Mudcat Café message #3936916 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3936916
Posted By: Jim Carroll
12-Jul-18 - 12:51 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"In any case no special mystical virtue attaches to the notion of folk song, grand as some folkloric creations may be."
Bert does not deny the uniqueness of folk song, on the contrary, his quote underlines just that they are different from other forms - nobody has suggested anything "mythical" about them
On the contrary, they are creations of the "common" people rather that of music created by commerce for profit - that is what makes them unique

Vernacular as used in Music Hall and Stage songs is used for effect - often it mocks the subject rather than reinforces it - 'Oirish' or 'Cheekie-Chappie cockney' - it is usually effected or exaggerated
Music hall 'folk humour (sic) is designed to poke fun at the folk rather than represent them honestly
That happens in literature too, for instance, in the so-called 'Popular Tales' of Samuel Lover and the Black Country tales of G H Gough
Ashtons broadsides are full of such mockery - The Universal Songster is worse.
Quite often broadside caricature extends into outright 'black Sambo' racism
The characters described are caricatures, often bumkins or yokels
I am referring to the natural unexaggerated and often understated speech of our folk songs.

I go along with both Lighter and Jack about the broadsides that were never intended to be sung - I'm taking about those that obviously were

'Wild Rover unsingable 5 verse broadside'
I did a fair amount of research on the song 'The Blind Beggar' which appeared first in print, I think, in the 1600s and was included as a totally unsingable 60 plus verse, two part plus epic in Percy's Reliques
Percy's notes link the ballad to specifical historical events and Pepys writes about dining at an eating house run my the main character

A totally streamlined and cut down to six or seven verse version of this was to be found in abundance among non-litrate Irish Travellers
It has always intrigued me how this leap took place - the Travellers certainly didn't do it
I'm pretty sure later hacks cut down the song for convenience, though I'm not certain where such hard-dressed workers found the time to do so.
If they are the same song (the texts suggest they are), is it not possible that a hack took a popular traditional idea (the poor girl turning out to be not all she seemed) or was it originally a shorter song turned it into a self-indulgent epic?
JIm Carroll