I Believe I'll Go Back Home is an excellent survey of the function and traditions of folk music in New England (starting with what little we have left of the traditions that predate colonization) and how those made Boston and Cambridge fertile ground for the birth of the Folk Revival of the late 1950s into the 1960s. There is such a rich musical history in New England that gets obfuscated because it didn't birth the major American music genres of today, but its contribution is not small. Curren's fast-paced and readable history colored in this opaque backstory and brought to life the cultural movement that percolated in clubs and coffeehouses on streets I know and love.
Between 1959 and 1968, New England saw a folk revival emerge in more than fifty clubs and coffeehouses, a revolution led by college dropouts, young bohemians, and lovers of traditional music that renewed the work of the region's intellectuals and reformers. From Club 47 in Harvard Square to candlelit venues in Ipswich, Martha's Vineyard, and Amherst, budding musicians and hopeful audiences alike embraced folk music, progressive ideals, and community as alternatives to an increasingly toxic consumer culture. While the Boston-Cambridge Folk Revival was short-lived, the youthful attention that it spurred played a crucial role in the civil rights, world peace, and back-to-the-land movements emerging across the country.
Fueled by interviews with key players from the folk music scene, I Believe I'll Go Back Home traces a direct line from Yankee revolutionaries, up-country dancers, and nineteenth-century pacifists to the emergence of blues and rock 'n' roll, ultimately landing at the period of the folk revival. Thomas S. Curren presents the richness and diversity of the New England folk tradition, which continues to provide perspective, inspiration, and healing in the present day.
About the Author
CHAPTER ONE To Make a Better World We Came Here for to Sing
CHAPTER TWO When First unto This Country Settlement and Song in New England, 1600-1820
CHAPTER THREE There's a Good Time Coming Reform in New England, 1810-1900
CHAPTER FOUR The Sound of Young America America Westward and Southward, 1800-1900
CHAPTER FIVE Down in the Groove Recorded Music in America, 1890-1960
CHAPTER SIX Rolling Home to Old New England The Beginnings of the New England Folk Revival, 1940-1962
CHAPTER SEVEN Tenting Tonight on the Banks of the Charles Boston and Cambridge, 1960-1963
CHAPTER EIGHT The Lay of the Land Folk Music from across the New England Countryside
CHAPTER NINE The Hour That the Ship Comes In Boston and Cambridge, 1963-1964
CHAPTER TEN The Chords of Fame Boston and Cambridge, 1965-1966
CHAPTER ELEVEN Stayed Around This Old Town Too Long The Revival Passes Along, 1967-1968
CHAPTER TWELVE Where Did You Come From, Where Did You Go? Winning Back Our Own Hearts and Minds
APPENDIX ONE Coffeehouses in New England, 1958-1968
APPENDIX TWO Music Recordings in the Folk New England Collection
APPENDIX THREE A Sampler of Songs from the Folk Revival
APPENDIX FOUR Contra Dance at Newport
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING AND LISTENING
“The author covers the folk scene with diligent analysis, an archivist’s eye for detail, and anecdotes aplenty, capturing the imagination and engaging the intellect . . . Curren’s work is both historically important and vital reading for the present moment. Our need for a spiritual and cultural revival is, it would seem, as essential and natural as our need to sing. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
"[A]uthor Thomas S. Curren pairs an evident love for traditional music and the region, detailing the figures and the history of the folk movement in Boston and Cambridge in the early 1960s . . . It's an accessible history of a region and a moment in music."—Boston Globe
"Accessibly written by a knowledgeable and esteemed author, I Believe I'll Go Back Home does a good job of taking the reader on a journey along the ethnic origins of folk music that have absorbed into our culture."—John Kane, author of The Last Seat in the House: The Story of Hanley Sound