Re: RARA-AVIS: OT: Folking Around

From: Patrick King (
Date: 17 Sep 2009

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    Dylan also wrote many songs in the folk tradition, and by that I mean influenced, based on or adapted from traditional songs. One example is Hard Rain, based on Lord Randall. Another is Girl from the North Country, based on Scarborough Fair. And another is Bob Dylan's Dream, inspired by Lord Franklin. Lots of lines from other traditional songs can be heard in his early stuff: Go away from my window, all his blues, etc., etc. Obviously, he was a folk singer in every sense of the word.


    Basing songs on tunes in the public domain does not therefore make your songs "folk songs." The blues, which evolved in the southern US after the civil war and was first recorded in the 1920s, is not folk music, either. The correct use of the term "folk music" is music handed down through the oral tradition. Not picked up on records as Robert Johnson and other blues originators did. Dylan and others of his contemporaries have had plenty to say about this. They do not consider themselves folk singers in any sense of the word.

    Patrick King


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