Mudcat Café message #3935252 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3935252
Posted By: Jim Carroll
04-Jul-18 - 12:47 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"'Popular ballads'."
Of the people - I posted this earlier (01 Oct 17 - 02:49 PM ) - sorry - I post too much
Child appeared to lose interest in the ballads after their publication and much of what he believed is still shrouded in conjecture.
There is no evidence as far as I have ever come across that his 'common origins' belief ever changed, nor is there any evidence that he ever changed his contempt for broadsides (as has been suggested in previous arguments)   
A great deal of information lies in his correspondence with other scholars
Child was of his time and background, with all the restrictions that implies, but on the other hand, he wasn't alone in his belief that these songs belonged to the countryside rather than the towns
Much work has been done since, none of which changes that view in any way apart from the unsubstantiated suggestion that the rural poor were incapable of producing the ballads.

Typical of these was Phillips Barry's note to 'The Lake of Col Finn, in the Vermont collection, 'The New Green Mountain Songster' in 1939:
"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de-jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".   

Everything I have experienced in working with singers has confirmed this to be offensively inaccurate   
Sorry to repeat this as much as I do but I find it cathartic
Ironically, Barry displayed exactly the opposite attitude to other songs in the cllection

As I said before, once we accept that country people were capable of and inclined towards song making, then surely it is logical to accept that they could and probably did make a great number of them, if not most
The the familiarity with the subject matter and the use of vernacular language weighs heavily in favour of that probability.

My view is no more 'purist' than that of the majority of singers and researchers up to comparatively recently
Up to now, folk song has always been regarded as 'The Voice of the People'
The Topic Records major series drew its title from this description, Lloyd assembled a thirteen programme series of international folk songs entitled 'Songs of the People' back in the 1970s without a hint of protest from anywhere... this is what people thought and believed without question.

The term 'purist' is a revival, one as is 'finger-in-ear' and 'folk-police'
They all came to prominence when the club scene appeared to become bored with the old repertoire and began looking elsewhere.
I've never come across a major opposition to the fact that Topic and Leader Records more or less confined their output to a certain definition.

The first time I ever came across it was when we issued a cassette of Irish Traveller songs and a reviewer complained that there were no Country and Western items included.
The inclusion of Victorian and early 20th century popular songs within the definition really is a new kid on the block

It really isn't a matter of excluding or disallowing anything
MacColl's Song Carriers statement is fairly inclusive of published songs that have been absorbed into an oral tradition
I don't know anybody ever disallowing Wild Rover, though Walter Pardon once said about 'Farmers Boy', "That song was written by someone who couldn't tell the difference between wheat and barley"

It never has been about where singers picked up their songs; rather it is about what they did with them when they got them, particularly how they took ownership of them and treated them as their own
Are there significantly differing versions of 'When the Fields Were White With Daisies or 'Bird in a Gilded Cage'
It's awfully difficult to take ownership of a song with somebody else's name on it and a damn sight more difficult when it has a (c) next to the title.
Jim Carroll