Fifty years after Woodstock, four music documentaries revisit the ‘jingle-jangle’ dawning of folk rock

Roger McGuinn by John Chiasson

The pandemic gave me time to watch and listen to four recent music documentaries released around the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. These films each explore the creative explosion that occurred in the mid-1960s when traditional acoustic folk music collided with the electric guitars of the British invasion to create an influential and enduring new genre, “folk rock.” The soundtracks will trigger vivid sonic memories for anyone who came of age musically in that era, and will appeal to casual listeners who have absorbed the songs from radio play over the ensuing years.

The movies are Echo in the Canyon, directed by Andrew Slater; David Crosby: Remember My Name, directed by A.J. Eaton; Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band, directed by Daniel Roher, and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

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“If dreams were thunder, and lightning was desire…” – John Prine

singer songwriter John Prine

John Prine passed away April 7, 2020 in Nashville at age 73, a victim of the coronavirus. During his 50-year career he wrote hundreds of witty, poignantly observed songs about everyday American life, which he performed in a singular, raspy voice.

“If God’s got a favorite songwriter, I think it’s John Prine,” said Kris Kristofferson, who helped introduce him to a wider audience in 1970.

The lyric above is from “Angel From Montgomery”, a song made famous by Bonnie Raitt. The verse continues, “…this old house would have burnt down, a long time ago.

With Iris DeMent, 1999

Watch & listen: “In Spite of Ourselves” – John Prine is joined by Iris DeMent (from “Live from Sessions at W 54th Street”)

Listen: John Prine’s Life in 10 Songs from NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast

John Prine obituary in The New York Times