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Old 07-07-2021, 09:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
killedmyraindog
 
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Default How would you define Americana?

I'm less interested in a technically correct definition, and more interested it how you see it.

If you had to put parameters on Americana - either what it is, or what it isn't - what would you say? I got into a conversation about it recently and the argument was weird because I don't think anyone agreed.

Any help, Musicbanter?
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Old 07-07-2021, 11:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Train tracks, collecting railroad spikes.
Hot dog stands in Durham at the game.
Playing mandolin on the porch swing at a southern beach house.
Road trips through the mountains.
Walking through the woods behind your house.

Just life experiences in the south of mine
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I'll check that dictionary, but in the meantime I'm impressed - as is everyone else in the world - by your eloquence, obvious accomplishments and success, and the evidence of your blazingly high intelligence.
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Old 07-08-2021, 08:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Train tracks, collecting railroad spikes.
Hot dog stands in Durham at the game.
Playing mandolin on the porch swing at a southern beach house.
Road trips through the mountains.
Walking through the woods behind your house.

Just life experiences in the south of mine
I understand why you answered the way you did, the OP did not specify whether he was talking about Americana "music," or about artifacts or experiences that are (somewhat uniquely) characteristic of America. Not knowing if wanted the topic to be about "music" which I thought he meant, or of "life experiences" which you thought he meant makes me quite interested in his definition of "Americana." I hope the OP provides a clear and precise, technically correct definition of Americana, so I know exactly what he is talking about before I give an answer.
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Old 07-08-2021, 09:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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With an entry into Websters using either the stroke of my pen or the clickety clack of a keyboard as artificial light bounces off of my readers.

Next question please.
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Old 07-08-2021, 10:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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With an entry into Websters using either the stroke of my pen or the clickety clack of a keyboard as artificial light bounces off of my readers.

Next question please.
Do you consider Samuel L. Clemens to be the father of American literature or do you believe that epithet shall befall Edgar Allan Poe?
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Actually, I like you a lot, Nea. That's why I treat you like ****. It's the MB way.

"it counts in our hearts" ?ºº?
“I have nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion.” Jack Kerouac.
“If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person.” Aristotle.
"If you tried to give Rock and Roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." John Lennon
"I look for ambiguity when I'm writing because life is ambiguous." Keith Richards
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Old 07-08-2021, 10:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Do you consider Samuel L. Clemens to be the father of American literature or do you believe that epithet shall befall Edgar Allan Poe?
Bill Cooper
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Old 07-08-2021, 11:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Do you consider Samuel L. Clemens to be the father of American literature or do you believe that epithet shall befall Edgar Allan Poe?
Bill Watterson.

Is this guy even paying attention?

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Old 07-08-2021, 03:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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As for the music genre, for me it goes like this:-

Back in the 1960s and before, I don't think anyone was describing music as Americana: traditional, jazz, folk, blues, country.... those were the labels in common use. You could describe Hank Williams, The Crickets, Woody Guthrie with labels like that.

Then folk-rock songs began appearing: the Byrds, The Band etc. "Folk-rock" was never a very popular term, perhaps because it was just a two-genre label and technically didn't cover, for example, an artist revamping Gershwin. So "Americana" became a better label to cover any artist who was paying his honourable dues to traditional American music, but giving it a post-sixties slant.

Like any term, its usage gets pretty fuzzy round the edges. To try and keep things clear in my head, I wouldn't use the word "Americana" for music that wasn't, afaik, described that way at the time. Of course, this distinction begins to break down with someone like Burl Ives, who just kept on performing right across the label-change I've outlined, oblivious to the grief he was causing to pigeon-holers like me. Maybe I need to rethink how I apply the word.
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As for the music genre, for me it goes like this:-

Back in the 1960s and before, I don't think anyone was describing music as Americana: traditional, jazz, folk, blues, country.... those were the labels in common use. You could describe Hank Williams, The Crickets, Woody Guthrie with labels like that.

Then folk-rock songs began appearing: the Byrds, The Band etc. "Folk-rock" was never a very popular term, perhaps because it was just a two-genre label and technically didn't cover, for example, an artist revamping Gershwin. So "Americana" became a better label to cover any artist who was paying his honourable dues to traditional American music, but giving it a post-sixties slant.

Like any term, its usage gets pretty fuzzy round the edges. To try and keep things clear in my head, I wouldn't use the word "Americana" for music that wasn't, afaik, described that way at the time. Of course, this distinction begins to break down with someone like Burl Ives, who just kept on performing right across the label change I've outlined, oblivious to the grief he was causing to pigeon-holers like me. Maybe I need to rethink how I apply the word.
Yeah I mean to me it seems to be anything that draws from the small-F folk music of the US. So while it frequently is folk and country, and larger definitions include jazz, and blues, I also think there's reason to consider mariachi, soul, funk, reggae, calypso, zydeco, or tango. I think it's unfortunate that those genres aren't pulled in more frequently, and genre purists will make it more of a Springsteen-lite genre.

To me, there also seems to be an allergy to any song with a stand-out melody as it might come off more ostentatious than someone in a pick-up truck with a drug addiction is allowed to be.

I think bands like:
Calexico
Iron & Wine
Cake
Norah Jones
Dr. John
Tom Waits

should be considered in the genre. To some they are, but I wouldn't say (in my experience) that the majority thinks so. Even some of the stripped-down White Stripes stuff should be in the family, so to speak.
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