Mudcat Café message #3898019 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3898019
Posted By: Jim Carroll
08-Jan-18 - 03:54 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"agree that some songs that started life on broadsides "
Is there any disagreement on this - not from me?
Of course they did - but I happen to know from personal experience in Ireland that in the first twentieth century many hundreds of songs were created by 'ordinary' people (do wish we could find a better term than this - everybody is extraordinary in some way or other) on anything that caught their fancy, the songs circulated within a local tradition for a period and disappeared because of their parochial nature - some made their way into the national repertoire, but all were folk songs by definition.
The same was still happening within a living song tradition within the Travelling community
I see no reason why this should not have happened in England and why many songs made this way can't include those that have been documented as 'folk'
These songs need to be considered in any estimation we make of our folk song traditions - the percentages being bandied about here makes it virtually impossible to do so.
Country people have always made folk songs - that has been established without question in Ireland, in Scotland without challenge - it seems that there is a reluctance by a few people to accept that this was the case in England - that is the problem here
We do not know who made our folk songs, but once you accept that country people were capable of making songs and did make them these percentages do not hold water.
As Stephen Fry is fond of saying "nobody knows"
"agree to disagree about the proportions,"
WE can't do that while academics are producing tomes based on these percentages - we've already seen how quickly people are prepared to lap them up, inside and outside the folk world - sadly, including in this debate
I've seen no response to the implications of accepting these figures - that working people left no tangible record of their existence - not if we accept our folk songs as commercial products, as has been claimed.
"I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them."
Surely, if it was historical and social events that produced our songs, then they become part of our social history - the way we once thought.
That's every bit as historically important than the entertainment value of our songs
"which no one has responded to:"
Sorry, thought I had
Bert Lloyd was employed by the National Coal Board to collect songs and lore and stories from the Miners - I think I have an article on it somewhere.
I always understood that 'Coal Owner' was one of these songs
Lloyd appears not to have kept a personal record of what he collected. and passed it on to his 'employers'
So little has been collected from the mining communities (MacColl did a little for 'The Big Hewer) that we don't know what constitutes an oral tradition among them, or whether one existed at all in the way we know rural ones did.
Presumably Roud didn't give the song a number because there is no proven record that it existed prior to Bert singing it (a little odd that he should give pop songs numbers, but there you go)
There are several songs from our from our collection that exist only in single versions that (I think) have Roud numbers
MacColl and Joan Littlewood collected songs in the North of England for a radio programme which was broadcast once and then (presumably) destroyed - Ewan kept a file of those songs, but not the recordings.
I've never checked to see whether Beckett Whitehead's obscene version of 'Seven Nights Drunk' or 'Drinking' or 'The Mowing Match' have Roud numbers - the same with 'Fourpence a Day' which was taken from lead miner Mark Anderson, the only surviving recorded version was that of MacColl singing it.
Jim Carroll