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Hootenanny 101: Folk Songs to Help You Study for Finals

Lead Belly
Lead Belly

It's the last week of classes for most of us who are still in school, which means that next week is finals time. We here at Rocks Off feel your pain -- it's hard trying to cram for five finals on only 60 milligrams of Adderall. Hell, we have two projects due tonight by 7 p.m. and we haven't even started.

Every person is different when it comes to the music they listen to while they're studying. Some feel the most comfortable while listening to N.W.A. while others stimulate their mind with Mozart. We don't really buy into the Mozart Effect, though.

When stress gets the best of us, we tend to listen to folk music. We've arranged a few contemporary and classic folk songs to relax you and get you in the right state of mind. We need your young, generative brains for technological advancement and eventually for harvesting.

Keep in mind that this list is also applicable to relatives and friends of the students who may be feeling a bit of your brain strain.

Townes Van Zandt "Colorado Girl"

Van Zandt's voice is so soothing, it reminds us of being tucked into bed by our dad. He continues to paint the rolling Texas scenery with his voice. To us, he was a true Texas outlaw.

White Antelope "Silver Dagger"

Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes performed for a while as White Antelope while his band took a brief hiatus. Pecknold covered American folk songs, including this one made famous by Joan Baez in 1960.

Diane Cluck "The Turnaround Road"

Cluck has been making "intuitive folk" since 2000. The New York singer-songwriter plays a variety of instruments from the guitar to the harmonium to her own handmade xylophone.  

Elizabeth Cotten "Freight Train"

Cotten, a left-handed guitar player, started playing her brother's banjo at age seven and was playing guitar in her own distinct way by age 11. She didn't begin performing and recording until she was in her 60's, working as a housekeeper in Washington. She was born around 1895 and lived until she was 92 years old. Peep the interview.

The Tallest Man On Earth "King Of Spain"

The Swedish-born Kristian Matsson's nasally voice and songwriting has been compared to Bob Dylan. Despite his superlative stagename, Matsson is actually only 5'5". Since 2006, he's released two LP'S and two EP's.

Alela Diane "The Rifle"

2007 was a good year for female folk artists like Diane as well as Mariee Sioux and Marissa Nadler. Since her breakout album from 2009, Diane has gotten married and started a band. In April, Diane released an album called Alela Diane & Wild Divine. Her band now includes her husband and her father.

Lead Belly "In The Pines"

Lead Belly's final concert before he died was at the University of Texas. The concert was a tribute to his mentor: Teacher, founder of the Texas Folklore Society and preserver of American folk music, John Avery Lomax. Lomax became Lead Belly's manager after a performance at an MLA lecture in Philadelphia. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he was the great grandfather of our own staff writer John Nova Lomax.


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