Mudcat Café message #3886444 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3886444
Posted By: Jim Carroll
02-Nov-17 - 03:56 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Thought I'd dealt with that Jack
The broadside output runs contrary to the traditional repertoire in style and in quality - most of the published broadside collections are crammed full of unsingable songs - read Hollway and Black or Bagford or Ashton...
Literacy is peculiar anyway in terms of the country singers - certainly the ones we interviewed
Something in print is treated as fixed and sacrosanct
Singers have commented to us that songs they have bought are not to be trusted and have been rejected rather than altered
Harry Cox had a large collection of broadsides but he told Bob Thomson he never learned from them
Even the subject matter of the broadsides is iffy
If you read Hugill's Sailortown you will find that sailors as a whole were hated and feared (except maybe in wartime)
Yet here are all thise songs lamenting the hard life of a sailor or Jack coming ashore, pulling a string and having his way with the townies woman, or going into a gin-shop, smashing it up and stealing all the booze - heroes all
These ate class boasts about about 'our boys' coming out on top.
THe same with navvies - read the note to the song on the club thread I put up this morning - not much evidence of a 'Bold English Navvy' there.
Soldiers the same - the garrison towns weer no-go areas.
The folk songs throughout reflect a sympathy for and a knowledge of their subject matter that, in my opinion, is almost certainly based on an insiders view.
Even the ballads are made from the point of view of the 'lower classes' - the lame dog invariably getting the best of his better.
Some of the historical ones are downright seditious - not the stuff you peddled around the streets in the 18th century
If you have a chance, get hold of Alec Stewart telling traditional tales - the humour is the same as us much of the turn-of-phrase.
"Why is he so certain that his 20th Century experiences in Ireland were reflected in 18th and 19th Century England?"
Steve's point appears to be aimed at the 19th century repertoire - Steve Gardham is now insisting that his 90% refers to that time, though it appeared to cover everything at one time
When Sharp's gang were doing the rounds they were collecting material learned in the latter half of the 19th century and were insisting that their job was a race against the undertaker as the tradition was dying.
The Iris tradition lasted probably to the late 1940s and was still pretty active - singers we knew were remembering from a living tradition - the BBC was largely recording dead one.
The Irish Travellers tradition was very much alive to the middle of the seventies - their communities were virtually non-literate yet, as with the Scots Travellers, if you wanted the big ballads or narrative songs, that's where you went
We really don't know anything for certain, but the printed word appears not to feature in the making of traditional songs as far as I can see - borrowing from them maybe.
Jim Carroll