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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,John Moulden Dave Harker, Fakesong (981* d) RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong 16 Jan 20

I haven't died, and it is my 79th birthday, but I haven't posted at all of late and the reason is obvious. I see no point in discussion which is not conducted politely, and more than politely; that is, without an assumption that everybody has a political or monetary gain in mind. The only point is that we should, between us, arrive at an understanding of what traditional song is about, its worth to people, and how people used it. This is knowledge and empowers us to sing better and to be a better support for those who do. I reject arid scholarship or conversation that speaks in terms that would not be understood by those who sang these songs. It is an insult to speak so. However, this is not a criticism but an observation and a description of what I try to do.

I met Dave Harker once, at a one day conference in Sheffield organised by Ian Russell and others. I gave a brief paper on my discovery that a little book, "Songs and Poems on Various Subjects by Hugh McWilliams, Schoolmaster" published in 1831, contained texts of a range of songs known in tradition - including "When a man's in love" and "The trip over the mountain" and how I justified my conclusion, by analysing textual variations, that Hugh McWilliams was their originator. Obviously I pointed out that this disturbed the notion that 'folk' songs were necessarily anonymous and old which my generation had derived from the opinions and writings of our predecessors. Dave asked me was I not angry that earlier commentators had so misled me. My response was that I was glad that they had done the work, that no matter how distorted their thinking or their snapshot of the singing tradition, it still provided starting points, that we would be poorer without it, indeed without it little would have survived, in pure or distorted form.
You might as well have asked Galileo if he could forgive the Babylonians. They could only understand from the standpoint of their own world view, from the stage that their science had reached. However, their stooped, even distorted shoulders were there to be stood upon.

I wish it could be understood that the point of discussion is not to win an argument but to reach understanding and to be grateful to all those who contribute.

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