Mudcat Café message #641402 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11295   Message #641402
Posted By: Nerd
03-Feb-02 - 02:22 PM
Thread Name: Child Ballads: Anyone recorded the lot?
Subject: RE: Child Ballads: Anyone recorded the lot?
Abby:

are you saying the Riverside Child Ballads were reissued as LPs or as CDs? I knew they had come out in various forms as LPs--in fact I have a couple of the volumes--but I'd certainly spend a couple hundred bucks to get the CDs if they existed!

As for Child, it's true that he was only interested in printing popular ballads, but he was not always as good as all that in making the distinction. Remember Kittredge was his student and put him on something of a pedestal (rather like me and Kenny Goldstein I guess--sheepish grin!) But "Judas" and a number of other texts (the Arthurian ballads of Gawain and Ragnell and The Boy and the Mantle, plus most of the Robin Hood canon, etc) have not generally been recognized as sung ballads by most scholars before or since Child. Some of his texts, like the Geste, he printed becaue they had a bearing on ballad history even though he knew they were strictly speaking neither popular nor ballads.

Child had a set of textual standards he worked by to determine if he thought a text was a ballad and if he thought it was popular, but he died without ever telling anyone exactly what these standards were. I think if he had, his collection would have been somewhat debunked by now, as the distinctions between what he includes and what he leaves out of ESPB [in the way of late medieval metrical legends, romances, etc] are difficult to see by any textual means.

But I'm not one of these bandwagon canon-haters either; I think Child did a remarkable job by anyone's standards, and when he erred he did so on the side of inclusion (except for material like The Sea Crab, a bawdy ballad, or The Bitter Withy, a heretical ballad) which makes his collection far more interesting.

DMcG: that set recorded for Caedmon and later released by Topic has commenced being reissued by Rounder in the Alan Lomax Collection. The three volumes that have so far appeared are the two Child Ballad collections plus "Songs of Seduction."

Interesting side note: I interviewed Tony Engle some years ago for a review article in the Journal of American Folklore. He told me Topic's plan had originally been to reissue that Caedmon series, but he was unable to get the rights. Instead he decided to put together a series out of Topic's own field recordings, plus whatever he could beg, borrow or license. The result, he told me, would be called The Voice of the People. The rest is history...