Saturday, June 20, 2009

100 Most Essential Folk Songs

The good folks at Kent State University's WKSU recently polled their listeners in search of a master list of "The 100 Most Essential Folk Songs." The results are shown below.

There are the usual problems inherent in any such list, mainly the definition of "folk" and its inevitable overlap with other genres. Gram Parsons, folk singer? Really? "Like a Rolling Stone," folk song? You've got to be kidding me. It's also dominated by old fogies, and one suspects that the listeners aren't spending much time with Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes. That aside, it's a pretty good, representative list, and certainly includes most of the acknowledged highlights.

The 100 Essential Folk Songs

Song -Written OR Performed by
  1. This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
  2. Blowin’ in the Wind - Bob Dylan
  3. City of New Orleans - Steve Goodman
  4. If I Had a Hammer - Pete Seeger
  5. Where Have All The Flowers Gone - The Kingston Trio
  6. Early Morning Rain - Gordon Lightfoot
  7. Suzanne - Leonard Cohen
  8. We Shall Overcome - Pete Seeger
  9. Four Strong Winds - Ian and Sylvia
  10. Last Thing On My Mind - Tom Paxton

  11. The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell
  12. Tom Dooley - The Kingston Trio (Trad)
  13. Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
  14. Who Knows Where The Time Goes - Sandy Denny
  15. Goodnight Irene - The Weavers (Trad)
  16. Universal Soldier - Buffy St Marie
  17. Don’t Think Twice - Bob Dylan
  18. Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez
  19. Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
  20. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot

  21. Alice’s Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie
  22. Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds (Pete Seeger)
  23. Puff The Magic Dragon - Peter, Paul and Mary
  24. Thirsty Boots - Eric Andersen
  25. There But For Fortune - Phil Ochs
  26. Across The Great Divide - Kate Wolf
  27. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - The Band (Robbie Robertson)
  28. The Dutchman - Steve Goodman
  29. Matty Groves - Fairport Convention (Trad)

  30. Pastures of Plenty - Woody Guthrie
  31. Canadian Railroad Trilogy - Gordon Lightfoot
  32. Ramblin’ Boy - Tom Paxton
  33. Hello In There - John Prine
  34. The Mary Ellen Carter - Stan Rogers
  35. Scarborough Fair - Martin Carthy (Trad)
  36. Freight Train - Elizabeth Cotton
  37. Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
  38. Paradise - John Prine
  39. Northwest Passage - Stan Rogers

  40. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - Eric Bogel
  41. Changes - Phil Ochs
  42. Streets of London - Ralph McTell
  43. Gentle On My Mind - John Hartford
  44. Barbara Allen - Shirley Collins (Trad)
  45. Little Boxes - Malvina Reynolds
  46. The Water is Wide - Traditional
  47. Blue Moon of Kentucky - Bill Monroe
  48. No Regrets - Tom Rush
  49. Amazing Grace - Odetta (Trad)

  50. Catch The Wind - Donovan
  51. If I Were a Carpenter - Tim Hardin
  52. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
  53. House of the Rising Sun - Doc & Richard Watson (Trad)
  54. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine - The Weavers
  55. Tangled Up In Blue - Bob Dylan
  56. The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel
  57. Someday Soon - Ian and Sylvia
  58. 500 Miles - Peter, Paul and Mary
  59. Masters of War - Bob Dylan

  60. Wildwood Flower - Carter Family
  61. Can The Circle Be Unbroken - Carter Family
  62. Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound - Tom Paxton
  63. Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills Nash & Young
  64. Deportee - Woody Guthrie
  65. Tecumseh Valley - Towns Van Zandt
  66. Mr. Bojangles - Jerry Jeff Walker
  67. Cold Missouri Waters - James Keeleghan
  68. The Crucifixion - Phil Ochs
  69. Angel from Montgomery - John Prine

  70. Christmas in the Trenches - John McCutcheon
  71. John Henry - Traditional
  72. Pack Up Your Sorrows - Richard and Mimi Farina
  73. Dirty Old Town - Ewan MacColl
  74. Caledonia - Dougie MacLean
  75. Gentle Arms of Eden - Dave Carter
  76. My Back Pages - Bob Dylan
  77. Arrow - Cheryl Wheeler
  78. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
  79. Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire

  80. Man of Constant Sorrow - Ralph Stanley (Trad)
  81. Shady Grove - Traditional
  82. Pancho and Lefty - Townes Van Zandt
  83. Old Man - Neil Young
  84. Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan
  85. American Tune - Paul Simon
  86. At Seventeen - Janis Ian
  87. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
  88. Road - Nick Drake
  89. Tam Lin - Fairport Convention (Trad)

  90. Ashokan Farewell - Jay Ungar and Molly Mason
  91. Desolation Row - Bob Dylan
  92. Love Is Our Cross To Bear - John Gorka
  93. Hobo’s Lullaby - Woody Guthrie
  94. Urge For Going - Tom Rush
  95. Return of the Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons
  96. Chilly Winds - The Kingston Trio
  97. Fountain of Sorrow - Jackson Browne
  98. The Times They Are A Changing - Bob Dylan
  99. Our Town - Iris Dement
  100. Leaving on a Jet Plane - John Denver

4 comments:

Julana said...

We sang Four Strong Winds back in jr high. Part of the soundtrack of my life. Gotta love youtube.

phil said...

Some curious choices, but like you said, still a great list with many great songs.

boris furman said...

hi Andy, This is not necessarily a comment on this post although the Worm in the Apple might fit on the list someday. I am Ezra Furman's dad. I got a great Father's Day present when I came upon this interview he gave to Time Out New York. I thought you might like to see it.http://www3.timeoutny.com/newyork/thevolume/2009/06/on-location-ezra-furman/

jackscrow said...

Well, it's good they got Gorka on there (for my money, the most engagingly literate songwriter of what they call "new folk")... but it's funny too -- he's got many songs better than the one they chose.