Why Did Many Folk-Music Enthusiasts of the Mid-1960s

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Why Did Many Folk-Music Enthusiasts of the Mid-1960s Turn to Country Music? – Many folk-music enthusiasts of the mid-1960s turned to country music after Bob Dylan “went electric” and other folk artists began to experiment with rock and roll.

The Rise of Folk-Music

In the mid-1960s, many music enthusiasts were interested in folk music. This was due to the fact that folk music was seen as a more authentic form of music than the popular music that was being produced at the time. Folk music was also seen as a way to connect with the past and with a simpler way of life.

The Weavers and the Folk Revival of the 1950s

The Weavers, a folk music group, helped to revive interest in folk music in the United States in the 1950s. Their records sold millions of copies and their concerts were packed with fans. The Weavers were one of the most popular folk music groups of their time. They were also one of the most important.

In the years after World War II, America was growing quickly. Factories were churning out goods, people were moving to the suburbs, and television was becoming a part of everyday life. This rapid change made some people yearn for a simpler time. They turned to folk music for comfort and relaxation.

The Weavers were at the forefront of this musical movement. Their repertoire included traditional songs from England, Scotland, Ireland, and America. These songs had been passed down from generation to generation, often by word of mouth. The Weavers gave these old songs new life with their energetic performances and close harmonies.

The Folk Revival of the 1950s was more than just a musical trend; it was also a political movement. Many young people were angry about social injustice and wanted to make a difference in the world. They saw folk music as a way to do this. The songs they sang told stories of working-class people struggling to make ends meet or fighting against racism or war. Folk music gave voice to these protesters and inspired them to action

The Kingston Trio and the Mainstreaming of Folk in the Late 1950s

The late 1950s saw the beginning of the commercialization and mainstreaming of folk music in the United States. One of the most popular and influential folk groups of this time was the Kingston Trio, who helped to bring folk music into the mainstream with their top-selling albums and hit singles.

The Kingston Trio was formed in 1957 by Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and Dave Guard. The group became very popular with young people, who were drawn to their clean-cut image and straight-ahead folk style. The trio had several hits, including “Tom Dooley” (1958) and “Greenback Dollar” (1959).

The Kingston Trio’s success paved the way for other folk groups to find success in the late 1950s and early 1960s, such as Peter, Paul & Mary and The Byrds. Folk music became increasingly popular among young people during this time, as it offered an alternative to the more polished sounds of pop and rock music.

The popularity of folk music waned in the late 1960s, but many of the artists who got their start in the folk boom of the 1950s and 1960s went on to have successful careers in other genres, such as country, rock, and pop. The legacy of the Kingston Trio and other early folk pioneers is evident in the continued popularity of folk music today.

The Folk-Music Scene of the Early 1960s

The folk-music scene of the early 1960s was vibrant and alive. Many folk-music enthusiasts of the time were passionate about the music and the culture. There were many clubs and coffeehouses that featured folk music, and the music was often played on the radio. The scene was also very social, with people often meeting up to discuss the music and the politics of the time.

The Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Folk Festival is a music festival founded in 1959 by George Wein, coinciding with the birth of the American folk music revival. The festival was held every year from 1959 to 1963 and then again annually from 1985. Some of the most famous and influential musicians of the 20th century played at Newport, including Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Mississippi John Hurt. Newport was also a center for up-and-coming talent; it was at Newport that Judy Collins debuted her signature song “Both Sides Now” and that Jimi Hendrix received his first major exposure as a performer.

The New York City Folk Scene

In the early 1960s, the New York City folk music scene was vibrant and thriving. Many folk-music enthusiasts of the time were drawn to the city because it was home to a large number of folk clubs and concert venues. The most famous of these was the Folklore Center, which was founded by Izzy Young in 1958. Other notable venues included the Gaslight Cafe, Gerde’s Folk City, and the Bitter End.

The New York City folk scene was also influential in shaping the folk-rock sound of the mid-1960s. Many of the artists who would later become known as members of the “folk-rock explosion” got their start performing at one of the city’s many folk clubs. Bob Dylan, who is credited with ushering in the folk-rock sound, got his start performing at Gerde’s Folk City in 1961. Dylan’s style of electric blues-influenced folk music would later be emulated by other artists, including The Byrds, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Simon and Garfunkel.

The Decline of Folk-Music in the Late 1960s

The mid-1960s were a time of great change in the music industry. Folk-music was declining in popularity, and many folk-music enthusiasts were looking for a new sound. This section will explore the reasons for the decline of folk-music in the late 1960s.

The Rise of Rock Music

By the mid-1960s, rock music had become the dominant pop music genre in the United States. Folk music, which had been gaining in popularity in the early 1960s, was now largely overshadowed by the louder, more aggressive sound of rock. Many folk music enthusiasts of the mid-1960s turned to rock instead, resulting in a decline in folk music’s popularity.

The Commercialization of Folk Music

The commercialization of folk music was a controversial issue in the late 1960s. On the one hand, some people saw it as a sell-out of the music’s roots; on the other hand, others saw it as a necessary evil in order to popularize the music and reach a larger audience. In general, the commercialization of folk music refers to the process by which artists and labels began to produce and release folk music that was more polished and less raw than the traditional folk music of earlier decades. This new type of folk music was often played on electrified instruments, and it often included elements of pop, rock, and even country. Some people argue that this change in sound diluted the genre and made it less interesting; others argue that it helped to bring folk music to a wider audience.

One of the most famous examples of the commercialization of folk music is Bob Dylan’s album “Bob Dylan,” which was released in 1964. On this album, Dylan included several electric instruments, which were not common in folk music at that time. In addition, he wrote several now-classic songs such as “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” While some fans welcomed these changes, others felt that Dylan was betraying his roots. Dylan himself has said that he was simply trying to make the best music he could at that time, and he has never looked back since.

The commercialization of folk music continued throughout the 1960s and 70s, as more artists began to experiment with electric instruments and pop melodies. While some traditionalists decried this change, Folk music became increasingly popular with young people during this time period. By the end of the 1970s, Folk-Rock had emerged as its own distinct genre, blending elements of Folk, Rock, and Pop into something entirely new.

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