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Comment Archives: stories: Music: Music Feature

Re: “What's a Folk Song?

I am a huge admirer of Michael Cooney's talent, but I have to disagree with him about folk music. Just because "you know who wrote it" does not automatically disqualify it from being a folk song. There is indeed a folk process, but it has impacted even songs actually written by people we know of. He uses "Wimoweh" as an example: written b y Solomon Linda, adapted by Pete Seeger, further adjusted by the Tokens, it is absolutely a folk song. The narrow definition Mr. Cooney ascribes to is both dangerous and frankly an insult to the folk process. So many of us learned folk songs around a campfire that we later learned were written by Stephen Foster, for example. Does that make them any less folk songs. There are thousands upon thousands of kids who learned "Puff the Magic Dragon" when their parents sang it to them at bathtime or bedtime" the folk process at work. When they later heard PP&M do it, did it automatically lose its "folkness"? I fully admit that I have a pretty broad definition of folk music, in part because I have an inherent distrust of "genres" (mostly artificial constructs designed to reinforce individual musical tastes/prejudices), and in part because I think that almost all music has its roots in the folk tradition. I know that people often smile when they hear Big Bill Broonzy's statement (sometimes attributed to Louis Armstrong) that "All music is folk music, because I ain't never heard a horse sing a song," and then refuse to take it too seriously. But the crux of my personal definition of folk music lies in that statement, however oversimplimfied it might be. I am NOT one of those hardcore purists who believe that only old, traditional (authors unknown) songs played on traditional instruments is folk music. The google dictionary defines folk music as "music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation." That is silly, self-contradictory, and unhealthily limiting. "Transmitted orally" implies that more modern transmissions (i.e. recordings) are invalid, and its insistence on "typically of unknown authorship" directly contradicts the earlier claim of "written in such a style", as the authorship of songs in that category is generally known. Indeed, all songs at some point were created by someone. The "folk process" is far more intricate and complex than that simple definition indicates. The National Endowment for the Arts provides the following definition of “folk and traditional arts -- rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice.” This is a pretty good place to start. Read it carefully. Despite what some folks assert, it paints with a pretty broad brush. Blues and Rap music would fit easily into this definition. It fails, however, to take into account the rich vein of protest music that has been around for at least two centuries and has often been considered-- even by the purists-- to be part of folk music. Is Woody Guthrie's music folk music? Of course it is. For the most part, like Joe Hill, he took old traditional tunes and put new words to them: something that has been going on for many hundreds of years. Because we can name who did it, does that make it any less folk? When Franz Schubert or Ralph Vaughan-Williams took old German or English folk songs and turned them into classical pieces, did they lose their folk identity? I would argue not. In fact, almost any music can be considered folk if one is willing to take the time to examine and discuss its roots and influences. And we MUST differentiate between defining folk music and articulating our individual tastes in music. There are some artists I do not like to listen to, but that does not make them any less folk. I have a weakness for harmony and for shorter instrumental introductions (unless the piece is an instrumental), but that doesn't mean that I believe folk music to be limited to the songs I like. If it makes someone more comfortable to break music down into categories like "traditional folk", "urban folk", "contemporary folk", "topical (or protest) folk", "folk rock", "folk punk", etc. so be it. But it's mostly all folk to me.

Posted by Nick Noble on 12/15/2014 at 12:38 PM

Re: “Love is the Only Truth

Thank you for the opportunity. Honored to be in the Tucson Weekly.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ezra Letra on 12/11/2014 at 9:29 AM

Re: “Love is the Only Truth

Nice spotlight on a great artist!

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Isaac Kirkman on 12/11/2014 at 8:59 AM

Re: “Music Counts

It's sad that their tragic story is what finally made me actually listen to their music.

Posted by Gonzo Sorcrachi on 12/06/2014 at 10:42 PM

Re: “Got the Tape Spinnin' in the Echoplex

Who knows what the future holds! ;-)

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Burger Records on 11/06/2014 at 3:15 PM

Re: “Base Level Fun

Here's more information on the Fest!

Saturday 8 November
4pm - midnight
$12 for over 12 bands!
(a portion of all ticket and bar sales will go to the All Souls Procession)

Band times will be released soon, keep up to date here -- https://www.facebook.com/events/2964045372…

Posted by catstronaut. on 10/31/2014 at 1:16 AM

Re: “Metal Mania

I missed the show but will try to make it next year. I just stumbled upon your blog. I'm learning how to sing from http://thomascollettvocal.com/singing-samples/ Maybe sometime you guys will be reviewing me! Hope so.

Posted by Marc Cuva on 10/22/2014 at 2:13 PM

Re: “Hard Lessons

It's a pretty rare thing to hear songs forged so expertly in the fires of experience. The material has had a good long while to marinate, and Gabe and the boys put a lot of umph behind the live renderings of these works. Really, really great stuff.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tres Ikner on 10/07/2014 at 2:31 PM

Re: “Hard Lessons

Billy Sedlmayr is my hero, hands-down. This man went to the bottom and came climbing back up, brilliantly. That is raw character and courage.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by MK on 10/03/2014 at 7:32 PM

Re: “Excited and Experienced

I've never been to the Galactic Center ... is there a bar or can you bring your own alcoholic beverages? Do they serve food? Thanks.

Posted by elbeso on 09/19/2014 at 8:19 PM

Re: “Excited and Experienced

I've never been to the Galactic Center. Is there a bar or do they allow alcoholic beverages brought in? Do they serve food? Thanks.

Posted by elbeso on 09/19/2014 at 8:18 PM

Re: “Many Years, Multiple Lineups

I think it's a real travesty that Greyhound Soul has resigned itself to playing the same bars in the same few cities over the last twenty years. I'm not talking about a lack of ambition but a lack of trust on the part of the band, the regimented record industry, and the world. Greyhound Soul should have been out there in the psycho-sphere mixing it up with the likes of the Meat Puppets, Dinosaur, Jr., Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices, Sonic Youth, American Music Club, f***ing Jack White for f***'s sake. Instead, the band seems terrified that the soul will get sucked out of the dog, and there will be nothing left but shoes to sell. I never understood this. I hung around Tucson for a few years and listened to a string of honest proponents beg Pena et. al. to spring for the price of a bunch of stamps and let a few cool record companies know they were out in the desert putting everything they had into every single note and they wouldn't quit until god or some corporation un-invented electricity or stories. That's all it would have taken, all it would still take. I can't imagine Robert Pollard in Dayton, Ohio, standing next to his mailbox in his robe and slippers, nursing a Rolling Rock, tearing open a package containing a Greyhound Soul CD and a heartfelt letter, walking back into his house, cranking up his stereo, and going, "This band sucks." More like: "Who the fuck are these guys and why aren't they on Matador? Tobin, paint me a cellphone and tell Toohey to eat s***." Something should have been done. Attention should have been paid. Why in the world is Foxygen selling out shows at the Bowery Ballroom here in Manhattan and Pena is still taping his own signage in the window at Hotel Congress? Does that even scan? I mean, at all? Could someone please talk some sense into somebody? Twenty years is a long time to hold a grudge against that Funzalo clown, Mike Lembo. He stopped being relevant when his answering machine ate its last cassette. The guy's a rectal thermometer--in his dreams. Heck, the sun's coming up, and I don't even know what I'm trying to say. Or save. Eminem, could you fly to Tucson and torch a trailer park and throw Pena a bone. Twenty years is a long time for genius to sit on its hands in Tucson.

Posted by Dr. J. on 09/17/2014 at 3:28 AM

Re: “Robotic Soul and Real Feelings

Great article...went and checked out the video. Fantastic!

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Bryan Parker on 08/22/2014 at 9:51 AM

Re: “Robotic Soul and Real Feelings

Spot on, Josh!

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Michelle Hotchkiss on 08/21/2014 at 12:40 AM

Re: “Theme Songs for People

Amazing character with an amazing voice....Lucy Anna Johnson

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lucy Anna Johnson on 08/09/2014 at 6:28 PM

Re: “The Genuine Article

Here they are folks, this weeks Weekly favorite. Tune in next week for yet another
next big thing.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Timmothy on 08/08/2014 at 5:27 PM

Re: “The Star is Poor

Rqt...Tiny Tim was a solo act. Bet you have all his records and that you cried the day he got married.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Timmothy on 08/08/2014 at 5:25 PM

Re: “The Star is Poor

Tiny Tim?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rat T on 08/05/2014 at 8:18 PM

Re: “The Star is Poor

Actually, "my band" existed in THE SIXTIES AND 70's (!!!!) and was in Spin , Rolling Stone (never made the cover) and about a dozen other music magazines. You don't need to know the name, hell because you're so smug I'd never tell ya.
We all got rich and did just fine.
The weekly goes thru talentless bands like tissue paper. This is just the most recent that will go nowhere.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Timmothy on 08/01/2014 at 10:07 AM

Re: “The Star is Poor

Timmothy: Feel free to send us some info about your band. Did you guys get profiled in Spin?

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Dan Gibson on 07/31/2014 at 2:00 PM

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