What are some of the most influential, memorable, and legendary folk songs of all time?


After eight weeks of collecting votes (each song suggestion is considered a "vote" for that song), the results are in. These are the 100 essential folk songs as voted by our Folk Alley listeners.



Do you agree with these entries? What songs are missing that should have been on the list? Which songs deserved higher placement? Leave a comment in the message area.


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 Bogle
  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

Close List

Sorry I am late. My excuse is, "I'm a teacher." I enjoyed your list and the COMMENTS. Surpriised to see, "City of New Orleans," at # 3. I love and sing the song all the time,why not. Why not "Johnny B. Good?" What happened to John Denver's Country Roads?" I believe the issues and quality of life, death and music are still, "Blowin' In the Wind.

Posted by J. S. Hachiya on July 13, 2010.
You need two lists - one for traditional, ethnic, old-time music, and one for contemporary folk-rock, "protest", and other modern songs that Billboard lists as "Folk", not knowing any better. However, some songs still might fall between the lists - like "Freight Train," "Goodnight Irene," and others which come from a disctinct tradition but still have known authors. In fact, it wouldn't hurt for the traditional list simply to name the songs, without a particular artist's rendition being specified - like "Amazing Grace," "Tam Lin," "Man/Maid of Constant Sorrow," "Barbara Allen," etc.

Posted by L G Ramsdell on May 20, 2010.
The choices are fine, but I wonder why some songs are attributed to the singer, instead of the songwriter? That doesn't seem to be right, unless it is a traditional song of unknown authorship........

Posted by Greg Zappolo on November 23, 2009.
How about John Prine doing Sam Stone? Besides that great choices and maybe one more Prine. I would buy this CD. Angel from Montgomery? Thanks for everything!

Posted by John Arnold on November 08, 2009.
not impressed with the list, lot of songs not on there and to many that shouldn't be.

Posted by Randall Ladman on November 08, 2009.
Glad to see Woody Guthrie's "Deportee". What amazes me is that songs like this are as applicable today as when they were recorded/written. Saddens me too, since my hair is going gray and these songs are still applicable.Such a comment on the human condition, perhaps one of the major criteria for being a "folk" song.

Posted by Beth Kastner on October 28, 2009.
just watched PBS special on Joan Baez - only one song made the list with her amazing voice and repertoire? Only one Odetta and one by the Weavers? I'm surprised by some that made this list and some that didn't...happy to see Buffy on the list

Posted by Robin Bass on October 20, 2009.
I got goosebumps reading the list. OMG, so many great songs, songwriters and singers.

Posted by Andrea Ryan on October 11, 2009.
Re. all the comments about the absence of Richard Thompson from the list: I think Richard would be quite happy that his work is not categorised as "folk" (or any other genre for that matter). He and his songs are brilliant and unique - I don't think they fit into a list like this. Also I noticed someone commented that Ralph McTell's "Streets of London" was missing from the list - it's actually there, at no. 42. If you like that song, listen to more of his work - he has written many better songs since "Streets."

Posted by John Newton on October 08, 2009.
@Joel Weber : We Shall Overcome is #8 on the list. And yes, the grey headed choices win, but the early folk was the best! No Doubt about it! I didn't see MELANIE! She's awsome!

Posted by Barbara Halas on October 07, 2009.
As others have said, and many others probably have not bothereed, there are hundreds of years missing from the English/Scottish/Irish folk traditions. Not to mention the other traditions that are part of our lives - Mississippi John Hurt, Lightnin Hopkins, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and the true oners, Dave van Ronk, Josh White, John Jacob Niles, Fred Neill, Christine Lavin, Peggy Seeger, Loudon Wainwright, Cynthia Gooding, Johnny Cash - on and on.

Posted by Geoffrey Cavanagh on October 03, 2009.
Don't know if these are the 100 most - they certainly are a fabulous playlist - for each one on the list I can think of another 10 that should be there. But hearing Buffy Sainte-Marie sing "Universal Soldier" just brings out the goose bumps...........and the tears since we still haven't learned.

Posted by Greg D. Lubow on October 03, 2009.
I'm no longer sure what defines a "folk song" and I'm really not sure that's terribly important. But this list looks like it might have been compiled by someone at the Social Security Administration or the Shady Grove Nursing Home. Sadly I'm afraid that reflects the audience of Folk Alley and the high percentage of gray heads I see it folk concerts. "Puff the Magic Dragon" is really #23? It must be the drugs. Many of my favorites made the list. But no labor movement songs (Bread & Roses maybe) & where's We Shall Overcome? Interesting list. Yes, and why not Johnny B. Goode?

Posted by Joel Weber on September 16, 2009.
As usual many days late and several thoughts short - myself.(Re:previous post.) Thanks for checking it out though.

Posted by James Daigler on September 10, 2009.
A Song for Ireland sung by Mary Black or Dick Gaughan; Both Sides the Tweed sung by Dick Gaughan; The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - E. MacColl; Shoals of Herring - sung by MacColl; Whose Garden Was This - Paxton; God Bless The Grass - M. Reynolds;Parcel of Rogues - Steeleye Span; Allison Gross - Steeleye Span; Mary Magdalen - Shindell, Rebel Jesus - J. Browne; What if God was One of Us - J. Osbourne; Risin' of the Moon - Clancys & Makem; Sail Away - R. Newman; That's Why I love Mankind - Newman; Desperado - Henly, Frey; The Garden Song - Mallet; Trouble In the Fields - N. Griffith; Lizzie Borden - Chad Mitchell Trio; Coming of the Roads - Billy Edd Wheeler; Coal Tattoo - Wheeler; High Flyin Bird - Wheeler; Crossroads - R. Johnson; Dust My Broom - sung by Chris Smithers; High Heel Sneakers - sung by Smithers; Statesboro Blues - W. McTell; Silver Dagger - s. by Joan Baez; The Great American Dream - D. Massengill; American Jerusalem - Rod MacDonald; Peter Kagan and the Wind - Bok; My Images Come - s. by G. Bok; Prayin For Rain - Kitty Donohoe; Field Behind the Plow - Stan Rogers; Turnaround -S. Rogers; Jamaica Farewell - s. by Belafonte;Galveston Flood (Mighty Storm) - s. by Tom Rush; Opening Farewell - J.Browne; Sweet Wyoming Home, Roseville Fair, - Staines; Just A Little Rain - M. Reynolds; John Barleycorn - trad; and why not Johnny B Goode

Posted by James Daigler on September 10, 2009.
One could discuss the need for another hundred songs for this list. I say well done!!! I do like the comment about a compilation CD. It would be great for a fund raiser!!! I'd buy it.

Posted by Rob on August 31, 2009.
Right to the heart of what folk music is all about, and beautiful enough to make one weep: "A Different Kind of Love Song" by Dick Gaughen.

Posted by Paterson on August 29, 2009.
I think you're missing: "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" by the New Christy Minstrels! That seems like a "must" in the top 100!

Posted by Diana Ryman on August 27, 2009.
Really like a lot of these artists and songs. I do think back of the old WKSU program called HILLS AND HOME where I heard a lot of "old-time" music, namely, the Skillet Lickers, the Louvin Bros, Delmore Bros., Bill and Charley Monroe. I collect a lot of folk and old-time, and think of Charley Acuff, the Campcreek Boys, Wayne and JE Mainer, the Carter Family, Jimmy Rodgers. I was pleased to see Norman Blake and Doc Watson mentioned who made a few visits to NE Ohio in the past. There are so many and many so obscure that CD's can only be found at festivals. Keep the list coming! It is great to see so many responses from lovers of this music.

Posted by John Reed on August 20, 2009.

Posted by Jim Couch on August 19, 2009.
Thanks for doing this. It's a pleasure to listen to. Being a Phil Ochs fan I'm happy that there are 3 of Phil's songs on this list. I would like to see "I Ain't A Marching Anymore" listed too.

Posted by Ray Naylor on August 17, 2009.
make a compilation set of cd's with these 100 songs and I would definitely by it. Great songs!

Posted by Greg Cooper on August 16, 2009.
What a great collection of songs. Yes, there are many others that could be added but what you have here is a super start......and great listening!

Posted by Erwin Lowell on August 14, 2009.
I rather agree with Jean V, change the title of the list to something like "A random collection". Furthermore extend it to a 1000 titles but limit the titles of one artist or group. Right now there is rather an overdose of Dylan songs. Nearly 10 % of the list is filled with Mr. Zimmerman's songs. Make some room for the likes of Paul Brady, Christy Moore, Barry Moore (a.k.a. Luka Bloom), Clannad, Richard Digance, Doc & Merle Watson, Ralph McTell, Don McLean, Emmylou Harris, Sandy Denny, Norman Blake, James Taylor, Mary Black, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, etc. etc. But however you call to and fill it, this list is a very good initiative!!

Posted by Arjan De Haart on August 14, 2009.
No matter what songs didn't make it, this is a great list of songs. Don't fuss over words like "essential" and the definition of "folk" - just enjoy the music.

Posted by Diane Tavoian on August 13, 2009.
My sister (age 60)comments via email: Should be Number One: The Times they are a Changing -Bob Dylan Also, where is "The Gypsy Rover"??????? My son (age 25) adds: My #1, which did not even make the list, would be "I shall not be moved." Also missing is "This little light of mine," if it is good enough for Pete it is good enough for me! I agree with another poster, Keep the list but let's have more additions. This is not an ESSENTIAL LIST, more like SOME GOOD SUGGESTIONS

Posted by Jean V on August 09, 2009.
I hope that you will consider making this a permanent part of you web site. I listen to the other selections, but keep coming back to the 100- seems like I hear something new each time, plus repeats.

Posted by William Kerr on August 07, 2009.
I am surprised that Peter, Paul and Mary had so few songs on the list. I would love to see the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on the list but I bet they were considered ethnic. Still an album of all of these songs would be great. lol..

Posted by Jane Holleran on August 03, 2009.
And what happened to the Brothers Four and the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem?

Posted by Richard Vaughan on August 03, 2009.
MY GOODNESS ARE YOU EVER LIMITED IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE! Missing are: Chad Mitchell Trio Limeliters New Christy Minstrels (you did have a McGuire tune, though) Back Porch Majority Simon Sisters ..and you put a little too much into your "protest" era and not enough true folk from the 50s and 60s, not to mention Woody's 40s. Not much of a list you have here...sorry

Posted by Richard Vaughan on August 03, 2009.
Great list but Phil Ochs, Power and Glory should be on it

Posted by Ethan Schwartz on August 01, 2009.
How can you have 100 songs without a Joan Baez performance? To me Farewell Angelina is he best folk song of all time that expresses terrorism todays as well as it did 50 years ago. A Dylan - Baez classic.

Posted by Bill Farone on July 30, 2009.
Despite a few errors I enjoy every song on the list and thats whats matters most. I find it interesting that more than half of the songs deal with nortality in some form or another while only 20 or so deal with love (but to be fair many could be counted either way such as "Kisses Sweeter than wine"). As much as anything the pre-disposition of mortality as a subject matter is the common thread of the songs on this list,

Posted by Ivan on July 26, 2009.
It depends on the likes of the listener who should decide for himself/herself which song goes where on the list. For my part, I like "Tomorrow is a Long Time", written by Bob Dylan and performed by Ian and Sylvia.

Posted by Jim Kay on July 24, 2009.
I guess the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for" is applicable here, huh, Folk Alley? How critical of a list that in spite of its name probably never was meant to be the "be all" list of folk music. Just enjoy the music and quit trying to overintellectualize!

Posted by Jeff Chambers on July 22, 2009.
How about the songs we've sang all our lives? Shenendoah, Red River Valley, Rock Island Line, Yankee Doodle, Wabash Cannonball, On Top of Old Smokey. There's at least three centuries of folk, music hall, and pop to choose from.

Posted by Karen Smulevitz on July 19, 2009.
To Raj Jindal A very 70s, Ameri-centric, Anglo list??? Um excuse me - I have to totally disagree here - it is a very wide range of AMERICAN folk music. What kind of folk music did you want? European? Asian? Don't listen if you don't like it.

Posted by Colleen Garlock on July 17, 2009.
I would have thought Nina Simone and "Mississippi Goddam" would have a place on this list.

Posted by Stephen F. Morelli on July 16, 2009.
It is definitely a list of mostly North American artists from the 50's, 60's, and early 70's. I agree that I miss James Taylor, Emmy Lou, Bob Gibson, and others. Defining "essential" is difficult. Are we talking about songs that are representative of styles? political impact? inspired other artists? What about initial duo performances such Bob Gibson & Joan Baez doing "Virgin Mary" at the Newport Folk Festival; Baez introducing Bob Dylan; ?? I know that I enjoy all 100.

Posted by Lary Jones on July 16, 2009.
"It is a very 70's, Ameri-centric, very Anglo, very white list." - maybe that says something about who Folk Alley's listening audience is...

Posted by Raj Jindal on July 15, 2009.
Interesting list of 100 songs, even more interesting comments since it posted. and There are a lot more great folk, singer songwriter and roots songs out there. It IS a very 70's, Ameri-centric, very Anglo, very white list. A few Canadians, very few Blacks, very few from the UK but nothing from American blues, no Tejano, no Conjunto and really very little protest or topical songs thought some are mentioned in the comments. It's past time I digitized all my LP's....

Posted by Russ Nobbs on July 15, 2009.
I'm missing "Wayfaring Stranger" performed by anyone (Bill Munroe, EmmyLou)

Posted by Deborah Parker on July 14, 2009.
This fun little list is quite simply misnamed. When you ask for a nebulous vote from the general public, all you're ever going to get is a listeners' favorites list, which is exactly what this is. When you label your list something as academically ambitious as "essential folk songs", it seems to me there ought to be some definition of those terms; some criteria established, and maybe an editorial staff determining whether the voter understood the assignment or not. Listeners at large are expected only to know what they like. An educated ethnomusicologist, or even someone who just knows the difference between folk music and commercial pop, or even someone who can grasp the linguistic meanings of words like "essential" might deliver you an entirely different batch of song titles.

Posted by Tim Wallace on July 10, 2009.
What a wonderful list! Obviously, everyone is going to have a favorite song (or two or three..) that's not on this list; for instance, I'd include "Roseville Fair" (Bill Staines). But it's a very impressive list, and says a lot for the voters. Glad to see "Tecumseh Valley" (TVZ) "Across the Great Divide (Kate Wolf) on the list. Pleasantly surprised to see "Caledonia" (Dougie Maclean) and "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (Nick Bogel). Just a few observations.

Posted by Paul Brenner on July 09, 2009.
Amen to that, Jon. EmmyLou is one of the few artists whose music I buy without having to hear it first. She gets no radio play in any genre, but has a vast and loyal audience. Interesting how different people interpret the "folk" label; it certainly has covered a huge variety of styles and subjects over the years. I am enjoying the list/side stream very much - brings back some great memories I had totally forgotten!

Posted by Elaine Ophus on July 08, 2009.
I just finished a back issue of Rolling Stone (Nov. 08) which listed the 100 greatest singers of all time. Selected by a cross sectin of artists and weighted by an accounting method. One huge omission on that list and this one is the incredible EmmyLou Harris, who to my mind has one of the finest voices on the planet and can interpret songs as well as anyone. After listening to Nanci Griffth's excellent version of Hard Times as Dennis suggests, have a listen to Emmylou's recording. Arteha Franklin came up number one the Rolling Stone list by the way. Hard to argue with that

Posted by Jon James on July 08, 2009.
An interesting list to be sure. Obviously what is essential for you is not always for me. The term essential is very vague. But a list of great songs none the less that all should hear/know.

Posted by Wes Foraker on July 08, 2009.
Hard times.. by Nanci Griffith

Posted by Dennis Cole on July 04, 2009.
I'm not sure that they're "essential" for everyone, but Richard Shindell and Nanci Griffith are on my list of folk all-stars. And Eddie from Ohio's version of "Operator" is on any list I'd compile.

Posted by Michael Goodman on July 03, 2009.
I'd add to the list "When First Unto This Country," preferably the version done by the New Lost City Ramblers, with Mike Seeger doing the vocal.

Posted by David Gedalecia on July 01, 2009.
It has been so long since I have heard such great music. Thank you so much

Posted by Michael Warren on June 30, 2009.
To make the list of the essential 100 does a song have to be American? It seems to me that recognizing national borders may fly in the face of the "universal or global" nature of music, especially folk. Certainly the Canadians are not so different from us, eh? Maybe it's just because I have lived so close to the Provinces. But ow I must rush off to find those Stan Rogers songs Jon mentioned.

Posted by Jeff Jerde on June 30, 2009.
Re: Erik's idea that to be a folk song a tune has to be of a certain age. I just don't get that at all. Jeffrey's mention of Stan Rogers speaks to the point. Stan wrote some of the best folk songs ever written in the 70's and 80s. Barrett's Privateers, Field Behind the Plow, Lockkeeper. An astounding talent whose work belongs in any lexicon of Folk song. And interestingly Stan was a Canadian not American and of course that would disqualify him along with Joni Mitchell, Buffy Ste. Marie, Ian and Sylvia, Gord Lightfoot, Fairport, Sandy Denny, Erik Bogle, Nick Drake, Richard Thomson, Maddy Prior, Ewan Mccoll and Henry VIII, none of whom wrote Traditional American Folk music. I came to folk naturally from a childhood of showtunes, classical music, Operetta and opera, jazz, swing and rock and roll. Folk led me to blues and blues back to Jazz. It's a circle, it's universal or global at least.

Posted by Jon James on June 30, 2009.
I've learned much from both the list and from these comments. For example, Elizabeth Cotten! Stan Rogers! I just didn't know. I love it when I hear a song and feel compelled to research the background of song and artist. Clearly we all hear selections which we think don't belong, and are surprised at omitted titles. I would love to see a separate discussion thread on what criteria should be used to name the "essentials." For example, I find slick, studio-produced versions jarringly out-of-place. It shouldn't take an orchestra and studio effects to make an essential folk song. To paraphrase previous poster Avins, I may have them, I may love them, but not in the "essential folk" category. So my approach is biased toward performances that could be live -- just a singer, maybe several -- and some instruments, and a worthwhile story to tell.

Posted by Jeffrey Jerde on June 30, 2009.
I'm surprised what some people consider to be "folk" music. Traditional American folk music, in my opinion anyway, was mostly written before 1970 and most of it before 1960. "John Barleycorn Must Die," while a good song, is a traditional English song - revamped by Steve Winwood and Traffic - and many others. How "Desolation Row" is considered a folk song beats me. I think this list reveals the lack of knowledge by Folk Alley's listening audience; almost all songs are post-1960; yes, there was a resurgence of folk music in the U.S. in that decade. But, really, "Leaving on A Jet Plane?" Here's another stumper: "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle. Although actually an Australian anti-Vietnam War protest song, the lyrics are about that country's war(s), not ours. "Fountain Of Sorrow" by Jackson Browne? Seriously? "Tangled Up In Blue", "The Boxer," "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Old Man" by Neil Young, .... these are just sorry choices. "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire is a protest song, not a folk song. And, although you have the Carter family, in this entire list there isn't one song by Johnny Cash, Guthrie Thomas, Cisco, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and on and on. Granted Cash "walked the line" (no pun intended) between pop and some mixture of country, blue grass and a hundred other American influences, the fact that he isn't here at all is sad.

Posted by Erik Milstone on June 30, 2009.
Didn't vote originally, but would like to add "John Barleycorn Must Die", with my favorite version by Traffic

Posted by Seth Bradley on June 29, 2009.
I was suprised to see that 'Time In A Bottle' wasn't included.

Posted by Robert Curtis on June 29, 2009.
Please take these comments and expand the list t0 500 or 100. There is so much left out here

Posted by Susan Greider on June 28, 2009.
This list is great because it has introduced me to some artists and songs I am not particularly familiar with. There's the pat on the back....now....if you include Tom Rush doing Joni Mitchell's Urge for Going then it really is about a performance rather than the song. (above that nobody can sing Urge for Going like Joni). And if it's about performance then Neil Young and Nicollete Larson's version of Four Strong Winds is better than Ian and Sylvia's. etc. etc. And how could a list of essential FOLK songs not include ANY Stephen Foster? You could pull Puff the Magic Dragon and insert "Hard Times" somewhere up there in the top 10. Thanks very much for this and thanks for the streaming music as I typed. Bob's singing Don't Think Twice right now. Perfect

Posted by Jon James on June 28, 2009.
I think that Harry Belafonte deserves one or two songs there like Banana Boat Song and Jamaica Farewell.

Posted by David Jennings on June 28, 2009.
Great list! Missing Nanci Griffith, however.

Posted by Catherine AM on June 28, 2009.
Just what defines a folk song? I guess I always considered it a musical style more than anything else. But I also belive a great folk song has to have lasting value and relevance over time, be able to stir the heart (and/or mind) and be free of an overabundance of production "flash. Overall your list is great. I was a little surprised by the number of Simon and Garfunkel tunes and missed seeing anything from the earliest James Tayor Apple days. And what happeded to the song "Shenndoah", a great song no matter who performs it. Please keep up the good work.

Posted by Rick Coalter on June 28, 2009.
Thanks to NPR I just discovered your website & it's like discovering America.

Posted by Joe Perez on June 28, 2009.
I'm missing one Singer-Songwriter James Taylor.

Posted by Christian Legner on June 28, 2009.
When we try to define folk songs (or even pick the essential 100) and put them in a box, I believe we're splitting hairs . So Dylan started out as folk, and went electric.... does that mean he no longer qualifies as a folk singer? I believe what makes a folk song is whatever you want to think a folk song is. Big Bill Broonzy said it best when he said "I guess all songs is folk songs. I never heard no horse sing 'em."

Posted by Doug Coppock on June 26, 2009.
Stan, I think I 3/4 agre. I certainly agree that just because a song has accoustic guitar accompanymeny doesn't make it folk. I think I disagree that a song has to be old to be folk. (But seem my earlier comments on how this is just my opinion and yours.) But, while new songs can be folk, I don't see how they can be "essential" folk, i.e. marque examples or highly influential songs. And I also consider many of the songs here to simply be pop, not folk. And the same goes for the songs of a lot of artist that people are calling for in these comments. I adore the musig of, for example, Harry Chapin, Simon and Garfunkel, and Jim Croce; they are on my CD racks, but not in the folk section. But that's me. Oh, well.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 26, 2009.
How can anyone consider very modern songs like, 'Leaving on a Jet Plane', 'Don't Think Twice, it's Alright,' etc. as folk songs? I count about 14 of the songs on the list as actual folk songs, the rest are popular songs. Just because a song is sung with guitar accompanyment doesn't make it a folk song, even if the guitar is acoustic. Very few American folk songs are "politically correct," very few protest songs have actually entered into the folk medium.

Posted by Stan Kohls on June 26, 2009.
Off the bat, some I missed on the list were Arragon Mill, Coal Town Road, and Range of the Buffalo. Good list tho. I did miss some of my favorite Denver songs as well.

Posted by Jackie Mowery on June 25, 2009.
Definitely have the three best on your marquee: Dylan, Seeger, and Woody Guthrie…but we voters missed Harry Chapin (Cat’s in the Cradle), Jim Croce (Time in a Bottle), James Taylor (Fire and Rain), and many more.

Posted by AK Fox on June 25, 2009.
"The Dutchman" certainly belongs on this list. You should use the composer Michael Smith's version, not the popular version you have up. It's too up-tempo. Thanks! Ivan

Posted by Ivan Browning on June 25, 2009.
Absolutely fabulous!!!! Thank you very much for all these songs!!!

Posted by Fanepreda Fanepreda on June 24, 2009.
In case anyone is curious about my earlier comment on the Top 100 folk songs with an accordion solo, my nominees are Water is Wide (the Karla Bonoff version) accordion solo is by The Band's Garth Hudson. The other is from Michael Fracasso's first album, a song called Leaves of October. Don't remember the accordion player's name. If you haven't heard them before go find them. They are so beautiful they'll put a lump in your throat.

Posted by Rich Brown on June 24, 2009.
How can this be a legitimate top 100 list without Roger McGuinn? His Folk Den Project alone qualifies him for inclusion. And what about the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio (McGuinn cut his folk teeth with them)? I would suggest 'Hanoi Hannah' or 'Gate of Horn' and even 'Pretty Boy Floyd' off the Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album for inclusion. I also agree withother comments regarding Judy Collins' absence from the list. Anything off of 'Wildflowers', 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes' or 'Fifth' would work.

Posted by R.H. Myers on June 24, 2009.
This is a list of 60s era folk, or maybe pop/folk. Not what I expected and not very interesting. Where are all the songs that inspired these artists? (I do see one Carter Family song.) boo

Posted by drybones on June 24, 2009.
Can't have the list without James Taylor. Otherwise, a nice list of old and current.

Posted by Terry Cade on June 24, 2009.
I am so enthralled with all of "our music" that I can't comment. Just sitting, listening, smiling, feeling emotional. thanks, Folk Alley!!!!

Posted by Steven Nalevansky on June 23, 2009.
Jeff Mincey: Americal Tune is #85; it's low, but it's there. Ross Campbell: On McCutcheon's album "Live From Wolf Trap," he tells a story about a trio of old German men he met while performing in Denmark who told him that they had been in the Christmas truce, but their families flatly refused to believe it ever happened until they heard Christmas in the Trenches on the radio. In my humble opinion, if Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, are Huddie Ledbetter are the elder gods of (American) folk music, then John McCutcheon stands tallest among the new gods. (And Tom Paxton is the great middle-aged god ;-) If you don't know them, check out "Live From Wolf Trap" and "Doing Our Job," which is a joint concert recording with Tom Chapin.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 23, 2009.
Top 100 is too short a list. Was hoping to find more than 2 songs I'd never heard before. I think anyone that has listened to Gorka's Semper Fi would have to put it on their list. It was a fun exercise, but you could do it again and narrow the parameters and turn a lot of us on to new music. Top 100 folk songs about war. Top 100 folk songs about jobs. Top 100 folk songs about love lost. Top 100 folk songs with an accordion solo. (I have TWO nominations for that. Thanks for the work compiling it this was fun.

Posted by Rich Brown on June 23, 2009.
All that said, I do wonder if some (perhaps many?) of the people voting didn't take the idea of "essential folk songs" the same way I did. I wonder if some voted for "favorite folk songs" instead. I wonder if some voted for "songs that folkies like us love" without thinking much about what even they themselves would consider folk. I'm pretty sure that plenty of people voted for favorite (or essential) artists, picking a representative song from the artist, rather than thinking of the songs on their own. And if everyone had thought about the list the same way I did, would the number that I personally don't (or might not) consider folk be any less that 41, or just a different 41?

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 23, 2009.
I few recurring themes in this commentary are driving me crazy. First, it's not a "100 best" list, it's "100 most essential," i.e. those 100 songs that best exemplify and/or have shaped the folk genre. Second, all the "Where's ?" It's right where it's always been, and it didn't get voted for. Or "Where's ?" Same answer plus, it's about the songs, not the artists. Is it a surprise that none of, say, Richard Thompson's songs were voted onto the list? Yes, but what's the point in being outraged? that's how the voting went; get over it. And finally, "What, you call that folk?" Well, obviously someone does. Lot's of someones, since those songs made the list. Like everyone, I have my own idea of what's folk and what isnt (though there are many songs in the grey) but who is any one of us to say? There about 16 songs on this list that I would not call folk, and about 25 more that I'm not so sure about. A lot of those are songs that I love, and I still wouldn't call them folk. But a lot of people disagree with me, they voted, and that's that.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 23, 2009.
Donovan made the list,but know Bert Jansch or Davy Graham. Mixed bag.mmm!

Posted by Jack Kennard on June 23, 2009.
Reading the comments on favorites that got left off reminds me of the variety and diversity or material that we include in this genre called Folk. Some of my favorites did not make it either, but I must say that the list is very strong. I think that it reflects the collective wisdom of the listeners to Folk Alley and does a good job in that role. Rather than bash the list for what it is not, let's celebrate it for what it is -- representative of the type of music that we all listen to and love. Thank you Folk Alley for creating this 100 best list. If we get a few new people interested in folk music because they start listening to the songs on this list, it will be a success.

Posted by Dave Tyckoson on June 23, 2009.
I thought I heard most of the great folk songs until I came across "Christmas in the Trenches" by John McCutcheon. My grandfather was in the war and I remember my father relating a story about how the soldiers on both sides stopped fighting for Christmas and started a soccer game. This song brought back memories. Well crafted song.

Posted by Ross Campbell on June 23, 2009.
where is dave van ronk? his version of river? or teddy bears picnic? cocaine? he taught dylan his licks for house of the rising sun. how could he be omitted?

Posted by Rosie Hall on June 23, 2009.
Linda - Don't the Sandy Denny and Fairport titles count as Richard Thompson songs? (I'm partial to Wall of Death, myself). Harry Chapin? Ugh. Barry McGuire? You gotta be joking. Sounds of Silence? Not S&G's best work. John Denver? puhleez... No Kumbaya? (Groan as you must...) Michael Row Your Boat Ashore? Good to see that Phil Ochs has not been forgotten. Ditto that Joan Baez is too lightly represented, and David Bromberg should fit in here somewhere, too, as well as Bruce Cockburn. And where's Neil Young's Sugar Mountain?

Posted by Elli on June 23, 2009.
Okay, I'm enjoying the list and will quibble only a little. No Judy Collins? Good lord, how could that happen? And Sam Stone should be above any of the John Prine entries. But thanks. It brings back a lot of memories.

Posted by Walter Pirie on June 22, 2009.
Harry Chapin not in the top 100 with either "Taxi" or "Cat's in the Cradle"?

Posted by Robert Burgess on June 22, 2009.
Not a single BLUES? Beam me up, Scotty. Where the hell is "Careless Love"? This list was compiled by dolts in diapers. FEH!

Posted by Mugg Muggles on June 22, 2009.
Give me a friggin' break! The Band? It seems that these morons wouldn't know a 'folk song' if it bit them on the a**.

Posted by Mugg Muggles on June 22, 2009.
The absence of Richard Thompson songs on this list proves that there was no tampering by the Folk Alley staff! ;-)

Posted by Linda Fahey on June 22, 2009.
Worts and all its a great list! Maybe we need a top 1000?

Posted by Paul Heidenheim on June 22, 2009.
Steve Goodman didn't write "The Dutchman".

Posted by STew Guernsey on June 22, 2009.
OK. I understand that this is a Folk Alley listener's poll.. but Folk Alley should have-- or should now respond to this horrid list, with a list of their own. At least someone on their staff would recognize Jim Croce and Kris Kristofferson. At least they wouldn't put 9 Bob Dylan Songs on the list. I think...

Posted by Mike Freze on June 22, 2009.
No Loudon Wainwright III? Nick Drake barely on the list? Springsteen? Wow...

Posted by Jordan on June 21, 2009.
A few of the missing (and more pop into my head as I type): "The Power and The Glory," "Springhill Mining Disaster," "Freeborn Man," "The Patriot Game," "Draft Dodger Rag," "Gypsy Rover," "Talkin' Viet Nam Potluck Blues" "No Man's Land" "Joe Hill" "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" "Tzena Tzena" ------ Wow! Someone else who knows the work of Fred Neil! Hi, Glenn. Gordon Bok should be in there with something, preferably with Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir. ------- Dylan is way over-represented, though the fact that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" barely made the list at all is mind-boggling. Should have been in the top twenty if not the top ten. ------- Also, it's Eric Bogle, not Bogel, and "WILL the Circle Be Unbroken" ------ All of which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the memories that the list stirred up. Thank you.

Posted by Pieter Breitner on June 21, 2009.
I agree with many of the comments about this list not being true folk music. It's mostly composed music of the 60s which, for those of us who participated in the Folk Music revival of that era, are all belovedly familiar... How about another list of favorite REAL folk songs? Meanwhile, I'm leaving this on 24/7!

Posted by Lynn Gallager-Vallejo on June 21, 2009.
I agree with the Richard Thompson posts. I was surprised myself that he didn't make the list.

Posted by Chris Boros on June 21, 2009.
american pie should be in the top 50 somewhere

Posted by Richard Thacker on June 21, 2009.
One more My Friend the Sun by Family.

Posted by Pall Russ on June 21, 2009.
One more My Friend the Sun by Family.

Posted by Pall Russ on June 21, 2009.
One more My Friend the Sun by Family.

Posted by Pall Russ on June 21, 2009.
Where is Ralph McTells's Streets of London? How sad it missed the list.

Posted by Pall Russ on June 21, 2009.
Don't forget "Renegade" by Ian and Sylvia should have been Joan Collins version of "Who knows where the time goes" You left out Odetta and Richie Havens

Posted by Jessica Pryor on June 21, 2009.
Loving that people still like to argue they know what real folk music is and what it isn't. Looking forward to hearing everyone try to define it.

Posted by Chris EF on June 21, 2009.
It was a sin to have a list of 100 greatest folk songs ever and not even mention Jim Croce. Shame on you. "I got a name" ranks in the top 50, no question. Here's 5 others Croce classics that could easily contend in the top 100 . "Don't mess around with Jim"... "Time in a bottle"... "New York's not my home"... "Rapid Roy"... "Operator- that's not the way it feels" Let's break this down for a second- You have 9 Bob Dylan songs on there and 4 Woody Guthrie songs. Those two men changed the world, no doubt, but that's just one sound- Of the hundreds of thousands of fantastic folk artists you have 1 style that accounts for 15 percent of your list? Come on. This is a top 100 of all time. You should have just called it the Bob Dylan/Woodie Guthrie playground. You've got 3 John Prine songs and 3 Joni Mitchell songs.. and no Kris Kristofferson? No Nanci Griffith? No Jim Croce? That doesn't make any sense. Kristofferson (50% of the people reading this would agree) is not only one of the most prolific folk songwriters of all time, but a true essential of modern folk music. and real quick- No Fleetwood Mac? You have tons on Simon and Garfunkle, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young- but no Stevie Nicks? how is "Landslide" not a folk song? how is it not in the top 20? sorry to rip on the list so hard, but come on guys. Keep it together.

Posted by Mike Freze on June 21, 2009.
Since when are "Goodnight Irene" and "Amazing Grace" traditional? They are by Leadbelly and John Newton respectively. Maybe that's why someone complained about "people of color" not being on the list. Their contribution was not recognized. (Not that Newton was "colored" of course, but Leadbelly was . . . well, I think the preferred term in his day was "Negro".)

Posted by John Philips on June 21, 2009.
Can't argue with the #1 choice I would have put Blue moon of Kentucky next but thats just me. kick John Prine and Townes Van Zandt up.Didn't see any Van Morrisson and what is John Denver doing on there come on.

Posted by Marsh Fou on June 21, 2009.
Where is Hoyt Axton's "Greenback Dollar"? That ought to be in there somewhere. Maybe this should be a 500 list. Too many good songs for just 100.

Posted by Brad Deniston on June 21, 2009.
I have to say that "The List" is pretty darned good. One of my absolute favorite songs is "That's The Way It's Gonna Be" recorded by both Glen Yarborough and by The Mitchell Trio (Newcomer John Denver replacing Chad Mitchell). If you don't know the song, look for it!

Posted by Jay Taylor on June 20, 2009.
Let the argument begin. I think the criteria here was anyone popular in the 60s who wore big sunglasses and a headband gets a song in. Great List! I love all the ones I recognize! And for the purists out there: grow up, please.

Posted by Joe Hill on June 20, 2009.
I hate to bring this up and I seldom do, but aren't there any people of color with folk music? Maybe the Leadbelly/Golden Gate "Midnight Special" or something? John McCutcheon makes it but no folk blues does? The Weavers' "Goodnight Irene" makes if but the Leadbelly or Mississippi John Hurt version do not? I also agree with Billy Batson, that a lot of these aren't folk songs anyways, but "The Boxer?" Someone known as a folk singer sings it and it is a folk song? No Robert Johnson? No Leadbelly? No Mississippi John Hurt? Joan Baez and Buffy Sainte-Marie are the "people of color" representatives here? I'll stand back and get flamed now.

Posted by Victor Walbridge on June 20, 2009.
Regarding the 100 most essential Folk Songs and recognizing that Folk Alley did not create this list but only solicited it...dear friends, half the songs on this list are not "folk songs". If this list is any thing, it is an indication of how little people understand the nature of true folk music.

Posted by BILLY BATSON on June 20, 2009.
Just a reminder folks - all the songs on this list we chosen by Folk Alley listeners, not the Folk Alley staff. The list is a result of 8 weeks of polling the FA audience. We're very interested in hearing what songs you feel were overlooked so we can do a follow-up stream with those songs included. So let's hear 'em. Let us know what you'd like to add.

Posted by Linda Fahey on June 20, 2009.
Where is Chimes of Freedom, Dylan? If you are going to have we shall overcome (which you should), you should have it by the freedom singers; in fact there should be a lot of the freedom singers. Congrats for having thirsty boots, but more of eric anderson!!! Diamonds and rust??? Your must be kidding. I know that you must have been desperate for a baez song but ... . How about anything from Judy Collins Fith Album? I enjoy simon and gurfunkel but not on the list of 100 best folk songs.

Posted by John Yehuda on June 20, 2009.
Simon and Garfunkel have more songs on this list than Tom Paxton or Phil Ochs -- that's just wrong! Their music, while pleasant pop, doesn't really qualify as folk music in the4 same vein. Same goes for Crosby Stills & Nash (if you want to put them n the list, then Buffalo Springfield would be more appropriate).

Posted by Paul Zink on June 20, 2009.
OK, I see that Arlo is on the list. Sorry. But Ramblin Jack Elliott should be there somewhere. His mentor was Woody and he was a father figure to Arlo. Jack has influenced many musicians in his lifetime and he is an important person in the history of American Folk Music.

Posted by Jack Davis on June 20, 2009.
Can anyone download this steam or can I buy this as a download to make my own CD? Ronna Casper

Posted by Ronna Casper on June 20, 2009.
Why isn't Ramblin Jack Elliott not on this list? If it weren't for Jack Bob Dylan would have never gotten started. Just ask Arlo. By the way, why isn't Arlo on the list? These two folk musicians are legends and should be recognized.

Posted by Jack Davis on June 20, 2009.
I can't imagine why "Imagine" is not on that list!

Posted by Linda Erhardt on June 20, 2009.
They're probably not easily sung or remembered, but I'd still consider them folk songs: Ballad of the Yarmouth Castle by Gordon Lightfoot, Peter Kagan and the Wind by Gordon Bok, Song for a Winters Night by Gordon Lightfoot, and Fire by Dave Mallet. And yes, I'm showing a bias.

Posted by John McBride on June 20, 2009.
Just now Joan Baez is playing, she is my favorite and I've been a fan since the late '50s. Saw her at the Hollywood Bowl in the early '60s with Bob Dylan. The list is ok but like others I'd remove some and add some. I think a few, in my opinion, are pop tunes and some classic traditional folk songs are missing. Folk Alley will move to the top of my favorite list!

Posted by Ray Moe on June 20, 2009.
Thanks for compiling this list and especially for reminding us of some of the great folk songs. But this should be referred to as "some" of the most essential songs. Folk music, by nature, relates to past, current and future events (in our culture, in our minds). As such, any given point in history will probably have a very different "top 100." -- Phil Maffetone

Posted by Phil Maffetone on June 20, 2009.
Cool list, thanks for working to put it together and streaming it ... still ...

Posted by Ron Blum on June 20, 2009.
Blues Run the Game - Jackson C. Frank

Posted by Matthew Turner on June 20, 2009.
Would like to join the others to say that Richard Thompson's absence from the list is glaring and regrettable ...

Posted by Ron Blum on June 20, 2009.
A true Folk Anthem from the great folk music scare! Last Night I Had the Stangest Dream, by Ed MacCurdy.

Posted by Marsha Lake on June 20, 2009.
I want to echo what others have said about Richard Thompson. His work is seminal and brilliant. Perhaps Tom Waits has some work worthy of inclusion as well.

Posted by Jeff Mincey on June 20, 2009.
Assuming this is a list of the top 100 AMERICAN folk songs, this is an excellent list. It's not exactly what I would have compiled on my own, but it's close. I would probably remove Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and replace it with the American folk masterpiece, Shenandoah. Bridge over Troubled Water is not Simon's best work. In fact, I'm struck that nothing from his solo career makes the list, even as his work is superior and more influential during those years. I'm surprised also to see nothing in the list from Stephen Foster or Randy Newman. I think I would place Stephen Foster's best work above John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane." Perhaps the same for James Taylor who is also missing from the list. Ah, we can go on and on with this, eh?

Posted by Jeff Mincey on June 20, 2009.
These are all terrific songs. If people sing them now, they can be called folk songs. However, there are folk songs that gave roots to many of these on the list. Folk songs go way back in oral traditions, in many languages. One could include Pretty Polly which was the musical basis for Pastures of Plenty. Then, there are the Child ballads, as well as Elizabethan, etc. I think it's good to be reminded about the history of "folk songs" and the oral traditions. Thanks.

Posted by Richard Partlow on June 20, 2009.
Wanted to second the comment about consternation at the exclusion of Richard Thompson from this list! Apparently the sentimental "nice" songs appeal to folkies as much as to mainstream America. Dimming of the Day people!!!!

Posted by Cynthia Finney on June 20, 2009.
Hi Birck, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matida" (Eric Bogle) is #40 on the list.

Posted by Linda Fahey on June 20, 2009.
"road" is an very odd nick drake choice.... i would have thought that the popular pick would have been 'pink moon." my choice is "river man" but his [sadly] small output is loaded with riches..hard to pick just one and like other commentors : "no richard thompson?" hard to grasp...

Posted by Russell Leisenheimer on June 20, 2009.
Everybody has their favorites. Here we go...Fairport Convention does not trump the solo work of Richard Thompson. This great singer/songwriter's original recordings could easily populate as many as the other holy one, Dylan. A significant measure beyond my own, is the large number of artists who have chosen to record RT's songs. Here's the short-list: Beeswing, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Dimming of the Day, Tear Stained Letter, Keep Your Distance, King of Bohemia, Genesis Hall, From Galway to Graceland, Shoot Out Lights, Wall of Death, Meet On The Ledge, Just The Motion, God Loves A Drunk, And The Ghost of You Walks, Sam Jones, Cold Kisses, and Down Where The Drunkards Roll. There's More! His guitar work is more than extraordinary on many of the pieces named. Dylan: Visions of Johanna, Its Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall, Highway 61, I Shall Be Released, It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again, The Death of Emmett Till, A Grain of Sand, Blind Willie McTell, Idiot Wind, Tears of Rage, The Wedding Song, Ballad of A Thin Man, She Left Me Standing In The Doorway, Nettie More... and a lot more. The Band: King Harvest (WIll Surely Come), Up On Cripple Creek, and The Weight.

Posted by Bruce Young on June 20, 2009.
Good List, although it's odd to see Stan Rogers' Mary Ellen Carter, but not Barrett's Privateers-which I suggest. How about Lakes of Ponchartrain? I agree with J. Avins that Waltzing Matilda should be here (why stop at Canada? On to Australia!) and, in addition to Eric Bogle's great And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, one more entry in the Waltzing Matilda geneology: Tom Waits' sad and evocative Tom Traubert's Blues, aka Wasted and Wounded. It may be incomprehensible, but, like Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, it's becoming a musical logo for loss and regret.

Posted by Birck Cox on June 20, 2009.
Given the link between this list and Kent State, I was surprised Neil Young's "Ohio" didn't show up. Overall this was a compelling list although I agree with commenters who noted the absence of Bill Morressy, John Gorka, Dar Williams, and other contemporary folksters. I'd like to see a list based on those of us that lead campfire sing-a-longs. Cat Stevens and Jim Croche would be obvious top-tenners in such a list.

Posted by Todd Walter on June 20, 2009.
And hey, what about Waltzing Matilda? Perhaps as performed by Burle Ives? That's another one I forgot to remember. I forgot, too, The Band Played Wlatzing Matila, which did make the list thanks to those who did remember it, but those same people didn't give its namesake enough votes to be here. Odd.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 18, 2009.
I know this is about hte songs, not the artists, but all the same I'm surprised (not shocked or outraged) that there is nothing here from Oscar Brand. One of those songs I've known all my life is "When I First Came To This Land" but I forgot to remember it when voting. Brand more or less wrote it, starting from a trad. Pennsylvania Dutch song, and it's been performed both by Brand and Seeger. Brand is responsible for a lot of songs, so it strikes me as odd that he's not here.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 18, 2009.
I can't believ ethe artist left off. Not one song by the Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem who broght Irish music to America. Has irish music become unfolk. Where was Parting Jug, Gypsy Rover or 4 Green Fields. Talking about GreenFields were were the Brothers Four. Chad Mitchell Trio was let off depite some of the greatest satrical and humerous songs such a Old Miss and Lizzy Borden. Sadly to we neglected Bud & Travis who impacted the folk the genre with its Latin Album or its haunting Hills of Shiloh. And despite our omission I stiill love Judy Collins just pick any song and PP&M only one mention give me a break? I think we need to educate and new generation.

Posted by Bill Nickerson on June 16, 2009.
It seems strange to me to think that folk music from the last 25 years would be set as a limit for suggestions. The very notion of folk music ought to include cherished older songs. Certainly, we ought to consider music that came from the Dust Bowl and Depression era. How could Woody Guthrie's do re mi song not be included? I bet there are others.

Posted by John Anderson on June 16, 2009.
I'd like do ask our listeners what they would consider to be the most Essential Folk Songs of the last 25 years. Not sure exactly how to ask the question...what I'm curious about is: What songs from the last 25 year (so 1984-2009) do you think will be considered classics in the same way we regard so many songs from the 50's, 60's and 70's... or earlier. When we look back in another 30 years from now on folk songs from '84-'09, what songs will be as beloved as so many on the list we're discussing here?

Posted by Linda Fahey on June 15, 2009.
Christin, I mostly agree with you, but not entirely. I agree 1) that a list like this should be about the songs, not the artists, and 2) that it should be, seminol, essential works. I'd like to see this list made byanswering the questions "What if someone asked 'what is "folk music?"' What examples would you give that shape, define, and best exemplify the genre?" The word "essential" coems from "essence". What songs are the essence of folk music? There are a lot of songs on the list that I just wouldn't consider folk, even if they are songs that folk listeners (including me) like. Early Morning Rain? Bridge Over Troubled Water? I like both; I've liked Simon and Garfunkel as long as I can remember and Bridge was my wedding sone, but it's not folk. On the other hand, I disagree about limiting hte number of songs from any one artist. If the list is about seminol songs, how can the giants like Woody and Pete possibly not show up more than 2 or 3 time?

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 15, 2009.
I wouldn't call this list "essential." At best it's preferential. (Perhaps even "popular".) Still, it's a start. I wish some of the contributors had ranged a bit further afield, however; though I can see why most of the songs made it, there are some that seem to be mere filler material--like the one-hit-wonder "Eve of Destruction" or Richard and Mimi Farina's "Pack up your Sorrows," neither of which seem to me to be either seminal or essential to an overview of folk music. (Not that they're poor examples, they're just not "essentials.") And no Richard Thompson? For shame. If there is any artist out there who is seminal AND essential, it is surely he. Many many artists were left off in favor of more well-known examples and multiple entries for the same artist. I agree there ought to have been a limit on the number of submissions for any one single artist--because the list then becomes more about the artists' versions than the songs themselves, which was how I interpreted the request for entries.

Posted by Christin Keck on June 15, 2009.
Great List! Thanks for the Canadian artists and songs--makes me proud. A few missing though, in my opinion. Examples: Rock & Roll Song--Valdy Renaissance--David Bradstreet (perhaps as performed by Valdy) Sonny's Dream--Ron Hynes I don't get why Dylan has 8 songs, or why any single artist on the list would have more than 2 or perhaps 3. No Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)? I was shocked. Have we forgotten Moonshadow, Father & Son....etc. Finally, where's Jim Croce? At least "Time in a Bottle". Thanks for all your great programming at Folk Alley. Cheers,

Posted by John Wilkinson on June 13, 2009.
Shoshana: The stream re-shuffles the music every 7 hours - that is how long all 100 songs came out to. So, you might have heard "Tam Lin" near the end of the 7 hour mark. At that point, the system re-shuffles and it's possible it would have chosen Tam Lin to play up front. I have tried to make the shuffle work a bit better, but it's out of my hands. It's just the way the system works.

Posted by Chris Boros on June 12, 2009.
The problem with listening to this side stream is that it's really hard to find a good moment to go to the bathroom.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 12, 2009.
hmm the only michael smith i know is the new wave singer-songwriter michael w. smith who also release some gospel albums every now and then. if gospel is folk then i guess michael w. smith's above all should be in there although above all's original version by the songwriter lenny leblanc is little closer to folk than michael's... .. i love the result of this 100 Most Essential Folk Songs. Love listening to the stream. But if i am to decide, i will put some Pierce Pettis, Crooked Still, Andrew Peterson, and Patty Griffin. :-)

Posted by Michael Anthony Curan on June 12, 2009.
no greg brown or guy clark? guess i should have got more people to vote. not to mention bill morrissey, anne hills, slaid cleaves, michael smith, bryan bowers, so many more. including a bunch of songs by Robin and Linda Williams.

Posted by Paul Westbrook on June 11, 2009.
Jeez, It's a bit strange these days to see a list of music where I'm familiar with every entry; with a handful of exceptions they're all available at home! Mind you, there's nothing that less than 25 years old and most of it 40 or more, which is a bit disconcerting. All that said there's nothing by Fred Neil. How can that be?

Posted by Glenn Allen on June 11, 2009.
I keep coming back to the stream to listen to good stuff. These are some of the songs that brought us here and some are just nice to listen to. I'll bet there is another few hundred out there but you got to start somewhere. This was a good place found with a good light.

Posted by Billy Joe Sartor on June 11, 2009.
I also don't appreciate how this board software doesn't allow a comment to broken into paragraphs. Erg. That ramble was supposed to be thee of them.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 11, 2009.
Garry questioned "Like a Rolling Stone". "You must thave a wide definition of what is a folk song!" he wrote. Well, yes. I don't think I'd call Like a Rolling Stone "folk" either, but there are quite a few songs in the top 100 that I would not. As long the list comes strictly from votes, who are we to say that others are wrong? I would like to see another list made by Folk Alley staff based on suggestions from the listeners and artists, but not determined by votes. I don't think that list would necessarily be better, but different, interesting in its own rite, and the differences themselves would be interesting. As for Philip's comment that some of these songs, "the top 10 (at least)" should be replaced by "more recent work... Give creativity a chance!" I disagree wholeheartedly. As he said himself, "these are supposed to be 'most influential'" or otherwise "essential." The best of new folk (or folk-ish) music would be an altogether different survey and sidestream. Or, not even a sidestream; there's plenty of new material on teh main stream.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 11, 2009.
Like a Rolling Stone? You must have a wide definition of what is a folk song!

Posted by Gary Falkenstern@verizon.net on June 11, 2009.
My question relates not to the list of 100 songs but to the stream. I understand that it is random, but I have listened several times and the same songs seem to come up repeatedly while others are skipped. For example, I've hear Cold Missouri Waters and Tam Lin twice in the last three hours or is it my imagination?

Posted by Shoshana Zucker on June 11, 2009.
ps. many of these songs I've been singing in sing-along's. It's good to finally hear the original recordings.

Posted by Maggie Huang on June 09, 2009.
I'm really enjoying listening to this stream. It's great to have such a great collection of songs all in the one place. Even though I'm familiar with many of the songs, there are also many I haven't heard before.

Posted by Maggie Huang on June 09, 2009.
Sorry, this list is mostly unfamiliar to me, and the ones that are mostly wouldn't make my list. I see a few of my choices there, which is good, but so many others that aren't, to be replaced with questionable ones (Leaving on a Jet Plane, Old Man, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, House of the Rising Sun). I know these are supposed to be "most influential" but I think the top 10 (at least) should be shelved for 10 years and more recent work played. Give creativity a chance!

Posted by Philip Feeley on June 08, 2009.
Chris: You've succeeded on several levels: first in translating a set of subjective favorites into a broad list that has caused some reflection about how to identifiy superlative songs or performances in order to create a single list from among all the songs/writers/singers/genres. Second, by providing those of us who may be less- or unfamiliar with some of these artists or songs the opportunity to listen and consider why others recommended them. Third, by remembering that variant on Voltaire: the perfect is the enemy of the good. If there's any chance you could rotate some of the unattributed traditional songs through some of the different artists associated with them, I'd find it helpful... Thanks very much...

Posted by Stephen Oliva on June 08, 2009.
Here is a short explanation on how the list was generated: The trad. songs that have no artist or composer are songs that are so standard it’s almost impossible to find a “definitive version” – like Shady Grove. We received numerous artist suggestions for those songs so it was too tough to pick out a specific name. The other trad songs that have an artist associated with it is either because that was the most voted for version, or it is the “definitive version” like Matty Groves from Fairport. I mostly used the songwriters as credit on the other songs. I put Tom Rush down for "Urge for Going" because Joni Mitchell is already all over the list – I thought it would be nice to have another name. Plus, most of the votes for that song was for Tom Rush. Having Martin Carthy down for “Scarborough Fair" was done because Martin had a number of votes for his version and it is the version that Simon and Garfunkel learned it from. Plus, Simon and Garfunkel are already all over the list and Martin is a legend.

Posted by Chris Boros on June 08, 2009.
It's so hard to draw lines around what is "folk" music and what crosses into another genre. For example how can the list contain songs from Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, but nothing from Hank Williams?

Posted by Dale Carpenter on June 08, 2009.
I have to agree with John and Keith. I've always preferred "No Man's Land" to "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". I also agree with Dale about this being a fools errand but even trying to define what's "folk" is a fool's errand. As for "non Americans" being represented. The Canadians are well represented. I've gotten the impression that many of them chafe at the expression "American". ;-) The one change I would like to see is both the author AND the artist listed.

Posted by Patrick Willems on June 07, 2009.
In High School ,in the pre Beatle years of 1963-1964, for me it was the Weavers, then a bit later The Chad Mitchell Trio and The Limeliters. Please keep this stream alive as long as possible as part of your programming for both newbies and us old timers. Thanks Folk Alley!

Posted by Sam Wigginton on June 07, 2009.
I agree with John Carroll about "the green fields of France" which is a great song whether by Eric Bogle, the Fureys, the Corries or Makems. I also love many versions of " the band played waltzing matilda" and am glad to see something from downunder make the cut. I would like to have seen something of Planxty, Christy Moore or other non Americans but then I read Stephen Oliva's shortlist of the missing and think "Yeah! Where are they?" A fun exercise creating a top 100 and I look forward to the second hundred.

Posted by Keith Rowntree on June 07, 2009.
Although the song "The Dutchman" was made popular by Steve Goodman, it was written by Michael Smith. Ironically, Steve Goodman's song "City of New Orleans" is often erroneously credited to Arlo Guthrie. Thus, it is perhaps only fair that Steve Goodman gets credited with "The Dutchman." But where does that leave the tragically underrated Michael Smith?

Posted by Thomas Becker on June 07, 2009.
As much as I like "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," I can't imagine how "No Man's Land" (a/k/a "The Green Fields of France"), also by Eric Bogle, failed to make the list at all. It should be in the top 10! It's a terrific commentary on the futility of war, and was extremely popular, covered by many singers and groups.

Posted by John Carroll on June 06, 2009.
Thanks Folk Alley for doing this. PLEASE consider another run, or perhaps a categorization... This is a good start, and I know opinions change over time, but this is a valuable exercise. Instead of pure voting only, you could consider commissioning some select individuals and get their input. I'm still very much a Folk Music novice, so I am reluctant to vote at the time. I was looking forward to when this would be published.. Helps me with a true primer into the whole world, which, in my opinion, has the richest music of nearly any genre. Again, thanks and keep up the good work. I look forward to the next version! :-)

Posted by Greg Sachs on June 06, 2009.
No Eva Cassidy?!

Posted by Greg Sachs on June 06, 2009.
no Roger Whittaker??? the Last Farewell I don't believe in If any more Before she breaks my heart that's just a few....

Posted by Vernon Ickes on June 05, 2009.
Lots of good choices, some very pleasant surprises in the ordering of the votes, and many that I should have thought of and I'm glad others did. On the downside, there are none from Emmylou Harris, Leadbelly, Burl Ives, Judy Collins, Fred Neil, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, JD Souther, Alison Krauss, Limeliters (or Glen Yarborough), Mamas and Papas, Dirt Band, Cisco Houston, Clarence White, or Dave Van Ronk, and, recognizing the inconsistency in that I'm suggesting there are many folks missing, only one Joan Baez, and one Doc Watson. Some of these may be because of the vintage or classification (e.g., traditional or bluegrasss) of the music. Since I only "voted" for a few songs, I guess I should have thought a little harder at the time. Right now, listening to the selections is great. Thanks for making the effort...

Posted by Stephen Oliva on June 05, 2009.
I'm impressed - this is a pretty good starter song list. A few might not get my vote, but that's all right - I also have fetishes and sentimental favorites, and it's fun to see and hear what other folks enjoy and find important. I'm sure we could easily come up with a second hundred songs - at least I could, but I might be considered obsessive on the subject. Never mind. Music IS essential! And most of the tunes here are virtually part of my DNA; I sing, or have sung, or at least sing along with, 80-85 per cent of these songs, and they weave in and out of the musical soundtrack that's always running in my head. (Or should I not admit out loud to "hearing things"? Too late now!)

Posted by Linda Frederick on June 05, 2009.
Remember, this was voted entirely by the Folk Alley audience.

Posted by Chris Boros on June 05, 2009.
This was billed as a "essential song" selection, but then we had the added chore of assigning an artist to the song. Whose rendition? In the end, it looks like a variety of criteria was used: who is the songwriter?; or who popularized the song?; or who is most associated with the song?; or who did it best? For instance, it's fitting that Leonard Cohen is listed, but give me Judy Collins any day on Suzanne, or Jeff Buckley on Hallelujah. I'm also curious about the traditional songs. Some (like Tom Dooley or even Amazing Grace) got assigned to the Kingston Trio or Odetta (respectively.) But then John Henry, Shady Grove, and The Water is Wide are unassigned. Did we cop out? I'll be interested in seeing who comes through on the playlist.

Posted by Lowell Bliss on June 05, 2009.
The more I think about this exercise, the more I realize that it is a fools errand; not for what it contains, but for what it leaves out. One artist will prove my point; how can the list not include the following Joni Mitchell songs: A Case of You; California; Blue, Chelsea Morning; Songs to Aging Children Come; The Priest; Little Green; The Fiddle and the Drum; Ladies of the Canyon; and/or Woodstock. I am sure we could all make a similar list for Bob Dylan or Joan Baez or any number of indredible artits. I will stop my rant now.

Posted by Dale Carpenter on June 04, 2009.
It's certainly hard to argue with most of whats on the list...there are just too many good songs to cram into 100 slots.

Posted by Dale Carpenter on June 04, 2009.
I agree that early Joan Baez is sorely underrepresented -- Silver Dagger would be my choice (like Corey Ahern).

Posted by Neal Tate on June 03, 2009.
and by that I mean her first album

Posted by Corey Ahearn on June 02, 2009.
I think something from Joan Baez's album should have been in the top ten. Silver Dagger? Maid of Constant Sorrow? One of those, maybe!

Posted by Corey Ahearn on June 02, 2009.
Wow. I left my picks in a coment too late to be counted, but most of them are here all the same. I'd expected to see Christmas in teh Trenches higher up.

Posted by Joseph Avins on June 02, 2009.

You must be signed in to leave a comment!

Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up for free!