Was Folk Music (Specifically The "Hootenanny" Type).....

… the one genre of music that both parents and kids both agreed was “okay”?

I don’t always phrase things very well, but put another way, is that as close as both generations ever came on agreeing the music was enjoyable?

Can y’all pick out from that what I’m trying to ask?



I doubt it.

If by “hootenanny” you mean the sort of “folk music” made up by young people to protest ongoing social conditions such as the war, the establishment, status quo, etc., then I’d say no. It was as divisive as any other genre of the day.

True Folk Music as passed along from generation to generation with origins in earlier times, might have the qualities you suggest. But even with that genre there would be exceptions in both older and younger people to such a “warm and fuzzy” feeling of togetherness.

It appears to me that anything broad enough to have a label like “Folk Music” will appeal to a large number of “folks.” Just not all of them.

Other genres like Jazz, Classical, Patriotic, and even Rock, probably have adherents and fans from all age groups. Hootenanny Folk certainly did appeal to older people as well as younger ones, but in the groups I knew well enough to comment on I didn’t notice any more dominant age groupings than in any other category.

This is all just an opinion, and I haven’t seen any statistics on the matter. So I could have misread the reality of the situation.

As far as I know the idea of a generational divide in music itself only goes back to 1950s rock-and-roll. Is that as far back as “ever” is understood to mean?

Well, not “protest” music so much, Zeldar, but stuff more like the Christy Minstrels, Kingston Trio (borderline), The Brothers Four, Back Porch Majority - that kinda stuff.

Just basically anything that wouldn’t make parents say, “Turn that shit off!”

I admit to a “nostalgia attack” after watching the film “Hootenanny Hoot” during the night on TCM. Yeah, I know they lip-synced the hell out of those songs, but it felt good hearing them just the same.

Plus, JR (Cash) was in it!:smiley:


Moved IMHO --> Cafe Society.

The problem with these discussions is that everybody within a given faction is an individual, and individuals vary one to another–though some vary more variously than others.
There were cool parents and square parents, and parents cool about some things and square about others. Likewise with the kids.
That sort of “hootenanny” music you referred to probably had a little more inter-generational overlap than many other genres, but there were always prudes around who could find something to object to just because they wouldn’t admit that they were envious of the youth of the youth; not to mention kids who would reject anything their parents like for purposes of flexing the wings of rebellion.

During the period of McCarthyism(late 1940’s to mid-1950’s), folk music fans were often considered to be Communists or at least the sort of people who hung out with Communists:


Later (in the mid-1950’s to early 1960’s), folk music fans were considered, if not Communists, at least rather bohemian intellectual types. In both periods, I suspect there were parents who really didn’t like their children being interested in folk music.

If you dig into the history of Moses Asche’s Folkways label, you will find out a lot more about the hootenanys. Including the interesting fact that they used to have regular gatherings at a park in NYC, around a large fountain … and after a fairly short time of peaceful singing gatherings the police started to break up the gatherings.

The folk scene in NYC in the 50s were the province of essentially beatniks and alternative people, and hence really not looked upon with favor by the older generation.

There is a killer podcast of some 24 or 25 hour long programs that were on Canada’s public radio system here with lots of history, descriptions and entire songs of the particular subject they are talking about. It is called the Folkways Collection podcast

There is more information on the hootenannys on the folk music specific ones, cant remember the titles of the specific 1 hour podcasts offhand, but the entire series is so excellent just listen to them all =)

I like what Sam A. Robrin said. And I can share something specific to myself that may touch on the main issue here.

As far back as I can remember the show, Lawrence Welk’s brand of “music” has annoyed me on general principles to the point of anger and hatred. It just plain sucks. I still feel that way, only more so.

My mother, my wife’s mother, and others (mostly females) of their generation revere Welk’s music as being next to godly. Heavenly and sentimental and lush, even.

So when I happened to enter the room where Mama was watching that shit and I spotted no telling how many youngish types dancing to that stuff and how they didn’t look any more geeky and nerdish and uncool than any of the kids I knew who liked Folk and Rock and even Jazz, I was blown away with how odd that was. These kids had NO taste, was all I could figure. It made me think of Blacks With No Soul. Unimaginable!

So, if Lawrence Welk can bridge the gap between generations, (just not me), I suppose anything could!

I had the same reaction to Lawrence Welk, and can recall the attempts to “youthify” the music to try to court, if not the actual purchasing power, then at least the tolerance of the teenaged Baby Boomers. The kids you saw were no doubt being paid for the purposes–most of them, anyway.
The culmination of this ploy was the Up With People traveling roadshow, which tried to show an aging, anachronized Mr. and Mrs. America that most of those kids are A-o-kay, and it’s just a few bad apples who are ruining it for the rest of the bunch, et nauseating cetera. I can recall my mother watching it, and turning to me to say, “See? Those boys have long hair, but theirs is shaped*.” The real God of most people is the status quo, and such presentations assured the guardians thereof that it would forever be preserved.

*Current works set in the 1960s have to ratchet down the depiction of hair hysteria, as the actuality was too inane and overblown for verisimilitude to be maintained.

But the names that Quasi mentioned were not normally included in that description. They were the equivalents of Pat Boone, taking that wild unacceptable stuff and smoothing off the edges so it wouldn’t offend.

Without going to that Wiki link I can also say that the Weavers were wildly popular for a good portion of the McCarthy era until Pete Seegar and others got HUACed. Folk music had several streams leading into the music that got nationally popular for a couple of years pre-Beatles, and many of those were pure Americana that nobody could rationally call Commie-hippie stuff.

Was that pre-Beatles era cross-generational? To a small extent, probably. But I had an older cousin who had a big collection of those albums when I was still too young to buy them. I envied that collection until the Beatles appeared and I forgot folk instantly. Neither his parents nor mine would ever have listened to them for an instant. I never heard any friends talking about parents who listened to any of their music at any time in the sixties. Surely, some parents did somewhere. Not in my neighborhood, though.

At one time, I was affiliated with one of Up With People’s regional farm teams. The origin of UwP was with Moral Re-Armament, as the world was filling up with beatniks and hippies and other “bad people”… but that’s another story.

Folk music has been around forever, OP. It was always regarded as songs / music you learned around home, not formerly taught. Concerts featured songs you knew well, and songs roughly similar from another region / country. Or ‘new folk’ music about contemporary people and events. Because it was folk music, all the folks liked it, learned it, sang/played it, passed it on.

Please don’t think acts like The Kingston Trio, or The Brothers Four, were anything much more than entertainers. They started out doing a lot of college shows … and I own most of their albums!

If you want to talk about the ‘stir things up’ crowd, you are talking about Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, or Woody Guthrie, or the Almanac Singers, or Utah Phillips. And their audiences were not what I’d call mainstream. By the 1960s we had started to have our consciousnesses raised, and we were open to hearing songs about how mucked up the establishment was. Did our parents enjoy our ‘folk music’? No - not because they didn’t think all government was fine, but because we were kinda strident. And that wasn’t … right.

You may not all agree - my parents were raised in pre-WWI days, so were parented by repressed Victorians - this experience may not ring any bells.

Still, my musical tastes run to acoustic guitars and campfire singing. I blame 60s folk music for that.

an seanchai

Wow, does this bring back the memories! I remember “Hootenanny”, the show on Saturday nights. I was probably in my early teens and loved it, don’t remember my parents having any particular objections. but then, with all due respect, they were about as intellectual as bags of cement. They just thought it was a music show. Dad would rather watch The Game and Mom was always talking on the phone. (Myself, fascinated with counterculture things,I was vaguely aware of the history of folk music, the association with communism, through the reading of various lefty newspapers and such. But I was hardly in a position to run off and join a protest or something.)…My grandmother preferred Lawrence Welk, and that I watch to this day (ironically, thank you), out of nostalgia, and to laugh at 30 grown men dressed in orange, lime green, or lemon yellow suits singing “Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis”…They all loved Sing Along With Mitch Miller! I mainly loved Hootenanny because that was stay-up-late night when I could watch the Creature Feature immediately following. Good times!

Actually, the first generational divide in popular music probably goes back to the 1920s with the rise of jazz. With its raw squeals and seemingly discordant notes–not to mention its association with speakeasies, debauchery, and (because of its African-American roots) racial-mixing–jazz proved to be a real wedge between the youth of the day and their elders. In fact, taste in jazz was so considered a sign of moral rot that, according to one modern legend, Henry Ford employed spies to search of the homes of his employees. If they found any bottles of alcoholic beverages and/or jazz records in the worker’s house, the worker would be fired.

Regarding the OP, my understanding is that most parents didn’t really mind their kids listening to folk music. At least it meant they weren’t listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee, or Little Richard.

Exapno is about the only one who’s posted here so far to point out that *Hootenanny! *was an extremely bowdlerized version of what was really going on with folk music in Greenwich Village and to an extent on the west coast as well in the early 60s.

The majority of the Greenwich Village folkies…that is to say, those who achieved any kind of credibility in the history of this era of folk…looked upon Hootenanny! with great disdain and refused to have anything to do with it.

My guess is that any young people who were great fans of Hootenanny! either had their ears opened to the real deal at some point and made the move over to Dylan, Ochs, et al, or else were only casual music fans at best and went on to bland MOR once Hootenanny!'s day was done.

And that day was relatively short, really…Hootenanny! was on the air for exactly one year, and it was the only national exemplar of that sort of music. So any musical detente between generations it might have been based on had to be fairly short-lived too.

Meanwhile, the “real” folk of Greenwich Village was something you had to work harder at to hear…Peter, Paul and Mary were the only artists from that scene who had their songs played on Top 40 radio.

There was a generational divide; the suburban parents of the 1950s were mostly fans of Sinatra, Bing Crosby, that sort of thing.

In the more intellectual/bohemian circles, folk was seen as being authentic - as opposed to the contrived pop stuff that all the squares were into. As time went on the folk revival got co-opted and commercialised, but the original point of it was the perceived authenticity of rural music. So, in the cities and their suburbs was where the people “discovering” folk music were rebelling.

The people who grew up with folk music, if anything, were more likely to rebel against all that old-fashioned rural stuff and embrace the new slick urban pop music. It was, for a lot of formerly rural people, an aspirational thing. Country music and the electric blues came directly out of folk music, and while they were popular styles, they were considered “proletarian” music and not consistent with an urban upwardly-mobile lifestyle.

So it went both ways.

I thought somebody would say jazz. Would you really describe that as primarily a generational divide, or an ethno-cultural one?

Exactly–adult workers, not their teenagers.

White kids weren’t listening to recognizably black music in large numbers until 1950s rock-and-roll, as I understand it.

Having read all the responses (and thanks! I really got what I expected, as I always do - no matter how obstinate I am!), I do understand that there was a dichotomy (is that the correct term?) between the happy,“A Mighty Wind” type of “folk” music and the heavier, Dylan, Seeger, Ochs, Baez and Buffy Sainte Marie (hope I got that right!) work.

My point was (as some of you stated more eloquently than I could): Wasn’t there just “one brief shining moment” when we didn’t clash with the parents and they enjoyed hearing the music as much as we did?

And, more importantly, wasn’t it “okay” for the “happy-go-lucky-comical” type of folk music to “lead” us into the heavier, more poignant shit? (sorry, couldn’t come up with a more appropriate noun)


Quasi (The self-avowed “king” of parentheses and quotation marks!)

No, there was no “one brief shining moment” of agreement between parents and children over music. There were, of course, many individual times of agreement between parents and children. There were always singers or songs which were liked by both parents and children in many different genres of music. There were always parents who liked some rock and roll, even when the bands tried deliberately to come across as rebellious. Folk music was never a particular point of agreement between parents and children though.