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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM
Vic Smith 03 Oct 17 - 11:31 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 12:06 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Ed 03 Oct 17 - 01:51 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 17 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Ed 03 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 05:24 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 03 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 17 - 03:53 AM
r.padgett 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 07:12 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,matt milton 04 Oct 17 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 04 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM
Jack Campin 04 Oct 17 - 11:13 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,matt milton 04 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 04 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM
Brian Peters 04 Oct 17 - 01:07 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 01:20 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 17 - 04:40 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 17 - 05:09 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 07:37 PM
RTim 04 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Oct 17 - 08:14 PM
RTim 04 Oct 17 - 10:32 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 17 - 02:23 AM
GUEST,matt milton 05 Oct 17 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 05 Oct 17 - 06:07 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Oct 17 - 06:40 AM
Brian Peters 05 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM
Lighter 05 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,matt milton 05 Oct 17 - 12:53 PM
RTim 05 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM
Brian Peters 05 Oct 17 - 02:34 PM
RTim 05 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM
Vic Smith 05 Oct 17 - 03:11 PM
Brian Peters 05 Oct 17 - 03:14 PM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM

Bob THomson interviewed Harrry Cox extensively and pasted up all his broadsides in the late sixties
Harry collected them but told Bob he learned very few of his songs from them - I have no evidence of the varacity of that claim
It's not true that he learned all his songs from them anyway - Harry and his brother both learned songs locally and from family members
Even if he doid, it takes us no nearer to where the songs originated
in the end it boil;s down to one single fact Vic - if rural workers were capable of making songs they most certainly did - there is no reason to believe the traditional repertoire didn't come from that source and every reason to believe that it didn't
That is not dogmatic,0 but I'm afraid a continual insistence on something on which you have and can have no evidence is
"Bring your witness luv and I'll never deny you"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM

Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip and I'll be out of your hair for a week - so I'll put my important bits up now.
There is an over-riding feature of all this
Since I first came into folk-song, the full accepted idea was that 'The Folk' made their songs (some argument about the ballads, but little else)
My friend, Bob Thomson introduced me to the idea that many of them had appeared on broadsides, but he never made claims of authorship to my recollection.
My view of folk song was summed up perfectly by MacColl's extremely moving final statement in the Song Carriers series:

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MaccDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries"


When I put this up in a discussion, Steve G's response was "do you believe that romantic rubbish?" - well, yes I did, and still do and will continue to until contrary evidence is produced - the songs are to me, 'The Voice of the People'
Working people have always been regarded as having no creative culture of their own part from their songs, music and tales - Steve's "broadside creations" theory is very much a new kid on the block
The consequences for his claim are socially and culturally enormous - for people like me, catastrophic.
If we are going to take away the claim of ownership of working people and leave them totally devoid of cultural creation we're are going to have to be damn sure we have got it right
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 11:31 AM

Jim wrote:-
Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip

I hope the operation is a great success, Jim and that you recover greater mobility and freedom for pain. Tina has had both her hips replaced in recent years and after following a subsequent rigid exercise routine, the quality of her life has been greatly improved. I hope it is the same for you.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 12:06 PM

I'm sure it will be Vic - thanks - it's my second, the other one was a new life
I'll be happier if they remember the headphones this time - I'm not sure I can handle, "hand me that nail nurse" again!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM

Jim,
My very best wishes for you and your new hip.

I have told you on many occasions how much great respect I have for you and your work. We are I am sure all of us united in our love for traditional music. The origins are pretty much irrelevant to this. The ownership comes from adoption and re-creation. Let us dwell on this.

BTW Johnny Doran is one of my favourite all-time pipers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM

"Let us dwell on this."
Sory Steve - to important to avoid this
Are you seriously suggesting we should let the only creative activity attributable to working people slip away from us without a debate
You made the statement ? - back it up with facts or withdraw it
Johnny was wonderful - we once had to pull his large extremely brother (appropriately nicknamed "Thump") down into his chair in a pub to stop him weighing into a bunch of local yobs who were pissing through a pub window and giving the very young barmaid a hard time
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 01:51 PM

Jim,

Whilst I don't have the knowledge and experience in this field that you and other recent contributors to this thread have, I find the comment in your last post quite perplexing.

Unless I'm completely missing the point, you appear to be suggesting that: 'folk song' is the only creative activity attributable to working people. That is patently absurd. What did you mean?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 02:16 PM

>>>>>- back it up with facts or withdraw it.<<<<<

That's absurd, Jim, and you must know it. Your own standpoint that the songs were created by ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds, can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song? The last time you attempted this one of them turned out to be an American whaling song adapted by Bert!


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE QUILTY BURNING
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM

"can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song?"
Of course I can't, and your "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" is somewhat disingenuous - I never mantioned any of those - try, Travellers rural workers and village carpenters and you might be neareer
the mark - you've never really dropped your "romantic nonsense" insult, have you?
my point was, is, and will remain that it is highly likely that these songs were possibly made by the rural working class - I've produced evidence that backs up that likelihood - where's yours?
My mistake regarding Bert's adaptation was down to the fact that I was taken in by a skilful folkie - That's not going to happen again, certainly not here.

This is a song we recorded from aan elderly Clare man livinbg in Deptford, South East London, he came from a mile or so from here in West Clare but had lived in England singe 1946
Mikey was essentially a dancer - one of the best in the area; he as also a repository of short tales, including a 'yarn' version of The Bishop of Canterbury and a tale called 'The Merchant and the Fiddler's Wife' which appeared in Durfey' Pills as a song which I have never found another version of anywhere else - certainly not in the oral tradition - the si=ung verse is almost identical to Durfey's
I think the not gives most of the background except that the four men who made the song stood at the crossroads a few days after the incident and threw verses at one another until they came up with the full song
We've traved relaatives to everybody mentioned in the song
Jim Carroll

The Quilty Burning.

Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".

The Quilty Burning.
Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM

I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM

Any answer to my question, Jim?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:24 PM

" the only creative activity attributable to working people."
THat has always been the point of view of teh establishment - maybe I should have said 'artistic creative activity representing their own lives and experiences)
What did you have in mind?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:27 PM

Sorry Ed - should have apologised - didn't see your message earlier
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM

I just want to add some of my own experiences to this debate, with the greatest respect to the scholars above. To do this I am going to have to write about myself, so I'll make it quick and try not to be too dramatic.
The point I want to make is very simple. I do not know what a Folk Song is, but I certainly know what it isn't. There has been a lot of talk about evidence and the only evidence I have is the life I have lived. I left home at 17 and for the most part have been living on my wits ever since. At one time I was playing music in the street to survive, I have travelled round the West country, sleeping under hedges, busking to get enough for food for the next day. Yes of course I make money from Folk Songs but I don't think that demeans the art in any way. I fell in with the Gypsies decades ago learning their Art, songs and lifestyle first hand, and was taught how to earn a living with the streangth in my hands and what ever is between my ears, living half in a house and a trailer, and I married a Romany Gypsy lass.
When it comes to songs and singing the relevance of a song has to be measured against the life of the singers who hear it. If it passes that test, weather it be printed on a Broadsheet 250 years ago or composed last week, it will be sung as an expression of that experience. It doesn't mean it's somehow better or worse for that, but it does mean it may be viewed as relevant to that huge mass of musical excellence we call Folk Song. My best freinds wife (a Romany) sat me down and taught me 'The Tanyard side' face to face as she was taught by her Mother. My singing teacher and freind the late Bill House taught me how to sit, how to breath and how to project a song as he taught me 'One night as I lay on my bed' as his father taught him when Bill was six years old in 1906, the same year as his father sang it to the Hammond Brothers.
So yes-I know a folksong when I hear it, whatever it's background. It's a simple emotional recognition, that will capture your attention, make you smile in appreciation, or shake your head in sympathy. That, I believe is where in begins and ends, and it matters not how many arguments are raised for and against any academic point. Folk Song differs from other music as night does to day wrote Bert Lloyd, but when does day become or night become day? The answer is when ever you decide.
That said I still intend buying and reading the book.
kind regards
Nick


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 03:53 AM

Thanks for that contribution, Nick. I feel very honoured to have worked with you and hope our paths cross again.

I think both Jim and I and others on this forum would agree completely with your viewpoint.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM

Yes Folk song is the expression of life and life experience in all its glory and the feelings expressed by the singer in its singing

I have heard many singers who know all the words and many, some of the younger singer too who have all the musical accompaniment but simply in my mind lack the true empathy in the song

That is the essence of folk song: ~ the words sung more often than not unaccompanied ~ and I read somewhere that songs become part of the singer they are carried by the singer and performance will and can change in "how" the singer is able to carry the empathy on that occasion ~ many factors will of course influence that (beer, age of singer, state of health etc

Yes slightly off topic ~ but the original song composition and its worth in the "society" it was created (no idea when or by whom) even if it were a Broadside, Music hall song or newly created at the time has no relevance ~ if the singer understands the underlying empathy then his performance is paramount

Ray


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Subject: Lyr Add: PADDY MCINERNEY
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM

"I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is."
And the folk songs that appeared on broadsides have no relevance to the origin of our folk song in m opinion, interesting though they are

Nick Dow
Thanks for your fascinating contribution ? a couple of things you wrote should be framed and hung up on the wall of everybody with a serious interest in and love of folk song
The problem with folk song academic research is that it goes in fashions and is discarded for new models like old shoes
In 1909, American researcher Francis Gummere (The Popular Ballad) came up with the idea of 'communal composition', that some of our folk songs were made by groups rather than individuals.
That fell out of fashion and is now pooh-poohed by the in crowd
Taking definitive stances, which I think is what we are arguing about here, will guarantee our remaining ignorant about probably one of the most neglected and rejected aspects of our culture 'The songs of the People'
The song I put up above, 'The Quilty Burning' was composed by four anonymous men; the one below was made on the morning of a wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church on the day of the wedding humourously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up
We recorded about half dozen versions of this, each time we were told to be careful who we played it to, which is why we have never used it.
The couple were still living back then and the singers didn't wish to embarrass them ? blind singer, Mary Delaney told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he'd murder me if he found I'd sung it to you"
The song deals with 'made matches' a marriage done through a matchmaker ? such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition ? some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones
The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather matresses
We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was at the wedding. And witnessed the song being made
All the singers and the couple are now dead
Tom Munnelly recorded a version sung by John Reilly (of Well Below the Valley fame); it can be heard on Topic Album, 'Bonny Green Tree' - John called the groom, Bold William Delaney', possibly to save him embarrassment

Paddy McInerney
My name is young Paddy McInerney,
And a brave County Down lad I been,
In the search of a wife I came travelling,
Till I came to old Butterfin (sic) Town.

Now the first man I met was Red Danny,
And then he start talking to me,
He invited me up to the waggon,
And 'twas brandy he ordered for me.

The first thing he drew down was the dealing
And the next was Doll Julia to me,
He was bragging and boasting what a hawker,
Round the green hills of old Cahermee

The first month I married her, 'twas lovely,
And the second, we could not agree,
And the third one she wore on the trousers
And she then came the boss over me.

Now all ye young men and fair maidens,
A warning let ye take by me,
Be never bought by a piebald or a waggon,
Just like I was in old Cahermee.

I have more to say about 'The Quilty Burning' and the significance of such songs to the folk song repertoire ? I included it in this posting at some length but lost the ******* posting
On second thoughts, perhaps it's just as well as it was far too long anyway
Im Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM

I'm disappointed that a lot of the recent additions to this thread have been yet another re-run of the argument about origins.

Setting aside for a moment songs of more recent origin, such as in the music halls, and focussing on the songs that the early collectors accepted as being proper "folk" songs, Baring-Gould (thank you Vic 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM and Martin) already observed that most of them existed in broadsides. Another hundred-odd years of evidence confirm that the earliest known versions of most of them are in broadsides or other print.

Steve G and others believe that in most cases those printed version were the originals, although some may have been taken from already existing oral versions. Jim believes it's the other way round, basing his belief partly on internal evidence in the songs that the people who made them had first hand experience of their subjects, and partly on documented instances of song writing by "the folk" in recent times.

Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that (at least in this particular thread) and focus our attention on the songs' subsequent propagation and evolution?

Steve Roud maintains that what makes a song a folk song is not where it started but what people do with it. Vic's 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM post about "The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me" is a beautiful illustration of that. (Opinions about the aesthetic worth of that particular song are a separate matter entirely. The same processes have been at work on all sorts of songs, from dirty doggerel to big ballads.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:12 AM

"Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that"
Steve's claim on makes that totally impossible Richard - it would make the singers of these claims of composition totally out of the question if virtually all had originated in print
To Understand the importance of these songs to our history and culture it is essential to work out who made them and why they were made - hack made songs for money cast an entirely different light on that understanding
The common acceptance has been that they were mostly made by the people they were about - Steve still passes that off as romantic nonsense
It may not be important to a singer, but the importance of these song transcends that
I'l continue with this until it's settled one way or the other - sorry - too much of an issue for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:38 AM

Can I jus say here that throughout my time on Mudcat I have regarded it as ludicrous that it is virtually impossible to discuss vital subject such as folk song definitions and MacColl without them ending in acrimony and name calling
Please don't make this yet another no-go area
We are all adults and if we are not capable of behaving as such with serious, if contentious subjects we may as well settle down comfortably in our armchairs with The Readers Digest
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:44 AM

I've now jumped ahead, in reading the book, to 'Folk Song In Its Natural Habitat', the book's Part 3. (I promise to go back and read Part 2 later!) I'm finding part 3 a much speedier read, partly because it is more unequivocally folk-song related, rather than shading off into folk's porous boundaries with other music.

I do feel, overall, that Roud's book is (at least) two books rather than one. And that an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'. Roud does have a habit of saying things like "of course, a history of folk song collection is not a history of folk song" (I'm paraphrasing from memory here), before giving us a near-book-length history of folk song collection. Or stating, that the Revival is beyond the book's remit, but then giving us a 17-page history of the Revival. I think if I'd started the book with Part 2, read onto Part 3, and then regarded Part 1 as a kind of appendix, I'd probably have finished reading it by now and found it a smoother read. Everything in the book is interesting, but I'm not sure it all needs to be in the same book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM

Why is folk song definition so VITAL?

If I hear a song and enjoy it I will probably want to learn it and sing it no matter what it's origin. I am interested to know where it came from if that is known yes, but if it's origins are lost in the annals of time so what. I will still enjoy it.

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin
is time wasted.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:13 AM

an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'.

Sometimes they do. Books on the Crusades have a problem that they were mostly fought by people, on all sides, who had no label for what was going on - the modern idea of a "crusade" came along after it was all over. And books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:24 AM

"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin"
Only to those who can't see beyond their own personal interests Hoot
Go count how many books there are on Shakespeare, despite the fact that his plays were only there to be acted - take every aspect of music, literature, art... throughout our entire history and come back and tell me that this doen't apply equally - even pop music
It's good to reminded of why MacColl broke with Ballads and Blues and formed a club for the genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all its aspects
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM

"books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol"

Yes, but that's not really the equivalent. Have you ever read a book on World War II that dedicated a chapter to asking the question "what is a war?", before going on to provide 200 pages of potted history of other historians who've written about World War II?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE COLD MAN BY NIGHT + THE BOBBED HAIR
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM

I've only got the rest of today before I drop out of this for a week or so, so I'll make the point I tried to this morning
'The Quilty Burning' represents an important period of Irish history, the period between the Easter rising and the signing of the Treaty, 1916 to 1922
Those six years produced thousands of Irish folk songs on the War of Independence, some made as deliberate propaganda pieces, but the majority were the reactions of 'ordinary' people to the events that were taking place
These latter sprang up in every County in Ireland, made by locals, accepted for a time and mainly disappearing when the events that inspired them faded from memory.
They are proof positive that farm workers, labourers, trades men and women, fishermen, even children, were capable of making songs on any subject that took their interest.
The only differences between Ireland and Britain was firstly, that Ireland still had a thriving singing tradition at the time providing a suitable matrix for making songs, also Irish history, especially since the Famine, provided a mass of subjects to inspire, even demand new songs.
Terry Moylan's huge book, 'The Indignant Muse', contains many of these locally made songs and his researches uncovered many more he was unable to use.
Politics wasn't the only subject of course ? I put up a Travellers song on 'made matches' that has never seen the light of day.
This is a Clare song on a similar theme made well about ten miles from the singer, Matin Long's home ? this one never made it into print either and the author is also unknown.

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975
I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
'Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don't fit him right,
Oh I don't intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
"Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I'll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night".

"Oh daughter dear, don't say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night".

"Oh father dear, don't say no more, for I'll tell you the reason why,
Before I'll agree the wife to be, I'd first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I'll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I'll marry if I can,
Before (???) is over I'll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the "learned man") and the celebratory ceremony to seal the 'made match'.

And another on the equally popular subject of changing fashions, from Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay, which must have been made when Tom was in his twenties
The action of the song takes place a few miles from where the 'Cold Man by Night originated

The Bobbed Hair (Roud 3077)
Tom Lenihan Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay Recorded 1976
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: 'Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin?'
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: 'Tis all the fashion now.'

Ah, to see my darling's hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although 'tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
'Some years ago,' she said, 'you know, 'twas done by Black and Tans!'

Farewell, dear Bid, I'm clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I'm horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion's sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty's drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I'll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don't fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve
The swallows are about to leave, no more we'll see the hare
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.

Conversation between Tom Lehihan and Jim Carroll after the song:
Jim: Who do you reckon made that song?
Tom: Well, it was supposed that 'twas Paddy Jordan that composed it, but when he was asked about it, he said that he never composed it. That song is over sixty years.
Jim: Paddy Jordan was a Miltown man, was he?
Tom: He was a Miltown man.

Note
Bobbed Hair ? Tom Lenihan
Styles and fashions have long been a subject for humour in song.
Tom's song on a lover lamenting an early 20th century hairstyle is one of the best we have come across.
The locating of the song in Corofin appears to indicate that it was locally made; Tom said it was a great favourite there, and the reference to 'Black and Tans puts it some time after independence.
The latter refers to a punishment meted out by the Tans to women in households harbouring Republicans, as dramatized in the film, 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
It was also used by the Resistance in Europe during world War Two to those who consorted with German soldiers.
'The Bobbed Hair' is echoed by an American Ozark song of the late 1920s which pleads;

"Why do you bob your hair girls?
It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you,
To bear the flapper's name."

I really do believe that anybody claiming that our folk songs originated from the pens of professional song makers need to face the fact that country people from all over these islands were perfectly capable of making them themselves without help
If the were capable of it, why didn't they do it?
There are plenty more examples to choose from on every subject under the sun
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM

Jim,

I asked why folk song definition is vital.

"genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all it's aspects" ????

I don't know who you mean by that. Presumably only those who agree with your own personal views and interests. The fact that some of us do not see the point in endlessly looking for something which cannot be defined to everyone's satisfaction does not mean that we do not enjoy some of the end product as much as you.

It seems My ignorance of Shakespeare is greater than I thought. I was under the impression that he or Bacon or whoever wrote plays to entertain an audience and earn a living. Obviously you know better.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:07 PM

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin is time wasted.

I'd been waiting for that one to come up!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:20 PM

Why on earth should the fact that people (very much like myself) enjoy Shakespeare's plays stop anybody enquiring further into his art?
I, like Nock Dow, have no problem whatever recognising or defining a folk song when I hear one - there are libraries of literature to assist if I ever have the slightest problem in doing so
Personally, I spent thirty years asking source singers what it was and had no problem with what they told me.
What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are
"I don't know who you mean by that. "
You really have no concept that folk songs might have more to offer than to be sung - you astound me?
Long live education eh!
Jim Carroll
Your "folk police" might have I point if I behaved like you
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM

"I'd been waiting for that one to come up!"
Me too
I always wonder what these people have to hide
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:40 PM

Richard
Fully agree.
Jim has given his twopennorth. I've given mine. Others have contributed. No doubt some people will sit in the middle. If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 05:09 PM

Jim
Methinks ye hev been trolled!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:37 PM

" If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book."
Sorry Steve - you have given no evidence to back your claim, which flies in the face of every scrap of scholarship I have ever come across and is totally at odds by my own experiences and conclusions
Kite flying theories without evidence and without a single rational response only convinces me that your claims have no foundation in reality
You originally attempted to dismiss all the examples I put up as 'retired people scribbling poems in their spare time' - your refusal to even acknowledge the examples, the implication that song making was commonplace within the the tradition and the possible extent of them makes you somewhat dishonest (I really don't say that lightly, nor do I say it to insult you - it upsets me deeply that I have reached that conclusion about a fellow folk song enthusiast I once respected, even though I didn't agree with him)
My idea of genuine research is to take every piece of evidence offered, examine it, accept it if it works and explain why it doesn't if it doesn't convince me
I have done my level best here to do exactly that - you have not had the courtesy to do that.
You have responded with evasion, dishonesty and at time insults "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" - not the thing I have come to expect from serious people
You started off offering me character references of people who supported you, now we have come full circle "If Jim is the only one I need to convince"
Shame on you
Are you really so arrogant as to believe everybody but me accepts your unproven theory?
I find this last posting at best patronising, but rather, hurtful and nasty towards a fellow researcher - if there was nothing else, I would accept that as an indication that you are not able to defend your theory.
Personally, I don't gve a toss how many people believe something if it doesn't hold water
You theory doesn't and your behaviour here is an indication that you are aware of that and are not prepared to talk it through.
Fine by me
I'm giving a talk on our work at Galway University in November - you've just managed to add a whole new section to it.
I can handle trolls - they are easy
I realluy can't handle this level of discussion
Yours sadly
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM

It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM

For your interest, here are a list of unpublished songs local to West Clare from our collection, all with no named author and all made within the lifetimes of the singers

Around the hills_of_clare
Bad Year sung by John Lyons
Beautiful Town of Kilrush sung by Michael Falsey
Blessed Christmas Day sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Bobbed Hair sung by Tom Lenihan
Broadford Prisoners sung by John Lyons
Cahermurphy sung by Josie Baker
Cattle Drivers sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Clare election songs
Clare To The Front sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Devalera_election_song
Donkey sung by Paddy Flanagan
Down By Mount Callan Side
Drunken Bear
Dudley Lee The Blackleg sung by Martin Howley
East Clare Election sung by Martin Howley
Fair At Doonbeg sung by Vincie Boyle
Fair Of Sixmilebridge sung by John Lyons
Farewell To Belharbour sung by Katie Droney
Farewell to Lissycasey sung by Vincie Boyle
Farewell to Miltown Malbay
Five Pilots of Kilbaha
Fourth Battalion of Mid-Clare
Francie Hynes sung by Michael Falsey
Girl from_clahandine
Gleesons Of Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Grazier's Song
Green_flag_of_erin
Hills of Shanaway sung by Winifred Walsh
Hillside of Beenavane
John From Kilkee sung by Pat MacNamara
Johnny Boland
Kilkee Drowning sung by Martin Reidy
Kilrush Josie Baker
Lament for Willie Clancy sung by Marty Malley
Leon 1.
Leon 2
(three more songs on The Leon unrecorded but handwritten)
Heroes of Quilty
Lone Shanakyle sung by Michael Straighty Flanagan
Lovely Old Miltown sung by Peggy McMahon
Mac and Shanahan sung by Tom Lenihan
Mac and Shanahan (different song on same subject)
Memories of Clare
Men of County Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Miltown Malbay Fair
Misses Limerick Kerry and Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Murder of Mrs O'Mara sung by Martin Howley
My Eileen
My Native County Clare sung by Nora Cleary
Nora Daly sung by Tom Lenihan
Old Grey mare 2 versions
Pride of Kilkee sung by Tom Lenihan
Pub Down in Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Querrin Bay Drowning sung by Michael Falsey
Quilty Burning
Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Another Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Rineen Ambush Five songs under this title)
Shannon Scheme Shannon Scheme
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
The Drovers Song (cattle rustling songs from the Land Wars)
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
Tirmanagh Hill sung by Peggy McMahon
Tobins of Kilmaley Nora Cleary
Vale of Fermoyle sung by Martin Howley
Village of Quilty
West Clare Railway (three complete songs and two fragments)


Apart from these there are over one hundred songs published for the first time in 1970 under the title ‘Ballads of Clare’ – all made in the first half of the twentieth century and all from East Clare   
If that isn’t proof that rural people are not natural songmakers, I don’t know what is
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:14 PM

"It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly."
Perhaps you can give a summary Tim - Steve hasn't so far
I have dipped into the relevant sections of the book carefully and am half way through it page for page and have not found a shred so far
Can you please explain to me how there can possibly be evidence when even Steve has admitted that our knowledge of the oral tradition does not go back further than the beginning of the 20th century?
You join Steve G in his insults when you suggest that I won't read it - how dare you make such an assumption
Sorry folks - all this unpleasantness is proof positive that no proof either way exists and thos who believe there is substitute nastiness for honest argument
Why will none of you respond to the points I have put up honestly and decently?
THey really are there to be knocked down, but it takes more than denials, evasion and character references
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 10:32 PM

Jim - you have a wonderful record of collecting songs - all in the later 20th century. Must - if not all - of Steve's theories relate to the collections made in the early 20th century, IMHO a significantly different period.
I have actually not read Steve's book - but I have been to one of his presentations of the contains - that was very specific (however I don't have notes), and I found it very appealing.
I too have been studying the same period and I too have found examples of the existence of broadside versions of songs collected by Gardiner in particular.
Personally - I am interested in singing the songs and who sang them - not their origins - but if I find a connection to a broadside, I have to assume something......

I wish you well with your op, and I am sorry if you thought my comments insulting - but I hope you do glean something from Steve's book - it is 700 pages long, and he has been working on it for a very long time and has significant knowledge - so there is probably some truth between the covers.....

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:23 AM

"you have a wonderful record of collecting songs -"
Please don't patonise me Tim - if you think that all I've done is collect songs and learned nothing from them, you insult me as much as Richard and Steve does
Steve's comments may relate to the early twentieth century collections, but his definitive statement covers the entire reperoire, including the ballads - his contemptuous reference to "shepherds and swains" romanticism is at least a seventeenth century one.
To make such a definitive statement based on the condition of the song tradition in the early twentieth century is academic madness - kile trying to assess the general health of a human being by examining a corpse.
Our song traditions began to disappear when the Industrial Revolution wrought massive changes both in the town and the countryside, breaking up the communities and putting massive pressure on the workers.
Sharp and his colleagues stressed over and over again that they were dealing with the pale shadow of a song tradition - as Tommy Munnely put it "a race with the undertaker"
By the time the BBC mounted their mopping up campaign, in England they were dealing with singers who were remembering songs that had been remembered from parents who had might or might not have been part of a living oral tradition - second or third hand rather than direct from the horse's mouth - a moribund or dead tradition.
Ireland was different in that rural agriculture and the lifestyle that came with it still had a living song tradition right through to the 40s and fifties - the non-literate Travellers had one up to the 1970s
Both these latter were not only still carrying the old songs, largely untainted, but in both cases, were still producing a rich repertoire of newly made songs.
If Steve is referring to the early twentieth century state of things, when the tradition had deteriorated beyond repetition, he needs to make that clear - so far he has either poured scorn or refused to comment on the fact that working people made their songs "romantic nonsense2
I wen to bed extremely depressed last night - I am still seething, so I got up at this gaud-awful hour and dug out a several 'character references
Steve attaches such importance to - the end result is somewhat long because I have left it intact - I apologise for the length of the piece - both to those still interested and to the site administrators for taking up so much space
The first two writers lived and worked at a time when the broadside industry was thriving and both were totally familiar with its output and spent a great deal of time comparing it with the oraol repertoir
I confess I haven't read the second for around forty years, so it came as a shaft of sunlight through all this mirk.
The third seems to have concentrated primarily on broadsides and has done stirling work in dating them
Might look in before I head for Galway - thanks for your best wishes

"The immense collections of Broadside ballads, the Roxburghe and Pepys ... doubtless contain some ballads which we should at once declare to possess the popular character, and yet on the whole they are veritable dung-hills, in which, only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel."
Francis James Child letter sent by Child to Svend Grundtvig in Copenhagen, August 25th 1872.

Before concluding this very incomplete summary, something must needs be said about the broadside or ballet, which has had so marked, and in many ways so detri¬mental an influence upon the- words of the folk-ballad and song. The ballad broad¬side, which sprang into life very soon after the invention of printing, consisted of a single sheet of paper, upon one side of which were printed the words only of the ballad, or song. These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way bal¬lads and songs were disseminated all over the land. In later days the broadside would have two or more ballads printed upon it, and sometimes several ballads were bound together and distributed in small books of three or four pages, called “ gar¬lands ”.
Many of these broadside ballads were the productions of the literary hacks of the towns, the Fleet Street scribblers of the day; occasionally they were written by ballad-mongers of literary repute, like Martin Parker. Some of them were learned by the hawkers during their country excursions, and were afterwards recited by them, for a consideration, to their employers. In this manner the traditional ballad found its way on to the broadside, but, usually, in a very garbled form, and after many editings. Consequently, the ballad-sheet, while it aided the popularization of the ballad, also tended to vulgarize it. It was only very rarely that a genuine tra¬ditional ballad found its way on to a broadside without suffering corruption. A broadside version of a ballad is usually, therefore, a very indifferent one, and vastly inferior to the genuine peasant song.
With very rare exceptions, and for obvious reasons, the broadside contained the words only of the songs, not the music to which they were sung. The music of the folk-song did not, therefore, suffer corruption through the agency of the ballad-sheet, as was the case with the words. We must remember also that the folk-singer would often learn modern and very indifferent sets of words from the broadside, and sing them to old tunes, after the manner of the “ execution songs,” already mentioned.
These, no doubt, are the chief reasons why the music of the folk-song of to-day has been more faithfully preserved than its text. For it must be confessed that the words of the folk-song often come to the collector of to-day in a very corrupt and incomplete state. The truth is that the twentieth century collector is a hundred years too late. The English ballad is moribund ; its account is well-nigh closed.
This conclusion corroborates that which was reached by 4 4 The Society of Anti¬quaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne ”, when, in 1855, they set about the collection of the Northumbrian ballads. In their first report they recorded that, so far as the words were concerned, they were “ half-a-century too late ”.
And yet, although page after page of the collector’s note-books are filled with scraps of imperfectly-remembered broadside versions, here and there will be found, sometimes a whole ballad, more often a verse or two, or, perhaps, a phrase only of genuine folk-made poetry. It is only from scraps of this kind that an estimate can be formed, and that a speculative one, of what the English ballad was in its prime. It has been pointed out that the Scottish ballad is immeasurably finer and more poetical than the English. But the comparison is scarcely a fair one. For the songs of Lowland Scotland were collected more than a hundred years ago, when ballad- singing was still a living art; whereas we in England have so neglected our oppor¬tunities that we are only now making a belated attempt to gather up the crumbs. Such ballads as “ The Unquiet Grave ” etc., which have survived in more or less in¬corrupt form, are there to remind us of the loss that we have suffered from the un¬worthy neglect of past opportunities.
Over and above this question of word-corruption, there are some folk-songs, which, for other reasons, can only be published after extensive alteration or excision. Some of these, happily only a few, are gross and coarse in sentiment and objectionable in every way. I am convinced, however, that the majority of these are individual and not communal productions, and cannot therefore be classed as genuine folk-songs. At any rate, I know that they offend against the communal sense of propriety, that the verdict of the community is expressly against them, and that those who sing them do so fully understanding that they are bad, vicious and indefensible.
But there are also a large number of folk-songs, which transgress the accepted conventions of the present age, and which would shock the susceptibilities of those who rank reticence and reserve amongst the noblest of the virtues. These are not, strictly speaking, bad songs ; they contain nothing that is really wrong or unwhole¬some. And they do not violate the communal sense of what is right and proper. They are sung freely and openly by peasant singers, in entire innocence of heart, and without the shadow of a thought that they contain anything that is objectionable, or that they themselves are committing any offence against propriety in singing them.
This is a phenomenon which opens up a large question. The key-note of folk- poetry, as we have already shown, is simplicity and directness without subtlety—as in the Bible narratives and Shakespeare. This characteristic might be mistaken for
a want of refinement by those who live in an age where subtlety and circumlocution are extensively practised, This question comes especially to the fore when the most universal and elemental of all subjects is treated, that of love and the relations of man to woman. Its very intimacy and mystery cause many minds to shrink from expressing themselves openly on the subject, as they would shrink from desecrating a shrine. The ballad-maker has no such feeling. He has none of that delicacy, which, as often as not, degenerates into pruriency. Consequently, he treats “ the way of a man with a maid ” simply and directly, just as he treats every other sub¬ject. Those, therefore, who would study ballad-literature, must realize that they will find in it none of those feelings and unuttered thoughts, which are characteristic of a more self-conscious but by no means more pure-minded age. Nevertheless, however much we may admire the simplicity and the straightforward diction of the ballad- maker, we have to realize that other times and other people are not so simple- minded and downright, and that what is deemed fit and proper for one period is not necessarily so for others. The folk-song editor, therefore, has perforce to undertake the distasteful task of modifying noble and beautiful sentiments in order that they may suit the minds and conform to the conventions of another age, where such things would not be understood in the primitive, direct and healthy sense.
These songs, however, in that they throw a searching light upon the character of the peasant, possess* great scientific value. For this reason alone, it is obviously the duty of the collector to note them down conscientiously and accurately, and to take care that his transcriptions are placed in libraries and museums, where they may be examined by students and those who will not misunderstand them.
Songs of the type that we have been discussing, as well as those whose words are incomplete or corrupt, present a knotty problem to the collector who would publish them for popular use. Only those who have tried their hands at editing a folk-song can realize the immense difficulty of the task. To be successful the editor must be in close sympathy with the aims of the folk-poet. He must divest himself of all acquired literary tricks, be alert to avoid anachronisms, and contrive to speak in the simple and direct language of the peasant. The high estimation, in which the best Scottish traditional poetry is deservedly held, is due in no small measure to the genius and sympathetic insight of those who edited it. Amongst these Burns was, of course, pre-eminent. But he was a peasant as well as a poet, and represented the peasant element in song. He was, moreover, an enthusiastic collector of the folk- tunes of his own country, of which he possessed an intimate, if not a technical knowledge. Yet, it cannot truthfully be said that even Burns was uniformly suc¬cessful in his revisions, although in such songs as “ John Anderson, my Jo ”, or “ O ! my luve’s like a red, red rose ”, he approached perfection. It must be remembered, too, that he confined his attention to the songs, and that he scarcely touched the ballads, which were left to Sir Walter Scott and others to recover and to edit. Who will do for our English ballads and songs what Scott and Burns did for the Scottish ?
Cecil J Sharp, , ‘Folk Poetry’ from English Folk Songs - Some Conclusions

At least a third of the 305 ballads canonised in his great work owe their continuance in oral tradition to having been printed as street literature, and many of those that don't are tainted by the interference of a series of literary hands, some having been totally fabricated by such. Indeed, this literary interference has been, and is, a lively and thriving tradition all of its own.
Dunghill’ (Steve Gardham)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 05:00 AM

For what it's worth, I've now read about two thirds of Roud's book, and I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks. I could be wrong, but if he does say this definitively I don't remember it.

My overwhelming impression is that Roud's conclusions are overall of the "it's a bit of everything" type. I do recall Roud stating that claims of truly ancient antiquity for any given folk song are unlikely (and, more to the point, unprovable) but most of the time Roud seems to be pretty sanguine and philosophical about origins and proof. He is certainly sceptical about unequivocal claims to antiquity: for example, he challenges Bert Lloyd's unsupported claim that "we know" the Cutty Wren song to have been sung as part of a pagan winter ritual. But Roud is a very documentation-based researcher so he is just as scrupulous regarding any statements from the opposite end of the spectrum: as I said, I can't remember Roud endorsing any definitive statements regarding the polar opposite standpoint. Most of the time, it's a case of "there isn't proof of this" and, for Roud, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:07 AM

"What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are"

Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

I can only guess that "you people" again means anybody that doesn't agree with your point of view.

I suggest you calm down and try not to lose any more sleep.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM

"Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say."
Didn't think you would for a minute - it was aimed at folk song lovers
I'VE SHOWN YOU MY CREDENTIALS - YOU SHOW ME YOURS
Back to reality
I strongly fear that what happened to the revival is now happening to sections of research
When the clubs ran out of new old songs they began to look elsewhere - Victorian parlour ballads, Music Hall, early pop songs - ending up with the 'horse music' definition - anything goes, from Dan Leno to Dylan - anything that would justify performing anything they fancied wherever it came from and whoever's culture it represented
That's why many thousands left the scene in the seventies and eighties.
Now we have a situation in research were some believe everything to be said on folk song has been said so "let's re-define it and keep ourselves busy"
That is why folk song will never be taken seriously outside the tiny number of folk-Masonic Lodges of rapidly ageing folkies - not unless we gat a grip and try to do something about it - like taking ourselves seriously so that others will
It's happened in spades among Ireland's your with instrumental music - go check
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:40 AM

"Ireland's young people" - I should have said
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM

I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks.

In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is. In the 'New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs', the same author states that 'some, perhaps most' of them 'started life as songs written for broadside production.... probably written by... broadside hacks'


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM

And a good hack might have written several good songs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:53 PM

"In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is."

OK, that's the chapter I'm currently reading. I'll look out for that. But I did use the word "originated" - not "appeared". Just because a song appears in a broadside, doesn't mean it was written for that broadside. I mean, I know that 'The Streams of Lovely Nancy' was printed on a broadside, but it seems hard to imagine that a broadside writer would have consciously sat down and penned so many non-sequiturs.

So I'd be interested in the evidence behind: "probably written by ... broadside hacks" too – as I can't really imagine what that evidence would look like. (Given how, as Roud points out, broadside printers nicked each others' material.) I wonder what percentage of broadside songs have known authors?

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to – all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90–95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM

Regarding "Streams of Lovely Nancy" - Roud 688 - there is an Irish version of the song - The Strands of Magilligan - I am not 100% sure of how old it is, but it was collected in 1933 and published in Huntington, Songs of the People (1990) p.259 (according to Roud) from the singer Sam Henry.
Several years ago in heard Dave MacLurg sing it at Mystic and it made me revive my singing of Streams (as collected from William & Turp Brown in Hampshire)
This "Strands" version is NOT in the Bodleian Ballads - but may "Streams" are with dates as early as 1813.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:34 PM

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to – all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90–95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?

He means 'folk songs' as notated by collectors in late 19th / early 20th century England.

As to the other evidence, I'll let you finish the chapter rather than try to paraphrase. However I don't think SR would dispute that broadside writers were quite capable of plagiarising traditional songs as well as other people's broadsides.

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' is an interesting one. As my old friend Roy Harris once wrote: "One of the loveliest jumbles in English folk song. Impossible (so far) to know what it's all about." But then, the song as sung in the revival didn't always include all available verses.

I had a quick look at the Bodleian site, where there are loads of SOLN broadsides, with at least two different versions of the story (such as it is). One follows the standard opening with verses about a woman parting from her sailor lover, while in another the opening is the same, but he seems to be a soldier judging by the reference to 'marching away'. The place names change as well. What that tells me is that at least one and possibly both of these are rewrites of another text, but that the writer wasn't particularly worried that the opening verses didn't make much sense or have anything to do with the tale of the parted lovers. Here are two examples:

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (1)

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (2)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM

I am afraid - Brian - neither of your "Streams" links work...But I think I know what you have in mind.

Best - Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:11 PM

I suspect that these are the correct links -

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/20000/17810.gif

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/10000/07200.gif

I am recording an interview with Brian on Saturday morning, I now have an extra subject to talk to him about. I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:14 PM

I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.

But they work fine for me! Internet down everywhere but Glossop, it seems?


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