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Articles > Entertainment October, 14, 2013

Nobody cares about Folk music

October, 14, 2013

Charlotte Southall Youth Panel member. Member since March 2013.
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What I love about folk music is the fact that it tells a story. I mean, yes, all music tells a story. Like Danse Macabre, for example, which is one of the best pieces of music ever composed (in my opinion). It tells the story of Death who goes round to loads of graveyards on Halloween and re-animates the skeletons.

Most modern music is based around the theme of love and the protagonist losing their partner (or wanting to do unspeakable things to them). But putting aside any moral or ethical issues I have about that, my main problem with modern music is this:

Nobody cares about folk music

Photo by
Paul Harrison

We have enough works of Art (note that “Art” in this sense means “the Arts”, encompassing music, literature, art, architecture, etc) about love and sex already to last the human race for millennia to come. There are new adaptations of Romeo and Juliet every day, and there are hipsters all over Tumblr writing quotes from old poets on paint charts and then running them through every filter on Instagram – but it’s not new. We have, ingrained in our culture, our thoughts and feelings on love in every single Art form known to man.

But nobody is writing about the real issues. About hunger and poverty and death and injustice. You don’t catch Justin Bieber singing about the Holocaust. Instead, he hopes Anne Frank would have been a fan.

Folk music says it all really. People music. Music by the people, about the people, for the people, with the people. It’s welcoming music – I know that I can walk in to a folk club with my banjo and not be alienated due to my gender, age, race, colour, or religion. Folk music is for everyone, whether you’re living on the street and singing songs in the hope that you can eat tonight, or if you’re in a band and touring the world with the same songs.

Folk music has stood the test of time. Some tunes are from the 8th century – I’d like to see any of today’s music last for 1300 years.

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Folk music deals with important issues. Take The Yankee Sailor by Great Big Sea. Yes it’s about love and betrayal, but it’s also about the war and it’s effect on the ordinary people, as well as sharing a piece of the history of Newfoundland. And Darcy’s Donkey by Gaelic Storm is a light hearted take on prohibition in America.

These are real things. They happened. And they changed the course of history.

I doubt Bieber has the power to do that.



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  1. Yura Bicheff
    January 28, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I believe that folk music is something that shouldn’t be forgotten by younger generation since it’s one of the most important features that keeps country different from others. On the other hand, not everybody like listening to pure folk, but when its incorporated in our pop music it makes a difference and our generation is kept entertained as well as involved in countries folklore.

  2. John Wadeson
    January 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    This is so true so often people laugh at you if you say “I like folk” or “I live Classical”
    But all modern day music wouldnt be around if it wasnt for Classical music. Like more recent years have seen more classical music is being used in modern music.
    Classical and folk music give a greater insight into the story they are trying to portray
    This may be a biased comment as i am writting this from a classical music upbringing and being a classical musician myself in my free time.

  3. Matthew Wisener
    January 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I believe that folk music plays a vital part in music progression. I’m a music student and although i may not like folk music, I can see it’s importance as a cultural aspect as well as the development of the music style

  4. Arthur Caulfield
    January 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I agree with your sentiment, but folk music is not the only genre of music to do this, this seems to be a article around teen pop vs folk, not folk against all modern music? And furthermore the argument is not very in depth to be quite honest.
    As a final point, seeing as you seem to have a vendetta against Justin Bieber:
    1) he does not write his own music
    2) he sings to sell, not to tell
    3) hes what, 19 or something, and you think any 19 year old rich kid with everyone and their dogs chasing him to be his friend would sing about American prohibition? next time you should think of a more suitable comparative…

    Arthur out.

    • Charlotte Southall
      January 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Can you name me another genre of music that has survived 1300 years? Granted, sacred music has been around much longer, but that’s because there are millions of people across the world singing these songs on a daily basis.

      I’m not saying that “modern” music (whatever that may be) is bad, it’s just not my cup of tea. I don’t particularly enjoy listening to Robin Thicke’s creepy date-rape songs or someone who sings so fast that you can’t make out the words.

      The argument was never meant to be in-depth. This was taken word for word from my blog. Had I known it was going to be published here I would have improved it. And I would just like to take a moment to remind you that this is the OPINION Panel. Few of the arguments on here would stand up in court; it’s just ordinary people expressing their views.

      And as regards my so-called “vendetta” (which is a terrible misuse of the word. It actually means “blood feud” and I have no desire to kill the guy) against Bieber:
      1) What has the writer of the songs got to do with anything?
      2) The thing with folk music is that people do it for the sheer love of the music and performing. It’s great when you get paid for a gig, but you play to keep the songs and the traditions alive out of the goodness of your heart. The modern music industry has forgotten what it is to make music because you love it.
      3) I think someone with that much power over the media and a small army of young, impressionable fans should take the responsibility of their situation and use it to make a positive difference to the world. People have stopped listening to politicians, and people will take their idol’s opinions to heart. If he was to sing about an important issue, he could mobilise an awful lot of people and make a change for the better.

      What would your “more suitable comparison” be?

  5. Juliette Bone
    October 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This is so true so often people sneer at you if you say ‘oh yeah I like folk!!’ but I find their stories such a special insight into history and the beliefs and rituals of our ancestors, let alone the power of emotion that is connoted through the music and lyrics.

  6. Peter John Austin
    October 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Well said. I often find myself alienated from my social group because, despite the recent folk revival with groups like Bellowhead and Fisherman’s Friends leading the renaissance, people under the age of 35 with an appreciation for folk and roots music seem few and far between apart from when we gather for the summer festivals

    • Charlotte Southall
      October 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      I know what you mean, Peter. I’m lucky enough to go to a college where we have a Folk Band, but it’s more like Mumford and Sons than “proper” folk. And I didn’t think anyone else knew about the Fisherman’s Friends!

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