Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Folk music, folk rock... call it what you will. It's all about collaboration.
Rodney Crowell writes songs for everyone who's discerning enough to recognize him for the great he is. Emmylou sings harmony for anyone she admires, and her presence always adds an ethereal quality to everyone she joins. Townes Van Zandt contributes Texas folk and country, as does Willie Nelson. Dylan influences... well, everybody, and no one sounds the worse for singing a Dylan song.
No greater collaboration in folk or folk rock existed in recent years than Sarah McLachlan's stubborn refusal to take no for an answer when creating Lilith Fair - a traveling song show for female musicians, primarily folk, with rock and country influences. The Indigo Girls were featured in the fair all three years, although, like other artists in 1999, they did not play all the dates - only Sarah did. Lilith fairgoers got great individual performances, but they were also treated to collaborations. And a favorite of folk artists is to collaborate on an old song, "from the roots" of folk music.
One of the most beloved, "The Water is Wide", is thought to be a Scottish folk song that dates back to the 17th century ("Waly, waly"). Catch IG collaborating with Jewel and the great Sarah McLachlan on this beautiful song. (Hang in there for the short dialogue in French at the beginning). The 4 part harmony, a cappella, at the end, is amazing.