Mudcat Café message #2226507 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107324   Message #2226507
Posted By: Don Firth
01-Jan-08 - 10:18 PM
Thread Name: 'A Mighty Wind' on Irish TV tonight TG4
Subject: RE: 'A Mighty Wind' on Irish TV tonight TG4
I guess people's musical preferences are sometimes a bit like baby ducks imprinting on the first thing they see. My musical background was pretty eclectic. I grew up listening to pop music programs ("Your Hit Parade"), the Longines Symphonette (light classics), the Metropolitan Opera, and The Grand Ole Opry, plus I used to listen to a classical music radio station when I did my homework because I found it more conducive to studying than a lot of the pop stations that teenagers listened to (up-tempo pop tunes and nattering DJs that I found distracting.

I became an opera nut when I was in my late teens (weird kid!) and even took a couple of years' singing lessons from a retired opera singer, but I had no idea what I would ever do with my singing, if anything. Then, in college, I fell in with questionable companions (Sandy Paton was living in Seattle at the time) and developed an interest in folk music. This was 1952 or so. I heard Walt Robertson in a live concert, and that's what really got me turned on. Just like listening to a medieval troubadour holding an audience enthralled for about two hours worth of songs and ballads, most of which I had never heard before. I decided on the spot, "I want to do that!" I hit Walt up for guitar lessons the following Monday.

When the Kingston Trio and other such groups started appearing on the national music scene, I sort of put them in the same category as pop singers like Giselle MacKenzie, an American-born Scottish lassie who often sang songs like "Charlie is my Darlin'," (non-historical, non-political version) while wearing a kilt and a tam (unsophisticated audiences were oblivious to the fact that she was wearing male attire, but they accepted it as "Scottish"—or "Scotch," which is not a nationality, but a whisky) and interspersing a few steps of the Highland Fling between verses. Cute, but not exactly what you would call "authentic." I had no idea the Kingston Trio would catch on like they did, but I guess that was some people's first exposure to folk music in any form.

Joan Baez blew me away the first time I heard one of her records (her first record on Vanguard, opening cut, "Silver Dagger"). Wow! I met her during the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962, then again at the 1964 Berkeley Folk Festival. Nice gal! I heard an interview with her recently, in which the interviewer tried to put her on the spot, asking her what singers she particularly listened to and liked currently. She chuckled and said, "I listen to a lot of opera these days." (!) I had often wondered, with that voice of hers, if she had ever been tempted to haul in a lungful of air and belt out something like Casta Diva or Sempre Libera!

I'm afraid I never did learn to appreciate Bob Dylan. But then, I like Richard Dyer-Bennet, who is not everybody's cup of tea. Matters of taste, I guess.

I have preferences, as does everyone, but all music has value. To claim it doesn't demonstrates merely that one has shrunk one's focus, and says nothing about the music itself.

Don Firth