Digitizing Folk Music History 2012 Notes: Reviving the Revival

This week we focused on the early 1960s folk revival…what was this particular moment of the “folk boom” or the “folk scare” (as some playfully called it) about:

Among the readings, we discussed:

Robert Cantwell: class and culture as keywords…the negotiation of parental investments in middle-class kids after World War II and Great Depression…what it means to be American? To be free? To be true? Folk revival as part of sixties counterculture or as counterpoised to counterculture…early 60s vs. late 60s? “When we were good” — what did it mean to be “good” exactly?

Ellen Stekert: three categories or types in the revival, traditional singers, imitators (emulators), and utilizers.

The Lomax Cohen debates about “city-billies” or urban folksingers as compared to country singers…why were the stakes of this debate about music so high for these participants? Cohen’s connections of musical experience to “life,” “truth,” “intensity,” “force,” “communication,” “sincerity,” and our familiar friend, “authenticity.”

The effort to distinguish the New folk revival of the 1960s from the older one of 30s-40s. More anarchistic? More about individual, existential truth than a political and social program or agenda of reform? But is it still about some kind of progressive transformation, just different vision of individual to collective, of the process of the “folk process” in relationship to self and society (see Pankake: “Pete’s Children”).

Commercialism, capitalism, culture industry: why do these keep entering the picture as an issue with the folk revival?

Do you have the same relationship, the same stakes, to music listening now?

What are the politics of culture as compared to the politics of politics?

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