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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jerry Friedman Why I Hate Folk Music (78* d) RE: 02 Dec 98

Even in letters to the editor, I think you catch more flies with honey than vinegar (to coin a cliche), so I wouldn't use the word "ignorant". After reading all the insightful comments above, my response would be,

I'd like to answer Greil Marcus's thoughts on Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" He uses the famous line "When will they ever learn?" to claim that folk music is self-righteous and that's why he hates it. However, he's not talking about folk music. He's talking about certain protest songs, which you might or might not classify as folk. Taken as a whole, the world's folk music is dazzlingly varied, historically rich, and sometimes even sophisticated. It's the roots of rock and an inspiration to many of the best rock musicians.

Also, in Pete Seeger's live shows he and the crowd sing, "When will we ever learn?" on the last chorus. (This is according to a friend on the amazing Mudcat discussion forum at .) I'm sure Marcus will be glad to know that he and Seeger agree about self-righteousness.

Finally, I admit that some protest songs are self-righteous and whiny. (I wouldn't describe "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" that way.) But anyone who uses them as a reason to "hate folk music" is going to miss a lot of beautiful songs. I hope that Marcus finds one that's witty and ironically self-deprecating [*], and that he says, "That's why I love folk music."

[*] This would be a good spot for an example. "Carrickfergus"? A blues song?

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