Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Johnny" A Pozo-Sicko Folk Song

Martin Mull: "Remember the folk scare of the 60's? That garbage nearly caught on."
One reason it didn't, was that people didn't want to hear rottenly pompous "message" songs by groups like the Pozo-Seco Singers. Even the earnest croon of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" became pretty tiresome, so when every overwrought singer and group began mewling about "I Gave my Love a Cherry" or offering tripe like "Johnny," folk music was doomed. Bob Dylan went electric. Judy Collins, Paul Simon, Janis Ian and others went to folk-rock. Burl Ives went back to acting.
Folk is still around...and mostly avoided. If you see some oh-so-sensitive type in a park or playground, strumming a guitar, sporting a dirndl or a goatee, you RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Especially if the person has BOTH a dirndl and a goatee. Nobody wants to hear self-important, solemn and pseudo-sensitive suet-suckers oozing pretentious drivel intended as a lesson in life.
Such an example is "Johnny" from the Pozo-Seco Singers, who were so middle of the road they should've been run over by a truck. While they did have some good intentions at times (any group that covered "Changes" by Phil Ochs can't be all bad), this is the kind of song that was intended to make kids cry, especially if the kid hadn't yet gotten over "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Nominations for "Worst Folk Song" are now open, and perhaps one day a blog will feature an entire Rapidshare download of witless sing-alongs, execrable ethnic excretions, cloying calamities and rancidly sappy ballads. For now....heeeeeeeere's "Johnny."

JOHNNY Download or weep on line.


Duncanmusic said...

As much as I hate a folk-nazi poser (and I have known a few)playing his version of a Bill Staines or Stan Rogers or David Mallet song (yes, I DO have some knowledge of these oh-so-sensitive types, unfortunately from having flown to close to the moth-covered "light" bulb) I DO protest using the Pozo-Secos as your target, if not just for the piepes of country crooner Don Williams, who joined them after being a part of the Brandywine Singers back in the 60s. I have LIKED Don Williams for much of his country career and have played many of his songs in honky-tonk outfits since the 1970s. I would rather you point your finger at the pseudo-folk atrocities of the New Christy Minstrels or The Serendipity Singers (even they had moments of redemption when they played Shel Silverstein songs). Yes, there are many of those sensitive types out there today, but most of them are locals. Anyone worth his salt and popular enough to tour has got some grit and spunk enough to play some tunes that are NOT comfortable for everyone. I have routinely seen these types STOp a singalong mood with a tune that leaves the audience gasping for air.

Ill Folks said...

Well, yes, if I socked "Serendipity Singers" I'd have to say they did an entire Silverstein cover album (not that Shel didn't do an uncomfortable weeper or two, like that song about the wonderful soup bone).

If I socked "New Christy Minstrels" I'd have to note that the group had some worthy members in there who went on to bigger things (Barry McGuire of course).

But I did say the Pozos weren't all bad. Certainly Don Williams as a solo artist beats anything he did with that group. But "Johnny..." if ever a song was ripe to be knocked by "A Mighty Wind..."

A lot of folkies took big chances...some guys who wrote some powerful tunes (Don McLean, Loudon Wainwright, Harry Chapin, Shel Siverstein) also exposed a cringeworthy side...songs that went beyond sensitive to downright itchy.

You make a good point, that TRUE folk singers aren't afraid to stop a show. I wish more of them did it with a song that makes you think, not one that makes you groan, however well-intentioned it might be (and no doubt "Johnny" was).

Here's to Don Williams, and to some percentage of Pozo-Seco (check out an album, folks, and decide for yourselves).