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johnross Review: yer fave books on mid-20th c. folk/rock? (19) RE: Review: yer fave books on mid-20th c. folk/rock? 11 Mar 06


Ritchie Unterberger's two books on the transition from folk music to folk-rock are excellent: "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Eight Miles High," both published by Backbeat Books.

For an inside view of the folk revival as it evolved in Greenwich Village, look for Dave van Ronk's "The Mayor of MacDougal Street."

"Bringing It All Back Home: Twenty-Five Years of American Music at Folk City," by Robbie Woliver covers a lot of the same territory, but without van Ronk's insights.

There have been several books on the American Folk Revival that track it from the days when folk music was a political organizing tool for the left, through the Folk Scare of the sixties:

"Romancing the Folk: Public Memory & American Roots Music," by Benjamin Filene

"Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival & American Society," by Ronald D.Cohen

"Transforming Tradition: Folk Music Revivals Examined," edited by Neil V. Rosenberg

"When We Were Good: The Folk Revival," by Robert Cantwell

And two excellent biographies (along with the Joe Klien book on Woody Guthria mentioned earlier) offer detailed information about essential participants in the revival:

"Lonesome Traveler: The Life of Lee Hays," by Doris Willens

"How Can I Keep From Singing: Pete Seeger," by David King Dunaway

The most extensive description of the early days of the revival I have seen is in the book that accompanies the Bear Family 10-CD set called "Songs For Political Action."

If you can find them, two old paperbacks from the Sixties both provided contemporary views of the Folk Scrare as it was happening:

"Freedom In The Air: Song Movements of the 60's," by Josh Dunson

"The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival," edited by David A. DeTurk and A. Poulin, Jr.


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