Folk Music in the Early 1960s: A Revival of Tradition

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


In the early 1960s, there was a revival of interest in traditional folk music. This was partly due to the work of the folklorists Alan Lomax and John A. Lomax, Jr.

The Traditional Sound of Folk Music

During the early 1960s, there was a revival of traditional folk music. This was led by young people who were interested in the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other folk musicians. These young people began to play folk music in coffeehouses and clubs. They also started to record folk music. Some of the most famous folk musicians of the time were Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

The Resurgence of Folk Music in the Early 1960s

The early 1960s saw a resurgence of folk music. This was a time when people were rediscovering the traditional music of their ancestors. This music had been passed down from generation to generation, but it was starting to be forgotten. The folk music revival was a way to keep this music alive.

The Weavers and the Folk Revival

In the early 1960s, the Weavers, a folk music quartet, enjoyed a surprising level of mainstream success. The group’s biggest hit, “The Wild Blue Yonder,” reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1963. This commercial success came at the same time that the folk music genre was undergoing a major resurgence in popularity.

The Weavers were not the only folk group to achieve mainstream success in the early 1960s; Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez all had hits on the pop charts as well. This wave of popularity for folk music was part of a larger trend known as the “folk revival.”

The folk revival was spurred by a desire to return to traditionalist values and an interest in the music’s history. The genre had its roots in both Britain and America, and many of its most popular artists were British expatriates living in America. TheWeavers, for example, were all British-born musicians who had moved to America in search of work.

The folk revival also coincided with the rise of the American civil rights movement. Many folk songs carried messages of social justice, and artists like Pete Seeger used their music as a way to support political causes. The Weavers’ version of “We Shall Overcome,” for instance, became an anthem of the civil rights movement.

The folk revival came to an end in the late 1960s as popular tastes began to change. However, the impact of this period can still be felt in today’s music scene; many contemporary artists have been inspired by the sounds of the folk revival era.

The Kingston Trio and the Mainstreaming of Folk

In the early 1960s, the Kingston Trio was one of the most popular bands in America. The trio – which consisted of Bob Shane, Dave Guard, and Nick Reynolds – specialized in folk music, and their records were extremely successful. In fact, the Kingston Trio was largely responsible for the mainstreaming of folk music in the early 1960s.

Prior to the emergence of the Kingston Trio, folk music was largely confined to left-wing intellectual circles. The Kingston Trio helped to bring folk music into the mainstream by popularizing it with their records and live performances. Furthermore, the trio’s success spurred a renewed interest in traditional folk music among young people.

The early 1960s was a time of great social change in America, and the popularity of the Kingston Trio was reflective of this. The band’s success ushered in a new era of folk music, one that would be dominated by singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

The Impact of Folk Music on American Culture

Folk music in the early 1960s was a part of a broader phenomenon of the revival of tradition. In the United States, the folk music revival was a response to the commercialization of music and the loss of traditional values. The folk music revival was also a reaction to the political and social changes of the time.

The Civil Rights Movement

Folk music played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s. Folk songs were used to protest the unjust treatment of African Americans and to promote a sense of unity among the black community. Artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez wrote songs that addressed the issues of racial inequality and injustice, and their music helped to inspire a generation of activists. Folk music also served as a vehicle for social change, as it helped to spread messages of peace and love during a time of great turmoil.

The Counterculture of the 1960s

In the United States, the folk music revival began in the late 1950s and peaked in popularity in the early 1960s. The revival brought traditional folk songs and musicians to a wider audience, and had a significant impact on American culture, particularly on the development of the counterculture of the 1960s.

The folk music revival was led by a small group of artists who rediscovered, performed, and recorded traditional folk songs. These artists included Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. They were inspired by earlier folk musicians such as Lead Belly, Burl Ives, and Cisco Houston.

The revivalists’ performances and recordings popularized a wide range of traditional songs, including ballads, children’s songs, work songs, protest songs, and love songs. Some of these songs became hits on the pop charts; others were adopted by the growing counterculture as anthems of rebellion.

The folk music revival had a significant impact on American culture in the 1960s. The popularity of folk music helped to fuel thecountercultural movement; many young people who were drawn to the counterculture were also attracted to the music. Folk music provided a sense of community for those involved in the movement; it also served as a tool for social change, raising awareness of issues such as civil rights and environmentalism.

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