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BrooklynJay When I first came to this land (10) RE: When I first came to this land 12 Feb 21

I did a little digging, and the following is taken from Oscar Brand's 1962 book The Ballad Mongers. It's from chapter 10 - The Legal Tangle, pages 209-210. I believe the "West Coast writer" is Malvina Reynolds.


It's easy to understand why the radio and television authorities have become jittery where folk music is concerned. If I were to sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on a program, the "music clearance" department would insist on knowing the name of some book or publisher who would be willing to claim authorship. In some cases folk singers, unable to find their favored songs in available collections, have ascribed them to companies willing to accept the responsibility. This compounds the problem, by producing many copyrights to some folk songs - complicating the courts' search for the proper owner.

In 1948 I composed the song, "When I First Came to This Land." I sang it at a Town Hall program. I included it in my book Singing Holidays. Thereafter, a West Coast writer refurbished it and brought it to the attention of the popular group, The Limeliters. Their recording of the song was very well received, but not by me - for the song was ascribed to the West Coast writer. When I objected, I was told that a substantial change had been made and that I was, therefore, stripped of my rights. Fortunately, I had never recorded the song before my book appeared, and so I was reinstated as the author. But, it is with a sickening recollection that I observe the 25 LP's on my shelf, complete with many original songs, and many rewritten traditional songs, which I recorded before I was aware of the legal implications.



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