Folk rock is a genre of music that fuses folk music and rock. Folk Rock is written in the same style as any folk music; it is only melded into rock and roll beats. Defining it as folk songs backed with rock instrumentals is indistinct as it overlaps between folk and rock music (About.com 1). In comparison with other rock songs, the folk rock genre is very much similar. The songs are focused around the acoustic guitar and they also encompass a full rock band; the electric guitar, bass guitars and drums (Seeger 1). Some artists choose to integrate the fiddle and other bluegrass instruments into their listing.
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Folk rock began in the U.K. and the U.S. in the sixties and is a genre initiated by The Byrds which was a Los Angeles band. They began by just playing traditional folk music until Bob Dylan incorporated rock instrumentation (About.com 1). The Beatles and other U.K. rock bands had a lot of influence on this new discovery. The U.S. Music Press followed by coining the name folk rock to define the genre of music of The Byrds in 1965 which has stuck up to date. The Byrds released Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, cover version and its ensuing success put in gear the flare-up of folk rock (Seeger 1).
Bob Dylan also played a great part in the creation of folk rock. He recorded several albums with an electric rock band which include Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home just to mention a few. At a folk festival he showed up with another rock band backing up his presentation, which was phenomenal in the history of folk rock (Horn and Jackson). Folk rock thus has its forerunners in the beat music of The Beatles, the American Folk Festival and folk influenced songwriters like Bob Dylan. This saw the emergence of folk rock artists like The Mamas & Papas and Neil Young and more recent ones; Ryan Adams and Hammel on Trial.
Folk Rock in America
Folk rock, just like any folk music, tells of stories that appear in the books of history and those that do not. Since time immemorial it has been community-focused addressing issues in the society like war, civil rights and political state of a country (Seeger 1). Dylan and The Byrds for instance, started folk rock as a response to the British Invasion of the creative rock bands. Folk rock helped create conscious awareness amongst its fans. It was introduced during the British Invasion of rock bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. As a counteraction, the folk rock was thus created. Most people began to lose interest in the folk music causing the folk musicians to incorporate a rock and roll feet in their music in a bid to appease their audiences. This had been brought about by a visit of The Beatles to America. Thus The Beatles’ songs were important in the creation of folk rock as the folk musicians begun blending their music to the beats of the British Invasion Bands (Seeger 1).
The Beatles’ music also had a folk feel to it. I Am a Lose’ is one of their songs that saw the chords, melodies and beats of rock incorporated and melded with folk song by American folk artists. That was just the beginning as The Beatles had just preceded the presence of more rock bands in America. Their songs made the Billboard’s top lists and thus had a great and significant effect on America’s music. Folk music for instance was never to be the same after the invasion of America by the British rock bands (About.com 1).
Bob Dylan gave praise to The Beatles’ harmonies and chords on record. He went on to say how greatly thankful he was to them as they offered an insight into the making of folk rock (About.com 1). The Animals and The Searchers also participated in the creation of folk rock. The Searchers released a rock version of the folk song The House of the Rising Sun which was a traditional song. The song stayed in the Billboard’s top 100 for over three weeks and sold more than five million copies just in America. Despite monopolizing the US billboards and charts, the British rock bands greatly impacted the American popular culture as they are to thank for the creation of folk rock. This would have seen the death of the American folk music revival, but Dylan and The Byrds were able to avoid this by merging both folk and rock thus keeping folk music alive.
Most of the folk rock music emerged in the era of the ‘Vietnam war’, ‘The Global Upheaval’: a time when there were great and new concerns. In the US it started in the mid-sixties and went on to the seventies where it affiliated with the hippie movement and became a form or channel through which artists exchanged or expressed fundamental ideas. New York, Denver and San Francisco became the centers of folk rock culture. Folk rock was unique compared to other music genres like pop in that instead of lyrics full of nonsense it had lyrics that held a fundamental distraction from the many adversities of life (Rovi Corporation 1).