The USA is such a big country that when we want to talk about American folk music we have to precise the period and, many times, even the 'place'. Yes, the place. This entry will deal with the great singers of the sixties and seventies, most of them songwriters as well, who lived not only in the USA but also in Canada.
BOB DYLAN (Minnesota, 1941. USA)
Robert Allen Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) is one of the greatest songwriter singers of all times. He has written more than 500 songs about politics, war, religion, human rights, loneliness, hate, love... His lyrics are just poetry. In fact, he has been nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature and most of his hits have been recorded over and over again. It is impossible to select just one of his songs because all of them are very popular so we will pick one that we are sure you all can recognize even without knowing anything about Dylan.
Some bands such as Peter, Paul and Mary, became popular thanks to Dylan's songs, among other merits. Listen to the version of Blowing in the Wind (1962). Even when the look of the trio may seem funny, they were very trendy at that time!!!
Others, as the great Jimi Hendrix with All along the Watchtower (1967), made them number one. Legend says that when Bob Dylan listened to Hendrix, he was so astonished with the performance that he refused to play it for many years.
More or less the same happens with Like a Rolling Stone (1965), chosen the best song ever by Rolling Stone magazine. Let's listen to Their Satanic Majesties' version.
CAROLE KING (New York, 1942) and JAMES TAYLOR (Boston, 1948)
You've got a friend (1971) is one of Taylor's number one hits. In fact, the song was composed by Carole King but they have recorded it together so many times that it is very difficult to guess who the composer of the song is. The lyrics are devoted to friendship.
The recording we have selected has been taken from the concert in 2010 at the Troubadour, the legendary club placed in L.A. where many singers from the 60s made their debut.
CARLY SIMON (New York, 1945)
Carly Elizabeth Simon rose to fame in the 70s. She has won Grammy and Academy Awards as well as Golden Globe Awards. Her best known song is You're so vain (1972) and, apart from being one of the greatest songs of the early seventies, it has become very popular as she has never revealed who the song was devoted to. Carly has never let the cat out of the bag!!!
Just one more thing, her first husband's name has already been mentioned in this post and both their children are singers!!
(Texas, USA, 1936) is just mentioned in this article for being the composer of Me and Bobby Mc Gee. But as you may imagine, the video we are going to select is Janis Joplin's version of it. The story of Kirstofferson, Joplin and the song belongs to the mind boggling stories that make up the mixture between the history and the legend of music.
JONI MITCHELL (Alberta, Canada, 1943)
Roberta Joan Anderson is considered an artist in many fields: music, painting, literature... Her songs have poetic lyrics, and listen to Mitchell singing them. It is something out of the ordinary. Her voice has got such a range of registers that I should advice: Don't try Mitchell in the Karaoke! Don't try
What is your idea of folk music?
Because I like lots of things that end up under the folk umbrella, but don't think I like "folk music" either, if the only folk music you have in mind is the stuff of the 60s. Folk music has changed with the times, though, and it has many facets.
Maybe you'd like Iron & Wine and maybe not, but it probably wouldn't have anything to do with your dislike of what you perceive to be folk music. Would you like it better if it was called "Anti-Folk" or "Americana", etc...?
How do you feel about artists like Songs: Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co., Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Brightblack, and