Mudcat Café message #3894829 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3894829
Posted By: Jim Carroll
20-Dec-17 - 04:56 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"Now it's time for Jim Carroll to drag himself away from Mudcat mud fights and write his own book,"
I doubt if that's going to happen Jerome - Too late in life and too much left to do

Our life has been spent recording singers and assembling as much of what they had to say as we could lay hands from other sources as we have been able
One of the greatest gaps in out knowledge of folk song 'The Voice of the People' has been the opinions of 'the Folk' themselves - though the history of research they have been treated as opinionless sources of songs and the songs have been treated as out-of-context artefacts - entertainment and little else - a Voice of the people with no voice!
Any possible solution to the enigmas that have been fought over here lie in what little may have been gathered and locked away in archives, or lying in manuscripts and old tapes.
It is this gap that allows any self appointed 'expert' to make a name for themselves with their outlandish theories.
I can't believe that, throughout the BBC five year campaigns, nobody ever 'talked' to the contributors and asked their opinions on the treasure trove we took from them.
This whole business has smacked of academic 'ivory towerism' from the beginning - an undoubted unchallenged expert in his field (Steve Roud), turning a centuries-old accepted view of folk song on its head (apparently without discussion) and re-defining it to include material that was made to sell to the folk rather than having been made by them to reflect their lives and opinions - nobody, however respected and talented has a right to do that.
Folk academia has created cliques and factions - it has even invented its own impenetrable language that puts their opinions out of reach of those not 'in the know'
I've already given my opinion on the price one has to pay for some of the published works
If we (as a bunch of human beings - The People) want to know what the TSF is thinking, we have to go to the mountain, Mohammed-like - no way to share knowledge on the 'people's music'

Throughout this argument I have been subjected to being talked down to because I choose not to be one of the inner circles – not a new experience
One author/academic (mentioned here) once told us that what we had to say after thirty years work with Travellers was wrong because she had studied the subject in college.
We entitled our article on Walter Pardon 'A Simple Countryman?’ having been told by a noted researcher that Walter "must have been “got at” to hold the opinions he did, because 'he was - " simple countryman'.
Even here we have strange comments about him "not being much of a pub singer" - based on the erroneous view that our folk songs were centred around the pubs.
The discussion here smacks of academic elitism - those who have published and those who haven't, and who has said nice things about what they claim - I was once offered a list of qualified people “who agree with me”, by an exponent of the 'broadside origins' theory, in substitute for rational arguments – (now he has thrown in my age as a factor of what I have to say)
Here the number of 'nice' reviews by largely unknown (to me) reviewers of Roud's book has taken the place of detailed discussion.
Any sense we are ever going to make out of folk song is going to come from a co-operative and intelligent (and above all, friendly) analysis of the songs themselves and an assessment of all past research - not the arrogant and often personal 'Dave Harkerism' that has re-surfaced here (though even Harker made a number of points well worth consideration).

One of the warmest feelings of achievement I have ever experienced was when Clare County Library accepted our collection, appointed two librarians to work on it and allowed us to give back to the Clare people the songs they had given to us - that's what research should mainly be about.
Even this is only a partial achievement - there are masses of interviews their resources wouldn't allow them to include
Limerick University have accepted the offer of our library for the use of the students at their 'IRISH WORLD ACADEMY of MUSIC and DANCE'
and are discussing the idea of setting up a website to do a similar job on the rest of our collection
Ironically, if what Walter Pardon had to say about his songs is ever to see the light of day, it will be through a West of Ireland academic institution as there doesn't seem to be an outlet in Britain any more.

The 'Voice of the People' has long been a muted and limited one - now it seems to have been all-but silenced by being lumped in with and overpowered by that of the Music industry.
Folk songs were a way 'the folk' entertained themselves, but they were much, much more than that – they were and are essential part of their/our oral history - there are no other significant examples of this because it was always thought that 'ordinary people' had nothing to say for themselves and needed spokesmen to speak for them

Far from this discussion being over, I don't think it has even begun
It will take place in the friendly, respectful manner it needs to be, if I have anything to do with it, if not here, somewhere where people are prepared to listen and share ideas and not fly kites or just stand by and bow to the kite runners
Jim Carroll