Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title
In the late 1960s, with popular culture hurtling forward on the sounds of rock music, some brave musicians looked back instead, trying to recover the lost treasures of English roots music and update them for the new age. The records of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and Nick Drake are known as "folk rock" today, but Rob Young's epic, electrifying book makes clear that those musicians led a decades-long quest to recover English music-and with it, the ancient ardor for mysticism and paganism, for craftsmanship and communal living.
It is a commonplace that rock and R&B came out of the folk and blues revivals of the early 1960s, and Young shows, through enchanting storytelling and brilliant commentary, that a similar revival in England inspired the Beatles and Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Traffic, Kate Bush and Talk Talk. Folklorists notated old songs and dances. Marxists put folk music forward as the true voice of the people. Composers like Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams devised rich neo-traditional pageantry. Today, the pioneers of the "acid folk" movement see this music as a model for their own.
Electric Eden is that rare book which has something truly new to say about popular music, and like Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces, it uses music to connect the dots in a thrilling story of art and society, of tradition and wild, idiosyncratic creativity.
A groundbreaking history of more than a century of music making in the British Isles.
"Rob Young's ambitious "Electric Eden" presents a flip side to the well-known story of the evolution of electric rock in Britain in the 1960s, a story of the rediscovery of England's native folk music in the early 20th century by the likes of William Morris and Cecil Sharp, who went from town to town recording and notating the music that would hold great sway with those musicians who became associated with England's less loud, more earthy music--the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Davy Graham, The Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, and many others would each deploy traditional folk music to their own ends in various recombinant ways, writing new songs laced with the idealism of the exploding sixties youth culture, while paying homage to the spirit and traditions of old. Eventually the tide of this music swelled to inspire some of the most influential names in electric rock, from the Beat