Mudcat Café message #8299 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2224   Message #8299
Posted By: Alan of Australia
09-Jul-97 - 10:25 AM
Thread Name: What is a Folk Song?
Subject: What is a Folk Song?
I'm sure this has been discussed here before but a couple of other threads have drifted into discussions which could probably be consolidated and continued here.

Whatever the current definition of "folk song" might be the original meaning last century was a song learned from the oral tradition. What we might now call a "traditional folk song". Author anonymous. A wildflower.

Then there are songs written by a known author. A cultivated garden flower.

As we approach the 21st century we cannot possibly confine ourselves to the original definition. If we did then you and I could not write folk songs. But I believe we MUST NOT lose sight of that original definition.

So what's the definition of a folk song now? Who knows? Why do we care?

I can't think of anything that would adequately define all that a folkie might sing or that might be sung in a folk club. If I sing "Jailhouse Rock" in a folk club does that make it a folk song? I doubt it. Is it acceptable in a folk club? It is in our club (barely). Should we forget about trying to define "folk song" and instead discuss what is acceptable in folk clubs? Perhaps, perhaps not. Should we just enjoy as many songs as possible? Probably. I have a heavy leaning towards traditional folk songs (I can seldom stand up straight) but I sing a great variety of other songs.

Let's not restrict ourselves by trying to define what we can or can not sing, but let's remember our roots and keep that original definition in the back of our minds.