'Folk for the festive season'

(December 15, 2013)

There’s a strange power at work across the festive season. It’s a force that seems to drive folk music to the fore, about which I am merely observing and certainly not complaining.

Naturally, there is the plethora of pop records, seasonal songs and quasi-religious ballads that ooze across the radio waves at this time of year but in addition it seems that folk increases its share of the wireless ether. I’m not certain if there are more folk-type songs that inspire rural jollity and settle the seasonal spirits or if in a longing for the holly and the ivy people revert to their belief in a pastoral world that never actually existed. Whatever the reason folk music gets a wider exposure during the ‘season to be jolly’.

It may well reveal itself in the regular playing of folk-influenced songs not traditionally falling into a folk classification, the observance of Christmas or more usually Yule folk-songs or the overtly folk-tinged hymn. Whether pagan or Christian there are certain folk songs that gain airplay around now but for the remaining eleven months of the year do not get a second of recognition. Of course, the more marketing astute folk artists and labels have often launched a seasonal shot and many have become stalwarts of festive listening, often tens of years after release. Then again, some folk songs that have little or nothing to do with the gorging season have through association, direct or otherwise become seasonal standards.

Why do I comment on this? No reason simply an observation brought on by having the radio on in the background and pricking up the ears when folk-influenced songs are broadcast, that and being forced to attend shopping-torture and hearing said songs in every second store.

So there it is. Keep your ears open and see if you agree or not. And if you do see how many different songs you can identify. If nothing else it may make the shopping-torture slightly less excruciating.

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