Mudcat Café message #3884975 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3884975
Posted By: Jim Carroll
27-Oct-17 - 04:52 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"You seem to be the only person obsessed with the need to have your terms defined to the nth degree, and also obsessed with the origins."
OI might equally say thay you are the only person obsessed with thaki the creadit of making our folk songs away from rural working people and giving it to untalented hacks - I would imagine both accusations are unfair
I don't believe in chasing origins of songs any more do I believe it possible to discover the truth about who made those songs
What I do know for a fact is that rural working people made songs (in this small area, by the hundred so probably throughout Ireland, by the many thousands)
These indicate to me that they probably made our folksongs - there is not the slightest reason to suggest that they were incapable of the task
Out folk songs are full of snippets of information such as this - we had a long conversation with Walter Pardon about this in relation to 'Butter and Cheese and All', where he associated the 'hiding up the chimney' with the 'press gang' rails found in many East Anglian rural homes - Sam Larner had a similar conversation with MacColl and Lomax at one time
When the press gangs were scouring the areas looking for 'volunteers' the eligible males would hide up the wide chimneys crouched on specially placed rails to avoid being pressed
I can't remember if MacColl and Seeger used Sam's recording on 'Now is the Time for Fishing' but I have it here somewhere
Our folksongs are made up of such bits of information, as I said earlier, they have dirt under their fingernails
I read Roud's chapter   on the Broadsides with interest, the first thing that stuck me was that they were largely urban based
We recorded very elderly singers here in Clare who lived tem miles from Ennis, our market town, yet never managed to get there until they were into their middle age, transport and roads being what they were.
Ho did these shoddy urban poets get their knowledge to make songs with such details - farm practices, work at sea - even the folklore - they would have had to have been social historians and skilled folklorists in subjects that had no even been published in order to possess such detail
I've said often enough, one of the great gaps in our knowledge has always been that researchers gathered songs the way people collected coins, with no great interest in what the singers knew about them.
Our limited researches indicate that they knew a hell of a lot and they possessed talents that had been ignored - bu we were very much latecomers to a tradition that had died off before ourt time (with the exception of the Travellers)
"Those songs that are sung in folk clubs, folk festivals and the folk scene in general; "
So 'I Don't Like Monday's' is a folk song - utter crap!
"those songs that are found in the record shops' racks under the descriptor 'folk'; "
I found a shop that listed all Hank Williams records under 'folk' one
Utter crap
"those songs that are sung by folk singers; "
You can't define a folk singer until you define a folk song - a Catch 22 definition that ends up swallowing its own tail
"those songs performed by performers who refer to themselves as folk singers."
Folk singing has long ceased to be dedicated to folk song and has now become a convenient title for those not talented enough to make it in their own preferred fields - it has become a dustbin throw anything it suits anybody to call folk song
I'm disappointed in you Steve - I disagree with you strongly on your definitive attitude to (unknowable) origins, but this is the pits and manages to rubbish an entire century of study.
It is revival folk song research (sic) based on a folksong movement that has long lost its way
You really do need to have got our more, but now it is too late, now we need to what little we have from the older singers and apply common sense to it - we owe them that
Jim Carroll (sadly)