It Better Be Folk!

by Ira Marlowe

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I was in Nashville last year and noticed how every other country song seems to be ABOUT country music: what's country, what isn't country, what it means to be country... So this week's new song is my comic response. (My apologies to any Folk-Nazis who might be offended.)


I see you strolling in here with your hardshell case
clearly you would like a chance to play
but before you audition, just a candid admission
we do prefer our acts a certain way
we like things acoustic, with fine fingerpicking
nothing you would ever wave your fist on
Nothing too heavy, too hard or ass-kicking
Allow me to explain what we insist on:
It better be folk It better be folk
No, there is no music any finer
I suggest you get on board, and strike the proper chord
G, A, D... sometimes E minor
We can rent you a harmonica, and the rack around your head
just grab one from the box, you're good to go
it'll help you fit in here, it'll give you some cred
and there really isn't much you need to know...
all throughout the song you merely suck and blow
It better be folk, it better be folk, it better be folk!

Perhaps you play a Martin, perhaps you play a Guild
Last week, a man walked in here with a Strat
I told him we could try it, if he didn't amplify it
Bob Dylan went electric. We're still not cool with that.
It better be folk It better be folk
Oh, there is no music more sincere
It has no fancy licks, and you won't appeal to chicks
but you might just land a gig right here!
So treat us to a song 12 or 15 verses long
about a shipwreck or a mining disaster
play it nice and slow, an easy tempo as you go
(it's bluegrass if you play it any faster)
It better be folk It better be folk
ultra-deep and steeped in tradition
Some people call it wimpy, but let us be clear:
folk music has balls (they're just small and hard to hear)
Rock and rap and blues, they're only going to hurt you
the lyrics are so decadent and scary
all those songs that celebrate stealing young girls' virtue
But in folk music you GIVE your love a cherry
It doesn't have to have a noticeable beat
Never belt it out. we prefer a plaintive bleat
make it warm and smooth as Cream of Wheat
or you can take that shit up the street!


Ira Marlowe: vocals, guitar, bass, tambourine



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Ira Marlowe Berkeley, California


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