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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 06 Jan 18 - 04:59 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM
RTim 05 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 01:00 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 12:46 PM
Richard Mellish 05 Jan 18 - 12:41 PM
Brian Peters 05 Jan 18 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 11:51 AM
Brian Peters 05 Jan 18 - 10:00 AM
The Sandman 05 Jan 18 - 07:54 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 18 - 05:00 AM
Howard Jones 05 Jan 18 - 04:36 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Jan 18 - 03:27 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 18 - 03:11 PM
The Sandman 04 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Jan 18 - 11:10 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Jan 18 - 10:54 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM
GUEST 04 Jan 18 - 09:45 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Jan 18 - 06:26 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 18 - 05:38 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 18 - 05:25 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Jan 18 - 04:40 PM
GUEST 03 Jan 18 - 04:22 PM
Vic Smith 03 Jan 18 - 03:54 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 02:17 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 01:41 PM
The Sandman 03 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM
Richard Mellish 03 Jan 18 - 01:07 PM
The Sandman 03 Jan 18 - 12:58 PM
Brian Peters 03 Jan 18 - 12:54 PM
The Sandman 03 Jan 18 - 12:37 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 12:34 PM
The Sandman 03 Jan 18 - 12:08 PM
Brian Peters 03 Jan 18 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,Rigby 03 Jan 18 - 11:39 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Rigby 03 Jan 18 - 10:33 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 03 Jan 18 - 10:02 AM
Howard Jones 03 Jan 18 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Rigby 03 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Rigby 03 Jan 18 - 08:54 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jan 18 - 08:45 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 04:59 AM

"No-one on any thread or in any book in recent years has suggested working people are incapable of making their own songs"
This is exactly what you have done here in regard to folk songs - the only example we have ever had of "a voice of the people"
You claim that that "voice" rather than being the voice of the people, is that of poor poets doing it for money.
If that is true, working people have left no record behind them of their lives, experiences and aspirations
You even denigrated the oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest of the broadside hacks in an attept to explain a poor version of "Higher Germany"
"Its poor construction and inconsistency might suggest having come from oral tradition, but it could also be down to the fact that such jobs were given to the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market. It's not possible to say whether it precedes or derives from 'High Germany'"
Your claim has wavered fro 90% to 100% of our folk songs being commercially produced products.
Your responses to being challenged have been at best inconsistent and evasive, right through to being personally insulting as now, where you are all but calling me a liar
"This is typical of JC's twisting and turning and misquoting or, if I am overgenerous, simply perhaps misunderstanding."
I have set my case out as clearly as I can, I am not politically motivated as you have suggested, I am not an attention seeker, as you have suggested, nor am I a liar as you have also suggested
I have insulted no-one here, though you suggest I have
I have doubts of your abilities as a researcher, based on what you have come up with and the inconsistencies you use to defend it, but your aggressive and insulting behaviour makes you everything you have accused me of being
It's about time you addressed the points I am making instead of hurling childish abuse
I certainly have no intentions of being bullied and blustered out of expressing my opinions on this matter
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM

More on 'The Maids of Australia' The English broadside printed by Such (London) and by Pearson (Manchester) are the same 7 verse text along with a printing without imprint in the Holt Collection. The Such printing can be seen on the Bodleian Broadside Ballads website.
The GPB version seems to mainly derive from the longer English printings. Sanderson, GPB, Such and Pearson were all printing past 1900, although I'd guess the earliest of these would be about 1865.

2 lines in the last verse which differ in the 2 versions, I can't make my mind up which makes the most sense if any at all. The GPB version does at least rhyme more closely, but that doesn't really tell us much.

Such et al.
'Long time on her bosom my face I did hide
Till the sun in the west its visits declined.'

GPB
'Long time did my head on her bosom recline,
Till the sun in the west did its limits resign.'

Perhaps they're both equally crap!

Now to check out the oral versions. More anon.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM

This is typical of JC's twisting and turning and misquoting or, if I am overgenerous, simply perhaps misunderstanding. No-one on any thread or in any book in recent years has suggested working people are incapable of making their own songs. Quite the contrary, we have gone to great pains to give him examples of working people making their own songs. As a field worker myself I have come across plenty of examples, some of which he has declared are not folk songs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM

"you write regarding Steve's selection of singers he likes....is way beyond even your previous statements, and not necessary."
Why - is not part of what we are discussing what good folk singing sounds like?
Our traditional singers tended to pitch their singing around natural speaking tones and their approach was narrative
If Steve R feels free to comment as he does on a revival I was part of for nearly half a century, then I see no reason why I should not be able to comment of what he feels to be good folk singing
I get a little tired of being told that things are "good" when I believe they are patently not
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM

"Jim - I think you live in a different world to me and the majority of posters here."
Sorry you feel the need to analyze my position in the universe without responding to ant of the points I've made Tim - particularly the ones on whether you believe working people to have been capable of making their own songs or the implications of disenfranchising and entir social class as composers of their own culture
Ah- well - at least you're not alone regarding those
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM

I have been reading and reacting to almost every word said in this thread - but had decided that it no longer needed my input -
However.....Jim - I think you live in a different world to me and the majority of posters here.

Good luck to you and your world - but I really don't know what you want of others....and the "insults" you write regarding Steve's selection of singers he likes....is way beyond even your previous statements, and not necessary.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 01:00 PM

"It's not black and white: there are many colours."
Of course there are - within genres of songs
It's lumping all the genres together that disturbs me
This is why I feel it virtually impossible to discuss this subject without discussing the function of the songs and what prompted them to be made in the first place
Much of this work has been done by the more serious of the revival singers
I have to say I am at a loss to understand Steve Round's take on the revival - his description rages from denim clad, guitar strumming activists to agenda driven Marxists - he appears to be unaware of the serious work that was done by some performers.
When he described his own personal tastes in one interview he cited two women singers both as far away from traditional singing as you could possibly get - arcetypical breathy 'little girl' voices, gappy - 'note-per-syllable' phrasing, non-narrative and no discernable interpretation.
Maybe we're talking about a different type of folk song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 12:46 PM

" provided they had been absorbed and refashioned by the community."
It depends on how you construe the term 'absorbed'
Does repeating a song mean it has been absorbed - not in my book, it doesn't
I believe it to be far more complicated that that - it involved ownership and identification.
Let's face it, as far as communities are concerned, the popular songs all came with a shelf-life as do all popular songs - shorter nowadays than they once were
Largely they came into the repertoires stillborn and remained unaltered.
One of the great mistakes in assessing our folk-songs is regarding them as 'entertainment'
They were thi, of course, but they were much, much more than that.
Harry Cox's "and that's what they thought of us" piece of venom makes in clear that there was something going on between him and Betsy the Serving Maid' than immediately meets the ear.
We got similar responses from the singers we met.
'Pop's' Johnny Connors entitling his version of Edward' 'Cain and Abel' and claiming that Cain was the founder of the Travelling people was the first time we ever came across this
We were not the only ones to have noticed this relationship between traditional singers and their songs
Ken Goldstein had similar experiences, particularly with a New York State singer Sara Cleveland - the work done by Lomax with Texas Gladden touches on the same theme
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 12:41 PM

> Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song - it is those differences that should be discussed

It's not black and white: there are many colours.

"what we have always accepted as a folk song" won't have exactly the same boundaries for all of us, so let's focus on what I am calling the classic corpus, the material collected by Sharp et al. Within that there are quite different kinds of song: for example the bucolic "Colin and Phoebe" sort, the ballads about battles between Scottish lords or lairds, those about sea battles, those like The Two Sisters and The Two Brothers that are set in no particular time and place, etc. To my mind the differences between those kinds are as great as between them and songs from the music hall.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 12:16 PM

It is pointless quoting the '54 definition which is largely based on Sharp's work if you have rejected the conclusions that that definition was based on

I don't want to go too far down the road of angels and pinheads, but 1954 extended Sharp's concept to include songs with a known composer - provided they had been absorbed and refashioned by the community. Roud as far as I can see is saying no more than this, although there may be ambiguities over what constitutes 'refashioning'. Those light opera songs you mention were never going to be the kind of songs Walter's relatives would sing down the pub.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 11:51 AM

"I would perceive are matters of musical and lyrical form, "
I believe that the universal and timeless quality of folk songs accounts for their survival - once you view them as a singer you come to realise that a centuries old song can still say something about you as an individual
That is basically what MacColl and the Critics spent nearly ten years exploring and I belive it is what the singers we interviewed meant when they described their songs as "true"
Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan and Mikeen McCarthy all described how they saw 'pictures' when they sang
As we knew Mikeen the best and the longest, we once conducted an experiment that we would never have carried out with somebody who we suspected might have become self-conscious after such an exercise
Mikeen had a mixture of songs, mainly traditional, with some early popular songs thrown in.
We got him to sing one of his traditional songs and recorded him describing what he saw - extensive and detailed, sometimes staggeringly so.
We repeated the exercise with a popular song - nothing
WE did this three times with the same result
Without actually using specific songs, we asked Walter Pardon about his pictures - he spoke at length about the pictures he saw and volunteered the information that those he described as not being 'the old folk songs' produced no such pictures
Mary Delaney had been blind from birth yet she spoke in terms of colours, sizes and hair styles - beyond me!
If talking about the songs and examining the context of song texts is not what the book is about, I'm at a loss to know why Roud calls it 'Folk Songs of England'
The greatest problem of our understanding of folk songs is that nobody ever asked the singers how they felt about then - this is led to a history of academic kite-flying
I suspect what this book is.
To ignore the basic beliefs of over a century's research by some of our greatest and most dedicated scholars is comparable to the Khmer Rouges 'return to the year zero'
Dave Harker approached his work on what amounted to personal attacks on the early collectors - Steve Gardham has described Child as an elitist and suggested he was incapable of separating his work on the ballads from that of formalal poetry
" He was Professor of English at Harvard. His previous work included a 30-vol critical edition of 'The English Poets'.Don't you think that colours some of his choices?"
Songs "being absorbed in the folk repertoire" is a meaningless term
It would mean that whatever any traditional singer who joined a local choir (as Walter's forbears did) or say, light opera society sang would automatically become a folk song.
It's the old 'singing horse' definition writ large
Jean Richie summed up beautifully how the old singers discriminated in their songs when she was collecting in Britain in the 1950s
She said (paraphrasing):
"if you asked for the old songs, you could get anything from Danny Boy tyo any of the mawkishly sentimental popular songs they had learned in their youth
Ask them if they knew 'Barbara Allen' and that's when the old folk songs songs would come pouring in".
Mary Delaney had as many Country and Western songs in her repertoire as she had traditional songs, yet she blankly refused to sing any of them
telling us "I only learned them because that's what the lads ask for down the pub".
She described all her traditional songs as "my daddy's songs" - she had dozens, when we recorded him he had six.
Their opinion has to be taken into consideration - Roud had the opportunity to include at least a a few of those opinions yet, once again - the real experts - the singers, were never consulted.
If that's not 'shoddy' than it's agenda driving.
Roud's book is of enormous interest to those who wish to lean about popular music of the past, but I fear that, taken uncritically it can do the same damage to folk song scholarship as the 'anything goes' policy has done to the club scene
It is pointless quoting the '54 definition which is largely based on Sharp's work if you have rejected the conclusions that that definition was based on
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 10:00 AM

As the Sandman pointed out, the notion that a collector should include every item a singer performs isn't new. For instance, D. K. Wilgus criticized Cecil Sharp for omitting from his Appalachian collection recently-composed parlour songs known to be popular with mountain singers at the time.

Steve Roud's scholarship certainly isn't shoddy, and on the question of commercial songs becoming absorbed into 'folk' repertoire he's pretty much in line with the 1954 definition, stating at one point that a song ideally needs to have been passed down a couple of generations to qualify. Though, as I discussed in my post of September 29th, he does leave some ambiguity about that.

Sam Larner's Sankey & Moody hymns are an interesting case. Going back to Sharp, one of the criticisms levelled persistently at his work by American scholars is that he ignored the hymns that were a vibrant element in the repertoires of many Appalachian singers. This isn't actually correct, since he actually noted down several hymns that were straight out of books like 'Southern Harmony' and 'The Social Harp', knowingly or otherwise. All of these have Roud numbers - how could it be otherwise, given that they are in Sharp's collection? So should the Roud number be withdrawn because a given hymn is shown later to have come from a book? I've no doubt that Steve has thought carefully before deciding whether to allocate a number, for every one of the songs he's examined.

Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song

A lot of the differences that you and I would perceive are matters of musical and lyrical form, which in turn relate to the historical period in which many of our classic folk songs evolved. I understand that there are some (including previous posters to this thread) who have preferred Roud's FSE to talk more about the songs themselves, but that isn't the point of the book. It's a very thorough historical analysis of vernacular singing, that treats the Sharpian concept of folksong with respect but doesn't confine itself to that concept, and thus encourages us to at least think about its strengths and weaknesses.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 07:54 AM

Jim, interesting point Alfred Williams collected everything people were singing , the result was a historical and accurate picture of what was being sung by people in that loclity at that time, whether they are folk songs or whether we wish to sing them is a different subject, yes you are correct either shody scholarship or agenda driving


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 05:00 AM

"His message is that it is not a song's origins which make it 'folk', but what the folk have done with it. "
Same thing Richard
Roud removes any possibility of the uniqueness of folk song by including 'everything that the folk sang'
Had the tradition continued, 'The Birdie Song' and 'Oobladee, Ooblada' would have had Roud numbers
Sam Larner had a large number of American Moody and Sankey hymns in his repertoire - do they merit Roud numbers?
Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song - it is those differences that should be discussed
Roud has neatly sidestepped that by not including song texts and not giving a discography we can use as a guide
Either shoddy scholarship or agenda driving
He has also not included what little we have of traditional singers opinions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 18 - 04:36 AM

"Sorry Richard, but he specifies that he regards folk sons as anything folk singers sing, so presumably if one o the singers happened to be a member of the local light opera society the Roud index would include selections from 'The Student Prince'"

That's not quite what Roud is saying. His message is that it is not a song's origins which make it 'folk', but what the folk have done with it. That is not the same as saying that anything sung by a 'folk singer' is therefore folk.

For Jim, it appears that an important aspect of folk song is that it shows that working- class culture is to be valued, and he is understandably sensitive to anything which seems to undermine this. Roud's interest is in how these songs evolved and how they were used. He doesn't appear to be particularly interested in making any claims either for or against working-class creativity. As I read it, he is not intending an attack on the working class, he is simply not taking a 'class-conscious' approach, perhaps in contrast to Harker and others, whose Marxist analysis he criticises strongly.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 03:27 PM

I said I wasn't going to discuss individual songs but there's nothing to show that this wasn't taken from the tradition and altered to suit an urban audience - it's origins and percentages that concern methat concern me
I suggest you listen to Phil Tanner sing it and come back and tell me it sounds like a broadside compostion
I would appreciate a response to some of your claims though
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 03:11 PM

Here we have the Catnach broadside of 'Banks' with the differences of an (oral tradition version) alongside.

As I walked out one midsummer morning
(For) To view the fields and to take the air
Down by the banks of the sweet primroses
There I beheld a most lovely fair.

Three long steps I took up to her (I stepp-ed)
Not knowing her as she passed me by
I step'ed up to her, thinking (for) to view her
She appeared to me like some virtuous bride.

I said fair maid where are you going
Or what is the occasion for all your grief (And what's the...)
I'll make you as happy as any lady (I will)
If you will grant me some small relief. (me once more a leave)

Stand off, stand off, you are quite deceitful (She said stand off, you are deceitful)
You've been a false deceitful man 'tis plain (You are deceitful and a false young man)
It's(It is) you that's caused my poor heart (for) to wander
(And) To give me comfort it is all in vain. (comfort lies all...)

I'll go down into (in) some lonesome valley
(Where) No man on earth shall there me find (there = e'er)
Where the pretty (little small) birds shall change their voices (shall=do)
At(And) every moment shall blow blusterous winds (shall blow=blows)

Come all you young maids(men) that go a courting
Pray give(pay) attention to what I say
For there's many a dark and cloudy morning (There is many a dark and a...)
Turns out to be a sun-shining day (shining=shiny)

Not exactly the language of a ploughlad. Such pieces derive from the many musical pastoral plays of the early 19th century but they first hit the streets in the form of a broadside. The many broadside printings are pretty much verbatim the Catnach piece and oral versions deviate from this about as much as the version given above. There shouldn't be any reason to give the oral version's source, but suffice it to say Jon Dudley would recognise it straight away.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM

a well written song is a well written song regardless of whether it is about fox hunting or transportation, i have providee examplesof well written broadsides.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 11:10 AM

"They can be about ploughboys and milkmaids, or about lords and ladies, or about magicians and witches"
I forgot to mention that Steve has claimed that the Tales, music, lore, dance etc - also originated from those higher up the social ladder.
If all this nonsense is true, there would have been no folk traditions before Queen Victoria came to the throne because that's when literacy kicked in in rural areas
Up to then, only one third of the population of England were literate, and that was mainly among the Urban population - the rural labouring classes were virtually illiterate
There must have been long queues outside the doors of the literate, of people waiting to be taught the contents of broadsides
" Don't the 'folks' preferences count when discussing their songs? "
Would you have regarded dog fighting or bear baiting or public hanging and drawing and quartering in the same light, I wonder - tradition doesn't mean good
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 10:54 AM

Isn't it all an instance of "Ninety percent of everything is crap"? Various people made songs, and various people still do, some for money, some for political purposes, some just for the sake of it. A lot of those songs deservedly die very quickly and a few have lasting appeal.

There is considerable overlap between the ones that appeal to us folkies today and those in the classic corpus from the Victorian and Edwardian collectors, but it's far from perfect overlap. Some songs that were widely collected haven't been picked up in the Revival, and some that are widely sung in the Revival were collected very few times or (breathe it softly) were only written in the 1950s or later.

One reason why a song may appeal to us is that we see it as expressing the feelings of real people in a past age, and that can be true whether it was made by one of the people concerned or by a professional song writer who seems to have understood their plight. But songs can appeal for other reasons. Many ballads appeal simply because they are darn good tales. They can be about ploughboys and milkmaids, or about lords and ladies, or about magicians and witches.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM

"is a broadside commonplace. "
It's also an old saying - used in my urban family
"At last we have JC's examples of the prime of English folksong that couldn't possibly have been written by a broadside writer"
No you haven't Steve - I said I was not going into the single songs cul-de-sac and that is what I meant
The ones I mentioned are, as far as I am concerned, typical of th best songs in the English Tradition and well within the grasp of any country songmaker, no more than that
Tell you what - you want to play that game - tell me which of our folk songs is beyond the abilities of a rural song-maker
If you can name none, you make my point for me that there is an at least equal chance that they were made by country people
"Rigby hits the nail firmly on the head when he writes:-
"How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, "
Im' interested that you should pick this up, yet choose to ignore my response Vic
AS Richard pointed out, that there may well have been overt political songs in the repertoire that were not collected or even sung to a collector, but that's beside the point.
The social content of our repertoire lies in how they deal with the effects of political and social events rather than the events themselves
What astounds and somewhat depresses me in all this is the readiness show by people here to accept that rural working people didn't make their songs but bought them as they would today's pop albums
Nobody appears even to want to discuss the implications of this - it means that working people were no more than repeating the work of bad poets
Steve Gardham chose to bring my politics into this, yet it is his arguments which largely remove the likelihood of a creative rural working class, and there seems to be a consensus her that this was the case, though so far, nobody has actually had the bottle to put that into words.
I have come to the conclusion of the time Steve and I have gone head to head that there ois a political agenda her - a non-creative working class, the denigration or the oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market", the idea that "the vast majority of the rural population in the early 19th century lived in abject conditions one step above slavery and there are multiple reasons why they would not have had the inclination to make their own songs"
Steve, in his talk, paid lip service to there being a "two way process" between people's songmaking and the broadside presses, yet his %94 to %100 having originated from the hacks doesn't leave a great deal of a likelihood that worker made any songs
As I said - how depressing
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 09:45 AM

I find all 'killing for sport' songs as displays of barbarity and livin proof that not all the folk produced was good

It was good to those who enjoyed it and kept it in the oral tradition. Don't the 'folks' preferences count when discussing their songs? I don't know any now but in the fifties that was where the men who dug the estates' ditches and layed their hedges were on a Boxing Day. They explained to me why some young toffs had blood on their faces. Don't rural workers who follow the hunt count as 'folk'?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Jan 18 - 06:26 AM

I briefly considered sending this as a PM, but I think it does belong on this thread because it is germane to Jim's theme of the people who made the songs having personal knowledge of their subjects.

Steve: "Without going into offensive detail it's pretty obvious the broadside writer had never been to Australia and his informants were also somewhat misled."

What is obviously wrong, apart from the name "Oldberry"?

Even now, with a metalled road running beside the Hawkesbury River and houses, a random spot on that road as shown in Google Streetview could still pass for "the forests so wild and the trees ever green". It's not the Outback.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 05:38 PM

Sweet Primroses, BTW, the last stanza 'the cloudy morning turning out to be a sunshiny day' is a broadside commonplace. Amongst others it is used in some broadside versions of 'Young Riley' and creeps into the American 'Fair and Tender Ladies'. Commonplaces are just as common on cheap print as they are in oral tradition if not moreso. The broadside writers were, like their fellow workers in the cities, great recyclers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 05:25 PM

And so to 'The Banks of Sweet Primroses' an old favourite of mine. It was the very first broadside I ever acquired, in 1965, from a little stamp shop under Charing Cross in London. It was a Catnach, London printing and it cost me £1.10s which was a fair bit in those days. The most accessible sung version at the time was by the Copper Family and I promptly learnt their version and sang it in folk clubs.

The song was fairly widely printed throughout England in the 19th century, a mark of its popularity. None of the many printings I have predate the Catnach one and they are all the standard 6 verses as found in oral tradition. As far as I know Pitts didn't print it though some of his successors did, and it could well be that in that form it is no earlier than c1830.

The opening line 'As I walked out one midsummer morning' whilst used in many folk songs is even more notorious for its usage in broadsides that did not survive to be collected from oral tradition. Don't believe me? Type in 'As I w.......' in the search box on the Bodleian Ballads website.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM

There is very little difference between the broadside and oral versions of 'Maids of Australia'. It was printed in the second half of the 19th century by Such of London, Pearson of Manchester, the Glasgow Poet's Box and Sanderson of Edinburgh and there is no reason to suppose that it is any older than the earliest of these printings.
Some show signs of having come from oral tradition so I will conduct a study of all versions and get back to you with my findings. Personally I quite like the song but that's neither here nor there.

Unfortunately we can't pinpoint the date of any of these printings to within a decade. Sod's law: Nearly all of the Glasgow Poet's Box slips are dated very precisely, all except this one, grrrrh!

Anyway, just to be going on with here is the GPB version.

One morning I strolled by the Oldberry banks,
Where the maids of Australia play their wild pranks,
Beneath the wild bushes I laid myself down,
All looking delighted and chanted around,
In the forests of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

I gazed with delight at this beautiful scene,
With the forests so wild and the trees ever green;
Then a beautiful damsel to me did appear,
To the banks of the river she quickly drew near,
She was a native of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are happy and gay.

She plunged into the river without fear or dread,
And her lily-white limbs she so neatly spread;
Her hair hung in ringlets, its colour was black--
"Don't you see, sir," said she, "how I float on my back,
On the streams of my native Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay."

She swam till exhausted, and near to the brink,
"Assistance," she cried, "or I fear I will sink;"
Like lightning I flew and took hold of her hand,
She instantly tripped and fell back on the sand,
And I entered the bush of Australia,
With this maiden so handsome and gay.

I gazed and I toiled with the lightest of glee,
She was the fairest Australian I ever did see;
Long time did my head on her bosom recline,
Till the sun in the west did its limits resign,
And I left that fair maid in Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

With this version at least there can be no question about the setting. Australian Tourist Board advertisement? Without going into offensive detail it's pretty obvious the broadside writer had never been to Australia and his informants were also somewhat misled. Songs of this type with very obvious sexual euphemisms abound in street literature, a lot of them printed in Ireland by Goggin of Limerick, long before this one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 04:40 PM

At last we have JC's examples of the prime of English folksong that couldn't possibly have been written by a broadside writer, or have come from any commercial enterprise. We now have something to work on.

I'll start with Joseph Taylor's unique fragment known as 'Brigg Fair'.
Unique means no variation within the oral tradition. Well that's one descriptor out then. Need we dwell on this one? Beautiful tune but hardly a prime example.

Maids of Australia. Again hardly a widespread song in oral tradition. Could that be because there are so few broadsides of it?
***'there is no real gap in standard or skill between a song like Maid of Australia and a typical broadside verse'***. Must agree with this, Rigby.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 04:22 PM

there are numerous sea songs that are emphatic about the harshness of life on board ship. But that seems to me to stand in contrast to the way rural life is presented. How many folk songs lament the harshness of life as a farm labourer?
Where were these songs sung? Would it make sense if the sea songs were sung ashore and the rural songs by those who had migrated to the town.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 03:54 PM

Rigby hits the nail firmly on the head when he writes:-
How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, or which exhibit any familiarity with rural life beyond that which would have been universal at the time? Some, no doubt, like the poaching songs -- but they are dwarfed in number by the ones in which someone walks out on a May morning into a vaguely described idyll full of singing birds and skipping lambs."

Exactly! I love English folk songs and have sung hundreds of them in Folk clubs, festivals and singarounds over the decades. That so very few of them reflect my personal political position is a great disappointment. I wish there were more that said the likes of:-
..... When the constable do come,
I'll stand with me gun,
And I'll swear all I have is me own, me brave boys.
And I'll swear all I have is me own.

A bit of defiance.... a bit of edge. Something that reflects the real struggles that families had to feed themselves and much less of the likes of:-
A flaxen-headed cowboy, as simple as may be,
And next a merry plough boy, I whistled o'er the lea;
But now a saucy footman, I strut in worsted lace.

Songs that hark back to a 'Merrie England' that never existed. Songs that might appeal to a more literate, wealthier class who wanted to believe that in spite of the drudgery. hardships and hunger that the lower classes were happy with their lot. Whoever wrote these songs that do not reflect the lives of the people they are talking about, sadly, we know from the work of the collectors that many of them were taken up by the people. Songs that have a revolutionary message are largely missing from the English folk canon.
Here's the words of a song that I love very much and sing fairly often. It's called What's Old England Come To?:-
One cold winter morning as the day was dawning,
A voice came so hollow and shrill,      
The cold wind did whistle, the snow softly falling,
As a stranger came over the hill.
The clothing he wore was tatter'd and torn,
He seem'd to be bewailing and wandering all forlorn.
Lamenting the pleasures that ne'er would return
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

He said oh, I sigh for those hearts so undeserving.
On their own native land led to stray,   
And in the midst of plenty some thousands are starving,
Neither house, food nor clothing have they
I am surrounded by poverty & can't find a friend,
My cottage it is sold from me, my joys are at an end
So like some pilgrim, my steps I onward bend
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

There once was a time I could find friends in plenty
To feed on my bounteous store,
But friends they are few now my portion is scanty,
But Providence may open her door
It nearly breaks my heart when my cottage I behold.
It is claim'd by a villain with plenty of gold
And I passing by all shivering with cold.
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

The Farmer and Comedian do daily assemble,
And do try their exertion and skill,
But Alas! after all on this earth they do tremble
For all trades are near standing still.
If the great god of war now should quickly on us call
I would break these chains so galling
And bravely face a ball,
For to see my babies starving it grieves me worst of all
Oh ! Old England, what have you come to?

There's Manchester and Birmingham, alas! are fell to ruin
In fact, the whole country is at a stand,
Our shipping lies in harbour and nothing is doing
While our tars are starving on the land.
'Twould break the hearts of monarch's bold, if they could rise again,
To view our desolation, would near distract the brain,
So pity a poor stranger, or death may ease my pain.
Oh ! Old England, what have you come to?

I got it from Leslie Shepherd's 1973 book The History Of Street Literature where it is reproduced in facsimilie. I managed to trace the suggested tune of Irish Stranger through Vic Gammon and it carries the powerful committed words well. In going back to the original words after about 3 decades, I find that I have made a number of unconscious changes in the less important words which seem to make the song more singable (to my mind). The Roud Broadside Index tells us that it was printed in Newcastle, London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Hull; the version in Shepherd's book is signed Swindells, Printer and in an article reproduced here written by Harry Boardman with help from Roy Palmer tells us Swindells this was located in Cathedral Yard, Manchester. The author of these words is not known; I agree that it is pejorative to call him a 'hack' and the description 'desk-bound, urban-based, notoriously bad poets' would seem to me to be a speculative description not based on any historical evidence. so let's just call him an anonymous broadside poet.
Now this broadside appeared in the city where the Peterloo Massacre took place roughly 20 years earlier. Memories of that slaughter must have still been in the mind of many of the adults. The movement that came to be known as 'Christian Socialism' was starting to emerge in the north of England at that time; the earliest time that it appeared in print was in the 1840s. Many broadside printers must have thought that there was a resonance with the population for its widespread publication. It would be useful to know how widely sung it was though we do know that it was never collected in the oral tradition!
Why?
Well, we have little evidence to base any conclusion on. We do know that 'The Barley Mow' and other convivial songs were popular at that time; it appears in William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855-1859) so it is possible that people preferred the jollity of drinking songs over one that reminds them of just how grim their plight was.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 02:17 PM

By the way Dick - I find all 'killing for sport' songs as displays of barbarity and livin proof that not all the folk produced was good
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 01:41 PM

"No, he is explicitly concerned with the songs that the folk did sing."
Sorry Richard, but he specifies that he regards folk sons as anything folk singers sing, so presumably if one o the singers happened to be a member of the local light opera society the Roud index would include selections from 'The Student Prince'
It is for this reason that I find Son of Folk Song in England so unapproachable

"here is an example of a well written brosdside"
Your opinion Dick - not necessarily mine, but beside the point anyway - I'm not discussing "good and bad" individual songs - I go along with Child's "veriable dunghills in which, only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel" on this, but I've bent over backwards to avoid my personal taste from buggering up this discussion
I'm talking in general terms when I refer to the broadsides as being poor poetry
Do you know Black Velvet Band originated on the broadside presses and do you knowe for certain that there were no versions prior to the published one - nobody else does?
It might have been written by a hack or one that was taken by one from the oral tradition., but whichever, it is a song that became embedded in the oral tradition
Was the broadside version well written - "cast in the jug for a lag,
A wipe that she pinched and bunged to me, and valued no more than a flag" souns very much to me like a songmaker trying to sound like someone he's not to me - I wouldn't dream of trying top sing it - I much prefer Martin's
All a matter of opinion - we all have a right to our own tastes
It is not me or Steve G who invented the term 'hack' - it is a lablel that has been attached to the trade for centuries
Go dig up the originator and slate him or her for his or her "nerve"
I am not advocating that any song from anywhere is "not worth preserving
Many of the broadsides are social documents of urban life and as such they are invaluable   
Richard
It really needs to be remembered that the songs under discussion came from a period when the 'folk' were beginning to change from active participants in their culture to passive recipients of it.
In both the later traditions in Ireland and in the non-literate travellers culture you had far less of a sign of the literary effects that Mrs Laidlaw was so worried about and also a healthy and extremely active song-making tradition
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM

and here some of the finest lyrics in the english tradtion.. bold reynard the fox, from a broadside in the bodleian library.You gentlemen who take delight
In hunting bold Reynard the Fox:
On yonder stoney common I lived
And I had my dinner on the geese and ducks.

I kept myself on all these fine things
Not thinking soon that I should die,
Chased by a pack of bloody hounds
They causèd me my country to fly.

Throughout the wild country I rambled
And living at a fine old rate.
On sheep and lambs I had my dinner
And the farmers all around they did me hate.

So the Lord for the King's hounds he did send
and Jerry Balsam, he swore I should die.
I left three brothers all behind
That love young lambs much better than do I.

And it's down for the stoney valleys I run
And the bloody dogs they followed me;
Made me old coat stand on end
For to hear the bold huntsman, his loud "Hussa!"

And its often times I have been chased
By the dogs that run I don't know how;
In the whole course of me life
I never had such a chase and half until now.

And it's forty-five miles I have run;
I've run it in three hours space.
Strength that begins all for to fail
And the dogs they got forward on me a-pace.

And it's down by farmer Stewart's I run
And the keeper shot me in me thigh.
Curse you, huntsman, and your hounds
For this fatal wound; I know that I shall die.

And it's down to the stoney fields where they caught him
They caused poor Reynard's for to die.
Lord, they dragged him and then they tore him
And they caused his own fur jacket all to fly.

And it's now bold Reynard's he is dead
And they'll turn to the ale house and they'll dine.
Dip his old paw in the bumper
And drink me Lord's health in both ale and wine.

And Jim Carroll has the nerve to dismiss all writers of broadsides as hacks, the above lyrics are fine writing not doggerell


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 01:07 PM

> the vast majority of the broadsides never made it into the folk repertoire - a bit difficult to discuss in the context of Roud's book as he bungs everything into the melting pot and calls them all 'folk'

No, he is explicitly concerned with the songs that the folk did sing.

Possibly some broadsides never sold very well. When they sold in reasonable numbers there must have been people who intended to learn the songs. Nevertheless, as we all acknowledge, most of those songs were not subsequently found by collectors. That could be because the people who intended to learn them had second thoughts. Or they sang them only briefly and then cast them aside. Or perhaps they did go on singing them but none of their friends and families took those songs up. Tastes can change a lot from one generation to the next, or even quicker. The songs that we love tend (though not exclusively) to be the ones that have endured because they have appealed to successive generations, albeit possibly only to an interested minority in each generation. That's your "selection" at work.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:58 PM

and aversion of the black velvet band [a broadside] from jim carroll pat mckenzie collection IS THIS DOGGEREL OR THE WORK OF A HACK, IF SO why did you think it worth preserving, jim?The Black Velvet Band
(Roud 2146)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded 1975
Carroll Mackenzie Collection         


        
Martin Howley

As I went down to Broadway, intended not to stay very long,
When I spied a ticklesome cailín as she kept tripping along.
She took a watch out of her pocket and slipped it right into my hand,
And I cursed the first day that I met her, bad luck to her black velvet band.

Chorus:
Her eyes they sparkled like diamonds, you’d think she was queen of the land,
With her hair hung over her shoulders, tied up with a black ribbon band.

It was early then next morning, to the court we had to appear.
The jeweller he swore to the jury and the case against us was clear;
For seven long year’s transportation, into Van Diemen’s Land,
Far away from my friends and relations, to follow her black velvet band.

Chorus:
Oh , sure her eyes they shone like diamonds, you’d think she was queen of the land.
With her hair hung over her shoulders, tied up with a black velvet band.

And come all ye young fellows take warning, whenever you go on the spree;
Beware of those ticklesome cailíns, that’s knocking around Tralee.
They’ll treat you to whiskey and porter, until you won’t be able to stand.
And you’ll get seven year’s transportation for following the black velvet band.

"The earliest printed forms of this are 19th century English Broadsides such as the following;

To go in a smack down at Barking, where a boy as apprentice was bound,
Where I spent many hours in comfort and pleasure in that little town;
At length future prospects were blighted, as soon you may all understand;
So by my downfall take a warning — beware of a black velvet band.

One day being out on the ramble, alone by myself I did stray,
I met with a young gay deceiver, while cruising in Ratcliffe Highway,
Her eyes were as black as a raven: I thought her the pride of the land;
Her hair, that would hang o'er her shoulders, was tied with a black velvet band.

She towed me in port, and we anchored, from virtue she did me decoy,
When it was proposed and agreed to, that I should become a flash boy,
And drinking and gaming to plunder to keep up the game was soon planned;
But since, I've had cause to remember the girl with a black velvet band.

Flash girl, if you wish to turn modest, and strive a connexion to gain,
Do not wear a band o'er the forehead, as if to tie in your brain;
Some do prefer Victoria fashion, and some their hair braided so grand
Myself I do think it much better than a girl with a black velvet band

Young men, by my fate take a warning, from all those gay [ladies] refrain,
And seek for a neat little woman that wears her hair parted quite plain,
The subject that I now do mention, tho' innocent, soon me trapanned;
In sorrow my days will be ended, far from the black velvet band;

For she towed in a bold man-of wars man her ogle she winked on the sly,
But little did I know her meaning, when I twigged her a faking his cly,
He said, I'm bound for the ocean, and shortly the ship will be made,
[B]ut still I've a strong inclination for the girl with a black velvet band.

A snare was invented to slight and banish me out of her sight,
A fogle she brought of no value, saying, more I will bring this night
She slipped it sly into my pocket, false girl! and took me by the hand;
They gave me in charge for the sneezer — bad luck to the black velvet band!

[I?] Forkly was [j]ailed and committed, and cast in the jug for a lag,
A wipe that she pinched and bunged to me, and valued no more than a flag,
The judge said to me, you are s[e]ntenced to a free passage to Van Diemen's Land
[last line missing: My curse to the black velvet band?].

It was said to have been highly popular in the Australian Outback in the 1880s. Its first appearance in the oral tradition in England was at the beginning of the 20th century, taken down by collectors such as George Gardiner, George Butterworth and the Rev Sabine Baring Gould. During the BBC’s collecting project in the first half of the 1950s, it proved to be popular among English country singers. Its first printing in Ireland was in Herbert Hughes’ ‘Irish Country Songs' (1936). It seldom turned up from Irish traditional singers, one of the few occasions being from Elizabeth Cronin of Cork, who sang: 'In the neat little town of Dunmanway.' The popularity it finally received in Ireland was during the Irish ‘Ballad Boom'; this was largely due to its being performed by The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners."
Jim Carroll

<< Songs of Clare
the broadside version is well written jim, is it not?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:54 PM

"I once went home with grass stains on my knees"

Too much information, surely, Jim?

Like you, I've always wondered where Beckett's 'Drinking' came from.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:37 PM

here is an example of a well written brosdside

Oh the sky was dark and the night advanced
When a convict came to the Isle of France;
And round his leg was a ring and chain
And his country was of the Shamrock Green.

?I'm from the Shamrock,? this convict cried,
?That has been tossed on the ocean wide.
For being unruly, I do declare,
I was doomed to transport these seven long years.

When six of them they were up and past
I was coming home to make up the last.
When the winds did blow and the seas did roar
They cast me here on this foreign shore.?

So then the coastguard he played a part
And with some brandy he cheered the convict's heart:
?Although the night is far advanced
You shall find a friend on the Isle of France.?

So he sent a letter all to the Queen
Concerning the wreck of the Shamrock Green;
And his freedom came by a speedy post
For the absent convict they thought was lost.

?God bless the coastguard,? this convict cried,
?For he's saved my life from the ocean wide.
And I'll drink his health in a flowing glass,
And here's success to the Isle of France.?
so much for hacks, and then we have van diemens land

Come all you gallant poachers that ramble free from care
That walk out of a moonlight night with your dog your gun and snare
Where the lofty hare and pheasant you have at your command
Not thinking that your last career is on Van Diemen's Land

There was poor Tom Brown from Nottingham Jack Williams and poor Joe
Were three as daring poachers as the country well does know
At night they were trepanned by the keeper's hideous hand
And for fourteen years transported were unto Van Diemen's Land

Oh when we sailed from England we landed at the bay
We had rotten straw for bedding we dared not to say nay
Our cots were fenced with fire we slumber when we can
To drive away the wolves and tigers upon Van Diemen's Land

Oh when that we were landed upon that fatal bay
The planters they came flocking round full twenty score or more
They ranked us up like horses and sold us out of hand
They yoked us up to the plough my boys to plough Van Diemen's Land

There was one girl from England Susan Summers was her name
For fourteen years transported was we all well knew the same
Our planter bought her freedom and he married her out of hand
Good usage then she gave to us upon Van Diemen's Land

Often when I am slumbering I have a pleasant dream
With my sweet girl I am sitting down by some purling stream
Through England I am roaming with her at my command
Then waken broken hearted upon Van Diemen's Land

God bless our wives and families likewise that happy shore
That isle of sweet contentment which we shall see no more
As for our wretched females see them we seldom can
There are twenty to one woman upon Van Diemen's Land

Come all you gallant poachers give ear unto my song
It is a bit of good advice although it is not long
Lay by your dog and snare to you I do speak plain
If you knew the hardship we endure you ne'er would poach again


if jim carroll or steve gardham can write any better than these hacks doubt it, you two, have some nerve


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:34 PM

"I don't smell much cow shit in that one."
Nor do I - it's a celebration of sex - the two don't mix (though I once went home with grass stains on my knees
"to the way rural life is presented"
Thbulk of our songs were collected when the tradition was on the wane, but even so the social misalliance songs were still a major part of the repertoire, as were the poaching, transportation and camp-follower songs - all aspects of working life.
Beckett Whitehead sang a remarkable radical song entitled 'Drinking' which never gained popular currency but was collected by MacColl and Joan Littlewood for the BBC
One verse went;

I'll drink till the high price of coals become small,
Till ale and roast beef, they cost nothing at all,
Till a dandy's worth nowt but the clothes he puts on,
I'll drink till old Peabody's money is gone.

It may well be from a local poet; it has a feel of the times that I never found in broadside, though that's not to say that it never got onto one
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 12:08 PM

oh dear. according to some , since the writers of broadsides were hacks then every broadside must be worthless doggerel. what a stupid generalisation


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 11:55 AM

"It is inconceivable that there weren't many songs about the machine breakers, and the Swing Rioters which wouldn't have been sung in polite company because of their seditious nature"

One of the things I enjoyed about Roy Palmer's 'Working Songs' book is that he managed to find evidence for things like machine-breaking songs actually being sung in Pennine pubs.

John Harland in 'Ballads and Songs of Lancashire' reports the popularity of the Henry Hunt and 'Tyrants of England' songs, and verses on the deliberate torching of Grimshaw's mill. None of this stuff turns up in the classic 'folk' collections, though that may be because the themes were no longer current, rather than selection bias on the part of collectors.

As for 'Banks of Sweet Primroses', I don't smell much cow shit in that one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 11:39 AM

"Our folk song repertoire smells more of horse dung and cow shit than it does "skipping lambs""

I agree with you that there are numerous sea songs that are emphatic about the harshness of life on board ship. But that seems to me to stand in contrast to the way rural life is presented. How many folk songs lament the harshness of life as a farm labourer? I can't think of more than a handful. (Nor can I think of a single one that mentions horse dung.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 11:20 AM

" How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions"
They don't - they deal with the effects of these thing
The parental opposition to daughters wanting to marry farmhands are typical of these
Harry Cox sang Betsy the Serving Maid for Alan Lomax and spat out at the end if it, "and that's what those people thought of us"
He did similar with 'Van Diemen's Land when he went into a ranting monologue on land seizures.
Many of our sea songs, particularly th whaling songs, talk about long trips and lousy conditions - as distinct from Charles Dibdin's Jolly Jack Tars.
Copmare the 'Herts of Oak' sea songs to the songs about the Press Gangs and recruiting campaigns
Banks of the Nile type songs about pregnant women demanding to be taken off as part of the Camp Following army that followed the troops into battle are remarkable insights into warfare in the past.
The Weaving songs deal with the move from the cottage industries into the factories
It is inconceivable that there weren't many songs about the machine breakers, and the Swing Rioters which wouldn't have been sung in polite company because of their seditious nature
I once spent months in Manchester Central Library working my way through the microfilm copies on Northern newspapers which carried weekly song columns dealing with fighting for the franchise and improving the rights o the textile workers
We don't kno if any of these entered an oral tradition but the fact that they were made in the first place shown both an ability at and an inclination towards song making
Our folk song repertoire smells more of horse dung and cow shit than it does "skipping lambs ((I would suggest that one type came from the rural workers and the other from the broadside presses - I'll leave it to you to guess which?)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 10:33 AM

"the subject matter, the partisan nature towards poverty, injustice, class divisions, the use of vernacular and vernacular lore and humour, and above all, the familiarity with rural life."

I agree that's exactly what you'd expect to find in folk song if it was wholly the product of rural communities. The problem is that as stated earlier, it's not clear that that is what we *actually* find in English folk song. How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, or which exhibit any familiarity with rural life beyond that which would have been universal at the time? Some, no doubt, like the poaching songs -- but they are dwarfed in number by the ones in which someone walks out on a May morning into a vaguely described idyll full of singing birds and skipping lambs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM

"The need to lick them into a more acceptable shape doesn't seem to have deterred singers at the time."
Of course it didn't, but the vast majority of the broadsides never made it into the ffolk repertoire - a bit difficult to discuss in the context of Roud's book as he bungs everything into the melting pot and calls them all 'folk'
None of this is an indication of where the songs began - as I said, if you believe that 'the folk' were capable of making songs then you have to accept that they were the most probable composers of our folk songs, given the subject matter, the partisan nature towards poverty, injustice, class divisions, the use of vernacular and vernacular lore and humour, and above all, the familiarity with rural life.
Hoot
The anonymity of broadsides has always intrigued me - if they were the compositions of professional writers, why don't we know who they were
I don';t think anybody is suggesting that they were written by or for the upper class, bu the glees and Tavern songs that both the Steves' seem to set so high a value on were sung by a for an all-male middle-class audience.
Not my idea of 'the folk' by any stretch of the imagination
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 10:06 AM

THanks for that
I was aware of the R.V,W. version in Palmer's though I had been singing it for ten years when Roy published his book.
Either my source, Dick Snell or I removed one of the verses (about the lady laughinghing up her sleeve) because he or I found it superfluous - a case with many broadsides which feel they need to cross t's and dot i's for the sake of the listener
I suspect this is one that was either taken from a country song and expanded or made from a humorous country tale
Walter Pardon, when he heard me sing it, once described it as "Chaucerian", a description which he also used for 'The Cunning Cobbler'
It is certainly full of country humour and works very well for the old farmers that turn up for our local sessions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 10:02 AM

I have just today read an article regarding copyright.

In a letter from a well respected researcher and author in the States,He states "For example, upper class English songwriters in the 17th and 18th century often didn't sign their works because writing songs or poems was considered beneath their social station".

Does this have any relevance in your arguments? It seems to, to me as an amused bystander.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 09:56 AM

Jim, first my apologies if I have oversimplified or misinterpreted your argument but it appeared to me that your justification for claiming that 'Banks of Sweet Primroses' originated from the folk rather than a professional composer was based on the style and quality of the text.

"It is the overall style of broadside writing and their one dimensional approach to their subject matter that makes them unsingable
Broadside style is as identifiable as folk song style - you know one when you see/hear one"

That's certainly true to modern ears, but the fact remains that these songs were widely taken up and sung. The need to lick them into a more acceptable shape doesn't seem to have deterred singers at the time. However, while the words may have been taken from a broadside the singer would probably have heard the song first from the ballad-seller. In your own words, it's not until you put a song in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life. Those street singers whose livelihoods depended on people buying their ballad-sheets were probably skilled at making these unpromising texts appear attractive. The folk process then took over.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM

The Ranter Parson appears in Roy Palmer's book of Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with the following note:

"The song appeared several times on street ballads, but to the best of my knowledge has turned up only once in oral tradition: in 1904, when Vaughan Williams took it down from a 61-year-old labourer, who had learned 'most of his songs off "ballets" or from his father'."

As usual RVW only noted the words of the first verse of the sung version, so Palmer gives verses 2 to 10 from a broadside.

Make of that what you will!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 08:58 AM

"if a song is badly written this shows it must be by a hack,"
No - no - no
Good and bad are subjective terms in relation to individual songs
There are many folk songs that don't move me enough to want to sing them, while there are a few broadsides I relish - my favourite song, the one I usually drag out when asked to sing is The Ranter Parson
I was given it by a friend who got it from The Madden Collection and worked on it to knock the corners off
It is the overall style of broadside writing and their one dimensional approach to their subject matter that makes them unsingable
Broadside style is as identifiable as folk song style - you know one when you see/hear one
I've only ever heard The Coppers sing Shepherd of the Downs and I find their singing so singular and at odds with folk song style in general that I find it difficult to judge many of their songs
I'm not happy discussing traditional singers like The Coppers publicly, I don't think it fair and try to avoid it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 08:54 AM

"many songs recited or read give the impression of 'doggerel' - it's not until you put them in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life"

Actually that was exactly the point I was trying to make! Considered purely in terms of the written word, there is no real gap in standard or skill between a song like Maid of Australia and a typical broadside verse, and therefore I can't see any reasonable objection to the idea that a broadside poet couldn't have written those words, or the original from which they have evolved.

The point is, as Howard says, that the real, worthwhile creativity isn't in the original composition of the words. It's in the process by which they get turned into a great song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jan 18 - 08:45 AM

"What I can't buy is the idea of the action (real or imagined) taking place anywhere other than Australia."
I agree with your analysis of the song Richard - it feels that way to me - it may be the work of a returned convict - it certainly doesn't feel like the work of a hack
I totally disagree with Rigby's point - many songs recited or read give the impression of 'doggerel' - it's not until you put them in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life
The opposite is the case of broadsides - as a singer, I went through dozens of collections of them and found nothing
The Critics group used a few for their albums, particularly the two London ones and, while they worked in context of the subject, few of them stood the test of time out of context
Maid of Australia is a glorious celebration of a sexual encounter, the type of which abounds in the British tradition, particularly in Scotland
"Jim, can you please point me to where I can read Bob Thomson's work?"
Bob published very little - his PhD on broadsides remains unpublished
I got a great deal of information from Bob via our friendship in conversations
He did similar work on other songs, such as 'Drink old England Dry', one verse of which he linked to the draining of The Fens
It was Bob who was responsible for acquiring The Carpenter Collection for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Ken Goldstein told him about it, he told me and I told the Librarian at Cecil Sharp House
He was a great loss to English folksong scholarship when he moved to Gainesville
Jim Carroll


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