Who would have thought the PM was a folkie?

 

Share
Related Topics

It came as a shock last weekend to discover that among my fellow punters at a folk concert back in November 2012 was David Cameron. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister slyly hinted at the hipness of his musical tastes by revealing how he and Samantha snuck into a First Aid Kit gig as the Shepherd Bush Empire. Until then, I had flattered myself that I had a cool and recherché appreciation of music, and that hopefully I had avoided the pretentious music so often accompanied by the word “recherché”.

The news must also have come as quite a shock to Klara and Johanna Söderberg, the Swedish sisters who form First Aid Kit. As two self-confessed Stockholm lefties, hearing that your number one fan is a dusty Conservative cannot have been the catalyst for air-punching and whooping, though unlike Morrissey they have been too polite to disown him publicly.

While I was never sure exactly what the Cameron austerity mantra “we’re all in this together”  meant in real terms, I never imagined that the “this” would be the folk revival led by First Aid Kit, Laura Marling, Ben Howard, Mumford and Sons and others who have taken on the mantle from Ewan MacColl, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

After decades in the wilderness, the reborn folk music of today in some obvious ways could barely be more different from an ancestry rooted in angry protest about civil rights issues, social injustice and the threat of nuclear war. The scent of woodsmoke from the communal camp fire drifted away from it a long time ago and the lyrics are introspective and confessional. They dwell on the angst and misery that follows failed relationships, rather than the persecution of minorities (Dylan’s “Hurricane”) and environmental destruction (Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”).

Marling’s ethereal ballads are more philosophical than political, while the Swedish sisters, whose harmonies have won them comparisons to some all-time greats and whose performance of “America” reduced a watching Paul Simon to tears, sing about love and longing. This genre is passionately followed not only by prime ministers, but by a minority of teenagers searching for an “authentic” alternative to the Auto-Tune heavy pop music of Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna.

Sam Cam has always been a bit on the hippy side, but having to share First Aid Kit with a middle-aged Conservative almost leaves the rancid aura of dad-dancing in its wake.

Ultimately, of course, it could not matter less. The fact that First Aid Kit’s bewitching harmonies are just as resonant to the ears of a 47-year-old Tory as to those of a dopey 16-year-old is a sign of folk’s enduring strength and appeal.

Marling’s philosophical contemplations of desire and loss, most recently cohering in the brilliant album Once I Was an Eagle, could have been released barely unchanged 40, 50 or even 60 years ago. The times they may have a-changed, but the principles of folk music – honesty, simplicity and emotional sincerity – have not.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A rewarding opportunity to work with an easy-...

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Account Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum