THE MORE B.S. CONTEST No. 9

September 24, 2015 – 9:43 am

AIN’T GONNA WORK ON PETE SEEGER’S FARM NO MORE

With that arresting, electrifying and ultimately game-changing performance at Newport on July 25, 1965, fifty years ago, Bob Dylan returned folk music to the museums from where it remains. While popular music stormed to the top of commercial success, earning for its biggest stars salaries that were unimaginable in 1965.

A new book by Elijah Wald, Dylan Goes Electric! (click here to order), with a provocative second title “Newport, Seeger, Dylan and the night that split the Sixties”, offers its conclusion right on the cover. The Folk Movement died that night.

Wald writes that Dylan’s declaration of musical independence was the end of the folk revival, and the birth of rock as he became “the voice of a generation” - and his Newport performance was one of the defining moments in 20th-century music.

That is, if you consider a stab in the back for the folk movement a “defining moment”. From then on, pop culture embraced Mammon. For all its self-righteousness and rebellion, pop music has never been able to break the establishment. Pop culture became that very establishment it supposedly despised. All the trappings of power, all the flaunting of wealth, all the excesses of sex and drugs was convincing no one that it was waging any sort of protest against Mammon.

It looks like not working on Pete Seeger’s farm anymore meant slaving for the almighty dollar.

So, in the immortal words of a $ingaporean admiral, “what do you think?”

Your No B.S. comments will earn you a pass to free music.

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More B.S. Contest No. 1 (click here)
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Contest No. 01 / Contest No. 02 / Contest No. 03 / Contest No. 04 / Contest No. 05
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  1. 30 Responses to “THE MORE B.S. CONTEST No. 9”

  2. Pete Seeger learned “Wim-o-weh” off a 1939 record by Solomon Linda. Seeger accepted royalties until 2000, when a reporter for Rolling Stone let him know that Linda’s daughters were living in poverty.

    By jraoul on Sep 25, 2015

  3. One of the things that confuses me about music is the number of genres that are being banded about nowadays. One of my work colleagues was talking to me about ‘guitar bands’ and I was sure what he meant. I asked him to give me an example of a ‘guitar band’ and he quoted Oasis. My view on a ‘guitar band’ would be someone like AC/DC where, surely guitars are to the fore. They are certainly high profile! My colleague said, ‘No, AC/DC are a rock band’. Doesn’t make sense to me. So Oasis are classed as a guitar band because they have guitars, but AC/DC are not classed in the same genre!
    On the same basis, would the Beatles be a boy band – I mean, they’re all boys. Actually, they could be a guitar band as well. Where do we stop?
    When I was a teenager in the 60s, we didn’t have such a plethora of genres to categorise what we listened to. In those days, ‘folk’ fell mostly towards solo artistes and bands who played acoustic instruments and sang twee, pretty little songs – appealing to the older element. Dylan would certainly fall into that category. But if he picks up a Les Paul and runs it through a Marshall stack to play some of his oldies, does that mean it ceases to be folk? I’m not so sure.
    I’m also not sure whether any artiste has ever chosen an area and thought, “I’m going to play music that fits into that genre.” People write and perform music that is personal and built on their own attitudes and experiences. Their music will be bought by people who like it – and if a punter likes the sound of the acoustic guitar than the chances are, his/her collection will be made up mostly of acoustic artistes. But does that make him/her a folkie?
    It is unfair to classify bands in this was, I’m sure they don’t – they play original material and it is the punters who bracket them into categories. Just listen to the music and enjoy it for what it is

    By Daijj on Sep 25, 2015

  4. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Ultimately anything which catches public fancy: sports, film, music - once a form of rebellion becomes a gift from the poor to the rich. Consider sports anti-heroes like Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson, or Charles Barkley; we rarely see outspoken athletes today because people are too afraid of losing their commercial payday. Sadly, we live in a new Gilded Age where artists more than ever lead culture without providing anything substantial ideas to it. Heck, reports had Madonna spending most of her Philadelphia show last night blasting the Catholic Church - same tired act she has done for 30+ years!

    By Tony on Sep 25, 2015

  5. I like some folk stuff, but folk singers like Seeger were some of the most sanctimonious people out there. Like suddenly, because someone plays through an amp they’e not legitimate anymore? And even before then, people went at Dylan because he wasn’t writing protest songs anymore! There’s no pleasing some people, who want everything to remain in some idyllic past

    By Maria on Sep 26, 2015

  6. I tend to agree with Tony’s take. Most likely music has the power to alter inner mind states, not tear down the machine called capitalism. Bottom line is, a man’s gotta eat. But it’s nice to believe in dreams, otherwise we are only left with nightmares.

    By billy jack on Sep 26, 2015

  7. First let me say I agree with the above comments. The sanctamonious attitutde of the folkies, I will say that I feel that the music business is a two headed beast at best. The beatles were marketed as clean cut boy band dream machine for the teenage gum snapper audience. they were leather jacket spped taking rock n rollers starting out before they got homgognized. But so were the beach boys. I think the music business, like the film business, is a compromise of sell out enough records or make enough commercial films and then you can get freedom to express your own ideas. This is not as eloquent as I would like. Thank you for the the forum and the opportunity to weigh in on such an interesting and evocative subject. at the end of the day and at the beginning of the next we are all united by the religion of the love of music- and It’s power to transform transport, comfort, project emotions, soothe and heal. Freedom Rocks

    By Sean on Sep 26, 2015

  8. Music is music. Everyone has an opinion. If you don’t like what you hear, don’t listen. And people need to stop being so judgmental about it.

    By Phil on Sep 26, 2015

  9. Dylan has always gone out of his way to defy expectations so best not have any. Who wants to be “the voice of a generation” anyway? The songs were already getting much personal, this was a logical step.
    As humans, we love to go back & create “defining moments” when it’s just another inevitable tick in time.
    We’re surrounded by so much wonderful MUSIC - can we actually listen to it instead of putting it into boxes?

    By tajackson on Sep 27, 2015

  10. go to cropredy each year, see the rehash of airport & other english folkies, for the most boring weekend of your life..

    By Liam on Sep 27, 2015

  11. the folk scare was goofier than McCarthyism.

    By sluggo on Sep 28, 2015

  12. Pop culture and pop music are mutually exclusive. Dylan is one artist who has always rejected the idea that his music and he were the spokesperson for any movement. It’s art. Interpret it as you will. Any inspiration drawn from it is your own, not the artists’.

    By steve22 on Sep 28, 2015

  13. I’m sorry to say I can no longer take Dylan seriously since that album a few years ago where he did versions of well-known songs (Rollin’ & Tumblin’ is the only one that comes to mind at the moment), changed a word here and there and took the composer’s credit for them. Very disappointed.

    Whatever happened to ‘Trad. Arr.’ ??

    By jack bond on Sep 29, 2015

  14. i dont know that folk ends with electric instruments. but i never realized there were so many categories for music til i joined a torrent site and found that they were separating music into dozens and dozens of categories that i had never dreamed of.. i mean.. desert surf? wtf? when i compiled a list of my recordings back in 88-95 i put some bands in categories so that when ppl asked me for lists i would say that i cant send u a full list because its 100s of pages.. but if u give me some bands or styles of music i can send u those types of lists.. then when they said blues they got artists and bands they might not have expected. i put many bands in more than one category so when i did a query on the computer for all the bands or artists that i had in my collection that fell under certain genres theyd all show up and the list id have to send out was still a very long list. but at least not 100s of pages.
    many ppl were surprised i put santana and allmans under blues. hey thats how i did things.
    i dont necessarily think that with folk its not a money generating enterprise and once it went electric thats where the interest in the almighty dollar comes in. folk doesnt have to be all about protest.. there are just as many songs that are folk that are about love or jesus or heartbreak or some other area of subject matter. folk and blues are not that far removed from one another. both are inherent to american history. both essentially started around the same time give or take a few yrs too. theres a little cross over as well. both began with acoustic instruments and went into electric around the same time.
    interestingly both had films made the same year devoted to massive pioneers in their respective fields - woody guthrie and leadbelly.. 1976. both films are incredible.
    as for seeger.. it might be of interest to note.. that his primary reason for leaving the weavers in 1954 was their decision to do a lucky strike commercial ad. he was an extreme anti smoking proponent. he strongly objected to the entire idea that the band would do such a commercial endeavor. it led to such a falling out that he saw no way to remain with the others any longer. he was never about the dollar. that isnt to say he was not out to make money to live on and to put in the directions he felt needed it. money makes things happen. celebrity status gets ppl to listen. music absolutely makes ppl pay attention. things happen in a positive way when people put the effort to make them happen like many of our early folk musicians who protested and got people in an uproar over one thing or another. whether it be civil rights or a war we werent supposed to be in or equality among the 2 sexes etc.

    By darth on Sep 29, 2015

  15. I dunno. Yeah, some folkies were annoyingly sanctimonious, although I don’t actually count Seeger among them; the rumors he wanted to shut down the power at Newport were just that–rumors. Seeger also had Mimi & Dick Farina on his TV show, which was really far out.

    I think Joe Boyd’s take on the whole thing in his book ‘White Bicycles’ was the best. Yes, Newport was a great defining moment in music, and yes, it killed the past.

    Well, sort of. The thing is, nobody bothered to tell the people in the hinterlands that ‘folk’ was dead. So away from NYC and LA, kids kept playing PP&M, Dylan, and other folk-influenced material well into the 1970s. Hundreds of private-press albums from the time confirm this.

    By Stu Shea on Sep 30, 2015

  16. I reject the notion that “It looks like not working on Pete Seeger’s farm anymore meant slaving for the almighty dollar.” It’s not an either/or. Sure, many rockers and pop musicians alike are sellout opportunists. But many are seeking something other than political impact with their music. Also, just because someone is successful in their field doesn’t necessarily mean they are compromised.

    By Jeremy Shatan on Oct 1, 2015

  17. Darth, I hate to have to pick on you, but when a self-described music expert like yourself gets so many things so wrong, you need to be set straight. It is undeniable that there has been considerable overlap between blues and folk music, but they are not basically the same beast. Folk music is not a unique American art form, unlike blues. In fact, every single culture on the face of the Earth has had its own folk music traditions, most likely dating to prehistoric times. Folk music is traditionally the music of the lower socioeconomic classes and generally is passed down from generation to generation, relies on simple, repetitive melodies or chord progressions, and is usually played on one or more simple instruments. Lyrical topics are broad, but there is always a concern for the daily plight of the underclass and laborers. Love songs and religious themes are common, as you mentioned. Blues, on the other hand, can be traced to the late 1800s America, and the form seems to be an outgrowth of black field hollers and work songs. J. C. Handy formalized the classic 12-bar blues and the common blues chord progressions. Up until the 1960s blues revival, virtually all blues performers were itinerant black men and women (notable exceptions are Eddie Lang, George Barnes, and early Gene Autry). Prior to WWII, most blues musicians were from Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, and a few other Southern states, including the Carolinas. Folk music, on the other hand, has always been played in America by people of all races and nationalities and from all regions of the country. Folk went electric in the mid 1960s. Blues, on the other hand, had readily embraced amplification by the mid 1940s, twenty years earlier than folk. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Joe Williams, T-Bone Walker, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Ike Turner, and Elmore James are just a few of the pioneering electric blues guitarists who started plugging in in the 1940s. Finally, you assert that Leadbelly was a blues pioneer. In fact, less than five percent of Leadbelly’s recorded output is in the blues idiom. Huddie Ledbetter was an amazing human jukebox of all genres and styles of music, from country to children’s songs to field hollers to show tunes to pop hits to protest songs to tender ballads to dark story songs of murder and madness to ragtime, and, yes, even to blues. Leadbelly was unclassifiable, but he definitely fits most comfortably into the category of his friends Woody Guthrie and Josh White: folk music. The misattribution of Leadbelly as a blues artist reflects both unfamiliarity with Leadbelly’s full body of work, along with the stereotyping of a black musician from the 1930s and 1940s. Darth, nobody knows everything about music. If you are not well-versed in a certain area, there is no shame in remaining silent on the topic, rather than embarrassing yourself by making up stories out of whole cloth.

    By Lightning Popkins on Oct 1, 2015

  18. WASTING YOUR TIME LIGHTNING .

    By dropkick sarge on Oct 2, 2015

  19. @ Lightning Popkins , never the less, it was a well written comment and an enjoyable read, Thank You

    By GMAL on Oct 3, 2015

  20. Dylan’s performance at Newport was more symbolic than defining. Most of the brou-ha-ha (sorry, I just had to throw that in there - you don’t get to use brou-ha-ha that often) was because it was AT the Newport FOLK Festival and, even though there were some amplified electric performances, most were expecting or used to seeing acoustic folk/blues performances. When I listen to the performance I hear most of the audience really digging it! And Bob encores with some amazing acoustic songs as well. The times were changing regardless of Newport. From little things like the wider availability of electric guitars to bigger things like VietNam, Folk was destined to decline (but never die!). Most people who listened to music in 1965 probably never heard of the Newport performance until much later when some egghead journalist decided to label it as The Day Folk Music Died - baloney!

    By Elvislives on Oct 4, 2015

  21. I can remember when groups like the Kingston Trio got a lot of airplay on AM radio and they were pretty commercial. I think the death knell for folk music came not in 1965 but in 1964 when the Beatles came to America. After the Beatles, who wanted to listen to an old looking man with a banjo singing about unions? Dylan recognized this and at Newport he strapped on an electric guitar and that was his first reinvention. The Beatles certainly influenced Dylan to go electric and there is a photo somewhere of Dylan actually looking at electric guitars in a music shop window. Pete Seeger didn’t want the folk scene to die as it was his bread and butter. In the end, it always comes down to the money.

    By Mackster on Oct 4, 2015

  22. really enjoyed reading the comments…. this group of ‘big o heads’ have a lot to say!

    as big bill broozy said ‘all music is folk music, I ain’t never heard no horses sing’

    By mike on Oct 4, 2015

  23. Like Frank Zappa says
    Information is not knowledge.
    Knowledge is not wisdom.
    Wisdom is not truth.
    Truth is not beauty.
    Beauty is not love.
    Love is not music.
    Music is THE BEST.

    Folk music is still Music.

    By John on Oct 6, 2015

  24. “Sometimes it’s a fine line between Joni and Yoko.”

    Flo and Eddie said that.

    By Tom L on Oct 16, 2015

  25. What a total crock! No single musician, Dylan included, “killed” folk music.

    Every fan - either of the music or of Dylan - had the choice of staying put and listening to the same anodyne crap (Little Boxes, anyone? Jamaica Farewell?) from tired old repackagers … or moving forward.

    That so many followers chose to move forward and abandon the traditionalists demonstrates very clearly that the tradition was tired, past its use-by-date and ready to wither.

    By the mid-60s Dylan’s fans were not following him in the hope he would sing Little Boxes - they followed him because he was changing their world with lyrics that Seeger never had the wit to write or the balls to sing:

    There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
    It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’

    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is rapidly agin’

    and, of course, lines like

    You hide in your mansion
    As young people’s blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud

    The anger, the truth, the rebellion was screaming out long before the guitar was amplified.

    Mr Wald’s book may tell an amusing story and include amazingly accurate 50-year-old quotes never before written down, but I think that sub-title sets the tone… he’s out to make money, so fuck the truth and screw intelligent analysis.

    Whatever… I’ll keep listening to Dylan, old and new, and enjoy his maturity and insight while the bleating masses wank on.

    By (the actual) Tony on Oct 18, 2015

  26. Folk music is not dead, it is still around. What used to be called folk is just a style, its authenticity came from the connection that formed between the music creator, (the songwriter or performer) and the listener.

    Folk is alive today, as are many other styles of performance. It’s the authenticity factor that is valued and not seen so often. Dylan has it, his style is his own, the Grateful Dead have it, their style defies normal categories. As for the others out there, let the listener decide. If the ears hear it, but the heart remains unmoved, it is just noise.

    By Buddy SantaMaria on Nov 9, 2015

  27. Hey Folks not dead. Newport was at most people getting pissed because Dylan forsook a vow of chastity that he never took in the first place. From Phil Ochs through The Minutemen, The Clash Ani DiFranco, protest music never stopped. All that stopped was protest identifying with that guy with an acoustic guitar in a coffeehouse thinking Hey, this could get me laid.

    By NotAtAllTony on Nov 14, 2015

  28. Without robbie robertson’s guitar, Dylan wouldn’t have turned ELECTRIC….: think about it…!

    By mik on Dec 15, 2015

  29. Seeger was for socialism but that sort of takes you away from capitalism, and even he had to eat

    By Walter on Dec 23, 2015

  30. if it hadn’t been for the existence of the capitalist labels, nobody would have been able to access the music, we would all have been the losers. Electrification is just progress, c’est la vie

    By Liam NSW on Sep 14, 2016

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