Give It a Name

Jesse Walker has a review of Steve Earle's newest album Washington Square Serenade up at Reason Online that's worth a read. Walker brands Earle's new songs as folkery-fakery, a term which, best I could find, can be attributed to Dwight Macdonald who used it to define Pete Seeger in his essay Country Joe McDonald is a Better Kettle of Fish (available in this collection). I wasn't born until the 1980s and have always had a strong gag reflex to folk music due to the practice of well-off leftists faking populism by purposely slumming it, so maybe the term was once used by in-fighting members of the scene? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during a folkie agruement in the Sixties about whether the bourgeois electric guitar was kosher or not. Never letting the American middle class have their due, the new bohemians (not, to my knowledge, of the Edie Brickell variety) now claim the garage band was a European invention, as if it wasn't the growing middle class in America buying both electric guitars and garages in the Fifties (or that the Pacific-Northwest garage scene, rockabilly and surf rock didn't predate the British Invasion). Back to the point, whatever the origin of folkery-fakery, I find it a very fitting and useful term.

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