Mudcat Café message #2598979 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119547   Message #2598979
Posted By: M.Ted
27-Mar-09 - 09:25 PM
Thread Name: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Most of the traditions that preserved and transmitted the "traditional" music that we love , at least, the English speaking ones, are gone.

Mercifully, a lot of it was taken down, recorded, transcribed, and even better, a whole contingent of others have embraced it, learned it, tried to recreate the way it was performed, or tried to use it in more modern ways, or tried to make new things out of it, or tried to make new things like it.

For good or ill, folk/traditional/ethnic music got swept up into popular music for a period of time, and that created a tension amongst collectors, performers, listeners and fellow travellers that out lasted long after the last song fell off the pop charts.

After Jean Ritchie posted here most amusing introductions above, I pushed a couple buttons and listened to the Edna and Jean Ritchie version of The Four Marys, followed by Alameda Riddle, and then by everyone who was posted to YouTube. It was entertaining, educational, and ocassionally electrifying.

My point is that everybody showed a different aspect of the song, from traditional ballad to ersatz pop tune, to quasi-historical document, to an excercise in midi programming, to feminist tract, to just plain fun.   

I could have found a principled objection to each one, from "sterile museum relic" to "rip-off of the folk art of the people", to "academic self-indugence" to "mass-produced 'product'--but the fact is that each, had an integrity of its own, and I wouldn't give up the experience of having heard all of them for anything.

The reason that this song survived is because it speaks to different people in different ways over time. That's why there are a lot of different, and sometimes incompatible ways to look at it.