inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #76 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Tue 23 Sep 03 17:59
Darrell, I posted a fairly long list of the things that most surprised
me in my research last year in post #9 in topic 160 of inkwell.vue,
where I talked about "Turn! Turn! Turn!" I'll re-post those in a day or
two here, but as it's a long list I'll wait until catching up on all
the other questions. Instead I just wanted to note a couple of more
general things I hadn't posted in that response.

One is that the more microscopically I looked at folk-rock, the more
it seemed to me that there were actually a lot more influences than
"folk" and "rock" coming into the mix, particularly the later the
decade went. We've talked about the influence of jazz and Indian/world
music on psychedelicizing folk-rock already. But there was lots of
other stuff going into the mix too. Here are just some: the smooth
jazz/pop harmonies heard in the vocal arrangements of the Mamas & the
Papas; the Motown influence on the Lovin' Spoonful's first hit, "Do You
Believe in Magic?" (which John Sebastian talked about long before I
wrote the book); the Beach Boys influence on the rhythm guitar of the
Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," which is quite similar to the guitar on
the earlier Beach Boys' classic "Don't Worry Baby"; jazz pianist-singer
Mose Allison on the Richard & Mimi Farina classic "Reno Nevada" (an
influence Mimi specifically referred to when I asked her about the
song); classical string arrangements on some of Nick Drake's material;
film scores on Donovan's "Sunshine Supeman" album, via arranger John
Cameron; beatnik literature on the Incredible String Band (according to
Robin Williamson); gospel on Simon & Garfunkel; the Bee Gees on the

Well, you get the idea; there are many, many other instances. This, I
think, is part of why many musicians we often call "folk-rock" never
liked the label much, including Bob Dylan himself. They think of
themselves more as musicians, rather than folk or rock or folk-rock
musicians, open to anything. What folk-rock did was not so much combine
folk and rock in equal or different measures, but use folk-rock as a
core around which to explore an infinite number of creative tangents.
That's part of the reason it holds up, and why it was able to maintain
my interest over two or three years of research; there were always
interesting variations and alleys to explore, even if the harmonies,
melodies, and lyrics often made the material more recognizably
folk-rock than any other style.

Something else that struck me only after doing most of the research
and writing is how many of these musicians knew each other, and how
often they influenced each other, often in ways that you don't read
about often, like Joni Mitchell citing Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" as an
inspiration for her early character song-sketches, like "Marcie."
Unearthing some of these unexpected connections has been one of the
most interesting and satisfying things about what I've written, in both
this and previous books of mine. And how those influences lead to some
communal music making leads to the next comment...
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #77 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Tue 23 Sep 03 18:48
Going to the query about communal music making, really that wasn't a
big part of folk-rock; that was something that got to be more common as
the '70s started. But, as noted a little earlier in the post about
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, CSNY could be seen as a little bit of
a communal pool of musicmakers in some respects, though an imperfect
one. And though those guys weren't only identified with the L.A. music
scene, that's where the CSNY combination came together, for the most
part. Stephen Stills had earlier made an early move in the communal
musicmaking direction by playing on the Al Kooper-Mike
Bloomfield-Stephen Stills "Super Session" album.

It does seem as though CSNY in particular helped kick a communal, or
quasi-communal anyway, approach to rock musicmaking off in California
as the '60s turned to the '70s. You also had Crosby producing Joni
Mitchell's first album (I think his finest extra-group achievement);
Stephen Stills playing on a little of Mitchell's first album; John
Sebastian helping CSNY get off the ground and playing harmonica on
"Deja Vu"; Stephen Stills playing guitar on Judy Collins's "Who Knows
Where the Time Goes"; Jerry Garcia playing guitar on CSNY's "Teach Your
Children"; CSNY advising the Grateful Dead on their vocal harmonies
for "Workingman's Dead"; Jefferson Airplane covering Crosby's "Triad";
Paul Kantner of the Airplane writing "Wooden Ships" with David Crosby
and Stephen Stills, and both CSN and the Airplane recording the song.
And interpersonal romances sometimes bled over into the work of this
crowd too, as in Mitchell's romances with Crosby and then Graham Nash,
and Stills and Collins having a romance around the time of the "Who
Knows Where the Time Goes" album. There had, of course, been instances
of friends helping friends out years before this; the Mamas & the Papas
got their big break after doing backup vocals for Barry McGuire, and
Jerry Garcia, famously, played guitar on the Airplane's "Surrealistic
Pillow" (though, interestingly, producer Rick Jarrard denies that
Garcia did this in Jeff Tamarkin's recent Airplane bio).

I speculated in the book that the whole communal vibe of CSNY and
their circle might have actually been an outgrowth of how they lived
and made music in their young struggling days in the mid-1960s. Before
they went electric, David Crosby, Paul Kantner, David Freiberg (later
of Quicksilver Messenger Service), and Sherry Snow had shared a
communal-style house in Venice, California. In Greenwich Village, a lot
of the musicians met at hootennies or playing in Washington Square. By
the end of the decade, though, obviously the musicians were wealthier,
far more famous, and far more able to pool their resources on record
if they wished.

I reckon that recording artists had much greater freedom to indulge in
some form of communal musicmaking once they had made big names for
themselves. I think musicians that hadn't were much more eager to make
names for themselves as solo artists or within groups before going into
loose collaborative projects. There was a fairly little-known
late-'60s attempt by Elektra Records to breed a communal band in the
Northern California mountains, including Jackson Browne among other
musicians and songwriters. There was an unreleased album that actually
resulted from this, "Baby Browning," though Elektra president Jac
Holzman told me that it "sucks." Holzman talks about this some in his
recommended autobiography-cum-Elektra oral history, "Follow the Music."
Producer Frazier Mohawk, who was also involved in "Baby Browning,"
told me that the idea was to remove all these young promising artists
from the stresses of the city so they could be maximally creative. In
his view, ironically, as it turned out those precise urban stresses
were what was needed to make their creative juice flow, and without the
city stimuli, the great songs just weren't there.

One thing that surprised me in researching the book, having lived in
L.A. for a few years in the mid-1980s, was that some singer-songwriters
of the time described L.A. as a tight-knit community with people
dropping into each other's houses and sharing songs, sometimes dropping
in on each other's recording sessions and playing on those. In some
neighborhoods, like around the Santa Monica-Venice border or West
Hollywood, sometimes they'd even walk over to each houses. By the time
I was living there, you hardly ever saw anyone walking around anywhere,
and it seemed like there was a lot of isolation between creative
individuals, due in large part to the sheer vast size of the city and
the necessity to drive a car a lot of the time -- things you don't come
across nearly as much in New York or London, for example.

In Jac Holzman's opinion, back in the '60s this sort of groupthink
thing was actually much more apt to happen in California than New York,
the other great seat of folk-rock power in North America. "In my
opinion. California in that period was a hangin'-out place," he told
me. "People would just get together, in that they would coagulate into
a group. The social scene was extremely flexible and flowing. People
were in and out of bands day by day. Everybody was up at everybody's
house. The whole Laurel Canyon thing was happening. It was extremely
fluid. It was a very special dynamic that was going on, that New York
was not conducive to. You know, you don't sort of lie out under the
stars in New York, and get loaded, and pass the guitar around, smoke a
joint, do harmonies. That doesn't happen in New York that easily. But
it sure happened in L.A."

You might say a bit of communal music-making happened in London in the
British folk-rock scene inasmuch as you found some members of groups
playing on other artists' records, like Richard Thompson of Fairport
playing on albums by Nick Drake, Dave Pegg of Fairport playing on
albums by Nick Drake and John Martyn, Simon Nicol of Fairport on a Joe
Boyd-produced album by Vashti Bunyan, Robin Williamson on albums by
Bunyan and Shirley Collins, and Danny Thompson of Pentangle on albums
by a whole bunch of people, from Nick Drake and the Incredible String
Band to Donovan and John Martyn, and even live with Tim Buckley when he
performed in the UK. This seems to have been guided a lot by Boyd's
Witchseason Production company being comfortable using some of the
musicians in the stable for various projects, however, and not so much
by the communal California hangin' out-type ethic.

Yet ultimately, I do think that the best folk-rock was made by more
focused groups and solo artists rather than looser communal projects.
The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Fairport, and the Mamas & the
Papas might have had stormy interpersonal relations, and often instable
personnel, but I think common goals and creative tension were
instrumental to creating better music. But then, ultimately, solo
ambitions and personal growth made it impossible to continue for more
than short bursts of time. This wasn't solely a folk-rock phenomenon by
any means; the Beatles, the most cohesive rock group ever, eventually
grew apart in large part because they had solo ambitions and specific
songwriting approaches that couldn't be contained within the band
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #78 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Tue 23 Sep 03 19:22
As to California's dominance of folk-rock, actually I would say that
'60s folk-rock was overwhelmingly dominated by performers based in, and
records recorded in, either New York or Los Angeles. Sometimes it even
seems that much or most of it was coming from two specific
neighborhoods, those being Greenwich Village and West Hollywood-Sunset
Strip. San Francisco came to play a strong role in folk-rock starting
in '66-67, but even then, most of the records done by Bay Area groups
were recorded in L.A. and even New York. The Airplane didn't record in
the studio in San Francisco until 1969 and "Volunteers," for instance.
And London had a fairly strong role in folk-rock when the British brand
of the music gathered steam in the late 1960s.

There were a few other areas that were strong feeding grounds for
folk-rock, in large part because of the strong folk/coffeehouse
circuits in which folk-rockers got their folk schooling, particularly
Toronto (where Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Ian & Sylvia did time),
Boston (Tom Rush, Richard & Mimi Farina, some of the Youngbloods),
Austin (where Janis Joplin and Jerry Jeff Walker played folk for a
time), and Coconut Grove, Florida (where Fred Neil, David Crosby, and
some others did some wintering). There were folk-rock acts of
considerable merit from some areas other than California or New York,
like the Blue Things (from Kansas, and who sounded like the Byrds bred
with the Beau Brummels) and the Daily Flash (from Seattle, though even
they tried to make a go of it in California for a while).

But what made New York and L.A. so prominent? Simple -- those two
cities had the overwhelming majority of big record companies, big
studios, big management, big publishing, big club circuit, big
everything music and entertainment business. And in the case of New
York, in Greenwich Village by far the biggest concentration of the folk
community, from which much of the folk-rock community and many of the
New York rock clubs grew out of.  Tom Rush specifically told me he felt
like he needed to move to New York just to keep an eye on his record
company, management, and booking agent, and just to be where the
industry was. Recording-wise, Nashville did come into much greater
prominence in folk-rock and folk-rock's spinoff country-rock toward the
end of the 1960s, as a lot of acts recorded there: Bob Dylan (who'd
actually first recorded there in 1966 for "Blonde on Blonde"), Joan
Baez, Eric Andersen, Ian & Sylvia, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie,
John Stewart, Country Joe McDonald, the Beau Brummels, even Pearls
Before Swine and the Holy Modal Rounders.

Why didn't more acts record outside of L.A. and New York? Well, the
studios weren't deemed to be nearly as good in more far-flung regional
areas back then, even in some large cities like Boston and Toronto.
Sylvia Tyson of Ian & Sylvia told me that they did try to record in
Toronto once, after being assured that the studio they were using had
four-track. But when they went in to try to do the album, what the
studio actually had was two Ampex two-tracks, "kind of fastened
together. And they were out of sync!"

For all those reasons, I tend to think that the most talented
folk-rockers, as well as musicians in general that were the most
ambitious and devoted to making a professional career out of what they
were doing, gravitated to New York and California. Or even London,
where virtually everything was recorded in the UK in the 1960s; even
the Irish group the Johnstons, who I cover in the book, moved to London
and recorded there. That's why you don't hear much about folk-rock
from elsewhere; probably some good folk-rock bands and
singer-songwriters were based far from the big areas that never got a
chance to record. And there was some good folk-rock recorded now and
then by artists not based in or recording in New
York/California/London, but to be honest I haven't come across a whole
lot of it.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #79 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Tue 23 Sep 03 19:57
I drew in how the sociocultural context of the time affected folk-rock
and vice versa throughout the books, though I kept the focus much more
on the music than the other factors. It's an area which could generate
hundreds of paragraphs, so here I'll just mention a few of the themes
that interested me a lot; ask follow-ups on real specific aspects if
you want.

It's been said a lot in other books and media about the '60s so I
didn't overplay it, but yes, anti-war protest had a lot to do with
making young people more socially conscious in general, and in turn
making them more receptive to music that made them think as well as
entertain them. That said, I think a lot of historians overgeneralize
that folk-rock and '60s rock in general was dominated by protest songs.
There were a good amount of those, and they were an important part of
folk-rock, but they were just a minority part. Much more common than
protest songs were songs of obscure poetry, reflections on
psychological inner states, celebration, and good old romance, though
often expressed in more literary/poetic terms than many songs of the
past had. Bob Dylan, still sometimes rather sloppily referred to in
passing as the preeminent protest singer in mid-1960s folk-rock, had
actually abandoned topical/protest songwriting by early 1964, after his
third album, and a year or so before going electric.

The '60s were also a time of greater sexual openness, drug
experimentation, anti-authoritianism of many kinds, and (more toward
the end of the '60s) the beginnings of strong feminist and ecological
movements. You see that represented in much folk-rock of the time as
well (and also in a good deal of mid-to-late-'60s rock as a whole).

More subtly, there were some shifts in social demographics that opened
up the audience for folk-rock too. Because of the baby boom, there
were more high-school and college-age people than at any previous point
in history. Many of them entered college in 1965, the precise age at
which intellectual curiosity in general is expanding rapidly, or so we
hope. Many of them had grown up with rock'n'roll. So at exactly the
time where rock'n'roll got lyrically and more musically ambitious, via
folk-rock and other forms, the audience was falling into place for it
about as well as it could be, without purist preconceptions that had
made many in folk music think that anything to do with rock'n'roll and
pop was an artistic and commercial sellout. And other factors like the
Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and increased social activism
in general made them more inclined to listen to music with a message,
and more subtly with to music with new structures that themselves
challenged the previous musical status quo.

An odd tension of folk-rock, though, was that it was reliant to some
degree on the very social structures it was challenging to get its
message across. AM radio, big record companies like Columbia, TV shows
like Ed Sullivan, write-ups in teen magazines -- they were all
necessary to sell records and be stars (though Dylan did manage to
avoid appearing on gauche TV shows for the most part). I would argue
that folk-rock was all the more effective and wider in its impact by
getting exposed through these mainstream channels, bringing a musical
and lyrical message to far more people than purist folk artists could
have, without diluting the quality of the music or lyrics (indeed,
these weren't diluted but expanded). But it was still an odd conundrum
that almost all artists had to use the tools of the Establishment to
get an anti-establishment message across.

Arlo Guthrie commented on this tension in one of my favorite quotes in
the books:

"That volatile combination of what we called folk-rock was about the
only means of communication open to people who were otherwise powerless
around the world. The corporations, the businessmen and women who were
controlling the entertainment business, did not understand the lyrics
of the songs that they were selling. The guys on the radio didn't get
it. The guys that owned the radio had no connection with the music, in
terms of understanding it. For the first time, there was an explosion
of all different kinds of music being played. And the lyrics were
unintelligible. Not just the lyrics -- the philosophy, the heart of it,
was unreadable, unknowable, to the people who controlled the industry.

"So all of a sudden, all around the world, for a very short time ....
imagine a world where everybody's got a radio, and all of a sudden
everybody's saying what they really think, in words that you could
understand, but that your parents couldn't. That's what folk-rock was
all about. It communicated and expressed all of the stuff we were
talking about [and] thinking about. Whether it was sex, whether it was
drugs, whether it was rock and roll, whether it was end of the war,
clean the air, fix this, do that. All of it combined. The whole thing
all of a sudden was open. A floodgate had opened, because we were using
a language that couldn't be understood over whose system we were using
to communicate it. And it was so wonderful. People were walking down
the street plain laughing, just having a great time, because all of a
sudden, it was free.

"It didn't last really long,. They figured it out pretty quick, and a
lot of was shut down, and a lot of the guys just plain died, 'cause
some of it was self-destructive. But for a little while, it was pretty
cool. You've experienced this in the first days of the Internet, when
everything was free, when you could say anything you wanted to, and you
could talk to anybody you wanted to. The only difference is that when
the Internet exploded, not everybody had computers." 
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #80 of 254: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 24 Sep 03 04:45
Richie being from the east coast and perhaps of another time,
I'm curious what your point of view is on the differences between San
Francisco culturally and musically during the folk-rock peak years.

Do you think in anyway 'rap' has found a similar secret
code for youth in the 90's as folkrock in the 60's 
or is the media and the message completely different now?

<Dam> above mentioned not enough lead-time for the wellsters
to get in on this discussion more.  There are only so many
hours in the day, but there are also fairly active topics
that a short note would of gotten a lot of attention from.
Namely the 'Byrds' topic, 'D.Crosby's' ever going clubbers,
'Niel Young' and the eternal GD conf, I thought more 
folks would be here.

Having not read any of the books though should not stop
those who are into this type of music IMHO from reflecting
here.  I havn't read either of the books --- 
I'm just a diehard Byrd's fan, the Byrds were far 
more central to my 60's experience than the Beatles or 
the the Stones, or any other group of the time.
Buffalo Springfield and the spinoffs of both groups 
justly stoked the potentialities of the formula to 
ongoing delight.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #81 of 254: Berliner (captward) Wed 24 Sep 03 06:40
I finished my re-read of the book last night, and was particularly
impressed by the way you demonstrated the connection between the folk
festival and the rock festival. 

These, of course, all came out of the jazz festival, and I think the
overriding message of such events right from the beginning was "People
tell you that this is a marginalized music, but look how many of us
there are." Up until Woodstock, too, they drew manageable numbers of
people, but of course after that, there was one disaster after another
(at least in the U.S.: the tradition continues solidly in Europe, where
Roskilde is just the top of the heap and there are many, many more)
until nobody put any more on. 

George Clinton, though, used to get really irritated about Woodstock.
"People tell you that was the beginning of it all. Bull*shit* it was.
It was the end! It was where the Man discovered he could sell you your
own culture right back to you and you were too stupid to know better. I
was shocked to see people selling drugs at Woodstock. *Selling* them!
We used to get enough to pay for our own stash and sell pretty much at
cost, or trade, but at Woodstock it was all for sale. And they sold you
your ticket and they sold you the movie and the album afterwards. It
was the end of the Sixties." A good point, I've always thought, and
worthy of discussion.

And, apropos of absolutely nothing except that I've been meaning to
post it for several days now, were you aware that Ari Campbell, lead
singer of the MOR/reggae group UB40, is Ian Campbell's son? 
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #82 of 254: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 24 Sep 03 07:19
This is all fabulously interesting, and I'm learning loads, Richie.
For instance, I had never thought a lot about the growth of radio and
the development of folk-rock.

I'm wondering to what extent "folk-rock" describes a real thing and to
what extent it's just a marketing construct. It seems to me, having
grown up in the main after this period, that slapping "folk" together
with "rock" gives a sort of credibility and sense of seriousness to the
rock part of it, softens the rock part of it for those who think they
don't like rock music, and adds an air of youth to the folk part of it
for those who think folk is old people's music. 

This is kinda in line with what Ed just posed I guess. How much was
this a coherent pheonomenon, how much was this just marketing?
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #83 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 08:28
I'll start with bumbaugh's question first and work back through Ed and

"Folk-rock," like a lot of pop music terms (including rock'n'roll and
rhythm and blues), arose within the industry, not among musicians or
listeners. As far as I could determine, the term was originated, or at
least popularized, by Billboard magazine. In their cover story of June
12, 1965 (the week the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" entered the top
ten),  the phrase was used by writer Elliot Tiegel half a dozen times
(and another time in a brief review he wrote elsewhere in the issue of
a show by the Rising Sons, the band who included Ry Cooder and Taj
Mahal). I didn't see it used once in Billboard, or anywhere else, in
print before that.

So folk-rock could be viewed as a marketing phenomenon as well as a
musical phenomenon. Certainly some of the leading musicians we call
folk-rock were uncomfortable with that label, in part because it might
have seemed market-generated rather than something organic. In 1965,
Dylan himself said "I don't play folk-rock," and also said, "These
people call it folk-rock -- if they want to call it that, something
that simple, it's good for selling records. I can't call it folk-rock."
Elsewhere Paul Simon said, "We certainly don't want to be called
folk-rock. Dylan started something beautiful, but some buys came along
and destroyed it by writing commercial songs without meaning."

John Sebastian told me that folk-rock was "a title that the Spoonful
immediately hated," and emphasized that the group wasn't just folk and
rock, but also R&B, the blues, bluegrass, and other styles. Roger
McGuinn was more comfortable with the label, but also pointed out that
the Byrds kept changing styles to specifically avoid getting labeled or
identified with just one brand.

Aside from the actual term "folk-rock," certainly the broad umbrella
that is the folk-rock musical style was heavily commercially marketed
and exploited by the industry, especially in 1965-66. At its most
obvious level, there was a huge flurry of Bob Dylan covers in 1965 --
48 within a month in the late summer of 1965, according to Billboard --
including by groups that eventually became pretty mainstream pop-rock
(the Association, the Turtles, the Grass Roots) and unlikely suspects
like Link Wray (who did a pretty punky cover of "Girl from the North
Country"), country star Leroy Van Dyke, the Four Seasons, Duane Eddy,
and the Golden Gate Strings. On a yet gaucher level, Hagstrom
advertised electric guitars in Sing Out with the slogan "the free
ridin' beat of folk-rock," and Gretsch Guitars advertised in the same
magazine with the slogan "The Great New Sound of Folk-Rock Is the Great
Sound of Gretsch Hollow Body Electric Guitars." Even when the term
"folk-rock" became less prevalent in the media after 1966, record
companies and media would sell the music with the aid of labels on some
of folk-rock's sub-genres, like "country-rock" and

But...again, I'd contend that folk-rock was a genuine true
musical-cultural phenomenon in its own right, though aided and/or
hindered by considerable commercial marketing push. The shift of many
musicians from folk to rock, and the blending of folk and rock music,
wasn't dreamed up by marketers, but a genuine unpredictable, deeply
felt innovation by many musicians. It did have a huge impact on
listeners and youth culture, not just because of its media exposure,
but also because of its artistic merit and relevance. And it was
musically strong enough to withstand getting  diluted, in part because,
like McGuinn said, it kept changing to avoid getting stale or easily
labeled. Though like I said a little earlier, there was a lot more than
folk and rock going into the music. And the deeper I got into the
subject, the more it seemed to me like a lot of the music wasn't a
conscious blending of "folk" and "rock" elements; also, many of the
innovations seemed more spontaneous than carefully plotted out.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #84 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 09:12
As Ed notes, jazz festivals were important ancestors of the folk and
rock festivals. The Newport Folk Festival, the most prominent '60s folk
festival and probably the most vital model for the first major rock
festival (Monterey), was itself preceded by the Newport Jazz Festival.
I don't know when the first jazz festival was, but if I remember right,
the Ken Burns documentary cited one around the late 1930s.

George Wein, who was instrumental in starting and running the Newport
festivals, was one of the figures I hoped to interview, but I couldn't
get to him. He has a new autobiography out, "Myself Among Others,"
which might have some observations on the growth of festivals, and
which  I'll check out eventually. My impression is that he wasn't too
keen on folk-rock, although the Newport Folk Festival actually did
feature a fair number of folk-rock artists in 1966-69. In part that
might be because the Newport City Council, upset about unruliness when
rock bands played the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969, then wanted to ban
rock altogether. According to a May 1970 Associated Press report,
though, the Newport Folk Festival had determined not to include any
rock music in the future, and Wein "said foundation members would work
to produce a festival in 1971 to show that 'folk music can communicate
to youth in the same way that rock has.'" That suggests to me that Wein
hadn't totally come to grips with folk, rock, and the world had
changed in the preceding five years, although I wasn't able to get his
current point of view on the matter. The Newport Folk Festival didn't
test the hypothesis, as it went on a 15-year break between the early
1970s and the mid-1980s.

Not everyone loved Woodstock or what it represented, as Ed notes. I
got a dissenting point of view from Chris Hillman (of the Byrds and the
Flying Burrito Brothers), who remembered watching the news coverage of
Woodstock with Gram Parsons "and laughing at it, saying, god, what are
they doing? We'd all done that in '66." Also, although it might come
off as crocodile tears, some musicians expressed regret that the far
greater crowds and media attention given to rock festivals ate into the
audience and success of the traditional folk performers who'd enjoyed
such prominence at the Newport Folk Festivals in the
early-to-mid-1960s. The best solution to that might have been to
combine some rock and folk onto the same festival bills, as some
festivals actually did. But the momentum toward rock was so great in
the world by the end of the 1960s that a lot of people (and promoters)
really did want to emphasize mostly or only rock, certainly gladly
staging folk-rock as part of that, but not more traditional folk music.

Chris Hillman, by the way, has some quite conservative views these
days, though he remains very proud of the folk-rock music he made. You
can check it out in a recent story on Hillman in the Ventura County
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #85 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 09:19
I didn't know that Ari Campbell was Ian Campbell's son. Ian Campbell,
for readers unfamiliar with the name, was a '60s British folk musician
whose group released some albums in the US on Elektra, and made a
tentative forays into folk-rock with a 1968 album, "The Circle Game,"
with future Fairport Conventioneer Dave Pegg on bass. It wasn't very
good, but it does have a Joni Mitchell composition, "Doctor Junk," that
Mitchell never put on any of her official releases.

The sons and daughters of '60s folk and folk-rock musicians is another
subtopic of its own. There's Kirsty MacColl, Jeff Buckley, Chris
Stills, James Raymond (David Crosby's son, who plays with his dad in
CPR), and actors/actresses Donovan Leitch and Ione Skye (son and
daughter of Donovan).

Another arcane sub-category: sublings of folk-rockers who made a flop
record or two, including Nora Guthrie and Eddie Simon. Nora Guthrie's
1967 single "Emily's Illness" has been reissued on the various-artists
compilation "Only in America Vol. 2," and it's a very strange (and not
very good), indeed ghoulish song about, um, terminal illness. It was
written by her boyfriend of the time, Eric Eisner, who was on the
fringe of the folk-rock scene as his band, the Strangers, shared
management with the Lovin' Spoonful; he wrote a song, "No Sun Today,"
that was recorded by Buffalo Springfield, though it wasn't released
until it came out on the Buffalo Springfield box set a couple of years
ago. In the 1980s, Eisner became president of the David Geffen Company.
Some folk-rock tales really are stranger than fiction.

I've never heard the 1968 single by Eddie Simon's group (Eddie Simon &
the Guild Light Cage), though ("14th Annual Fun and Pleasure
Fair"/"Cloudy," the latter a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song). Can
anyone out there enlighten us as to what it sounds like?
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #86 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 09:46
I'm not a rap fan or expert, so I shouldn't comment in too much depth
about its parallels to folk-rock. But I think Darrell's basically
right, that rap might be "a similar secret code for youth in the 90's
as folk-rock in the 60's." Like some folk-rock (particularly around
1966), rap's suffered censorship battles with radio and the media. It
reflected the lyrical point of view of a part of society that didn't
have much outlet for expression through any other part of the media;
its lyrics often dealt with highly topical and controversial issues.
The lyrics were often a kind of street poetry, and we've already talked
about the influence of a poetic sensibility in folk-rock lyrics. And
though it was generally not well understood and often disliked by the
industry, the industry did push it very hard and effectively, through
records and the radio.

All that said, I don't think that rap's something like folk-rock's
attitude in a different package (something that a BBC programmer seemed
to think when I was interviewed on one show, asking me if I would say
that Eminem was folk-rock, which I think is ludicrous). 
Sonically it's very different, with a far heavier use of electronic
technology and percussion, a lesser emphasis on melody and a heavier
emphasis on rhythm, and not many guitars or vocal harmonies. The lyrics
are usually more confrontational and violent, and not as optimistic or
celebratory as folk-rock could often be. To my ears rap isn't nearly
as diverse as folk-rock was either, though again, not being an expert
I'm not going to go into in-depth judgments.

Not to want to sound too much like an old fuddy-duddy, although some
of the comments above might seem negative and I don't enjoy rap music,
I think it must be considered that rap speaks for a different
constituency than folk-rock did, though there might be some rough
similarities in its social context. Rap musicians and their audiences,
particularly the African-American ones, often come from much more
disadvantaged backgrounds than '60s folk-rock audiences, which were
largely white and middle-upper-middle-class. Much of their material
might be unpleasant to hear, but I do realize that there are reasons
for the anger and aggression, though that doesn't excuse the
over-the-top violence and misogyny that sometimes makes its way into
the lyrics.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #87 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 09:52
Darrell, could you clarify your question on my what my "point of view
is on the differences between San Francisco culturally and musically
during the folk-rock peak years." Do you mean the differences between
San Francisco culture and San Francisco music during the folk-rock
years; or what made San Francisco different, musically and culturally,
from the rest of the US during the folk-rock years? 
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #88 of 254: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 24 Sep 03 11:35

I was curious what general comments you might have
on the  differences between San Francisco *& L.A.*
culturally and musically during the folk-rock peak years.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #89 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 12:08
Generally speaking, the L.A. scene was more commercial and tied in
with the heavy music industry machine; the S.F. scene was less
commercial, more bohemian, and less intent on the stardom trip. As with
all stereotypes that contain much grains of truth, there's much
blurring of these black-and-white divisions the closer you look at
thing. To again refer to Jeff Tamarkin's new Jefferson Airplane bio,
clearly some or maybe most of the Airplane were pretty intent on
commercial success, though I don't think it compromised their music
any. Then there's Moby Grape, which rather than evolving from groups of
friends jamming and hanging out in communal houses and folk clubs and
such, owed much of their instigation to manager Matthew Katz (also the
Airplane's early manager), who built the band around ex-Airplane
drummer (and in Moby Grape, guitarist) Skip Spence. Moby Grape were
also, famously, overhyped when their first album came out, with five
simultaneously released singles. Finally, as I mentioned, much of the
great San Francisco folk-rock and psychedelic records were actually
recorded in L.A.

Still, you did have bands like the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver
Messenger Service who really took their time getting record deals and
didn't seem unduly concerned, at least at first, at selling huge
numbers of copies. As has often been noted in histories of the Monterey
Pop Festival (which featured a good number of folk-rockers, or
folk-rockers going psychedelic, from both SF and LA), there were some
conflicts between the SF and LA camps because the SF crowd felt the LA
promoters who set the event up were too commercial. As Adler noted to
me, as a perhaps inadvertently ironic consequence of acquiescing to
play the festival and (sometimes) be filmed, some of the bands got big
management/record deals as a result of the exposure. The best example
is Big Brother & the Holding Company, then signed to a small and
negligent label (Mainstream), but after Monterey picked up by
super-powerful manager Albert Grossman (also manager of Bob Dylan), 
and extricated from their Mainstream contract so that they could sign
to Columbia.

Because of the SF area's smaller size and far more walkable
neighborhood-friendly layout, I think it was more conducive to more
relaxed, communal music-making, and an overall less competitive
atmosphere in which people were often making music mostly because they
wanted to, and not so much also because they wanted to get rich and
famous doing it. As a cultural difference, of course drug
experimentation was a big deal in SF and perhaps bigger there than
anywhere else in the country, though I would think it was almost as big
a deal in L.A.

Musically, it seems to me that the San Francisco bands often had a
distinctively bittersweet feel to their melodies and harmonies, more
bittersweet than L.A. or New York folk-rock. Also there was often a
more relaxed, bohemian, utopian feel to their lyrics and music. It also
seems that many SF bands made just brief stopovers to relatively
straightforward folk-rock (as the Airplane did on their first album)
before rushing into more psychedelic acid rock, almost always keeping
folk-rock as one of their foundations (particularly in the melodies and
vocal harmonies), but not putting it as much in the center as the
major L.A. folk-rock-rooted bands. And the SF bands were much more
prone to improvising and lengthening songs, particularly onstage.

But really, I think there were more similarities than differences
between SF and L.A. folk-rock. A bunch of the major players had lived
in both the SF and L.A. areas at various points (Crosby, Kantner,
McGuinn, Freiberg). And though SF is thought of as the psychedelic
center, there was plenty of folk-rock-psychedelia going on in L.A. too,
the Byrds getting there first of everybody with "Eight Miles High." SF
did get a slightly late start (despite early folk-rock by the We Five
and the underrated Beau Brummels) compared to L.A. and New York, I
think in large part because it was removed from the major labels and
media centers, and in fact thought of as relatively provincial in music
business terms when compared to New York and L.A.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #90 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 12:18
Now seems a good time to post the lengthy list of some of things that
most surprised me when I researched and wrote the two 1960s folk-rock

*Many* more American folk artists cited the Beatles as their reason
for going electric, rather than Bob Dylan. I would have guessed this,
but the ratio was extreme; I think only three or four artists cited
Dylan as a motivation for going electric, whereas tons of people cited
the Beatles.

The folk magazine Sing Out is often cited as among the forefront of
the leaders of purists resistant to folk-rock. Going through the
magazines and talking to some contributors (including editor Irwin
Silber), it was quite apparent that the magazine actually did present
a wide spectrum of opinions, some against electric folk-rock, some for

Happy Traum's story about Ahmet Ertegun wanting his folk group, the
New World Singers, to go electric in the early 1960s (pre-British
Invasion) was something I'd never heard about before, though he
actually assumed I must have heard about it and I had to prompt him to
relate the whole story.

I never knew about those very early folkies in Los Angeles circa
1964-early 1965 trying to go electric by putting DeArmond pickups in
their acoustics and trying to (unsuccessfully) simulate an electric
guitar, which I found amusing. They even stuffed towels inside the
guitars to keep them from feeding back before they realized they
really had to get real electric guitars instead of trying to get around
the expense and effort of learning to play amplified instruments.

Chris Hillman's story about Randy Sparks, who had a stable of
wholesome young variety folk revival groups, trying to get the Byrds
off Columbia because of jealousy was something I'd never heard before.

I was surprised how many people cited the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
as influential in opening the folk circuit to electric rock, as I'd
never really thought of them as a folk-rock band.

I was surprised how many future L.A. folk-rockers played at Disneyland
in wholesome folk combos before going electric.

After I was done, I was surprised to realize how there were virtually
no women involved in the business/promotion/industry side of folk-rock
(management, record label executives, club owners, journalists,
session musicians), though there were quite a few women involved as

I was very surprised by how differently some of the British people I
interviewed define "folk-rock" than Americans do. Some of them take a
much more rigorous view, thinking of it quite literally as a band
playing a traditional folk song with electric instruments, a la
Fairport Convention, and thinking of someone like Neil Young (whom I
view as one of the *definitive* folk-rockers) as just a rock star. But
on the other hand, many British listeners and musicians have a very
similar take on what folk-rock is as Americans do, and revere Neil
Young as a definitive folk-rocker, so it's an odd discrepancy.

Although there was supposedly a raging debate of purists vs. electric
folk-rockers in 1965-66, I really couldn't find any purist who still
felt strongly that folk-rock was bad and a sellout 35 years later.
Maybe a bunch of them changed their opinions, maybe some of them are
embarrassed to admit it.

Several artists on the Vanguard Records label made the point that they
felt Vanguard put much more promotion behind their classical catalog
than their folk and rock roster. This surprised me, since Joan Baez
was bringing in so much money for them, and to a lesser degree they
were selling a great deal of records with their folk and folk-rock
roster: Ian & Sylvia, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richard & Mimi Farina, their
Newport Folk Festival compilations, and much more.

1968-era Bob Dylan and the Byrds often get the lion's share of the
credit for starting country-rock, and they were indeed very important.
But I found out about a bunch of musicians in Southern California that
were making similar fusions around the same time and in some cases,
even earlier. Most notably, these included the pre-Byrds Clarence White
and Gene Parsons, who performed together prior to joining the Byrds
and often recorded prior to joining the Byrds in a country-rock style.
The problem was, virtually all of their studio work in their pre-Byrds
days (much of it done as sessionmen rather than featured artists) came
out on way-obscure flop/regional singles, or wasn't issued at all,
though Big Beat Records in the UK is starting to release a bunch of it
on CD. Other overlooked early country-rock pioneers worth noting are
Hearts & Flowers and the Gosdin Brothers.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #91 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 12:19
As Bruce touched upon the role of radio in post #82, I wanted to add
that the growth of FM and underground radio played a significant role
in folk-rock, as well as the AM radio that made the Byrds and Dylan pop
stars in mid-1965. Again, here were a bunch of musical and
sociocultural factors converging. The rock audience, in addition to
growing bigger, was itself demographically getting older and hungering
for more sophisticated rock, more eclectic rock, and a much wider
choice of material than Top 40 stations were delivering. And many
folk-rock artists (and rock artists of all kind) were growing fast and
had things they wanted to say that couldn't be expressed in a hit
single format, but only by concentrating on LPs. The LP market itself
was growing fast; the 45 format had been the main one for rock'n'roll
prior to 1965, but by the late 1960s it had shifted in favor of the LP.
FM radio, particularly underground FM rock radio, was vital in filling
the gaps to address all of these needs -- artist, record label, and

More anecdotally, it was interesting to me to discover how several key
folk-rock songs or albums were "broken" by FM radio. There was WBAI
and Bob Fass in New York, playing a tape of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr.
Bojangles" (which had yet to be even recorded in the studio) so much
that listeners were actually requesting the record in stores. "Alice's
Restaurant," of course, was a huge FM radio favorite. Gene Shay's shows
in Philly greatly helped Joni Mitchell in her early career when he had
her on to play live. In Boston on WBZ, the broadcast of an unreleased
tape of Tom Rush's "Urge for Going" led to the song getting covered by
George Hamilton IV for a country hit (!), which was the first
commercially successful recording of a song by Joni Mitchell, who was
then still unsigned. Then there was the nine-minute version of Buffalo
Springfield's "Bluebird," played on KPPC in the L.A. area by B.
Mitchell Reed, who discovered it when he was house-sitting for Stephen
Stills (unreleased in the 1960s, this long version finally came out
officially in the 1970s on a Springfield compilation).

More generally, FM radio was instrumental in breaking heavily
album-oriented singer-songwriters like Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.
David Anderle, a producer and director of Elektra?s West Coast office,
told me that that's a big difference between the music business of then
and now -- that these days you couldn't imagine records that sold in
low quantities upon their initial release (like Mitchell's debut album,
which barely made the Top 200), yet created so much energy throughout
the tuned-in hip music community. Britain didn't have nearly as many
radio stations, pop music airplay being limited and heavily centralized
with the BBC, and Joe Boyd told me he feels that's one of the reasons
Nick Drake was less successful at the time. Particularly because Drake
didn't tour or have hit singles, he had to rely on album airplay for
any exposure he got; someone like Leonard Cohen could do that in North
America, but Drake could get virtually none in the UK.

There seem to be some FM programming/listening vets checking out this
discussion; if anyone has other stories about folk-rock
albums/songs/performers getting broken by FM underground radio, I'd
like to hear them.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #92 of 254: Berliner (captward) Wed 24 Sep 03 12:42
Just a note in re Monterey, I remember photographer Jim Marshall
telling me, in his inimitable style, "Forget the stage: at Monterey the
action was in the fuckin' bar." Meaning the suits and the deals. 
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #93 of 254: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Wed 24 Sep 03 13:14
There seem to be some FM programming/listening vets checking out this
discussion; if anyone has other stories about folk-rock
albums/songs/performers getting broken by FM underground radio, I'd
like to hear them.


As I mentioned before, the many remotes I produced for WMMR
(Philadelphia) were the source of some spectacular tracks - Bonnie
Raitt's "Blender Blues," which she never recorded, being the biggest
one. This is the tune on my site.

Some other tracks got special exposure, too.

Jackson Browne's take on "Werewolves of London," live from the Main
Point, showcased the Warren Zevon gem long before anyone heard of
Warren (1973/74?).

Warner Reprise put several tracks of my Ry Cooder remote on a disc for
radio stations elsewhere; the Burrito Brothers, a particular favorite
of mine, achieved a sort of greatest hits status with our recording of
"Devil in Disguise;" Steeleye Span's a capella "Gaudete," also recorded
at the Main Point, was an Xmas programming staple.

That's a start, and I hope some of the folks from ye olde "sister
stations," WNEW FM, WMMS, KMET and KSAN, kick in their stories.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #94 of 254: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 24 Sep 03 13:38

I remember some 60's Folk music DJ in L.A. who played Lightfoot,
Fred Niel, Dillards, Cohen, Collins and likely the Godsin
Brothers, that ilk anyhow. Can't remember his name, but
he had an quirk about getting into rants about audiophile
gear between songs.  Not really advertisements, sort of
a combination of bragging and reveling in his new speakers
or pre-amp or whatever, then he would remember what he
was in the studio for and throw on another disk.

I remember J.Mitchell Reed, and that long version of 'Bluebird'.
Also the charming squeeking chairs and background noise that
could be heard on those early L.A. underground stations.
I was pretty young back then, 13-14, but would stay up
late and tape some of the music to reel to reel. 

'Last Trip to Tusla' was quite a treat when I heard it
for the first time on FM. I don't know if you call that 
something that broke on FM radio. I'm sure we heard it 
first in L.A.. I still think Neil Young's first LP is 
the best thing he has ever done.

There was for awhile in L.A. an AM station located on the corner
of the dial, that could be amazing. It seem to only be around
for a few months though.

About the only thing I ever directly got involved in was a 
volunteer clean up effort, promoted by one of the FM stations 
after a rock festival trashed some rural land on the outside of 

I was living in the industrial suburbs of North Long Beach,
the world of Hollywood and 'the canyons' seemed almost like a
neighboring country whose radio stations were pouring magic 
over the border.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #95 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 13:49
Dennis, although we're getting a little beyond the 1960s with some of
the music you mention, it's worth noting that the practice of helping
break folk-rock-rooted acts went well into the 1970s. Bruce Springteen,
some forget these days, was thought of as a Bob Dylan type when he
started recording. I'm pretty sure he broke out as a star in
Philadelphia way ahead of everywhere else, due in large part to
constant radio play. I remember hearing "Born to Run," the song,
getting played (someone must have had an advance copy) way in advance
of the release of the "Born to Run" album in the summer of 1975. In
fact, by the time it was really on the way to becoming a nationwide
hit, I was tired of hearing it.

I seem to remember that Steeleye Span recorded a station ID for WMMR
based on their cover of Buddy Holly's "Rave On" that I heard in the
mid-'70s when I was 12 or 13. Is that right, Dennis?
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #96 of 254: John Ross (johnross) Wed 24 Sep 03 16:36
In Boston and Cambridge, the college stations -- WTBS at MIT, WHRB at
Harvard amd WBUR at Boston University -- were extremely influential. People
like Phil Spiro and Ed Freeman were doing folk music shows that brought in
lots of the revivial folk musicians and rediscovered old blues guys. And the
"Hillbilly at Harvard" show on WHRB gave some credibility to bluegrass and
other commercial country string bands stuff before it moved into the urban
mainstream. Some of the earliest "underground" DJs like Tom Gamache (aka
Uncle T) started on WTBS and were brought over to WBCN when it shifted from
classical music to "underground FM" at about the same time that Reed and
Donahue were inventing the format on the west coast. In his book, "The
Deejays", Arnie Passman says that Gamache was the very first underground DJ
anywhere, but I don't know if he preceded the west coast guys or not. It was
certainly a separate and parallel development.

Several tapes from WTBS have survived as obscure recordings by people like
Richard and Mimi Farina and Joni Mitchell, made either in our own studios or
at places like Club 47.

WBZ was important because of its powerhouse signal, and the popularity of
people like Dick Summer, who did the overnight show, where he would bring in
some of the folklies and folk-rockers as guests. But it really wasn't until
the advent of WBCN that the new music made it onto commercial radio before
midnight. Well, except for the commercial classical station, WCRB, which ran
a live show from one of the folk clubs in about 1964, hosted by Robert J.
Lurtsema (then known as Bob).
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #97 of 254: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 24 Sep 03 19:29
Jerry Schoenbaum, head of Verve/Folkways (which did a lot of early
folk-rock), specifically cited WBZ to me (along with WNEW in New York)
as a key station for playing their records. You mention Ed Freeman --
besides his radio work, he also crops up in the folk-rock story as a
columnist for Boston Broadside, where he was one of the first writers
to praise Dylan's transition to rock in print to my knowledge. He
hailed Dylan's first electric single ("Subterranean Homesick Blues") as
"gassy" (meaning a gas, a mindblower) shortly after it came out.

There's a January 1968 Joni Mitchell tape from Club 47 that continues
to circulate to this day (I saw it a few years ago for sale from a
sidewalk vendor in Greenwich Village), which I guess might have been
one of the WTBS tapes.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #98 of 254: Dan Levy (danlevy) Wed 24 Sep 03 19:33

inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #99 of 254: John Ross (johnross) Wed 24 Sep 03 20:21
Yeah, I made that Joni Mitchell tape for WTBS. One microphone on stage into
a Nagra.

The other well-known WTBS tape is of Tom Lehrer, who was teaching at MIT at
the time. They actually tuned the studio piano for him. Far as I know, it's
the only extant recording of his "Subway Song", whch is not on the Rhino
set. Not folk-rock, of course, but there it is.
inkwell.vue.196 : Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High"
permalink #100 of 254: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Fri 26 Sep 03 03:07

The postpunk era spawned an incredible variety of
musical energy, in every diverse sytle and permutation
imaginable.  I remember seeing the Long Ryders in L.A. 
back in the 80's, who were pretty convincing, there 
must of been other groups though. 

Richie: You being an gourmet and expert on this genre
I was curious if you found any of the Post-Punk folk-
rock type acts to have enduring appeal? 

When traveling in London back in the 70's I was suprised
to see Gene Clark LP's that I'd never seen in shops back
in the U.S., wasn't this the Byrd with the airplane phobia? 
Clark basically disappeared off the radio in the U.S. it
seems before the 70's arrived did he have somekind of special
fanbase or distribution deal in the U.K.?


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