HERE is my LA Times interview with author Rob Young, former editor of Wired magazine and clearly a major Brit-folk obsessive. He was inspired to write about music by Revolution in the Head's Ian MacDonald's book on Shostakovich and sees the aim of music writing as deciphering cultural codes.
This is a wonderful and well-researched book, though like the music it chronicles, it rambles a bit. It's hard to imagine an American publisher allowing this much backstory -- William Morris, Holst, druids, etc. (The book is put out by FSG in this country but is primarily a reprint of a Faber and Faber book published previously in the UK.)
And while this was not the book's primary goal -- which was to chart the late '60s/early '70s heyday of British folk rock -- I would have liked to see a bit more on the contemporary scene. Gen X West Coast artists in particular -- Stephen Malkmus, The Decemberists, Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart -- have been voracious at consuming and reviving this stuff otherwise ignored by the marketplace. (It recalls to me the way Boomer musicians both in Britain and America helped bring black blues figures -- Lonnie Johnson, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt -- back into the light in the '60s.)
Here are some bits from my conversation with Young that did not make it into my Times piece: