Mudcat Café message #3880540 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3880540
Posted By: Richard Mellish
05-Oct-17 - 06:46 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
For me neither link works if I just click on it. But right-click, copy link location, and paste into the address bar works for both of them. Make sense of that if you can. (As it happens, I've also today had an HTML part of an email that opens perfectly in two browsers and displays a totally blank page in two others.)

I'm glad that The Streams of Lovely Nancy has come up. That song on its own could make an interesting case study of the folk process. Wherever, whenever and however it originated, it was widely propagated both orally and through print, implying that singers liked it and broadside printers saw a market, but none of the extant versions makes much sense. More coherent than most is the version collected from Carrie Grover across the Pond, which has a castle decked (plausibly) with ivy rather than ivory, and "limestone so bright" rather than diamonds as the beacon for sailors.

I am very sorry that Jim should feel insulted by anything that I have written. Jim has good reasons for believing what he does and I am in no position to say he is wrong. And origins do indeed matter if one's purpose is to take a song as evidence of social history and what people thought and believed at some past time. But unless we can be sure who wrote a song, we can't be sure whose beliefs it reflects, if indeed it reflects anyone's. Broadside hacks could and did write pieces of total fiction.

Steve Roud's book is concerned with the phenomenon of folk song defined by various criteria but more by who sang the songs in what circumstances than by where they originated.

It's getting late at night and if I add any more to this post it will probably make less sense rather than more.