During the '50s and early '60s young liberals began adopting the old traditions of folk music as the soundtrack to their cause. If there was a social or political issue to rail against then there was a traditional folk ballad to represent it.
The folk revival found its hub in the Greenwich Village area of New York. Flocks of political minded youths with a penchant for romance descended on the place in hopes to change the world. Among the many talents rose a young Robert Zimmerman, otherwise known as Bob Dylan. With the Woody Guthrie playbook to hand and a proficiency for writing original tracks, he had his fingers on the pulse of America.
All the while, rock n' roll groups were slowly developing on their own. By the mid '60s these too separate parties started to merge. Groups like the Beatles were aware of the brilliance of Bob Dylan, and Dylan was aware of the power of the Beatles.
Although other acts were already merging styles and genres, one event would come to represent the marrying of folk and rock once and for all. In 1965 the darling of folk performed at Newport Folk Festival with a rock band behind him, soon after he released the seminal album Highway 61 Revisited.
These albums represent the legacy of that merging.
10. Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young (1979)
The Canadian veteran of folk rock, Neil Young, was already well established as one of the great singer/song writers by this point. Long gone were the days of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. In the time since the release of his seminal album, The Gold Rush, he had moved further into the realms of rock.
Young toured extensively during '78, showcasing a huge amount of new material. During this time, he set about recording a number of new songs in front of live audience. Although work was done to omit the sound of the crowds, their presence can still be heard on a number of tracks. The impact Young's lyrics had on them is apparent. The first half of the album was classic folk, as Young poetically explored all number of themes to acoustic melodies. The second half hears Young turn up the fuzz and crank up the volume.
The record is bookended with two of his most evocative tracks. He opened things up with the acoustic My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) and ended things with the electrified Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black). Both songs feature the famous quote "It's better to burn out than fade away" - words Kurt Cobain included in his suicide note.