O Brother, What Next?: Making Sense of the Folk Fad

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O Brother, What Next?: Making Sense of the Folk Fad

by Benjamin Filene
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 2: Summer 2004

"Think of the tale of Bob Dylan going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and an enraged Alan Lomax trying to pin Dylan's manager to the ground while Pete Seeger hunted for an ax to cut the cables."

After¬†O Brother, Where Art Thou?¬†spurred a surge of interest in all things folk, I got calls from friends coast to coast. Since I wrote a book about folk revivalism, they assumed I’d be thrilled to see that the film and soundtrack had once again sparked interest in traditional music. I watched the movie; I listened to the sound-track album; I read the breathless testimonials from the new folk fans. But the whole thing left me grumpy. Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out why.

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