What’s the opposite of hardcore? Excluding classical, folk music is probably a near perfect antithesis. I don’t have much of an intro for this, aside from thank you to everyone who read yesterday’s post, and sorry if I talk about myself a bit more (or too much) today. Hope you like what you’re about to read and hear!
Also, sorry if I get a bit misty eyed. StevenXonward – “Love, Scarlet”
Yesterday I put up a song by my old band, Ever Onward. Today I’m showing you what the “onward” in my name became. Initially I began playing acoustic shows as a means to supplement Ever Onward, and as a way to continue promoting the band throughout our many hiatuses. The pseudonym “StevenXonward” ended up sticking, and eventually became my main (and only) project. I don’t want to go too into why this song was written, as it’s kind of a bummer. Essentially, it’s about waiting for that perfect love. It’s probably my favorite of the songs I’ve written. If you like it, you can listen to more of my stuff at http://www.myspace.com/stevenxonward.
Kate Rusby – “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies”
This song has the ability to wreck whatever emotional state I may be in at any given moment, reducing me to a weeping sack of failure. I’m not wholly sure as to the subject matter of this song, but I’ve been told it’s about the death of Kate’s father or mother. This song wrecks me because that’s the immediate thought it conjures, and it forces me to face the mortality of my own parents. Kate Rusby is an English singer-songwriter, and my favorite female vocalist. I enjoy nearly every song she’s put out, and I’m secretly hoping to marry her and start a traveling folk music caravan. Well, at least that was supposed to be a secret.
The Dubliners – “Fiddler’s Green”
Did I ever mention me being a bit of an Irish nationalist? Well, yeah, as much as an American can be, I suppose. The Dubliners embody the spirit of Irish nationalism, with the late Luke Kelly being a Socialist Irish Republican. Along with Kelly, the late Ronnie Drew established The Dubliners as the musical face of Irish folk – really, all of Irish music in general. The Dubliners have done more to keep alive the musical culture and heritage of Ireland than any other artist. This song is about an old sailor on the verge of death, and holds a special place for me because I played it at a funeral for a friend of mine (and former employer).
The Chieftains – “The Lilly of the West”
The Chieftains are second only to the Dubliners in terms of invigorating the genre of traditional Irish folk music. The Chieftains took a very different approach to introducing traditional Irish music to the mainstream, in that they would record traditional folk covers of modern songs and country songs, and feature famous vocalists (Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, etc.). This song was originally penned by Joan Baez, I believe, and features Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits on vocals and guitar. This song is simply beautiful.
Masterless Men – “Now I’m 64”
Masterless Men are one of the lesser known Irish folk acts, but their catalog of songs is quite impressive. Renditions of “Far Away in Australia,” “Botany Bay,” and “The Foggy Shores of Home” are amongst my favorite folk songs. This song is their finest. Like Kate Rusby’s “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies,” this song also forces me to face the morality of my parents (actually my grandparents). Even typing this out makes me feel all emo inside, so I’ll stop here.
Richard Thompson - “Beeswing”
I love this song! Richard Thompson’s voice has an incredibly interesting timbre. The near constant vibrato is entrancing. This song is special to me because, like many of us, I once dated a woman whose free spirit could not relegated to being another’s partner for any significant period of time. I suppose she thought I might try to clip her wings, so to speak, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Ah well, these things make for good stories, and “Beeswing” is one of the best.
Ryan Adams – “Come Pick Me Up”
I’m not a huge fan of the surging Americana genre. I prefer my folk to be decidedly European. However, Ryan Adams is a true standout in the realms of Americana, and this song is his best. Not quite the sorrowful song that breakups generally inspire, this song is about being in love with someone who is not only wrong for you, but actively sabotaging you at every step. It’s a wonderful song, and especially wonderful to those of us who can relate to it.