It all started with a trip to the Library. Looking for new reading material, I found a tiny section devoted to folk music. I borrowed a book of American folk songs and started picking through the tunes.
Now my mother was a trained musician and church organist. I had taken a bit of piano so I could play single notes.
That Christmas (1955) I had been given a ukulele, an instrument made popular at that time by the popular TV host, Arthur Godfrey. I discovered that folk music consisted primarily of three chords and, guess what? I knew three chords on the ukulele!
The tunes numbered
below are sung in the Podcast mp3 of this Transcript located at
I learned a few simple
Finding that too easy
I branched out and learned:
I found a Canadian
radio program run by Rawhide and got to hear other people singing folk
music too. They sang:
I started to read
about the history of the music and about Appalachian folk music, while
struggling with the regional accent that was part of it.
Nobody would mistake me for a native but I was getting there.
I began to turn to
gospel music, not because I was particularly religious but because of
the grand energy of it.
I found there was something called a back beat that swung the music and turned it on its head.
You can almost hear
the wheezing of the harmonium in the straight version of
Put in a backbeat
and its a whole new song.
Then I got married and moved to New York.
One Easter Sunday
I went to 5th Avenue to catch the Easter Parade. Now, right at the beginning
of 5th Avenue is a little park with a round cement fountain, which then
was always dry, called Washington Square Park. As I walked up 5th Avenue
admiring the Easter bonnets I came to this park and heard music, familiar
music. Guitars and tub basses and voices rose in song
I had discovered the roots of the new folk music boom and, guess what I was part of it!
Now I never became a professional folk musician. Its not in my nature, but I know and remember its songs and I always will.
© Sonia Brock 2005