Mudcat Café message #3944273 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3944273
Posted By: Jim Carroll
16-Aug-18 - 03:22 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"I'm getting the impression you are not too enamoured with the MT CDs of Walter."
You would be wrong
There was nothing I didn't like about Walter - he was a close friend for twenty years and Pat and I treasured the time we spent in his company
The CD was not representative of Walter's own tastes it, but it presented a side of him that was part of his history
Walter had a phenomenal memory and as a young man he took in songs of all types that were being sung around him, at home and in the army
In one interview we did he described when his cousins and other relatives (he had no siblings) "went our separate ways - they went with the moden stuff, I stuck with the old folk songs"
He was extremely articulate and describe in detail what he considered the differences between the genres
He wasn't alone in doing this but he was certainly the most articulate singer we ever met

I've told you Steve, I have no intention of entering into one of your "insider knowledge" blind alleys again - you want to re-visit it, dithem up and link to them
We have been here before and you presented a number of excuses as to how the hacks would know these things - hacks who worked on the land or went to sea to gain knowledge of sea terms and practices, or those who "might have moved in from having worked in the countryside to work on the land", or had "researched newspapers to get the knowledge contained in folk songs" (I'm paraphrasing this but I'll dig them out if you insist)
None of this came with evidence of hacks actually doing this - it was a knee-jerk response to me pointing out that our songs are full of such insights - that, for me, is what separates them from the pastiche and that is why the singers believed them.
Both Walter and Tom Lenihan compared their songs to the modern genres in these terms.
There are many dozens of examples of country lore in the ballads, before folklore became a research discipline and some of these examples occur in the songs; a killer stepping over his victim and causing it to bleed occurs in several Irish murder ballads; searching for a drowned person by floating candles is another example.

When Tom Lenihan and others said, "That's a true song", they didn't mean that it happened, but that it rang bells in their own lives.
It would take a skilled social historian or an assiduously researching writer to gain that level of conviction
You can try to take that belief away from working people as you have attempted to take away the authorship of the songs if you wish, but you'll have to provide far more than excuses

You have never explained how bad poets could possibly have made so may good songs (maybe you don't believe they aren't good songs)
You went through a whole string of excuses for that
First, "hacks" didn't really mean bad poets, then "a school of good ones among the hacks".... anything rather than the folk might have made folk songs
You have paid lip-service to the two-way street coposistion that MacColl described in the Song Carriers and which you treated with so much disdain, but there is no sign that this is any more than lip-service.

Once again you are insisting that I passively accept your continual grilling yet not one of you have had the courtesy to answer my arguments with anything resembling a reasonably articulate answer
Who do you think you are, a CIA interrogation team

One more time.
I have made my position quite clear
I firmly believe that the folk were capable having made their folk songs - nobody here has ever suggested that they couldn't have
I belive that to have been the opinions of researchers and anthologists since the beginnings of folk song research until a bunch of new kids on the block came along, redifined folk songs as "anything the folk sang" and claimed otherwise
It is logical to me that sailors songs fairly accurately describing life at sea and on shore might well have been made by the people the songs were about
The same with soldiers, and farmworkers and miners and rural dwellers and navvies.....
I believe that on the basis of talking to traditional singers who accepted the "truth" (authenticity) of the songs they sang
I also believe that if Irish rural dwellers in similar situations ot their English counterparts made the me=any hundreds of songs describing their lives, why not the English - a cultural deficiency maybe?
THese were not Dibdin's "jolly Jack Tar' pastiches or Marie Antoinette's Versailles tableau Shepherds and Shepherdesses - they were realistically described people in realistically described situations using genuine-sounding vernacular language and an apparent knowledge of country and trade practices and lore.
It has always been the down-to-earth universal reality that has impressed me about our folk-songs
Now - instead of these fingernail-extracting interrogations, why not tell me why these songs should be the products of desk-bound city hacks who were notorious for their bad poetry?


Jim