I started to begin this blog post simply stating that “I like folk music”. As I began typing out the words I could feel the judgmental stare of a couple of my friends that actually like folk music. I don’t actually like folk music. I like hipster indie versions of folk music. I like folk music that is best experienced live in a college bar while holding a bottle of an obscure, hoppy American beer. I like folk music that gets mentioned on the right websites by the right people.
Anyway, I enjoy the simplicity of folk music. I appreciate the fact that talented singer/songwriters can carefully craft a song from nothing more that a delightfully catchy melody and a handful of thoughtful lyrics. I appreciate the fact that a well-constructed folk song can be just as poignant sung by one person holding an acoustic guitar as it can be played by an entire band. I appreciate that you don’t have to be much of a musician to write folk songs… you just have to know the basics and be able to sing about things that are found common with all humanity.
Here is the problem with folk music: there are a lot of people that have abused the simplicity of the genre in the pursuit of fame and renown. There are people that think that they can be folk musicians because they can play guitar and happen to have scribbled a few thoughts down in a notepad.
You see, there is no formula to folk music. There is, for that matter, no formula to any sort of art. When you try to create art with a formula you end up with something inauthentic and stale. People can tell the difference between art that is true, honest, and beautiful art that is created with improper aspirations for success and pride.