Mudcat Café message #3899090 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3899090
Posted By: Jim Carroll
12-Jan-18 - 11:23 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"Do you have some particular songs in mind as examples of subtlety, sentiment and compassion?"
Take any of the press gang songs Richard, particularly those in from the point of the woman
They display an account of the feelings generated rather than than a reporting of the events
Singers we recorded told us over and over again "That's a true song" = they were able to identify with the songs they sang.
We thought at first that they meant that they believed the songs were based on real the events and people until we asked Tom Lenihan when he believed the song he had just sung had taken place.
He looked puzzled and asked, "Do you think it really happened?"
He meant reality of the emotion rather than of the factual events.
What MacColl spent years trying to persuade singers he worked with to try, country singers had been doing naturally
I became convinced that the broken token songs were country compositions when Pat linked them to the rural 'gimmel ring' tradition described by Robert Chambers and William Hone in their Day Books - both with illustrations
The practice was an old one which dates back centuries and crosses class barriers
A man wishing to seal a bond with a woman (or maybe just get his leg over) would obtain a special ring which broke into two matching pieces, he would give her half of it and keep the other himself.
Among the wealthy, the rings were beautifully crafted ones and elaborately entwined ones, sometimes made in three parts - one for the woman, one for the man and a third was given to a witness as proof of the engagement
In rural areas, they were cheaply manufactured, roughly riveted ones, scratched or indented so they would match when compared.
They could be purchased at a stall in any fairground or market - Thomas Hardy mentions them in 'Tess of the Durbeyvilles'
We puzzled for years trying to work out how anybody could break a finger ring in half without the help of tools
The songs don't attempt to explain the practice - they had no need to
When they were made it was common 'insider' knowledge
I've never read an explanation as to how the rings were broken - have you?
Yhis one makes sense to me.
"Was Prof. Thomson referring to the particular case of songs that appear to have started with the "folk" and then got printed?"
It wasn't an issue then - anywhere
That's why Topic named their set of recordings 'The Voice of the People' and Bert Lloyd called his magnificent thirteen-part series The Songs of The People'
It's why Child called his collection 'The English and Scottish Popular Ballads - popular = "of the people"
Jim Carroll