Is Folk Music Still Relevant?

Recently music journalist Juliette Jagger published this post to facebook questioning whether rock music was still relevant. This was a response to the fact that the Grammys no longer televises the best rock album award and opts to televise the comedy category instead.

I don’t consider myself a rock artist, rather a folk artist, but it nevertheless prompted me to question the relevance of my own music in today’s world.

In her post, she says “…rock and roll is not the social, cultural, and political force it once was. That is not my opinion it’s a fact. Does that mean rock musicians don’t write good songs? No. It just means they’re not moving the cultural needle right now.”

Folk music is a broad term which covers a spectrum of styles that are collectively much older than rock. Rock inherently moved the cultural needle rather violently in the 1960s and for many years thereafter, whereas folk might be considered the quiet older cousin which has stayed under the radar in many respects. Whereas rock was a revolution that shook the world, folk has always had a more peaceful wisdom in its approach to questioning the social, cultural and political mores of the day.

Today, other art forms such as rap and comedy may be more appropriate to the current Zeitgeist than rock, but folk music still, like the proverbial tortoise, saunters along with a persistent quiet wisdom that says “We’ve seen this all before. Problems like these have been around since before we were born and they will probably be here after we die. It sucks sometimes, but that is life and we’re going to keep on making the best of it.”

I’m the first to admit that most of my songs aren’t going to garner the mass excitement of the Beatles in the 60s or Nirvana in the 90s. But I am confident that my music is relevant today because I am a student of the human condition and I write these songs because of a burning need to express what I see happening in the world around me, combined with the hope and faith that in some way they will make a difference.

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