Mudcat Café message #1883767 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #96348   Message #1883767
Posted By: Bill D
12-Nov-06 - 10:54 AM
Thread Name: Why do our songs last so long ?
Subject: RE: Why do our songs last so long ?
A bunch of people have already said most of what I would:

"good songs last"
"topics of regular concern to regular people"
"often tweaked & improved so that they are even better than when 'new'"
"tunes that are 'reasonably' easy to sing and remember"

But the issue of when they BECOME folk is harder. Effsee makes a certain kind of point. The songs (s)he refers to are regularly sung by
people who are deep into the 'folk' tradition.....still, it is common in many areas to have a semi-official definition of what it means to be included. (Antique autos have VERY precise limits...and regular antiques are pretty narrowly defined. Likewise, ethnic foods lose their status if changed or 'adapted' too freely.)

"Sammy's Bar" is a song which has many of the characteristics which 'probably' will in time integrate it into full "folk" status, and there are few arguments when hearing it at a gathering of 'folk'. ...Still, most of those who sing it do know who the author was and do not alter the tune or words much. When it is old enough that it is regularly collected in oral tradition, and sung by many who have no idea of the author...and perhaps altered a will have moved beyond that 'provisional' status.
It's not a clear or hard & fast rule, but 50+ years is a common age when songs have 'settled' into the corpus....IF they retain most of the other characteristics. (I would suggest that "Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weenie, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini" will NOT make matter how old it gets..*grin*....we may sing it forever, but as a 'novelty' song.)