Mudcat Café message #3514214 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150417   Message #3514214
Posted By: Suzy Sock Puppet
12-May-13 - 11:08 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
I don't get it. I have been advised that searching for the origins of these ballads or elements of of them is actually a vain endeavor. Before that I was notified that it is surely vain to insist, as Tom Lenihan did that, well, nevermind...

Yet, you all bring up and discuss the matter of origins incessantly. What's up with that?

And many of you treat published material like it contains some sort of gospel truth. The fact is, the first published records of many of these ballads were indeed tailored to specific agendas both political and cultural. Percy altered and tore pages out of a folio that was practically mythical in it's time. Child ignored many ballads he should have included and put his Victorian spin on everything (Brit wannabe). Sir Walter Scot, forget it! He was even worse than the other two when it comes to contrivance on these ballads.

Not to mention that printers did anything for money. They cared not a fig for whether a ballad they were printing had any folk tradition behind it or not. Literary people had a distinct advantage as far as setting it all down for posterity and they set it down anyway they damned well pleased, in whichever way suited their little ballad agendas. Sticking their little flags in anywhere they could like European explorers :-)

In a way, Child's Ballad book is like the Bible. People pore over every word as if it comes from God Himself and seem to want to ignore the fact that, historically speaking, it has been heavily tampered with. There is a Bible scholar, Martin Vining, who wrote a ground breaking book that interprets scripture according to "pesherim." I am convinced. I believe he cracked the code and makes a brilliant case for his somewhat radical assertions. I did not write him immediately to say, "Careful, careful, we can never know these things for sure!" Especially since he put the work in and I did not.

Yes, be ever so careful! In other words, don't think too deeply about any of this and don't share your ideas if they go against the conservative consensus. Close-minded ballad sages who feel they know better than you will show up to dog you, trying to throw you back to square one every chance they get. It must be noted that it's a different affair to simply collect songs and know a lot about the people who gave them to you than it is to generate theories about origins of songs and attempt to defend those theories. Most of you are like botanists who say, "The world is full of beautiful flowers but we must confine ourselves to knowledge of where they grew and who picked them."

That must be how the fact that since there are cockades of various colors, this detracts from the established meaning of the white one. I can't remember whether it was Mr. Gardham or Mr. Boden who came up with that one, but either way, it's nonsense. A lot of nonsense and conceit find their way into these discussions. I've found that you really have to keep your hands up and dispense with any attempt at humor or humanness. What a shame.