Top 5 Folk Music Hits

Folk music features emotive lyrics and compelling melodies that often address important social and political topics like equality and peace.

Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” became a symbol of protest during the civil rights movement of 1960. This memorable track poses questions about society while spurring change.

Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Dylan’s enigmatic rendition of a Mississippi bluesman, with equal parts beauty and injustice, stands as one of his greatest works. Inspired by TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, its 11 minutes of stark imagery take ballad form to new places; Dylan often derided it as “far out,” yet this timeless folk song remains among his greatest accomplishments.

Mr. Tambourine Man was written by Bob Dylan sometime between February 1964 and March 1965 during a trip to New Orleans with some friends. It may have been shelved due to disagreement over Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s backing vocals before it found its way onto Bringing It All Back Home album in March of 1965 – and may have even further fused folk and rock into one track!

The acoustic version of “Teardrops on My Guitar” is truly captivating and one of Dylan’s best ever performances ever recorded. His lyrics address drug addiction and spiritual search while the rolling guitar riff is electrifying. Dylan’s vocal performance is superb; he seems in full control throughout, not being distracted by studio companions or conversations during recording and instead solely focused on getting the song right.

As Dylan’s fame increased, he began incorporating electric instruments into his performances – something many purists found disturbing at first. However, the song eventually achieved great popularity, reaching number one on both charts in Britain and America and giving rise to what would eventually become known as folk rock, merging elements from both genres together into one style of music.

Time Out of Mind was Dylan’s comeback album and this track became one of its cornerstones. Moving beyond The Times They Are A-Changing’s political commentary to an examination of modern culture as a whole, declaring all as vanity and hypocrisy, it remains a powerful statement from this veteran folk musician.

Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

Seeger was one of the most influential folk music artists of his era, playing an essential role in both social activism and its revival. Additionally, he was a prolific songwriter and singer – many of his songs such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” reached number one on charts worldwide while others were covered by bands such as Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul & Mary.

This song by Pete Seeger, written during the height of Cold War tensions in 1955, quickly became an international anthem against war’s futility. Additionally, it was utilized during Civil Rights Movement protests and remains one of our favorite folk hits today.

Pete Seeger was an influential political activist and antiwar songwriter during the McCarthy Era. However, during this time he and the Weavers were blacklisted from television and radio programs and banned from appearing together on them altogether. When this happened they returned once the blacklist ended and his music even had more impact with folk revival movements like those seen today; Seeger performed on high schools campuses as well as college campuses while continuing his song writing efforts and recording with various musicians such as Kingston Trio or Peter Paul and Mary among many more.

As Seeger was instrumental in adapting an old spiritual and teaching it to black folk, as well as recording a version for The Byrds that became a top five hit, “We Shall Overcome” has become one of our favorite folk music hits – reminding us to put peace over violence and work together towards building a brighter future.

Seeger was an inspiration to an entire generation of musicians and activists alike, and his songs will continue to live on for many generations to come. Take a listen through our collection of his music here!

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” has become the folk music equivalent of our national anthem, and is frequently performed throughout schools and camps for kids as well as campfires or rallies. Many musicians record it into their repertoire. Many do not realize, however, that its original purpose was a critique against capitalism!

Woody Guthrie wrote “God Bless America” as a response to Irving Berlin’s patriotic anthem in 1940. As an itinerant hobo who hitched rides and trains across the US, Guthrie had seen firsthand how hard life could be for poor Americans living through economic difficulties; former farmers, factory workers laid-off due to recessions, migrants trying to make ends meet amid years of economic difficulties – something his upbringing and social hierarchy in Oklahoma did not allow him to understand fully. Through music he created empathy towards oppressed individuals while creating liberatory feelings within himself as well.

Although Guthrie was white, his music often spoke for African-Americans and other marginalized groups he encountered. His songs served as a voice for those living outside society’s mainstream; defiant rejections of colonialism and capitalism; as well as pleas for more equal societies.

Guthrie would have disapproved of his song being used as an empty call for unity at an inauguration ceremony. Guthrie’s words are far more critical and fierce, not cosy and comforting: This land belongs to you – not those who exploit it for profit according to market logic – they’re basically thieves according to Guthrie who lived his entire life advocating social justice through music and activism. His lifelong fight for social justice resonates in his other songs too.

John Prine’s “Clay Pigeons”

John Prine was one of the greatest American folk singers ever, known for capturing both stoic solitude (Clay Pigeons) and heartbreaking loss of loved one through war (Angel from Montgomery). His acoustic arrangements, rootsy flavor, and rough-hewn vocal style has resonated with listeners for decades, solidifying him as one of folk music’s great songwriters.

Prine’s breakthrough came in 1971 with the release of his self-titled debut album. An accomplished effort featuring compassionate yet plainspokenly poetic future classics about dissatisfied wives (“Angel from Montgomery”), heroin-addicted Vietnam vets (“Sam Stone”) and lonely senior citizens (“Hello In There”) made this groundbreaking album an instantaneous cult hit – which cemented Prine as one of music’s foremost performers and earned him widespread acclaim. Since then he has continued producing albums as well as performing at clubs and festivals across America over his longstanding career.

His humorous lyrics and poetic style have cemented him as one of the most influential artists in American country, folk and alternative music. His work has been covered by artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Tanya Tucker. Additionally, he has composed songs for movies and TV shows such as Angel from Montgomery.

On his 2005 album Fair and Square, Prine collaborated with singer-songwriter Iris DeMent for duets that showcased their rich musical chemistry. Together they sang an array of tunes ranging from lighthearted lullabies to epic country ballads; none was more emotionally moving than Prine and DeMent’s soulful rendition of this song, depicting someone with working-class dignity who still managed a sense of civic pride – an idealized figure who shares an affectionate bond with their grandson.

DeMent and Prine’s voices intertwine seamlessly throughout this song, just like they do in real life. Their beautiful harmonies swoon beautifully against Prine’s acoustic guitar accompaniment; DeMent’s voice flows beautifully over Prine’s guitar accompaniment – reminding everyone the importance of family, even during challenging times; something we should all keep in mind during holidays like Thanksgiving.