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GUEST,Karen Help: The Unfortunate Rake (116* d) RE: Help: The Unfortunate Rake 20 Jun 18

Hello again.

I agree about the first few bars on the basis of the version Brian posted. Maybe this is why in the article they said 'slight resemblance'. After that not so much resemblance. Problem is so many folk tunes resemble each other, as Julia Bishop points out.

On the Unfortunate Rake Liner notes there is a reference to an article by Lodewick. You can get this via JSTOR. It's dated 1955 (I find noting dates helps a bit). The magazine is Western States Folklore Society, Vol 14 No2. This is some time after Lloyd's first article on St James and just before his second.

It's a bit rambly, even by my standards, but what he says on St James Infirmary seems fair to me, and fits with what I understand Brian to be saying:

'The line of descent is again lost ... No folk connection has been shown, but the composer of the hit song apparently knew the tradition - and used it'

Lodewick as I may have said before is the person who mistakenly put Dublin for Cork when setting down the place where My Jewel My Joy was learned by William Forde's example. This is repeated in the liner notes, and in Lloyd's book on English folk song.

He claims there is a version called 'The Irish Rake' from Ireland, but no reference! So annoying!


On John Lomax: he is like the curate's egg maybe. He was looking, it is said, for a true 'African American' folk culture, untainted by commercial music, and, it is said, he imagined that he would find it in a prison. If prisoners were relectant to sing for him, as some were, he would get the prison governor in to persuade them to comply.

Lomax did admit to tinkering with Cowboy songs he published in a way that would not please the purists, and he copyrighted many songs he collected, which apparently A L LLoyd was uneasy about. In line with his desire to portray a folk image of African American musicians, he would not let Leadbelly sing everything that he wanted to (which was often popular commercially produced music). Apparently in real life, cowboys were desperate for ballad sheets to give them new songs to sing! So there were problems collecting stuff that was not from a written source!

There is some scathing comment on Lomax in Miller's Segregating Sound. One inmate did not want to sing 'sinful' songs for the phonograph, but apparently taunted Lomax by singing them out of the reach of the microphone. Lomax called in the warden to make the man comply. Lomax wrote 'Soon the big black man, frightened but smiling ingratiatingly, came into the room... He prayed: "Oh Lawd, I hope you will understand and forgive me for de sin I is about to commit and not charge it up against a po negro who cain't hep hissef..." Meanwhile our machine had recorded both the prayer and the songs'

Miller suggests that Lomax was misusing his white privilege and power when he did stuff like this. When Leadbelly put a hat down and sang for tips, Lomax ended up insisting that the takings were shared three ways!

When Lomax wrote to prison governors asking about inmates who knew folk songs, one governor wrote back saying in his prison there was a very little folk song, possibly because the prison had an orchestra and a band and the inmates listened to radio every night.

I mention this just to suggest that whatever the words Ironhead Baker sang, it seems to be that it cannot be assumed that this is a pure folk version untainted by the various written and recorded versions.
I am not 'accusing anybody' of saying that it is, except it appears from Harwood's account that at one point Harwood appears to have believe that it was some sort of missing link.


PS Have a nice evening (and I am consciously writing this prior to the evening) :)

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