I grew up in rural Newfoundland before the age of television. Kitchen parties were a popular form of entertainment and folk music was the staple of local musicians. My band members (Keltic Jam) and I were discussing the best traditional folk songs of all time and I sat down the next day and came up with the following list.
I suggest that the top 3 are:
- This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
I am a great fan of Woody Guthrie and am covering one of his songs for my next CD. I am a Canadian and there is a Canadian version of this song which is song more often around campfires and on folk nights than the original version. Woody had a tremendous influence on folk artists of the 1960’s including, arguably, the best of them all, Bob Dylan
- Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
Bob, influenced by Woody, wrote so many great ones but this one went on to be an anthem for a whole generation which eventually became known as the baby-boomers. The generation that sought answers to many of life’s questions were enchanted by the answer put forward by Dylan “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” This generation helped put an end to the Vietnam War and rallied to Dylan’s folk songs.
- Four Strong Winds – Ian Tyson
There are many great Canadian folk songs but this one has always been my favorite and has to make my personal top 3 lost. Rural Canadians, to this day, leave their communities to go to Alberta to find work. The song could be released today and be as poignant as it was when it was first released over half a century ago.
Whether or not you agree with my picks, there can be no argument that these are some of the best traditional folk songs of all time. If you like folk songs you might also like to check out Smokin’ Joe Wiseman He has covered traditional folk songs and writes his own. Click here to download a copy of his latest single for free.