Revolutions: Folk Rock
By David Cavazos
Music always comes in many forms. There are plenty of people who think mastery over theory and their instruments produce the highest quality. Then there’s the counter argument that it doesn’t matter how complicated the tune is as long as the emotion and message is conveyed. This enlightenment vs romance argument in music over time has both produced great works as well as burned many bridges. Although one great work produced from the romantic aspect is Folk Rock.
Folk music which consists of cultural hymns, chants, and shanties has been around since the inception of civilization. Over time every culture attributed their own prefered instruments to their folk music creating a wide variety of sounds under the genre. During the early sixties another genre was being experimented with known as Rock N Roll. Rock N Roll was adapted into different forms and the title Rock was added to whatever new hybrids were being created.
When Folk music and Rock N Roll combined Folk Rock was created. Several artists pioneered the new genre of Folk Rock who would become household names such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. These artist exploited the singer-songwriter approach and mostly wrote songs with just acoustic guitars as accompaniment.
Bob Dylan in particular was famous for creating hymn-like songs with strong lyrics and an acoustic guitar. This simple format made his audience listen more intently to what he had to say. Making his music easily acceptable to a generation of listeners who had built angst with the ongoing events of turmoil during the sixties. Leading the example for other upcoming folk rock artists who felt they also had something to say as well as bringing already known artists into the mainstream’s light.
Other Folk Rock artists later also began giving new ideas to the genre by leaving the solely acoustic sound. The Animals for instance were among some of the few artists that actually used a full rock set up including electric guitars for their music. They performed covers of rural folk music such as their hit “House of the Rising Sun.” Inspiring other folk artists to implement rock set ups in their music furthering the genre.
While the genre has crept up back into the light time and again listeners of Folk Rock love the intimacy the music shares with them. Much like listening to your favorite local band at your favorite venue. Although every now and then a folk artist writes an exceptionally great tune that breaks past the local feel and into the mainstream. Currently, Folk Rock is being kept in the mainstream by artists like Mumford and Sons along with The Lumineers. So it’s easy to see that Folk Rock has aged beautifully and is around to stay continuing to mix the old sound with the new.