Written for: Carpe Diem #1504 America’s folkmusic
“American folk music has no precise nameable origin because it organically grew out of a communal tradition more than for entertainment or profit. There are folk songs that date so far back they can be considered oral histories. Certainly, in America, songs by traditional American folk singers like Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie tell stories that often don’t even appear in history books.
From its origins, folk music has been the music of the working class. It is community-focused and has rarely enjoyed commercial success. By definition, it is something anyone can understand and in which everyone is welcome to participate. Folk songs range in subject matter from war, work, civil rights and economic hardship to nonsense, satire and, of course, love songs.
From the onset of American history, folk music has shown up at times when the people needed it most. The earliest folk songs rose from slave fields as spirituals such as “Down by the Riverside” and “We Shall Overcome.” These are songs about struggle and hardship but are also full of hope. They sprang from the need of the worker to go to a place in her brain where she knew there was more to the world than the hardships she was facing at the time.”
I see you weeping
over the lake, branches bare
but you will sway again