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Jim Carroll discussion of A.L.Lloyd's singing (82* d) RE: discussion of A.L.Lloyd's singing 26 May 20


"certainly the two magicians is imo a case in point"
That was one of Bert's masterpieces
People accuse him of inventing songs but in fact he appeared to be taking existing songs and adapting them, as Ewan did in the early days
I've been working on Canadian and American collections looking for Irish Child ballads and I keep stumbling across one of Bert's songs - he was raiding 'Fowke' and Helen Hartness Flanders looking for good songs - and finding them

A couple of examples of Bert's are "The Mower," and "The Weaver" - both from the Edith Fowke collection
And this song from Toronto, which Bert adapted and introduced to the English folk scene as 'Jigging for Oil"

I arrived in Calgary October the tenth
And a week in that city on pleasure I spent—
A week in that city prospecting the soil
In search of a spot to go boring for oil.

One bright sunny day as I strolled down the street
A pretty fair damsel I happened to meet.
Said I to this damsel: "Your family I'll foil
If you'll show me a spot to go boring for oil."

Oh, the damsel looked up and she says: "I declare
Oh, I know of a spot and I've watched it with care,
And no one has seen it since I was a child,
And if you go there I am sure you'll strike oil."

So I fondly embraced her on the very top floor.
I hugged and I kissed her a thousand times o'er,
And I lifted her garments for fear they might soil;
Then she showed me that spot to go boring for oil.

Well, I scarcely had bored in six inches or more
When the oil from her well so freely did pour,
And she looked up at me and she said with a smile:
"Come down on your auger—I'm sure you've struck oil."

Or this gem introduced to the scene by Bert, taken from the singing of O J Abbott, who learned it from an Irish labourer

The Weaver
As I went out very late one night
The stars were shining and all things bright
I spied a maid by the light of the moon
And under her apron she was working at her loom

(chorus)
To me right whack fol the diddle di do day
To me right whack fol the diddle di do day

I spied a maid by the light of the moon
And under her apron she was working at her loom

She says,"Young man, what trade do you bear,"
Says I, "I'm a weaaver I do declare."
"If you're a weaver then,"said she
"Would you like to come and work upon me loom for me."

"Oh no dear maid that may not he
Last night I wove for two or three
Two or three young girls so bright
And They' d like to have kept me at it all the night"

"There was Nancy Fairclough of this town
I wove for her the Rose And Crown
And for Elvira fairer still
I wove her the pattern called the diamond twill"

"Oh a very fine pattern is the diamond twill
And the Rose And Crown is finer still
But here's five pound I will lay down
If you'll weave me something "better than the Rose And Crown"

I set this young girl in the grass
And I braced her loom-both tight and fast
My shuttle in her web I flung
And, oh good god how her loom was sprung

The heels of her loom they being well greased
This girl she begun for to hug and squeeze
And there and then by the light of the moon
I wove her the patterns called The Bride And Groom

"Well, that's fine weaving then," said she
"Pray won't you weave another piece for me"
So as me shuttle went to and fro
I wove another pattern called the Touch and Go

Me shuttle to her loom I bent
And I wove her along to a lively end
And as a finish to the joke
I topped off the pattern with a double stroke

I've know Bert to be accused of "inventing" all these songs at one time or another, when all he was guilty of was not being clear about where he got them
He introduced them as 'British' songs when I heard them - that is exactly what they were - all taken to Canada from Britain in the 19th century - I see nothing wrong or dishonest about that

I discovered a few weeks ago that Bert's 'Two Magicians' was taken to New England from Ireland just after The Famine and sung to a collector by an Irish woman working as a maid, Mrs Fred Morse, originally from Waterford
People really need to think twice before they accuse Bert of charlatanism
Jim


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