Mudcat Café message #3880173 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3880173
Posted By: Richard Mellish
04-Oct-17 - 06:58 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I'm disappointed that a lot of the recent additions to this thread have been yet another re-run of the argument about origins.

Setting aside for a moment songs of more recent origin, such as in the music halls, and focussing on the songs that the early collectors accepted as being proper "folk" songs, Baring-Gould (thank you Vic 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM and Martin) already observed that most of them existed in broadsides. Another hundred-odd years of evidence confirm that the earliest known versions of most of them are in broadsides or other print.

Steve G and others believe that in most cases those printed version were the originals, although some may have been taken from already existing oral versions. Jim believes it's the other way round, basing his belief partly on internal evidence in the songs that the people who made them had first hand experience of their subjects, and partly on documented instances of song writing by "the folk" in recent times.

Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that (at least in this particular thread) and focus our attention on the songs' subsequent propagation and evolution?

Steve Roud maintains that what makes a song a folk song is not where it started but what people do with it. Vic's 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM post about "The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me" is a beautiful illustration of that. (Opinions about the aesthetic worth of that particular song are a separate matter entirely. The same processes have been at work on all sorts of songs, from dirty doggerel to big ballads.)