Observations and Comment
FolkWords 'Observations and Comment' - personal observations and comments plus occasional input from other people. The aim is to examine and discuss folk music 'roots-to-branches' without boundaries or restrictions. FolkWords presents differing opinions, many of them strongly held, hundreds of questions and thousands of answers (maybe not answers at all, just different views) we hope you enjoy reading them. The most recent observations and comments are shown below - click on the individual Read more ... links to see the full text. To read previous views just scroll down the page - you will find them in date order.
‘… a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’
So what is in a name? Well for individual artists, if it’s the one you were given at birth or baptism, and it’s the one you continue to use, then that’s that. But there are those artists that change their name to create ‘stage names’ for performance reasons or perhaps they plain don’t like the one they’re stuck with. Some artists change their name to become deliberately obscure (strange that - I thought the idea was to become well-known) to create an alternate identity (sounds a little too Super Hero to me) or to identify themselves as powerfully macho, part of a specific genre, or style and culture.
“Archaeologists uncover remains of the last pub in England.”
Is that an undesirable imagining from an expected dystopian future? Perhaps it’s nothing more than an extract from some dark-world science fiction. Then again, as the seemingly inexorable closures of public houses continues at an unprecedented pace it may have too many echoes of reality to stay too long in the realms of fantasy. And while we’re thinking along those frightening lines substitute the word ‘pub’ for the words ‘independent live-music venue’ ... for to quote the words of the song: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” ... it’s not fantasy, it’s potentially a terrible truth and not one confined to the realms of fiction.
"Why do we do what we do?"
Is there an answer to that one? Is it buried so deep that we no longer remember? Is this line of thought heading into the shadows of Descartes or do I care? If the answer to the question: 'Why do we do what we do?' comes down to why people play, sing or write about folk music then there must be thousands of reasons. Some accidental or deliberate, some driven by desire or compulsion, others because it's there and it just happens. Considering the answer from my perspective, I thought why do I do it? Well here are some observations, although these musings may not be as expected.
‘Breaking through’ in music is harder than breaking into a banker’s bonus
That’s possibly true, although the morphing of methods in the music industry has modified that statement somewhat. Aside from being good at your art and building a following through gigs and album releases, passing time and technology have helped. Both have demonstrated the immediacy of music products delivered through a host of televised ‘talent’ shows, superior marketing or the creation of viral online ‘sensation’. The difficulty is in defining what is meant by ‘breaking through’ and how to define any subsequent success.
"The trouble with folk music is folk will insist on playing it"
"There's always some poor folky-yokel in a country pub wailing away at so-called folk music. Leave music to the professionals and keep the amateur folky-yokels out of my ears.” I do enjoy listening to members of the public on a rant. If nothing else it gives me topics to air on this site. So folk ain’t for folk unless it’s professional and folky-yokels are wailing away in pubs to the detriment of folk music – now there’s food for thought. I presume that means amateur rock, pop, rap, jazz and everything else in the amateur musical catalogue is OK but folk is only for the professional, established singer songwriters of a certain quality that receive payment for their work.
More Observations and Comment:
‘… a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ May 20, 2013
Fantasy headline – or not? “Archaeologists uncover remains of the last pub in England.” April 05, 2013
"Why do we do what we do?" February 15, 2013
‘Breaking through’ in music is harder than breaking into a banker’s bonus January 18, 2013
The trouble with folk music is folk will insist on playing it November 23, 2012
TLAs and FLAs - but is what I hear what you really mean? September 05, 2012
How do independent musicians and bands make their mark? July 06, 2012
Songs of oppression and injustice ... May 04, 2012
Music and controversy – not necessarily good bedfellows March 11, 2012
Making progress, but not necessarily progressive – are we folk or are we rock? January 23, 2012
The voices, the voices ... it’s the voices December 05, 2011
Some stories and themes remain immutable whatever happens October 28, 2011
The question of authenticity September 26, 2011
“Folk is only for old folk” ... a less than tolerant view July 04, 2011
“Old grumpy guy having a rant as yet another poorly constructed press release arrives ...” May 23, 2011
... ‘ghost-folk with English pastoral, fantastical, medieval roots April 27, 2011
Folk music is neither current nor contemporary March 14, 2011
Delve into online avenues and pathways to discover treasure February 11, 2011
Accents of folk - your own or from somewhere else? January 08, 2011
Riding a wave of aural acceptance through the 21st century December 21, 2010
Commercial gain or something to say? November 26, 2010
Stopping the tradition from remaining current and relevant? November 05, 2010
Pointless prejudices remain with us from the cradle September 24, 2010
It’s all in the lyric ... (Part 1.) August 10, 2010
Turning imitation into emulation and slightly sycophantic-tinged mimicry May 10, 2010
We are heading for a day when the music could well die April 02, 2010
Reworking tradition or forging a new one? March 05, 2010
Horror of horrors folk music is not politically correct! December 14, 2009
The timeless appeal inherent in natural sounds November 02, 2009
How about a new programme - 'The Niche Factor' October 22, 2009
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery ... September 28, 2009
Reflecting the world or commenting on it? May 31, 2009
Questions, questions ... but are there any answers? March 23, 2009
Medieval folk – something more than dressing up in costume February 24, 2009
Folk metal – a genre, a fashion or an anachronism? February 20, 2009
Web-folk, network-folk ... and whatever comes out of the interaction January 19, 2009
Spelling mistake or art form? December 22, 2008
What do we protest about now? November 11, 2008
Why do so many English singers persist in singing with an American accent all the time? October 08, 2008
If music says nothing then all it offers is noise – pleasant though that noise may be September 25, 2008
Who’s going to be the first folk musician to write a song about the credit crunch? September 14, 2008
Folk to rock to psych to thrash – a journey of experience July 14, 2008
Folk is just another ‘F’ word June 12, 2008
More life and less cash – true probably, unfortunate definitely. May 12, 2008
Folk resurgent and revived - again. And so the wheel goes round. March 21, 2008
Music - victim of fad and fashion March 04, 2008
Tradition is good - for without it where would ‘new’ be? January 11, 2008
Ethnic, roots or world - or just folk? January 10, 2008
Song writers and song writing - folk or not December 20, 2007
“It’s the definitions, it’s the definitions.” October 09, 2007
Afraid or too embarrased to speak? September 15, 2007
"Are folk songs manufactured or do they just happen?" July 05, 2007
‘Cool folk’ – looking for the ‘cool-factor’ in folk March 06, 2007