Religious Hymns, Country Blues, Labor Songs
Instead, the collection gave budding songwriters like Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia a peek into the cultures and traditions around which American folk music congregated in the early part of the 20th Century.
How This Collection Inspired a Generation
More notably, though, rock and roll was beginning to pick up where the big band era had left off. Elvis's debut was still a few years off. Things were changing. The nation was suburbanizing, the highway system was growing, and perhaps the baby boomer generation turned on to folk music in response, as they began to have greater access to cultures and traditions outside of their hometowns and families. Early indications of the coming Civil Rights revolution and the small window of time between the conflict in Korea and that in Vietnam no doubt influenced young people to seek community through music and other activities.
The Anthology of American Folk Music was one of the first recorded spotlights on the craft. Sure, there was an extensive history of recorded folk music preceding that. Woody Guthrie and the Almanac Singers had appeared on radio and television. The Weavers had their successful stint that helped to inspire the generation behind them. But, for the first time, the music of tiny nowhere towns and the people that inhabited them, was collected and presented as worthwhile and viable.
The Legacy of the Anthology
It can't be single-handedly credited with the Folk Revival of the 1950s and 60s, but this groundbreaking collection certainly helped steer and elevate it in a big way. And, it's hard to imagine the Revival without the release of The Anthology of American Folk Music.