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Foul-mouthed Folkies

Shug Hanlan 27 May 20 - 04:42 AM
Steve Gardham 27 May 20 - 06:17 AM
Donuel 27 May 20 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,kenny 27 May 20 - 07:17 AM
Nick 27 May 20 - 07:23 AM
GUEST 27 May 20 - 07:24 AM
Gordon Jackson 27 May 20 - 07:28 AM
Pete Jennings 27 May 20 - 09:07 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 20 - 02:34 AM
Shug Hanlan 28 May 20 - 04:36 AM
Jim Carroll 28 May 20 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,kenny 28 May 20 - 08:08 AM
Gordon Jackson 28 May 20 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Graham Bradshaw 28 May 20 - 11:45 AM
Jim Carroll 28 May 20 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,big al whittle 28 May 20 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,akenaton 28 May 20 - 02:20 PM
Jim Carroll 28 May 20 - 03:02 PM
Shug Hanlan 28 May 20 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,kenny 28 May 20 - 05:30 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 20 - 05:34 PM
Tattie Bogle 28 May 20 - 07:23 PM
Hagman 28 May 20 - 08:54 PM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 02:08 AM
GUEST,akenaton 29 May 20 - 02:35 AM
Shug Hanlan 29 May 20 - 02:50 AM
Hagman 29 May 20 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 May 20 - 03:06 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 20 - 03:20 AM
Gordon Jackson 29 May 20 - 03:30 AM
GUEST,RA 29 May 20 - 03:35 AM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 03:47 AM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 03:52 AM
Shug Hanlan 29 May 20 - 04:30 AM
Nick 29 May 20 - 05:10 AM
Nick 29 May 20 - 05:53 AM
Nick 29 May 20 - 06:19 AM
Steve Gardham 29 May 20 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,akenaton 29 May 20 - 07:42 AM
Shug Hanlan 29 May 20 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Ake 29 May 20 - 08:32 AM
Shug Hanlan 29 May 20 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,akenaton 29 May 20 - 12:06 PM
Mrrzy 29 May 20 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 May 20 - 02:59 PM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 03:48 PM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 03:55 PM
The Sandman 29 May 20 - 04:36 PM
Mrrzy 29 May 20 - 06:40 PM
Jeri 29 May 20 - 06:45 PM
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Subject: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 27 May 20 - 04:42 AM

Been reading an article on swearing & Scottish fiction (some sad individual counted 4,000 fucks in James Kelman's "How Late It Was, How Late") as research for my Billy Connolly book. I know Connolly very seldom swore when he played the folk clubs but if he did was there a policy on swearing onstage? Be interested to know if there were/are any folk acts who curse a lot or was/is that generally frowned on?


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 May 20 - 06:17 AM

Derek Brimstone?

I have a humorous story about swearing in folk clubs, Shug. I don't want to repeat it here, but if you PM me I'll let you have it.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Donuel
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:11 AM

fucking brilliant


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:17 AM

Hi Shug - there's never been much on-stage swearing at all in the Scottish folk clubs I've been to since the 1970s. It would certainly have been frowned upon by organisers at that time.
John Watt's story about the night Frank Sinatra played the Kelty Miner's Social Club [ which was hilarious ] - was the only single example of the c*** word I ever heard in all that time. "Bugger", "bastard" would occasionally turn up in the odd song, very few "f***s", although Dougie MacLean let one slip out at a big concert in The Aberdeen Music Hall, in front of the Lord Provost and his wife.
Good luck with the book.
Kenny


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Nick
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:23 AM

When John Martyn was a guest at Leicester University folk club (I know he isn't folk folk but it was a folk club) many years ago I seem to remember that there was no censoring of his language going on. Probably the liberal use of stimulants might have been a contributory factor to the lack of inhibition.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:24 AM

Steve Earle is pretty foul mouthed.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 27 May 20 - 07:28 AM

I suppose this qualifies:

Swarbrick and Nicol.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 27 May 20 - 09:07 PM

I remember seeing Robin and Barry Dransfield at a late night Friday folk gig at the New B'ham Rep, which began at 11pm, well after the pubs had closed, although you could still buy beer in there. Must have been in the early 70's. There was a bloke in the audience talking throughout their first few songs and Robin looked up to where he was and said to Barry, "that guy's beginning to get right on my tits". Said audience member wisely shut up!


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 20 - 02:34 AM

That's what Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy acts are for, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 28 May 20 - 04:36 AM

Many thanks for comments. That alternative Fairport version of the Sailor's Alphabet is a hoot, but I suspect it might not go down too well with some of the Croppers crowd.

Working Men's & Social Clubs were another matter. Saw some of the most unfunny, racist, misogynist misfits at those places.

Here's Connolly talking recently about the C word, " It's not a word I usually use, especially in America, because it frightens the bejaysus out of them. Although they take "motherfucker" like nothing happened. But being Glaswegian I'm used to it. It doesn't really mean anything. You use it in all sorts of circumstances.
Like, when you're trying to remember a film star's name. People are giving you all kinds of suggestions and you say, "No, no, not him. Some other c**t." I actually heard somebody in Glasgow say,"Hey, who's that c**t with the Pope?"

Keep the cursing memories coming.

Shug


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:52 AM

"Bad" language is an opinion - no such thing reallyyThere is only language used badly
Jim


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 28 May 20 - 08:08 AM

Shug never mentioned "bad" language. He was specifically asking about swearing on stage in folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 28 May 20 - 10:16 AM

Sure, but then there's no real consensus on what constitutes swearing is there? As a Londoner, the word 'twat' is a very mild insult; in other areas it's considered quite an offensive term.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 28 May 20 - 11:45 AM

I must say that I do not remember any incidences of swearing/bad language in the folk clubs during the 60s and 70s. There were plenty of B words - bloody, bugger and bastard - but NEVER the f word and definitely not the c word. These were also verboten on the TV and radio until much later - probably into the 80s and 90s. And they caused very raised eyebrows when they first started appearing. I think the folk clubs reflected society as a whole when these words first started popping up in folk clubs. Even the folk comedians were very proper in this regard - it was the alternative comedians (the Ben Elton generation) that first made it more acceptable. Billy Connolly was one of the first to use this on TV, and it was the shock of his language that probably earned him the attention he got. Apart from the fact that he was also very funny. I certainly don't remember him using any foul language in the 60s and 70s when he was in the Humblebums.

I'm not sure there is actually that much bad language in the clubs these days. On the odd occasion when somebody has used the f word on a folk festival stage, there is a collective intake of breath in the audience. People are still not that comfortable with it. Maybe it's different in other genres.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 20 - 12:46 PM

Sorry Kenny - I thought swearing and 'bad language' were synonymous
I live in Ireland where, not long ago the word 'bloody" would appear in the press as b*****y not too long ago - now we get the lot - the times they are a-changing
I don;'t like gratuitous profanities - is shows a lack of imagination and a waste of useful words

My favourite story
A trainee priest climbing of a stile in the grounds of his seminary, slips and falls face down in the mud
"shit", he says and then;
"Fuck, I said shit",
and then:
"Shit, I said fuck",
and finally
"Ah bollocks, I didn't want to be a priest anyway"

Hope that doesn't give offence
Jim


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 28 May 20 - 01:29 PM

I remember Paul Downes discussing this subject with me a few years ago.
Paul iued to reckon that audiences found Derek Brimstones cockney 'facking hell!" rarher charming.


Whereas Paul thought you could feel the audience stiffen with disapproval when Tony Capstick used the same words. Something about his northern pronunciation seemed ro upset folkies.

I suppose its a class thing.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 28 May 20 - 02:20 PM

Well I don't like to hear cursing on stage, or even on these pages. I think it represents a lack of vocabulary or if it is used simply as a shock tactic.....pathetic.
Connolly was a brilliant observational comedian, he was certainly not a folkie in any sense of the word. When during his transformation into a celebrity he started using foul language regularly, he lost the spark which marked him out as something special. He reckoned that its use raised his profile with people who did not understand Glasgow humour or could not empathise with the characters which he observed so keenly.

He stumbled home from Clifton Fair,
with drunken song and cheeks aglow,
but there was something in his air
which spoke of kingship long ago.
I turned and inly wept with grief,
that one so high should fall so low.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 20 - 03:02 PM

"Well I don't like to hear cursing on stage, or even on these pages. "
Youve been kicked off, so it doesn't matter what you like - sorry
Censoring words ends up with lack of vocabulary
As long as their not racist or sexist, I see no harm in them
Maybe Mudcat can adopt a 'cuttie stool' (but that was just for women, which only goes to show how two-faced some moral stances are
Jim


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 28 May 20 - 04:29 PM

Some really interesting comments about Connolly's lack of cursing during his folk club days but surely we've got some favourite swearers. That article I've just read on Kelman's language claimed, " It's a question not just of frequency, or inclination, but of ability, range and intensity."

Richard Pryor would be fuckin'tops for me.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:30 PM

"I don;'t like gratuitous profanities - is shows a lack of imagination and a waste of useful words"
No disagreement with that, Jim.
Dave Allen used to tell your story, but he had a nun instead of a priest.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 20 - 05:34 PM

I've talked to Kelman about this and he said much the same as what Shug reported from Connolly - it's just the way working class Glaswegians speak, if you want to be realistic you have to put those words in. Calling it "swearing" misses the point.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 May 20 - 07:23 PM

Not sure why, but the Irish "fecking" somehow doesn't seem half as bad, and a lot funnier than "fucking"! Count the "feckings" in Fascinating Aida's song "Cheap Flights" about Ryanair. And the "feckity feckity fecks".
I'm not keen on the current vogue for using the F word quite so liberally, especially on photo-shopped images on social media: a strategically placed rare instance has far more impact than peppering it willy-nilly every second word in a sentence.
I remember once, during a care home gig, one of the singers thought it would be really good fun to sing "Bloody Well Boozing": eyebrows went up and lead balloons went down, as all the "bloodys" rang out - and as for all that boozing, well, I mean.....!


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Hagman
Date: 28 May 20 - 08:54 PM

It's actually 2114 "fuck"'s and variants in "How Late it Was, How Late," according to Mr Microsoft's Word-counter...


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 02:08 AM

the worst offence i witnessed was a lancashire folk comedian, Williamson. he persuaded a child to join him on stage[chippenham festival] then took the piss out of the boy,the audience turned against him and booed


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 29 May 20 - 02:35 AM

James Kelman was an author and used cursing in his novels and short stories to correctly represent a section of the community usually working class Glaswegians of a certain type. The usage was not done for effect, but to correctly capture the life and communication of his characters.
I met Mr Kelman one evening at Shawfield dog track many years ago before reading any of his books.....he was observing everyone, the language of the bookies, their sign language and relationship with the punters.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 29 May 20 - 02:50 AM

Love the idea of "fuck" variants. Must try them sometime.

The Pope/priest gag was repeated by Connolly in his "Tall Tales and wee stories" book.

Swearing on stage can easily go wrong and bullying children in front of an audience is surely stretching the term "comedy".

The initial point of this post was to find out if folk clubs allowed foul language on stage. Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Hagman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:02 AM

The Kelman "variants" include "fucking," "fucked" etc....

To address your original question, I don't know of any folk clubs or festivals that have any prescriptive rules re: strong language (I'm in Australia BTW). In my experience, it's not ever been overdone, with one exception - as noted above, Steve Earle. Started to watch his set at the Port Fairy Folk Festival a couple of years ago, and after five minutes of his stage patter sounding like every second word was "fuck," I gave up. His singing was equally as boring.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:06 AM

Was Brimstone a cockney?
I have never heard the word pronounced "Facking" and a cockney would never pronounce the 'g' at the end.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:20 AM

"Not sure why, but the Irish "fecking" somehow doesn't seem half as bad,"
Our late drinking bar was run by a humorous, very devout elderly lady, Mary Fahy, who let us in when the other bars closed, if we knew the right knock - (she died last year and we miss her terribly)   
Her only 'cuss-word' was "feck"
One night she reared up at the constant "fucking" that was commonlace - fairly harmlessly used
Someone said, "But you say "Feck" all the time Mary"
She looked puzzled - it meant something quite different to her "feckless"
Come back Mary - we miss you!
Jim


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:30 AM

'Facking' does not rhyme with 'backing'.

It's more like 'faa kinell'.

I agree with Hagman that Steve Earle's patter leaves something to be desired, but I could (and often have) listen to his singing, and his songs, all day long.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:35 AM

I recall Hamish Imlach singing a parody of 'The Wild Rover':

'I'll go to a folk club
Take a shotgun along
And I'll shoot the first bastard
Who asks for that song' "


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:47 AM

Derek Brimstone was ORIGINALLY from Shoreditch i think
To be really specific, you must have been born within the sound of Bow bells. These are the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church in Cheapside.
The areas of the East End considered to be within bell-hearing range are Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Stepney, Hackney, Hoxton, Shoreditch, Bow, Mile End, Polar, Wapping, Limehouse and Millwall. Some authorities include the south London area of Bermondsey in this list
.So. yes he was


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:52 AM

fuckin is more the way cockneys said it when i was a child with a short u not a long u or an a


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 29 May 20 - 04:30 AM

Love the notion of bumping into Kelman at the dugs. "Greyhound for Breakfast" was one of his first books I read. I got to know him a wee bit when he was briefly teaching at Glasgow Uni.

The comments on Steve Earle are revealing. With a few obvious exceptions (Pryor, Hicks, anybody in a David Mamet play), I don't think Americans are any good at swearing. They even effect others. The first time I heard swearing on an LP was Lennon's Plastic Ono Band LP ("Working Class Hero", "I Found Out") and thought it was really powerfully done. A couple of years later he's over in New York, hanging around Greenwich Village with a gang of yippies and swearing lamely in "The Luck of The Irish."


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 20 - 05:10 AM

Offence by dialect reminds me of a local Manchester radio news report many years ago commenting on a visit by Sir Vivian Fuchs and pronouncing it as 'fucks' because to pronounce it correctly would offend the local listeners as you can't say 'fooks' on radio.
And 'facking' is estuary English rather than cockney.

Here's Steve Earle not offending Americans in the intro to a song - quite a good line actually


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 20 - 05:53 AM

Were folk clubs of the time not just generally reflecting the usage of swearing in society? So just a matter of art reflecting society?

It was only in 1965 that Ken Tynan uttered the first 'fuck' on TV and even by Sex Pistols time in 1976 swearing was an extreme thing to be done in public or a broadcast or public performance met with shock. Or the reaction of 'it's something common people do who can't express themselves properly' (as an aside it's always seemed the case that education or class or 'position in society' is not a predictor of swearing in conversation). It's weird to think that the first time I heard my dad use the word 'fucking' was in about 1971. He'd been through the war and life but just not something he routinely used though he obviously did know it. I had been aware of 'all the words' for quite some years before that.

Still something of a choice. I don't think we swear when we play live (apart from inwardly when I play bits wrong) whether it's pubs or cafes or wherever. But that's not due to the policies of places but rather something 'unwritten' perhaps?

Here's a joke I told my mother years ago having warned her about the language. Would I tell it in public? - perhaps. The figures need updating! The second is how an unexpected word can have a reaction (about 15 secs onwards). I could tell that in public but I'm not sure how it would have been received in the 60's.

"Two lip-reading deaf guys walk into a pub. One turns to the other and says "You go find a seat...I'll get the drinks in".
He walks up to the bar and says, "Bartender, could I please have two pints of lager?"
"Certainly," replies the barman, "That'll be £10."
"Ten pounds?" gasps the deaf guy, "That's a bit steep!"
"Oh, we've got some music on tonight," explains the barman, "That includes your entry fee."
The deaf guy starts doing the twist and asks, "Is it Boogie Woogie?"
"No."
The deaf guy does his best John Travolta impression and asks, "Is it Disco?"
"No."
The deaf guy shrugs his shoulders, "Well...what is it then?"
"Country and Western"
The deaf guy laughs, picks up his drinks and brings them over to his friend.
"How much were they?" asks his friend.
"Ten pounds."
"Ten pounds?" gasps the friend, "That's a bit steep!"
"Oh, they've got some music on tonight," explains the first deaf guy, "That includes our entry fee."
The second deaf guy starts doing the twist and asks, "Is it Boogie Woogie?"
"No."
The second deaf guy does his best John Travolta impression and asks, "Is it Disco?"
"No."
The second deaf guy shrugs his shoulders, "Well...what is it then?"
The first deaf guy laughs, "Some cunt from Preston."

But I guess it's not 'swearing as punctuation and emphasis' which is perhaps what changed with Billy Connolly and was more like the rhythms of how people spoke day to day or people spoke with friends/in pubs etc? That wasn't there at the time that Billy Connolly was playing in folk clubs in the 60's into early 70's

When you mentioned Swarbrick and Nicol I thought you meant this from Cropredy album


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 20 - 06:19 AM

And I just had a listen to his Solo Concert from 1974 and it has less swearing in it (one 'arse' on first track) than I would have expected for a live album.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 May 20 - 06:38 AM

The F word has been used as a running joke on the f--k scene for many years. Punning with 'ferkin' in 'Bring us a Barrel'. The Kippers' 'Norfolk and Good', etc.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 29 May 20 - 07:42 AM

From memory, cursing was not totally banned, but it wasn't encouraged due to the make up of the audience which included quite a few children and older folk.
Had to laugh at Guest RA's reference to Hamish Imlach…..Hamish had quite a few parodies to the Black velvet Band, specially for Dunoon and the American base
"Her eyes they shone like diamonds,
Her neck it was just like a swan
And her "baubles" hung over her shoulders,
Held up by a big darkie's haun.

The arrangement of swan and the Glasgow "haun" was brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 29 May 20 - 08:14 AM

Not sure Hamish would have got away with that one in a Minneapolis folk club at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,Ake
Date: 29 May 20 - 08:32 AM

Hi Shug "Greyhound for Breakfast" was also my first dip into the world of JK....he caught the atmosphere brilliantly.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Shug Hanlan
Date: 29 May 20 - 11:28 AM

I understand, and I'm interested in the notion of a class-based look at swearing. You Mudcatters probably know that Trotsky argued for fines on workers who swore in Soviet factories, seeing it as a product of oppression rather than a means of resistance. I only wish that when the Bolshevik high command was touring a foundry in Kiev, some wee Ukranian man shouted out his version of the Connolly/Allen gag,"Hey, who's that cunt with Stalin?"


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 29 May 20 - 12:06 PM

Well I've always despised people who use the word for a woman's vagina, the word which describes the act of having sex between a male and female, or the word which refers to someone born to unmarried parents, as in some way dirty or discriminatory. The word bastard is thrown about with regularity amongst the "liberal" brethren in this forum and most of them do not seem the mind the other two words being used as terms of abuse either?


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 May 20 - 12:57 PM

Cunt is vulva, not vagina, if that is what you meant.

What about songs using now-banned vocabulary, like racial terms? Is that a different thread?


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 May 20 - 02:59 PM

Dick Miles,

Where did you get that fanciful notion of the areas within hearing range of the bells of St. Mary le Bow?

Were they using a Marshall amp?


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:48 PM

wikipedia


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 03:55 PM

shoreditch to bow church is 2.8 miles, reasonableenough to call him a cockney whereas someone living in lewishan , definitely not


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 20 - 04:36 PM

and to the one you refer to at cheapside even less 1.3 miles


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 May 20 - 06:40 PM

I was thinking of terms that used to be normal ways of referring to groups to which you do not belong.


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Subject: RE: Foul-mouthed Folkies
From: Jeri
Date: 29 May 20 - 06:45 PM

Mrrzy, this one's about "blue" language. If you really want to talk about racist stuff, start another theread.

In the BS section.

Because we've nevr talked about that shit before.


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