Mudcat Café message #3939537 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3939537
Posted By: Jim Carroll
26-Jul-18 - 03:15 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Lloyd was not a collector as such - he was initially a singer with a wide interest in the background of songs and picked them up in the course of following that interest
If he was sloppy and inaccurate at times, it was due to that and not to dishonesty, as is all too often suggested
He was hired by the National Coal Board to gather together songs from the miners - out of that came as the pamphlet 'Coal Dust Ballads' and then as 'Come All you Bold Miners', later to be published in a much expanded form (we have all three here somewhere)
The people who accuse Lloyd of dishonesty are often those who have evolved a way of work and who believe there is a "right way to collect and present folk songs" just as some accuse people like me of claiming that there is "a right way" to sing them
Lloyds work was carried out as a revival singer asked to do a job - not an academic - he adapted the songs as a singer - I have no idea what he did with the paperwork of if he even made any extensive notes.

Similarly, MacColl and his then wife, Joan Littlewood were employed by the BBC to collect songs for a radio programme - 'The Ballad Hunters' around the Lancashire - Yorkshire Border   
They never kept a field diary - the only trace of the songs they collected were on typewritten sheets in a filing cabinet draw in their home, typed up by Peggy many years later from Ewan remembering them
They included, 'Fourpence a Day' from lead miner, John Gowland, 'T'ould Chap Cam' O'er the Bank' (an extremely bawdy 7 Nights Drunk), 'Drinking', and 'Four Loom Weaver' from Beckett Whitehead, 'The Mowing Match' and (I Think 'Forty Miles' (The Penny Wager).
The radio programme was never preserved and the songs survived in MacColl's memory only until Peggy wrote them down

I know this because Ewan and Peggy regularly let me loose in their collection to assist me as a wannabe singer - I never wrote down my researches and am recounting this from my memory of events from 50 years ago (this year, as it happens), so I can't guarantee the accuracy of what I have just written!

I have little doubt that as singers, both Ewan and Bert adapted these songs if they sang them - I did the same as a singer
I never made a note of the changes I made in the songs I got for my repertoire - I see no reason whic Ewan and Bert should be expected to have done so
I find it puzzling why today's researchers should demand high standards of accuracy from singers rather than academics

I knew Ewan well enough to know much of what he is accused of is inaccurate and unfair, often deliberately so.
I didn't know Bert as well, but I spoke to him enough times to believe he wasn't the charlatan he is all-too-often accused of being
As much as I loved my time in the revival - it could be a cruel, unforgiving, backbiting place towards those who didn't toe the 'folkie' line - sadly, some of that still lingers
Hopefully, the next generation.... pity we won't be around to find out