: 80 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 8 bar instrumental introduction played by solo guitar, drums enter at 3rd bar, bass and lead guitar enter at 5th bar After introduction, songs follows ABCABCA form with sections of 4 or 8 bars Features: Even beat subdivisions Backbeat in drums Bass on beats 1, 3, and 4 Singers in unison at beginning, then in harmony Lyrics: An antiwar demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio, at which four students were shot to death by the National Guard sent to the campus by the state’s governor Charts: Pop, #14 9-13

14 Folk-Rock Singer/Songwriters
By late sixties and early seventies, many folk singers moved from songs on political matters to more personal statements Title “singer/songwriter” stresses that the singer is singing about own feelings, life, and relationships in a very personal way Some important singer/songwriters of the seventies include: James Taylor Carole King Joni Mitchell Carly Simon 9-14

15 Listening Guide “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor (1970) Tempo: 76 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 4-bar introduction on acoustic guitar, piano joins at bar 3 8-bar verses with choruses from 8 to 9 bars Features: The mood is gentle and plaintive Bowed string bass added to guitar and piano at first verse Drums enter at first chorus playing a soft backbeat Lyrics: Verse 1, Taylor’s reaction to the death of a friend, Verse 2, Taylor’s return to America from England with an aching body, desperate to overcome a drug problem, Verse 3, the breakup of Taylor’s first band, the Flying Machine Charts: Pop, #3, British hits, #42

16 Listening Guide “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell ( 1974) Tempo: 168 beats per minute, 4 beats per bar Form: 4-bar introduction, followed by 4 verses with instrumental extensions after each one in an AABA format A jazz instrumental group plays extensions All A sections begin with the words “help me” Features: Mitchell strums an acoustic guitar, drums enter at bar 4 Jazz instrumental group, the L.A. Express play saxophone, guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums A female vocal group inserts responses to Mitchell’s vocal lines Lyrics: The singer laments her tendency to chase after bad men who have no intention of sticking around, but ends the song with t he suggestion that she herself really does not want a permanent relationship either Charts: Pop, #7 9-16

17 Discussion Questions Is folk music at its best when expressing controversy and hard times, or is it music for all time? Why were many young adults listening to Bob Dylan instead of pop or soul music during the early sixties? Why were traditional folk musicians offended when Dylan began to use amplified instruments? Is acoustic folk music more “authentic” and folk-rock too commercial to also be heard as authentic? Frank Zappa criticized singer/songwriters for being too personal and too quick to dump their problems and feelings on their listeners, who are already burdened with their own problems. Is the widespread popularity of music by singer/songwriters an indication that he was wrong, or did he make a valid point? 9-17

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