Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The '80s Folk Music Revival

The Washington Squares
The '80s is sometimes, rightly, identified with the colorful and quirky new wave musical movement, or perhaps with the hard rock of glam metal, or with any number of varied other genres, such as the roots rock of Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp. But the 1980s was a tremendously vibrant and culturally varied decade, with many cultural subgroups expressing themselves in different ways. One of them was a new generation of folk revivalists.

Folk music is probably most identified with the protest era of the 1960s, through musicians such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter Paul & Mary, but folk has both strong roots in previous eras, and also often reappeared throughout subsequent eras. The '80s folk revival was represented by such artists as Traci Chapman, Suzanne Vega, the Indigo Girls, Michelle Shocked, and the Washington Squares. I vividly remember Chapman's "Fast Car," and Suzanne Vega's "Luka," serious songs dealing with serious issues, on the radio when I first started college.  

Above is a great 1983 report about the folk scene at the legendary Folk City in New York's Greenwich Village, which now featured '80s folk revivalists The Washington Squares.  (Thanks and acknowledgement to Dnikdoog1.)

Here's the Washington Squares doing their version of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows." (Thanks and acknowledgement to Dnikdoog1.)

Here's another group that was more visible toward the end of the '80s, the Indigo Girls with 1989's "Closer to Fine." I remember this song fondly from the beginning of my college years.   (Thanks and acknowledgement to IndigoGirlsVEVO.)

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