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Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)

DigiTrad:
THE SEAMEN'S HYMN


Related threads:
A L Lloyd as Storyteller (32)
A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties (74)
A. L. Lloyd - 'First Person' (19)
A.L. Lloyd - 'Songs of the People' (34)
AL Lloyd, is he the one that got away (174)
A.L. Lloyd biography - help needed (44)
Review: Whats up with new A L Lloyd book? (12)
Bert Lloyd biography pre-order offer (52)
A. L. Lloyd: History and anecdotes? (92)
Folk Song in England - Lloyd (53)
Help: Whaling Ballads:MacColl/Lloyd, Wash. LP (20)
Folklore: Bert Lloyd Interview on Mus Trad (79)
a.l. lloyd books republished (1)
New A.L.Lloyd Centenary CD (23)
Tune Req: AL Lloyd - The Singing Englishman (8)
Review: Bert Lloyd Centenary (3)
A.L.Lloyd and EwanMacColl on my space (24)
A.L. Lloyd Anniversary. Feb 29th. (29)
Recordings of Bert Lloyd's storytelling (11)


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Subject: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 07:47 AM

Just trying to pull together discussions going on on the other Bert threads. Their is clearly are growing number of songs that owe much more to Bert Lloyd than to the people he claimed to collect them from.

The Blackleg Miner, Do me Ama, The Recruited Collier, Reynadyne, Tam Lyn, Byker Hill in 9/8, The Four Loom Weaver, The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid are songs that various people feel are a lot of Bert.

I trust Ruth Archer wont object to quoting her from the "Do me Ama" thread:

"I agree that one of the problems about the "remade" songs is that they are often made in the image of Lloyd's personal politics. It's about as academically dodgy as it's possible to be: start with a thesis, and find sources that back up your thesis. And if the sources don't quite support your thesis, change them. Or just make them up. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time..."

And similarly Brian Peters from the Source Singers thread:

"Two of the best-known songs of that genre - both of which I've been known to sing - are "The Four Loom Weaver" and "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid". I can't understand why anyone would choose to sing those songs without being at least mildly curious about where they came from, who composed them, who actually sang them a century or more ago. In both cases it turns out that their provenance is murky, with probable or definite editorial intervention by Ewan MacColl and Bert Lloyd respectively. That doesn't mean that they're not worth singing, but it does mean that I would feel the need to be careful about introducing either song to an audience with words like "Here's an old song that Lancashire cotton mill workers used to sing."

Two questions:

1. How long is the Bertsong list
2. How much does it matter?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 08:41 AM

'Bold Lovell', which I learned from Roy Harris's singing on the great LP, 'Champions of Folly' is acknowledged on the sleeve notes (which Bert Lloyd wrote) as having been 'adapted a bit' by Lloyd himself from 'The New Green Mountain Songster', a collection of songs made by Helen Hartness Flanders in Vermont. If you look up the original you can find any number of textual changes, in particular the substitution of a new chorus: 'The Devil's in the women, so they say....' for the original 'Dol-de-dol-der-it....'. This may be based on a line from 'Whisky in the Jar', which has a similar storyline.

Most of the other changes are cosmetic, although it's interesting that the 'Irish cap and feather' in the original has been altered to 'highway cap and feather', and a spurious reference to Chatham inserted, allowing me to believe for many years that the song was possibly English in origin.

Having discovered the truth about the song, I carried on singing it regardless, and still enjoy doing so.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 08:48 AM

To repeat what I have said on previous Bert Lloyd threads that there are countless people singing "Jack Orion", "Sovay" and "The Demon Lover" who have never even heard of A.L.Lloyd. So was he doing such a bad thing?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 08:56 AM

Much more has been said and written than sung.

Does ot matter?

Brian makes the point - "I would feel the need to be careful about introducing either song to an audience with words like "Here's an old song that Lancashire cotton mill workers used to sing."


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:00 AM

When I first heard Anne Briggs (on CD!), her singing turned my head around - hearing those words, sung in that way, I felt that this was the oral tradition.

Then I found out about "The recruited collier" and "Reynardine". TRC in particular is a lovely little song (Reynardine's a bit of a mess to my mind), but the oral tradition they ain't. It really shook the foundations, for me. I'd much rather get this stuff out in the open - it's not as if there won't be plenty of ballads left.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Santa
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:12 AM

So tell me which songs from the collected tradition had not been rewritten by some person or persons before the version that was sung to the collector?

You can't tell me, because it is unknowable. There is no unspoilt well, from which pure traditional folk songs can be obtained, clean of any human intervention/alteration/polishing.

In this case we have songs where the source turns out to be a known person, in which case the record should be annotated as such for specialists and archivists, and the rest of us can go on singing them or not, as the fancy takes us.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:30 AM

All true Santa. A rich and varied living tradition that in some ways rolls on.

Why didn't Bert say what he was doing? Why did he leave people with the idea that these were songs that he or unknown others had collected?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:33 AM

Martin Carthy, amongst others, has re-created songs from fragments and good songs they are too. But Martin has always been completely open about this process.

Why didn't Bert say what he was doing?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:35 AM

I think you're running together two or three different questions. Can we identify any songs which have irrefutably been passed down from voice to voice since the year dot, without ever being written out and tidied up? No, of course not. Can we identify some songs as being more 'written' than others? Yes, clearly - some 'traditional' songs seem to have originated as broadsides, others were essentially music hall numbers, and quite a number seem to have been written by a certain B. Dylan. I'm quite happy to sing a song by Bert Lloyd, but I'd rather not announce it as something it's not. The charge against Lloyd isn't that he wrote songs but that he denied doing it.

If you're asking whether any of this matters, the answer is that it matters to those it matters to. At the end of the day the songs are out there, and long may they be sung.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:36 AM

Oops - 'you' in my last was Santa, not Les (hi Les!).


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:53 AM

Surely the point is that Martin Carthy, Ewan MacColl, Bert lloyd, and by the same token Joan Baez - were artists. They did (do) with the songs what is necessary to make them live - given the audience they have.

The hand weaver and the factory maid is not about lancashire specifically but about social divisions. Like people who buy t-shirts from from Next and Marks, and those who buy from Fosters.

that line, 'nowt lies there but a fact'ry maid'. Didn't you ever take a girlfriend home that your parents didn't approve of?

if we've got down to the point where this music and these songs, are just about history and who said what to whom and with exactly what words, the folkscene is really up shit creek.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:53 AM

In several of the sleeve notes to various albums, even ones that he did not feature upon, Lloyd admitted that he "devised","cobbled"or set words to a tune of his own fancy. So he wasn't entirely hiding everything.
Anyway there has always been plenty of speculation over many of Bert's songs. I have heard several recordings of "When A Man's in Love" but only Bert seems to have his particular vesion which is remarkably different to the others.
In one of the last conversations that I had with the late Pete Elliott of Birtley, who would have gone to the wall for Bert, over his version of "Celebrated Working Man" which appears on "The Iron Muse" and is so different to the form that Jack Elliott sang, Pete smiled and offered the opinion that on that occasion he suspected Bert of "wangling"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: mark gregory
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 10:17 AM

I like to think there was Bert the singer and storyteller with an incredible knowledge of tunes and lyrical material, and there was also Bert (or A.L.Lloyd) the folklorist with a very broad interest in folk song and a writer about such songs from many places around the world. His broad knowledge and interest meant that he was very good at making suggestions about connections about the spread of songs from one place to another.

His published collections of songs were important not for his own field work but for the the material he gathered together ath others were less interested in, that's particularly the case with his Come All Ye Bold Miners. Who else would had pulled it all together in such an interesting way, a way that miners would treasure? What pleased him most was that once the original (1952) collection was published it had a kind of snowball effect and the second edition in 1979 was much larger as a result.

I also see dramatic evolution of Bert's ideas about how to define folk song if you take his writing from 1944 to 1979. In 1944 he knew very little about what later became known as Industrial Folk Song, in later discussion about folk song he makes space for this relatively new material where the author is often known and where the transmission is via the printed page.

As a singer he often admitted that he had tinkered with songs or joined a particular set of lyrics to a particular tune. As a singer he recorded some 200 songs over a 30 year period on over a hundred recordings. Some never liked the way he sang, but I always found him a most interesting and entertaining singer and one who liked to 'release a song from it's hobbles' as he put it. I believe he encouraged many others to do likewise. Recently the Illawara Folk Club in NSW put on a Bert Lloyd Centenary concert in his honour and chose a number of Australian Songs Bert had recorded for a variety of singers and bands to interpret. It was a most interesting night!

See more about the Bert Lloyd Centenary at http://folkstream.com/reviews/lloyd/centenary.html


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 10:43 AM

"The hand weaver and the factory maid is not about lancashire specifically but about social divisions.... that line, 'nowt lies there but a fact'ry maid'. Didn't you ever take a girlfriend home that your parents didn't approve of?"

I don't have all the paperwork to hand, but a publication by Roy Palmer gave several quite distinct songs (not all of which are about factory work at all) that seem to have formed the basis of Lloyd's version. These contain lines like:

"At weaver lads she looked in scorn
I wish that a weaver I'd ne'er been born"

and:

"The factory maid is like a queen
With handloom weavers she'll not be seen."

... which never made the final cut.

So it seems that Lloyd inverted the snobbery in the old versions of the song, in order to suggest that the factory worker was at the bottom of the heap. A feeling of empathy with the fellow whose parents didn't approve of a girlfriend is one reason I learned the song in the first place, but if we're going to use old songs to say to people, "There you are, THAT'S what it was like back then" (which is precisely what just about every modern singer of an industrial folksong IS saying), then surely we need to know what is old and what is made up?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 11:13 AM

To the academic world, falsifying your evidence is the most serious of crimes - many careers have been ended by this. It can send other researchers on all kinds of wild goose chases, as we have seen, wasting time.

To the audience in a folk club, it doesn't matter as long as the performance is good.

As said above, the serious crime was to invent a false history of the song, trying to rewrite history.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 11:52 AM

That's interesting, Brian: in A Touch on the Times (1974) Roy Palmer gives the Lloyd version, more or less, and reports that it was collected by Lloyd in Widnes as late as 1951. It doesn't make reference to the verses

"At weaver lads she looked in scorn
I wish that a weaver I'd ne'er been born"

or

"The factory maid is like a queen
With handloom weavers she'll not be seen."

Or to other versions at all. Presumably it was later that he decided that Lloyd had cobbled the song from multiple sources.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:00 PM

Phil in Chorlton has it exactly right:

"If you're asking whether any of this matters, the answer is that it matters to those it matters to. At the end of the day the songs are out there, and long may they be sung."

My experience may have been like Phil's. When I compared the first-rate lyrics that singers were recording with the second- and third-rate quality of most field-collected lyrics, I was surprised and disappointed. When it became clear just how far some had taken their revisions, which they then implied were the product of something slightly mystical called the "folk process," I felt I'd been had. Part of the appeal of "folksong" is that it supposedly gives you the very words of long-gone, anonymous people who weren't in it for the money and didn't need to pander to corporate patrons and jaded audiences. That's an important way folksong differs from pop music.

If you don't feel that particular esthetic tug, and you experience the songs without a sense of history (and that's cool too), then there's no problem. But traditional songs are supposed to be "about" history.

Unlike Bishop Percy, Baring-Gould, and the pop rewriters of the early '60s, Lloyd was an inspired song-tinkerer who really did improve what he put his pen to. The problem is that his artistic sense and immersion in the subject subverted his scholarly ethics. Nobody enjoys being fooled, and genuine scholars take pains not to fool them.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:07 PM

"The problem is that his artistic sense and immersion in the subject subverted his scholarly ethics. Nobody enjoys being fooled, and genuine scholars take pains not to fool them. "

Lighter, i agree up to a point. The thing that concerns me - and I speak as someone whose politics are very left of centre - is that Lloyd was coming from a particular political perspective, and the re-writes were sometimes done specifically to support his polemic. That's where, for me, the dishonesty really becomes an issue.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:11 PM

Folksong as propaganda? So what's new?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:11 PM

Sorry - that didn't make much sense. What I meant by quoting Lighter is that I think this is the point where it stops being about "artistic sense" and perhaps a touch of over-enthusiasm, and becomes deliberately manipulative.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:13 PM

Me too Ruth


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:49 PM

"That's interesting, Brian: in A Touch on the Times (1974) Roy Palmer gives the Lloyd version, more or less, and reports that it was collected by Lloyd in Widnes as late as 1951."

Unfortunately, Ruth, when I came across the paper in the VWML I only photocopied a couple of pages' worth of song texts, not the whole article. However, I've just checked Dave Atkinson's English Folk Song Bibliography and the paper in question is listed as:

376. Palmer, Roy. 'The Weaver in Love'. FMJ 3 (1977): 261-274.
Studies variations in the song 'The Weaver and the Factory Maid' in relation to changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

A version called 'T'Owd Weaver' seems to be the source of the 5/4 melody we all know from our Steeleye Span recordings, but it's set in Yorkshire ("The finest lass in Morley Town, she always walks out in a fine silk gown"), and is the source for the first couplet I quoted.

Another one called 'The Weaver and the Factory Maid' (sorry, I didn't copy the pages giving the singers' names or dates so I don't know whether any is from Widnes) is the source for the "factory maid is like a queen" line, and also includes verses more familiar from the Lloyd version.

Yet another version contains the familiar verse "I went unto my love's chamber door", and then goes on to some rather rude stuff: "I put my shuttle into her hand, and bid her use it at her command...."

If you want more you'll have to look up RP's paper. Maybe the fragment I've got in front of me misses out another killer version where the factory maid is the victim of snobbery after all. Maybe not.

I've got no axe to grind against Lloyd - who contributed so much that was admirable, and was by all accounts a charming and inspiring man - nor do I disapprove of his politics. 'Folksong in England' was my Bible for many years. But like Ruth, I'm disturbed by evidence that his agenda may have swayed his scholarship, particularly in view of the influence he wielded over, and material he contributed to, the nascent folk revival.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:08 PM

I've got no axe to grind against Lloyd - who contributed so much that was admirable, and was by all accounts a charming and inspiring man - nor do I disapprove of his politics. 'Folksong in England' was my Bible for many years. But like Ruth, I'm disturbed by evidence that his agenda may have swayed his scholarship, particularly in view of the influence he wielded over, and material he contributed to, the nascent folk revival.[quote from Brian Peters post]
I am not dismayed at all,I fully agree with LLoyds politics,and agree with what he was trying to do and consider that more important than scholarship.
Most people who are driven by a desire to change the world,be they Muslim fundamentalists ,Fascists,communists, socialists,are prepared to try and camouflage scholarship,to further their own beliefs.
this very day Muslims have managed to get the holocaust removed from the english school curriculum[so I have been informed by email].


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:09 PM

Brian, it looks like Roy Palmer may have done some more research into the song after the publication of A Touch on the Times - the publication dates would suggest this.

No axes here, either - I still think his contribution was huge and look forward to the Centenary Concert at Cecil Sharp House in November.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:13 PM

I agree with those who are a bit impatient with Bert's legacy. He wasn't very forthcoming about his sources and this is at odds with his reputation as a scholar.

Nevertheless, here's a slightly different perspective on Bert as an artist. Some 40 years ago I heard him sing at my local folk club in my home town. I have this vision in my head of this quite ordinary looking, somewhat portly little man getting off the London train, one Sunday evening, and walking through deserted streets to the pub where the club was held. He carried no instruments or equipment, just the songs in his head.

Amazingly a tape of that evening survives and I got to hear it recently. As well as the songs he sang, Bert told one of his incredible 'shaggy dog' stories. In the story a mysterious stranger turns up at an outback sheep station in Australia. He performs numerous 'miracles' and by the end of the story gets to 'roger' everyone on the station - including the owner! Now, as far as I know (and what do I know?) Bert didn't get to 'roger' anyone that night, but I couldn't help but draw parallels between him and the mysterious magician in his story. Bert Lloyd evenings in a folk club were magical and perhaps, like all good magicians, he didn't want his audiences to know how the tricks were done (?)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:17 PM

Ruth, as one whose politics are dead center (no pun intended) I never got a sense from the songs themselves that I was being manipulated - though I admit I haven't listened much to Lloyd's industrial songs, "Blackleg Miner" being the most obvious exception.
Songs like "Do Me Ama" and "Reynardine" and even "The Weaver and the Factory Maid" come off as humanistic rather than propagandist documents.

Lloyd's unacknowledged manipulation of his material is ridiculously low on the scale of human wrongdoing. The truth remains that he often misrepresented facts of tradition when he knew better.

Which has costs for folksong scholarship.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:18 PM

Most people who are driven by a desire to change the world,be they Muslim fundamentalists ,Fascists,communists, socialists,are prepared to try and camouflage scholarship,to further their own beliefs.

I don't think that will work. Les, Ruth and I are (by our own admission) pinkoes of the deepest dye, who might be supposed to sympathise with the kind of line Lloyd was trying to get across. But we've all expressed concern about scholarship being 'camouflaged' (or rather distorted).

this very day Muslims have managed to get the holocaust removed from the english school curriculum[so I have been informed by email].

I think your source is probably mistaken - more on this well-circulated story here. (But let's minimise follow-ups on this non-musical but highly contentious topic.)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: JeffB
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:39 PM

Lighter says that "traditional songs are supposed to be 'about' history". I would put a slightly different emphasis on what sons means to me and say they are about people - for the much greater part, about ordinary people who had to work with their hands to earn a living. From this point of view, there is no false propaganda in writing a song about the very hard times working people had in the 19th C (as Bert Lloyd seems to be accused of). Is anyone going to claim that 19th C labourers did not have a hard time? In some cases an atrocious time. Was Lloyd being factually inaccurate in his versions? He certainly would have been if he had written about how happy factory weavers were intheir work, with their generous wages and conditions.

It is all very well saying that we would like to sing (or even should only sing) the exact words as sung by singers from the past, and along with many another I appreciate the kind of continuity and contact over time that this experience can give. But singing is not an exercise in historical re-enactment. Singers chose the versions they like, from wherever they get them, because the song affects them and they want to communicate that same affect to their audience. From a singer's point of view, it might be interesting to know that, for instance, Lloyd or some other changed the verses of a particular song in various ways, but that is not of first importance. Singers are not always the genuine scholars of Ruth's comment, but it is the singers and not the scholars who keep the tradition (however you choose to define it) going.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:56 PM

Did he invent a bit or a lot?

Currently we don't know and so we don't really know the scale of the deception.

For what it's worth I saw him a couple of times and thought he was brilliant but that means nothing in this context, as most of us who saw him think so as well.

What we want is the truth about which songs were mostly his passed of as something else.

We are talking about folk song and folk culture. This is an aspect of our culture in which people have a habit of saying all sorts of things with out much evidence!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:58 PM

The "Do Me Ama" thread contains my final rant of the day about the point of all this. Lloyd's importance is only underscored by our concern with his reliability as a teacher and our disappointment when he, er, disappoints.

Wish I'd met him and heard him tell that story.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 02:05 PM

"Did he invent a bit or a lot?

Currently we don't know and so we don't really know the scale of the deception"

I thought quite a bit about this, overnight, and re-read some passages from Folk Song in England, and I really don't think we'll ever know the full scale, and in the end, I wonder if it really matters. I will still sing the songs, indeed , this Friday I'll sing The Black Leg Miner (see the eponymous thread) after listening the driving version by Steeleye Span.

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 02:45 PM

Fair enough Charlotte, people should sing what they like and so they will. Will you talk about the origin of the song? I don't know what it is anymore and I don't like the feel of that.

People singing in clubs often say a bit about the songs.In Manchester, the first Industrial City, we have a wealth of songs from broadsides that record something or other that happened to Mancunians 1 to 200 years ago.

Ewan collected To the Begging I will go from Beckett Whitehead in the 1950s or did he? Ewan and maybe Bert collected a very odd version of Working on the Railway from an UNNMADE railwayman in Newton Heath Manchester, or did they.

Honesty?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 02:52 PM

'Will you talk about the origin of the song? '

ummmmm...how does this sound?

'This is a very powerful song of the coal miners I learned from Steeleye Span, the background and origin of the song are currently the subject of much debate at this time' (do I get off the hook? *LOL*)

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 02:59 PM

"...there is no false propaganda in writing a song about the very hard times working people had in the 19th C (as Bert Lloyd seems to be accused of). Is anyone going to claim that 19th C labourers did not have a hard time?"

No, I'm not - I've read my Engels as well. If Bert Lloyd or anyone else had written original songs about those hard times, no one would be objecting.

The problem is that, for many of us who love traditional songs and choose to sing them, the fact that they are "The Voice of the People" (not for nothing did Topic use this title for their traditional song boxed set) is a part of their appeal. We like to feel, realistically or otherwise, that they may offer some kind of insight as to what life was really like, as seen not by historians but by ordinary folk. When intellectuals start meddling with them at a hundred and fifty years' remove - and particularly when the meddling is with the substance rather than the detail - they lose that claim to authenticity. When we don't know how much meddling has gone on, it's easy to lose faith with the whole canon.

I perform from time to time for local schoolchildren a repertoire designed to tell them something about the history behind those great cotton mills that still cast their shadow over this town. I show them old photographs and explain to them how children of their age would have been crawling underneath working machinery (with no safety guards) at severe risk to life and limb, and trudging off to work before the break of dawn. Perhaps one or two of them may be a fraction less likely to turn into Tory voters as a result (or perhaps I flatter myself). But I would like to feel that the songs I use to help tell the story do actually represent the people who worked those mills. Unlike Dick [above] I think it's better to try to stick to the truth in trying to change the world.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 03:08 PM

I feel sure that is an excellent summary of where we have got to with respect to Bert's honesty and where it leaves us.

For those who don't know Brian is a good as it gets when we talk about English songs, their performance and the background that those songs spring from.

I would ask people to stop re-stating how good and how important Bert was. I think we all agree on that.

I would like to know which songs were his and which were traditional.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 03:33 PM

This is a very powerful song of the coal miners I learned from Steeleye Span

Like it. Crossing over with another thread ('Source singers'), when I started performing I was utterly convinced that everyone else had learnt their repertoire from a passing ploughman, or failing that from Bert Lloyd in person, or at the very least from another folkie who'd learnt it from another folkie who'd learnt it from... To put it another way, I was convinced I was the only person there who'd picked up songs from (gasp!) records. I was eventually disabused of that notion.

Getting back to the topic, Steve Winick's article seems to suggest that Folk Song in England is basically pukka with regard to this one - if Lloyd says in FSIE that a song's traditional, then it probably is. (And if not, quite possibly not.) I haven't got FSIE myself - do other people think it might be a good place to draw a vague and fuzzy line?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 03:49 PM

To return for a moment to weavers and factory maids:

Palmer (FMJ, 1977, reference above) quotes a text 'Kindly communicated by A L Lloyd; collected by him from William Oliver of Widnes, September, 1951. "Mr Oliver's recollection was that the song was on a broadside printed in Oldham and formerly in his family's possession" (A L Lloyd, private communication).' Palmer goes on to say that he has not succeeded in locating an example of this broadside, adding that the 6/8 tune (which, for the article, was transcribed 'as sung by A L Lloyd', though the text was that provided by Lloyd as from his informant, thus:

I am a hand weaver to my trade.
I fell in love with a factory maid,
And if I could but her favor gain
I'd stand beside her and weave by steam.

The factory maid she is like a queen,
With handloom weavers she'll not be seen.
[two lines missing]

[two lines missing]
When you could have girls fine and gay
And dressed up like to the Queen of May.

For all her finery I don't care (or: For the fine girls...)
Could but enjoy me dear
I'd stand in the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play.

How can you say it's a pleasant bed,
When nought lies there but a factory maid?
A factory maid what though she be,
Blest is the man that enjoys she.

[line missing]
And makes me wish I'd never been born,
I sit and grieve at my loom all day
For the lass that stole my heart away.

Now where are the girls? I'll tell you plain,
The girls have gone to weave by steam.
And if you'd find 'em you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the factory in the early morn.

At no point does Palmer question the authenticity of Lloyd's text as printed (though he does provide a caveat where Frank Kidson's, with 5/4 tune, is concerned; however, no part of that text was used in the song as Lloyd sang it); the short article is simply an investigation of the song and its broadside antecedents. It is only in Lloyd's text that the girl is 'a factory maid': in earlier forms she is a servant, and it is from one or more of those that the missing lines were adapted, and additional verses inserted, by Lloyd for performance.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 04:11 PM

Dick says: "I am not dismayed at all,I fully agree with LLoyds politics,and agree with what he was trying to do and consider that more important than scholarship.
Most people who are driven by a desire to change the world,be they Muslim fundamentalists ,Fascists,communists, socialists,are prepared to try and camouflage scholarship,to further their own beliefs."

This is why I do not trust ideologues and fanatics of any stripe.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: nutty
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 04:17 PM

can i suggest that this article may shed some light on Lloyds intentions
A. L. Lloyd and the Search for a New Folk Music, 1945-49


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: John Routledge
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 04:47 PM

Many thanks for this informative link Nutty

It confirms that Bert was helped in his mining song collecting by The National Coal Board around 1950. In practical terms songs were "sent" to Bert by working miners.

Two of these songs Blackleg Miner and Banks of the Dee were among the first half dozen songs that I learned around 1963-4.The more I sing them the more that I am convinced that they were not conceived much before 1950

In a similar vein Gresford Disaster was "collected" in Sheffield and again repeated singing since 1966 confirms my gut reaction as to the origin of the song.

They are still wonderful songs and none the less worthy of being sung!!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 05:10 PM

The Gresford Disaster.

John Tams, formly of The Albion Band, did the research into the song, and found that it had been written in the form of the great, black-lettered, broadside ballads to raise funds for those who had been
widowed and orphaned by the accident He also discovered that the colliery band was at the pithead as the bodies were being brought out, playing to try and raise the spirits
of the wives, children and friends who were waiting. One tune the colliery band is known to have played, according to Tams, was How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (in a believer's ear)

I've no reason to believe that John Tams is in anyway mistaken.

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 05:23 PM

Could it be that he didn't always remember fiddling? Woody Guthrie forgot that Gypsy Davey was around way before him.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 05:30 PM

This is a very frustrating but interesting thread. People keep repeating over and over two facts which are not really connected. What Bert did as a performer surely we can't question, he altered/improved songs which we all do. If we don't we're simply walking museums.
A totally separate issue is his behaviour as a scholar and writer. Here he followed the very ancient tradition of fabricating songs from oral tradition....Percy, Scott, Ford, Cunningham, Buchan, Baring Gould, Tongue, Niles, MacColl.....He was equally naughty.

Someone asked for more examples.
I'm from Hull.
Bert went out on a whaler from Hull and claimed to have learnt a version of the shanty 'Heave away my Johnny' from a seaman off Stoneferry in Hull.

One verse runs 'Fare ye well, ye Kingston girls, farewell St Andrews Dock'. Nobody from Hull (With the sole exception of one Mike Ramsden)would ever call anybody from Hull 'Kingston'. The only things called Kingston are the stadium, a few local firms and a rugby team, but even they're either Rovers or KR. Kingston stadium is KC. Most people from Hull can't stand the bloody name Kingston. St Andrews dock is a relatively new dock and would only have been built a few years before Bert was sailing out of her on his one trip whaling on a very modern boat. It was the fish dock, now filled in.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 05:42 PM

Steve,

you are beyond the pail.

Bert played games. This is not honest


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: BB
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 05:58 PM

"if we've got down to the point where this music and these songs, are just about history and who said what to whom and with exactly what words, the folkscene is really up shit creek."

Ah, but it isn't *just* about history, etc., as many of the posters above have indicated.

I'm somewhat puzzled, wld, as to why you read or post to these threads about the more academic matters and about the tradition if you don't really care about such things. If all you're concerned with is the folk scene, why don't you restrict yourself just to discussion on that, and let those who are interested in such things get on with it? You wouldn't get so frustrated then.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 06:26 PM

Traditional songs, are all songs that were written by somebody,many have been altered and added to,by the singers.
modern songs may possibly be sung in 200 years time,they may also get changed,and it is possible that some may get mistaken for traditional.
if Bob Roberts altered Gamekeepers lie sleeping,or A. L.Lloyd altered a song,or even wrote a song and passed it off as traditional,if it was a good song,I am sure none of the singers on this forum,would not sing it because it was not traditional.
most people sing songs because they like the song.
as a singer ,that is the only thing that concerns me.IF a song is a modern composition the only reason, I need to know is to ensure the author gets credited with his/ her royalties.
if Bert lloyds composotions were so authentic that every one was fooled,Then they must be good songs.
Scholars only need to know because they have a different criteria from singers like myself,or from past traditional singers[all of whom sang a song because they liked it],they[trad singers] did not refuse to sing a composed music hall song,a few like Walter Pardon had great knowledge about their songs,but most did not,their criteria was, it did something for them.

   Brian says he believes in trying to stick to the truth while changing the world,well the Establishment/multinational capatalists do not believe in sticking to the truth.,they use every means at their disposal to maintain their position.
I do not need to know which were Berts songs ,because he never claimed them to be his own,obviously he didnt want the royalties.
Finally we are talking about two very different times. lloyds world,the1950s folk revival, and the world of the 1950s was very different,to our own 21 century computer world.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 06:33 PM

BB where does Wee Little Drummer come into this.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 06:34 PM

ah yes Ihave found him ,sorry.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 06:44 PM

"if Bert lloyds composotions were so authentic that every one was fooled,Then they must be good songs."

Because, quite simply, we have been lied to by many, and we thought Bert would tell the truth

Ah well ...........................................


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 07:04 PM

It's always disappointng to find your idol has feet of clay, even if the clay only affects the toes; the rest of us (not being idols) can have as much clay as we like in our constitution and nobody fusses.

I've always liked Bert's singing and value the songs he (and others, since) have made important, but it's the possible taint of false scholarship that bothers me. That may well be just my problem but I come from and operate in a tradition where respectable scholarship is valued.

Without going into the veracity of Steve's Bert went out on a whaler from Hull and claimed to have learnt a version of the shanty 'Heave away my Johnny' from a seaman off Stoneferry in Hull it reminded me of Brian Peters' situation I perform from time to time for local schoolchildren a repertoire designed to tell them something about the history....

I've done similar classes myself and there are people who've made successful careers, in and beyond the folkscene, out of their ability to imitate Bert's apparent authenticity (even when their depth of scholarship extends no further than LP covers), while not similarly imitating his politics.

I suspect most of us would love to exercise the same magic as Bert's and would feel happy to be cast a bit in Bert's mould and that's where the possible taint of dodgy scholarship bites those of us who value that aspect.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 09:17 PM

We've had discussions of Anathea, as recorded by Judy Collins & others, here before, and I believe someone suggested Bert Lloyd may have been involved in the construction of that ballad.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:07 AM

Bert, must have given considerable thought to what he did.
I see it as an extension of the philosophy the end justifies the means,which is the philosophy of communists and also the ruling classes of the capatilist system.
the two just have different ends.
Bert presumably[and Ithink he was right]considered his own songs and his alterations a bonus to the tradition .,he clearly wanted his songs to be part of the tradition,and at the time he composed them,perhaps he thought ,they wouldnt be judged on their merit if he announced them as self compositions.
was the attitude to modern songs perhaps different at this time.?
one person who may be able to throw light on Berts reasons,would be Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:12 AM

should read,the means is justified by the end.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: nutty
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:14 AM

I


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: nutty
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:23 AM

I'LL TRY AGAIN ....

I think there is a tendancy to judge Bert by modern standards given the knowledge we have today. He was a man who was totally committed to promoting folk music to a relatively hostile and uninterested population.
Would anyone have taken him seriously if he had admitted to doctoring somgs?
Given that the songs had been developed through the oral tradition (ie many versions across the country or continents) did it really make any difference?

I doubt that he envisaged a world where access to source material was so readily available and once having created the myth how could he retract without losing all credibility?

Don't lose sight of the enormous impact he had ...... his only fault was that he was human.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:32 AM

I would like to thanks you all for the quality of contributions to this thread. They have been thoughtful and extremely well informed. I would ask anybody coming to it anew to read from the start.


My original list was:
The Blackleg Miner, Do me Ama, The Recruited Collier, Reynadyne, Tam Lyn, Byker Hill in 9/8, The Four Loom Weaver, The Handloom Weaver and the Factory Maid,

I think these have been added:
Bold Lovell, Jack Orion, Sovay and The Demon Lover, Celebrated Working Man, Working on the Railway, Anathea

I will re-state - "We all recognise the contribution Bert made in all kinds of ways"

But what do we know of him in this year of his Centenary? Some people are going to look silly and the task of scholarship in traditional music will be that much harder if it turns out that Bert was writing more than he was collecting.

I understand a biography is at hand, is that so?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 06:17 AM

Cap'n:
"Establishment/multinational capatalists do not believe in sticking to the truth.,they use every means at their disposal to maintain their position."

Indeed so – the name 'Murdoch' springs to mind. But I like to be on the side of the good guys. Do we really need to claim that Tories eat babies in order to oppose them?

Malcolm Douglas:
Thank you for chapter and verse on "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid". Perhaps less of a confection than I was suggesting, but the omitted lines are significant nonetheless. I'm curious about Mr. Oliver of Widnes: were other songs collected from him, and was he ever recorded? Where did he find a tune for his broadside of "Handweaver"?

Les in Chorlton:
"Ewan collected To the Begging I will go from Beckett Whitehead in the 1950s or did he?"

Beckett Whitehead sang pretty much what is in the DT under "A-Beggin' I Will Go", which was collected by Seumus Ennis and published in "Folksongs of Britain and Ireland". It doesn't include anything about being "blind in Dukinfield", nor did he sing it to the modal tune that MacColl used. I'm not sure where those came from.

Les again:
"I think these have been added:
Bold Lovell, Jack Orion, Sovay and The Demon Lover...."

Yes, but, as Steve Gardham pointed out, an awful lot of performers have made their own collated, improved or otherwise meddled-with versions of Child Ballads in particular. I don't have any problem with 'Lovell' or 'Demon Lover' (I've just done my own take on the latter, inspired by - but different from - the Lloyd version).

Still, if you want another example of Child/Lloyd, what about 'Lucy Wan' - the one with that weird tune in the Lydian mode or whatever it was?

And I always rather assumed "Fourloom Weaver" (the tune, at least) was MacColl's work rather than Lloyds.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 06:38 AM

what Bert did was strengthen the tradition,Nothing wrong with that.
if he was herenow he would probably be operating differently ,he has to be seen in the context of his time,as Cecil Sharp and Baring Gould are.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 06:47 AM

Strengthened the tradition? No he didn't, Cap'n, he weakened it. Because of his deceit we don't know what song is genuinely 'traditional' and what is a Lloyd creation. I'm now wondering about his version of Creeping Jane - it's a very different melody than the one recorded by Joseph Taylor and has more verses. This latter point seems to be very much a Bert Lloyd trait - create the verses that the people should have sung but carelessly forgot to do so. A couple of years ago I heard Martin Simpson wryly explaining the origins of Peggy and the Soldier, telling us that Bert 'came up with' some extra verses.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:07 AM

Good points Captain, I guess we need to be careful about strengthening the tradition with bogus songs and lines which imply origins to songs that are without foundation.

I think hindsight as 20/20 vision is to be avoided but didn't Bert work in an academic environment that expected honest sources and references and much was made of this in his case?

It seems quite clear that Bert was doing things to songs with a purpose other than simply creating good songs but he wasn't being honest about it. Many of us were excited by him because he seemed to have identified an historical analysis of traditions that really valued working class culture.

I don't think I can explain in this format what Bert's purpose was and how he changed and created songs to support that purpose but in the year of his Centenary I think somebody should.

It took far too long for the Folk world to unravel what Sharp et al had been doing when they selectively collected songs. It looks we need to unravel what Bert was up to.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:12 AM

Thanks Terry, this sums it up rather well:

"create the verses that the people should have sung but carelessly forgot to do so"

And this gives me an idea:

"A couple of years ago I heard Martin Simpson wryly explaining the origins of Peggy and the Soldier, telling us that Bert 'came up with' some extra verses."

Much is made of the many versions of songs that have been collected "from the field". How many versions of Barbra Alan from how many people? If a review of Bertsongs showed a disproportionate number of songs from only one mysterious source what would we think?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:31 AM

""Ewan collected To the Begging I will go from Beckett Whitehead in the 1950s or did he?"
No he didn't, he and Joan Littlewood collected it 10-15 years earlier from Becket Whitehead for a radio programme called 'The Song Collector' or something like that, produced by Olive Shaply - the details are in one of the indexes of The Ewan MacColl songbook.
They also collected 'Fourpence a Day and 'Drinking' around the same time
Bert may have 'IMPROVED' the songs, or even improved the songs, but he certainly didn't strengthen the tradition, what he did to the songs had nothing to do with the tradition - therein lies the problem.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:49 AM

Thanks Jim, Harry Boardman used to sing To the Begging and I seem to remember him casting some doubt on exactly what Ewan had got and what he done with it. Not that me memory adds anything to the discussion.

"what he did to the songs had nothing to do with the tradition - therein lies the problem".

But this does, can you take it a bit further?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:53 AM

"Because of his deceit we don't know what song is genuinely 'traditional' and what is a Lloyd creation."

"It seems quite clear that Bert was doing things to songs with a purpose other than simply creating good songs but he wasn't being honest about it."

I think there's a danger of overstating this. Most of Lloyd's editorial changes seem pretty clearly to have had as their main purpose the creation of what he considered a more interesting song. Steven Winick's paper on 'Reynardine' makes this point very well. Attaching a bit of Balkan rhythm or melody to an old English song likewise served to sex things up a bit.

In the case of 'Recruited Collier', what seems to have happened is an alteration of the lyric, not directly for propaganda purposes, but to help validate the concept of 'Industrial Song'. This was Lloyd's Big Idea, on the one hand establishing that song making and transmission amongst "the folk" had not (contrary to prevailing orthodoxy) died out with the Industrial Revolution and urbanization, and on the other giving the folk revival movement some claim to relevance at a time when heavy industry still operated across much of Britain. As the 'Blackleg Miner' thread shows (and by the way, I'm getting a bit confused with three different Bert-related threads), some of 'Industrial Folksongs' cited by Lloyd and others may not have been sung as widely as the rural folksongs that turned up all over the place in countless variants. But since not too many song collectors spent time amongst the urban working class, we don't really know.

My own interest in "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid" centred on the possibility that the Lloyd version actually did tweak a pre-existing song to imply the downtrodden status of the factroy worker. Having seen the full text Malcolm pasted above, I'd say the jury is still out on that one.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:19 PM

As a singer and a researcher I tend to be somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to the whole tradition of song fabrication. The researcher in me is rather annoyed at being bamboozled by people like Bert, Ewan, Baring Gould, Buchan, Scott etc because once we find some examples of what they've done then this taints all the rest of their material. (Exactly how much did they fabricate?) On the other hand another part of me (a mischievous part) actually admires what they've managed to do. Most of them had different motives. I think Baring Gould's main motive for getting one over on Child was his contempt for what he saw as pompous authority, and I can empathise with this.
Bert obviously couldn't resist letting his own creative juices loose on the songs.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:20 PM

The problem for me with 'Recruited Collier' is about the provenance. Here's Bert: "A set of this 18th century song was printed in Anderson's . The present version, from a collier, J. T. Huxtable of Workington, is in Come all ye bold miners".

Here's Steve Winick, from the "Reynardine" essay:
"Lloyd claimed that a man named J. T. Huxtable contacted him with a song he called "The Recruited Collier" (Lloyd 1952, 133). Lloyd's claim is highly suspect, however. Like Tom Cook, Huxtable could not be located by later researchers, although some looked for him in Workington where Lloyd claimed he lived. [4] In addition, it is now relatively clear that Lloyd actually created the song himself by adapting a poem entitled "Jenny's Complaint," written by Robert Anderson, a Cumberland antiquarian and poet. Anderson, who wrote the original in 1803, never claimed that the ballad had come from oral tradition. Indeed, he was quite clear in the preface to his book, Ballads in the Cumberland Dialect, that he was the author of the poems in the volume, explaining that they were copied from life and "composed during the author's solitary rambles on the banks of his favourite stream" (Anderson 1828, vi). Lloyd himself was aware of Anderson's book, noting that it contained "a version" of the song (Lloyd 1952, 133). He must, therefore, have known that it was not a "folksong" in any accepted sense, nor a product of miners' culture. This poem, unlike some others in Anderson's collection, does not appear to have entered the oral tradition until long after Lloyd's publication of it."

(Emphasis added)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:22 PM

Oops. The Lloyd quote should read

"A set of this 18th century song was printed in Anderson's Ballads in the Cumberland dialect (1808). The present version, from a collier, J.T. Huxtable of Workington, is in Come all ye bold miners"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:27 PM

Thanks Brian, I think you are right about the purpose of some of his interventions but they seem to be trying to justify a position upon which he had already made his mind. It also seems that rather a lot of songs were actually written by him and not collected.

I guess in the end the value of his contribution will far outweigh the songs he seems to have made from bits of others and just out of his imagination.But I still think for the sake of scholarship we need to know what is what


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:29 PM

Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards - PM
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:20 PM

The problem for me with 'Recruited Collier' is about the provenance. Here's Bert: "A set of this 18th century song was printed in Anderson's . The present version, from a collier, J. T. Huxtable of Workington, is in Come all ye bold miners".

Here's Steve Winick, from the "Reynardine" essay:
"Lloyd claimed that a man named J. T. Huxtable contacted him with a song he called "The Recruited Collier" (Lloyd 1952, 133). Lloyd's claim is highly suspect, however. Like Tom Cook, Huxtable could not be located by later researchers, although some looked for him in Workington where Lloyd claimed he lived. [4] In addition, it is now relatively clear that Lloyd actually created the song himself by adapting a poem entitled "Jenny's Complaint," written by Robert Anderson, a Cumberland antiquarian and poet. Anderson, who wrote the original in 1803, never claimed that the ballad had come from oral tradition. Indeed, he was quite clear in the preface to his book, Ballads in the Cumberland Dialect, that he was the author of the poems in the volume, explaining that they were copied from life and "composed during the author's solitary rambles on the banks of his favourite stream" (Anderson 1828, vi). Lloyd himself was aware of Anderson's book, noting that it contained "a version" of the song (Lloyd 1952, 133). He must, therefore, have known that it was not a "folksong" in any accepted sense, nor a product of miners' culture. This poem, unlike some others in Anderson's collection, does not appear to have entered the oral tradition until long after Lloyd's publication of it."
still a good song and very much worth singing.and that is my criteria.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 05:39 PM

Capt B
As far as I can see nobody in any of these related threads on Bert has tried to suggest otherwise. They're all cracking songs. We just wish Bert had said I wrote/adapted these verses/versions.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 06:05 PM

The Trojan Horse concept worked for the Greeks and produced, in their opinion, a great result so it should be no surprise that others should imitate it. I don't think anyone here has any criticism of the quality of Bert's artistry, judged by the results around us; the extent of the criticism is the intent of that artistry. The real bother for me is that others used similar techniques to arrogate "authority" to their background so their presentation of "tradition" would be more readily received.

And I'm still trying (unsuccessfully, so far, as I'm away from my library) to recall the particular Australian song(s) Bert "collected" when he was here and promulgated back in Britain.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:06 PM

Steve,

in a previous post I said you beyond the pail. I think I was trying to say you were peerless.Thanks for you recent post.

Rowan,

I wish I could write like you!

thanks

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:17 PM

Thanks for the praise Les; the cheque's in the mail.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM

If you perform or (particularly) record a "traditional" song obtained from a Bertsource, how do you properly attribute it? What about copyright and royalty issues? What about the impact to your own credibility when others find that you've passed on spurious facts? How many of us have the wherewithal or time to research each and every song personally, double-checking every source (especially when only one is known)?

The sort of "evolution" performed by revivalists is radically different from what would occur naturally in informal transmission. Usually, they're well aware of all significant changes. So why don't people just detail changes they've made to traditional songs, particularly when they record them? How about telling us what "arranged by" really means? How about posting source materials on your web site, for comparison? Modern technology makes this so easy.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 23 Apr 08 - 08:07 PM

From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:08 PM

this very day Muslims have managed to get the holocaust removed from the english school curriculum[so I have been informed by email].


I'd hate this to go unremarked.

It is nonsense and the history of it can be found on the internet.

It's late now and I don't have time to post a link.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 02:47 AM

Les,
I assume that you are asking about the collecting done by MacColl and Littlewood - I'll go and get me book....... (exits left).
Here we go...
"1948 - The Song Collector. The record of a folk song-collecting trip in Teesdale, Yorkshire. Produced by Olive Shapley"
I have no idea what the programme included and how faithful Ewan's later renderings of the songs collected were (nor did Harry - he told me he'd never heard the programme, which was presumably junked by the Beeb).
When I asked him about the trip he said they'd recorded Four Loom Weaver, To The Begging, Drinking, Fourpence a Day, Scarborough Fair and an obscene version of Seven Nights Drunk (T'Ould Chap Cam' O'er The Bank), all of which MacColl sang himself at one time or another. Apart from Beckett Whitehead, he mentioned as an informant, retired lead miner Mark Anderson, from whom they'd got 'Fair' and 'Fourpence'.
As I say, I have no idea to what extent he re-worked the songs; but knowing his general approach to his traditional material, possibly quite extensively.
Unlike Bert, I never heard Ewan make claims of 'authenticity' for his own sung versions, though he quite often couldn't remember what he'd done to them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 02:53 AM

Dave - already done. Here's the link again: no, they haven't.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 04:54 AM

Brian Peters "some of 'Industrial Folksongs' cited by Lloyd and others may not have been sung as widely as the rural folksongs that turned up all over the place."

Considering the context of the thread - this isn't really drift!

A lot of 'rural' stuff is 'one-off': to some people that means it's 'rare': to another it means that only one silly bugger throught it was worth remembering long enough to be collected (e.g Who Owns The Game?). Many songs in the revival over the last 40 years may well have enjoyed a far greater currenct than they did when first created - the same is true of morris, and urguably many 'traditional' dances.

Bert was one of the primary creators of the folk revival - sorry, that should be the mid-to-late-twentieth-century-folk-song-revival (see Harker - but carefully - for some others).
He had political motives - so?
He re-wrote songs - so?
He created songs and tunes from various sources - so?
He wasn't entirely up front about what he did - that is what, from an academic perspective, dis-credits all the rest of what he did - so?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 04:55 AM

Oops - sorry. Add Bonny Black Hare
Tom


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 05:18 AM

Folkie Dave,it has been corrected earlier,and I apologise for printing something that came from a fellow mudcatter[I wont print their name] in an email.,and that turns out to be incorrect.
Jim,as a contemporary of Ewan and Berts,did Bert ever discuss with you,or give you any idea why he altered songs,and passed off his own songs as traditional?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 05:27 AM

Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards - PM
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 01:18 PM

Most people who are driven by a desire to change the world,be they Muslim fundamentalists ,Fascists,communists, socialists,are prepared to try and camouflage scholarship,to further their own beliefs.

I don't think that will work. Les, Ruth and I are (by our own admission) pinkoes of the deepest dye, who might be supposed to sympathise with the kind of line Lloyd was trying to get across. But we've all expressed concern about scholarship being 'camouflaged' (or rather distorted).

this very day Muslims have managed to get the holocaust removed from the english school curriculum[so I have been informed by email].

I think your source is probably mistaken - more on this well-circulated story here. (But let's minimise follow-ups on this non-musical but highly contentious topic.)
FOLKIE DAVE,the link is in this post,further up the thread .


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 05:36 AM

He re-wrote songs - so?
He created songs and tunes from various sources - so?
He wasn't entirely up front about what he did - that is what, from an academic perspective, dis-credits all the rest of what he did - so?


So he lied. So he 'collected' material that he'd written himself, and lied about how he'd collected it and who he'd collected it from. Collecting is partly about getting songs down and putting them back into circulation, and partly about tracing songs back to their roots (or a little closer to their roots). Bert Lloyd did the first part extraordinarily well, but his contribution to the second part seems to be, well, a bit mixed.

If anything, he made it harder to document songs like Reynardine, The Recruited Collier and the Blackleg Miner: was there a pre-1808 version of TRC? was there a J.T. Huxtable who was singing it in Workington? was there a Tom Cook who was singing Reynardine? The answer seems very likely to be no in all three cases, but at this distance we can never be sure. (And was there a W. Sampey of Bishop Auckland who was singing the Blackleg Miner in 1949? I'm starting to wonder.)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 05:55 AM

"1948 - The Song Collector. The record of a folk song-collecting trip in Teesdale, Yorkshire. Produced by Olive Shapley"

How I would love to hear that programme! Although since Delph (home of Beckett Whitehead) is a long way from Teesdale I'm a bit puzzled by the title.

I've always wondered whether Mr. Whitehead actually sang 'Four Loom Weaver' at all, or perhaps showed MacColl a copy of the old 'Jone O' Grinfilt' broadside in a book (Beckett, far from being the unlettered weaver of common portrayal, was a highly self-educated man, expert and enthusiastic about local dialect, history and geology). At any rate the tune to which the J. O' G. broadsides were traditionally sung bears no resemblance to the superbly dramatic beast that we now associate with 'Four Loom Weaver'. But it seems that this programme did indeed include footage of B. W. singing it....

It's also worth mentioning for those not in the know that Mr. Whitehead's 'A-Beggin' I Will Go' goes to that jaunty tune you can find here in the DT (and in the Folksongs of Britain and Ireland book) rather than the moody modal tune that most people now would recognize. It doesn't contain any reference to being 'blind at Dukinfield' either.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 06:02 AM

Whoops, I'd already said half of that in an earlier post. The back pain is rotting my brain.....


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM

Brian, Is there some confusion here between the version of "Four Loom Weaver" which MacColl has recorded on various albums, published in Singing Islands (I think)and is sung quite widely in the folk clubs and "Poor Cotton Weaver" as recorded by Bert on "The Iron Muse" and a longer set of words published in "Folksong in England". Certainly the latter is set to the same tune of "Jone o'Grinfilt" and the ensuing songs of that family. I have never heard that particular variant sung in a folk club except from a chap to whom I passed the words onto.


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Subject: Lyr Add: POOR COTTON WEAVER
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 06:49 AM

Yes, Dave, 'Poor Cotton Weaver' is one of the Jone O' Grinfilt ballads, sometimes known as 'Jone O' Grinfilt Junior' (Harland & Wilkinson 1875). I think it's mentioned somehwere in Mrs. Gaskell as well. All of the 'Jone' broadsides were, to my understanding, intended to be sung to the same tune that you mention.

I've pasted a copy of the words below. You can find pretty much all of 'Four Loom Weaver' in there, although Bill O' Bent's role in the proceedings is a bit different. It doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to believe that 'Four Loom Weaver' is a well-executed rewrite of the dialect poem, set to a particularly good tune. Did Beckett Whitehead or one of his antecedents construct this (he was a dialect expert and would surely have known about the poem), or did MacColl?

Either way, you can't accuse the rewriter of making up bogus words for the sake of agit-prop - all the pain and anger are right there in the old version. The big tune adds a lot to the impact, of course.

I'm a poor cotton weaver as many one knows
I've nowt to eat i' th' house an' I've wore out my cloas
You'd hardly give sixpence for all I have on.
My clugs they are brossen an' stockins I've none.
      You'd think it wur hard to be sent into th'world
      To clem an' do th'best ot you con.

Our church parson kept tellin' us long,
We should have better times if we'd but hold our tongues.
I've houden my tongue till I can hardly draw breath.
I think i' my heart he means to clem me to death.
      I know he lives weel by backbitin' the de'il,
      But he never picked o'er in his life.

We tarried six week an' thought every day were t'last.
We tarried an' shifted till now we're quite fast.
We lived on nettles while nettles were good,
An' Waterloo porridge were best of us food.
      I'm tellin' you true, I can find folks enew
      That er livin' no better than me.

Old Bill o' Dan's sent bailiffs one day,
For a shop score I owed him that I couldn't pay,
But he wur too late, for old Bill o' Bent
Had sent tit an' cart and taen goods for rent.
      We had nowt bur a stoo', that wur a seat for two;
      An' on it cowered Margit an' me.

The bailiffs looked round as sly as a mouse,
When they saw aw things wur taen out o' t'house.
Says one to the other: All's gone, thou may see.
Aw sed: Lads, never fret, you're welcome to me.
      They made no more ado, but nipped up t'owd stoo',
      An' we both went wack upo' t'flags.

I geet howd o' Margit, for hoo're stricken sick.
Hoo sed hoo ne'er had such a bang sin hoo wur wick.
The bailiffs scoured off wi' owd stoo' on their backs.
They would not have cared had they brokken our necks.
      They're mad at owd Bent cos he's taen goods for rent,
      An wur ready to flay us alive.

I sed to our Margit as we lay upo' t'floor:
We shall never be lower in this world, I am sure.
But if we alter, I'm sure we mun mend,
For I think i' my heart we are both at far end,
      For meat we have none, nor looms to weave on,
      Egad, they're as weel lost as found.

Then I geet up my piece, an' I took it 'em back.
I scarcely dare speak, mester lookit so black.
He said: You wur o'erpaid last time you coom.
I said: If I wur, 'twas for weavin' bout loom.
      In the mind as I'm in, I'll ne'er pick o'er again,
      For I've woven mysel to th'fur end.

Then aw coom out o' t'warehouse, an' left him to chew that.
When aw thought again, aw wur vext till aw sweat.
To think we mun work to keep him an' aw th'set,
All the days o' my life, an' then die in their debt!
      But I'll give o'er this trade, an' work with a spade,
      Or go an' break stones upo' th'road.

Our Margit declares if hoo'd cloas to put on,
Hoo d go up to Lundun an' see the young Queen,
An if things didn't alter when hoo had been,
Hoo swears hoo would fight, blood up to th'een.
      Hoo's nought agen t'queen, but hoo likes a fair thing,
      An' hoo says hoo can tell when hoo's hurt.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE WEAVER AND HIS SWEETHEART
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 07:26 AM

The Bodleian collection lists umpteen JO'G variants (though knowing which search-words to use takes some imagination) -
here's one.

Plus there's one in the Axon Collection.


RE: Weavers and Factory Maids

THE WEAVER AND HIS SWEETHEART

I am a weaver by my trade,
I fell in love with a servant maid,
If I her favour could but win,
Then I shall weave and she shall spin.

Her father to him scornfully said,
How can you fancy a servant-maid,
When you may have ladies fine and gay,
Drest like unto the Queen of May.

As for your ladies I don't care,
Could I but enjoy my only dear,
It makes me mourn when I thought to smile,
And I will wander the woods so wild.

I went unto my love's chamber-door,
Where oftimes I had been before;
But I could not speak nor yet go in,
To the pleasant bed my love lay in.

How can you tell what a pleasant bed,
Where nothing lies but a servant-maid?
A servant-maid altho' she be,
Blest is the man that enjoyeth she.

A pleasant thought came into my mind,
I turned down the sheets so fine,
There I saw two white breasts hand so low
Much like two white hills covered with snow.

My love she lives in the country of North,
And I myself live a great way off;
And when I weave for the county of Down,
Then I will weave her a holland Gown.

My love is sick and like to die,
A most unhappy young man am I;
But at length the Weaver's joy was blest
And he got the servant Maid at last.


Published: LATER ENGLISH BROADSIDE BALLADS - Holloway/Black
Source: Madden Collection, v6, slip sheet 1909


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 08:58 AM

Cap'n
Contemporary my arse - both Ewan and Bert could comfortably give me 25 years plus!
Ewan's main purpose was to encourage singing - traditional songs and new songs created using traditional models. Unlike Bert, he made no claim to being an academic in the field of folk song, though he did possess a great knowledge of the subject.
Bert on the other had, was somewhat schizophrenic, wavering between being a singer and an academic.
I didn't know Bert as well as I knew Ewan, so I can only go on passing impressions.
A friend of mine is working on an interview he did with Bert for a magazine he and I were intending to publish, but which never got off the ground. Haven't had time to dig it out and listen, but I seem to remember there's some interesting stuff on it.
Brian,
I too would have loved to hear 'Collector' and 'Landscape with Chimneys, 'Scouser', 'Pit stop, 'St Cecilia and the Shovel' and all the other programmes that were lost to us.
I think Ewan and Joan were sent off with an open brief and the programme was designated 'Teesdale' when what they collected was assessed.
By the way, I apologise for my date discrepency - I always thought 'collector was made much earlier than 1948.
Don't know if this is any interest to anybody - it is from Prospero and Ariel - a critique of the BBC by one of its great feature producers.

PROSPERO AND ARIEL. (The Rise And Fall Of Radio).
D.G.Bridson.
Victor Gollancz Ltd.1971.
The voice was a new one on the air, the voice of Ewan MacColl, but there was no mistaking the message of the tramping feet behind it.
Ewan MacColl was himself a victim of the Depression. The son of an unemployed Glasgow steelworker, who had moved to Salford in search of work during the twenties, he had suffered every privation and humiliation that poverty could contrive for him from the age of ten. His memories of his early years are still bitter-like his recollection of how to kill aimless time in a world where there was nothing else to do: "You go in the Public Library. And the old men are there standing against the pipes to get warm, all the newspaper parts are occupied, and you pick a book up. I can remember then that you got the smell of the unemployed, a kind of sour or bitter-sweet smell, mixed in with the smell of old books, dust, leather and the rest of it. So now if I pick up, say, a Dostoievsky-immediately with the first page, there's that smell of poverty in 1931. MacColl had been out busking for pennies by the Manchester theatres and cinemas. The songs he sang were unusual, Scots songs, Gaelic songs he had learnt from his mother, border ballads and folk-songs. One night while queueing up for the three-and¬sixpennies, Kenneth Adam had heard him singing outside the Manchester Paramount. He was suitably impressed. Not only did he give MacColl a handout; he also advised him to go and audition for Archie Harding at the BBC studios in Manchester's Piccadilly. This MacColl duly did. May Day in England was being cast at the time, and though it had no part for a singer, it certainly had for a good, tough, angry Voice of the People. Ewan MacColl became the Voice, a role which he has continued to fill on stage, on the air, and on a couple of hundred L.P. discs ever since.
Shortly after May Day in England went out, a letter appeared in the correspondence column of the Radio Times over the signature of one George Potter. It gave high praise to the programme and ended: "Broadcasting produces, or displays, a creative writer of real force, and the critics continue to retail nothing but the latest band-room and bar-room gossip. It is high time this particular temple is cleansed." I was surprised, when I met him a year later, to find that 'George Potter' had been a discreet pseudonym for Laurence Gilliam, who had just moved over from the Radio Times to become a London feature producer himself We were to see a great deal more of each other.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that a vital new theatre movement was born in Manchester at the time when Cotton People and Coal were giving new vitality to radio. For it was there that Joan Littlewood first gathered together the group that was later to form the nucleus of Theatre Workshop. Known at the time as Theatre Union, that body of young enthusiasts had something they wanted to express in movement no less than in voice. Ewan MacColl was one of them, for in those days Joan and he were married: they had first met up in my broadcast Tunnel. Others were recruited by Joan from among the hundreds we got to know in all parts of the North.
I asked her in a broadcast recently what the North had meant to the movement she had founded there in pre-war days. She admitted it had meant everything; that what she had been able to start in Manchester could not have been started then in London. As the seed was later to bear such splendid fruit, I like to remember where the seed was first nurtured. So does Joan Littlewood.
Jim Carroll
PS Thanks - Brian parcel arrived today


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 09:21 AM

If Jim was a contemporary of Ewan's he'd be 93!

Phil (contemporary of Kirsty)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 11:02 AM

Brian's ref. to "Lucy Wan" sent me to Ken Goldstein's notes to the influential "English and Scottish Popular Ballads" recordings for Riverside. Lloyd sang only two for which he did not offer a traceable source:

"Lord Bateman" (53): "[M]ainly from his own family tradition. He writes, however, that 'over the yers I have acquired so many bits from other singers' versions that I woulod be hard put nowto sort out which was which.'"

"The Cherry Tree" (54): No source given.

On the accompanying "Great British Ballads Not in the Child Collection" are

"The Bitter Withy": "Primarily a family version 'which has been amplified by printed versions over the years.'"

"The Bramble Briar": "The version sung by Lloyd, part of his family tradition, appears to be one of the finest versions yet reported."

"The Shooting of His Dear" [i.e., "Molly Ban /Polly Vaughn"]:
"[L]argely from his own family tradition,...expanded from various printed sources."

The remaining 32 songs performed by Lloyd are attributed to identified sources. Most are acknowledged collations of more than one source.

The attribution of four songs in outstanding versions to "family tradition" is fascinating. Did Lloyd ever write much about this tradition?

No version of "Lucy Wan" is included in the Riverside series.

I'll start a similar thread about MacColl's contributions when I get a chance.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 11:15 AM

"Beckett, far from being the unlettered weaver of common portrayal, was a highly self-educated man, expert and enthusiastic about local dialect, history and geology ..."

I suspect that that description would fit a lot of traditional singers. I believe that Henry Burstow of Sussex was a similar self-educated polymath.

Also Sid Calderbank (of Chorley - possibly?) sings a version of the 'Four Loom Weaver' which is much closer to the version posted above by Brian Peters. Sid sings it in dialect and the first time I heard him all the hairs stood up on the back of my neck! I swear I was, for a few moments, transported back to Georgian Lancashire. If you ever meet Sid beg him (nicely, of course) to sing it for you!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 11:26 AM

Yes, Sid is definitely the man to speak to about Jone O' Grinfilt ballads.

"Grinfilt", by the way, is the local pronunciation of "Greenfield", a village (now somewhat commuter-colonised) about three miles from Delph.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Santa
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 11:30 AM

This fascinating thread is moving so quickly this comment may be too late, but I think perhaps too much has been made of the factory/weaver status differences in different versions. It is well within British social habits for neither to have had a higher status, but both to be looked down on by the other. A weaver's parents may well look down on a mere factory maid: the evidence that she dresses like a queen shows only the higher pay available in the factories, but her contemporaries probably did think themselves better than the old-fashioned weavers.

I'm sure you can think of modern equivalents.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 11:35 AM

If Jim was a contemporary of Ewan's he'd be 93!

Phil (contemporary of Kirsty)


And if he was a contemporary of Bert he would be 100 - the clue is in the centenary celebrations at C# House later this year. The exact date is February 29th so I suppose there could be a case for pedantry on the number of years!!

Dave
(contemporary of Jim I guess)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 12:11 PM

About 18 months ago, I was enjoying a drink with Martin Carthy in the Railway Inn at Greenfield. We thought we'd have a bash at singing Jone O' Grinfilt in its place of birth. Musically, I have to confess it was a disaster, but an abiding memory none-the-less.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 12:35 PM

"It is well within British social habits for neither to have had a higher status, but both to be looked down on by the other."

Good point, Santa (in fact the verses posted by Malcolm suggest exactly that). Reminded me of Harry Boardman singing 'I'll have a Collier': 'Collier lads get gowd and silver, Ferranti's lads get nowt but brass'. What did the Ferranti's lads say to that?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 12:43 PM

So far I have seen no mention 9although I may have missed it!) of one of Bert's finest achievemnts, his editorship, with Ralph Vaughan Williams, of the 'Penguin Book of English Folk Songs' (1959).

This, of course, has recently been revised by Malcolm Douglas and re-issued as 'Classic English Folk Songs' (efdss, 2003).

In his introduction to the new edition, Mr Douglas tells us that, "The [original] editors made it perfectly clear that they had collated, and amended, song texts where they felt that this was desirable ...". He then goes on to discuss these interventions, and Lloyd's "creativity" in general, in much more detail, and rather than me trying to precis him, I would recommend that you read for yourself what he has to say.

Finally, may I remind you that we also have available a CD: 'England & Her Traditional Songs: A selection from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs' (Fellside, FECD173). In my opinion these recordings represent Bert at the top of his form as a singer.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 01:15 PM

contemporary was meant in the sense,friend or well acquainted with,
I get the impression Jim was well acquainted with Maccoll and Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 02:33 PM

A slight aside; when Harry Boardman sang 'To The Begging' he often claimed that the Blind-deaf verse was not, as I believed at the time,
"and many the right and willing lass.....", but
"I've been deaf in Duckinfield,
I've been blind at Shawe
And many the Royton (one of the mill towns) willing lass
I've bedded in the straw.

Does anybody know f this is accurate?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 02:46 PM

I have just listened to Harry singing on a record to the original tune but needless to say I cannot tell "Royton willin" from "Reet and willin" the latter being from Mike Harding's book Folk Songs of Lancashire.

I guess the second more in tune with the dialect but I bet Harry sang both.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 08 - 02:52 PM

Jim,
Looks like a perfect example of a Mondegreen.
Steve


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 04:05 AM

Never known about this one - that's what the man said.
Duckinfield - Shawe - Royton makes perfect sense to me
Ah well - I don't suppose we'll ever know.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: BB
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 04:50 AM

Artful Codger said, some way back, "How about telling us what "arranged by" really means?"

I would suggest that "adapted by" would be a more truthful description, and one which we use when we do such a thing. "Arranged by" should apply, surely, to the musical arrangement.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 05:39 AM

I seem to remember a "Come all ye", made up by Stan Kelly, from all those floating verses from other songs, does this ring a bell?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 07:48 AM

That's a VERY good idea Barbara - and one I wish I'd thought of 6 years ago. From now on, for me, it shall be thus!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 08:09 AM

who wrote the OilyRigs,BobRoberts?,he never claimed authorship.
maybe this passing off into the tradition,of modern pieces was more common in the fifties and sixties.
Dominic Behan has been criticised for passing off traditional material as his own compositions.
now Bert is being criticised,for doing the opposite.
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 25 Apr 08 - 08:27 AM

I remember well (one night at the Waggon & Horses, Bridge Street) Harry commenting that someone [he mentioned the name, but as a contemporary of Jim C and FolkieDave, the memory ain't what it

was :-)- might have been Paul Graney] said that there was a variant -

Aw've been blint at Dukinfield
An' Aw've been deaf at Shay [sic - dialect pron 'Shaw']
An mony's the reet an' willin' lass
Aw've bedded in the hay.'


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 03:06 AM

Hi Bryn
Whatever happened to Paul Graney's collection of recordings?
Was checking the map last night; Royton and Shaw are adjecent and Duckinfield (or Dukinfield) is not too far away - wonder if Harry was right?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 04:09 AM

Jim

Paul Graney's recordings are in very safe hands. Johnny Adams and team have big plans for them, that he talked about at the last Traditional Song Forum meeting (see notes here - and apologies for the mis-spelling. Note taking is another oral process).

Back to the thread (OK - I'm a late-comer, as usual). I only once saw Bert perform live (at the Jolly Porter in Exeter) and it was a wonderful experience. Throughout the 70s he was a source of inspiration and object of admiration. Without his example I suspect that I would never have developed that interest in 'where songs come from'. In time I came to realise that many of my favourite songs, from many of my favourite singers had his fingerprints on them. Later still I found the 'dodgy' aspects of his scholarship and, yes, I have to admit was a bit disappointed and, to a degree, disillusioned. But his contribution was, as has been said on this and the other threads, outstanding and permanent. Thanks, Bert.

Martin Graebe


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 11:43 AM

I use to see Paul Graney on a regular basis around the clubs in Manchester and I always wondered what his collection consisted of.
The nearest I ever got to finding out was through a friend, the late Terry Whelan, who had been promised some recordings by Paul.
This was in the days when new songs where not that easy to come by (outside London), so Terry looked forward to receiving them with some anticipation.
One night Paul turned up at The Pack Horse with a tape for Terry, and when we all got back to his home, the tape recorder was dragged out, the tape put on, and we all say in great expectation.
Paul's voice came over the speaker, "Hello Terry, I know you're an animal lover, so I thought you might be interested in this".
There followed a magnificent, 20 minute recording of - Siberian timber wolves.
Any disappointment we felt was more than made up for by the expression on Terry's face.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 03:22 AM

It is so nice to see the knowledge and scholarship demonstrated in this thread.

Why do we see so little of it demonstrated at folk clubs and singarounds and song sessions, at least as far as I see in Kent?

And since my reading of dots is so poor, if I were to start adding to the repertoire of old songs that I can do, with which recordings available from where should I start?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 09:51 AM

As someone who is a late entrant to this discussion there is an interesting parallel with the idea that we all alter/adapt songs for our own use - adding/subtracting a little or changing words here or there . On the Musical Traditions website Rod Stradling has started putting togethere a record of how people have changed songs, and why. Makes interesting reading

http://www.mustrad.org.uk/songbook/s_index.htm

DAVE


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: meself
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 11:04 AM

Richard: If you haven't already, I would go to the aforementioned Musical Traditions site http://www.mustrad.org.uk/ and take a look through the reviews. There is much coverage of traditional English singers and songs; often sound clips are included. Lots of interesting reading there, as well.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: BB
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 12:35 PM

Richard, Topic's Voice of the People series (twenty of them!) are probably the best, having a terrific variety of songs, styles, etc. of traditional (i.e. 'source') performers, with information galore, and helpfully, the words of the songs as well, so you don't have to 'translate' from the recordings, just get the tunes in your head. You can find them on the Topic website here , then go to the 'Voice of the People' page. One or two of them are just music I think, but you can trawl through and decide which ones are most suitable for you.

And I think that perhaps that folk clubs, singaround and sessions are not the places to demonstrate this sort of knowledge and scholarship - that doesn't necessarily mean that none of the people concerned have it. The Folk Music Journal, and to a lesser extent English Dance and Song, both received automatically by EFDSS members, as well as such places as the Musical Traditions website mentioned above, will give you plenty of reading, and may also lead you to other publications that are available. If you see earlier books that you think might be interesting, they can often be found through sites like this
, which we've used so many times to find out of print tomes.

One other place to discover expert knowledge would be workshops, at festivals, or some clubs run them. Near you, Lewes would probably be the nearest, or Cecil Sharp House if you're prepared to brave the Great Wen.

See you at Broadstairs, I hope.

Barbara

Good luck on your voyage of discovery.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 04:54 AM

If we were to present a scholarly introduction to every song sung, or tune played, in a session or club, there wouldn't be much music played.

I'm grateful to the many thoughtful contributions to this thread, it has been one of the best I've seen on many forums in a long time. One can only at best make educated guesses as to Bert's motives. No doubt we are all glad for the great contribution he made and I have no argument with his re-arranging, we all do that, but I would have preferred it if he had been open about what he had done.

I've just acquired a copy of "The Imagined Village" on which there is a version, by Billy Bragg, of "Hard Times of England". It has been very much brought up to date with mentions of the Countryside Alliance and people buying second (holiday) homes and closures of post offices etc. All very relevant to today's listener. However, we still have an original. If Bert did adapt rural songs to make them industrial, I for one think that was a valid thing to do, however, if it was at the expense of the original song being lost, then that is lamentable.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: John Routledge
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 09:27 AM

A great thread indeed

It is becoming an appropriate contemporary memorial for Bert's Centenary.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 10:29 AM

I for one think that was a valid thing to do, however, if it was at the expense of the original song being lost, then that is lamentable.
agreed,
but didnt some of the early song collectors do this,was it Baring Gould or Sharp.I believe Sharp kept the originals.please correct me if I am wrong
however they both had agendas,they didnt collect everything that was sung to them,and both seemed to concentrate on rural rather than urban songs.
the bowdlerisataion of songs,to make them acceptable to schools,has to be seen in relation to the prevailing attitude of the time.
perhaps LLoyd should be seen in this context.
I am sure LLoyd would act differentlyif he were active today .today.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 10:30 AM

Pete Standing says:

"If Bert did adapt rural songs to make them industrial, I for one think that was a valid thing to do, however, if it was at the expense of the original song being lost, then that is lamentable".

Pete, I think you are missing some of the point a bit.Bert (or anyone else) can adapt songs from rural to industrial, terrestrial to Venusian, what does it matter? We all have total artistic freedom. His changes may make original songs get lost: well, fine, the world would get clogged up with songs otherwise. These are not problems. What people are objecting to is that Bert appears to have faked historical evidence. And because he was so good at it, it's very difficult to spot.
Most people are incapable of writing an old song that is convincing: Bert was the only bloke who could do it consistently. And faking historical evidence is a sin, becaue it can lead people to base their lives and philosophies on a total lie. He really should not have done it, it was a disgrace. Rewrite a song fine. Rewrite a song, and claim it was collected in 1936, or it was discovered in an old manuscript, and you've stepped over the line.
   The big question is, did Bert do this? And if so, how often? And when, exactly? That is what people are trying to find out. My impression is that he did deliberately fake from time to time.And when he wasn't deliberately concealing, he sometimes ommitted to explain what he was up to, even though he knew people were being deceived.
    I have a huge admiration for the man. But he was seduced into conning people because he wanted so hard that people should believe that the proletariat had always shared his particular political opnions. So if the proletariiat had ommitted to leave evidence to this effect, Bert was prepared to fill the gap. You can understand his motivation, on the scale of sins it's not very deadly, but it was a bad thing to do.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:41 AM

Thanks Greg, a brilliant summing up.

I guess we will celebrate his work without much of a quibble but in the longer term it would be much better if we could sort out what is Bert and what is real?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 12:11 PM

Looking for something else, I happened on this page, which juxtaposes Bert Lloyd's "Skewball" with a couple of the broadside versions it derived from. The differences are fairly large - it'd almost be quicker to list the similarities.

I honestly don't know what to think about this. Bert Lloyd's version (as sung later by Steeleye Span and Martin Carthy) is much more the finished article than the broadsides, and almost certainly sings a lot better - but I can't help feeling it's a different song.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 12:19 PM

I know what you mean Phil.

I guess it would make more sense for somebody to write a more academic article trying to draw together a conclusion on the hypothesis that Bert was trying to build.

Whilst I think this thread has shown what that was, it would help to separate the songs that have been simply drawn from a range of known sources to those that were altered to make them fit the hypothesis.

Who's up for the challenge then?

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: JeffB
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM

Sorry Phil, I don't quite follow you. You seem think it's a better song than the broadsides which inspired it. What more need you think?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 05:16 PM

Jeff - my problem with Bert Lloyd's "Skewball" is that until I saw that page I never for a moment thought it was Bert Lloyd's "Skewball". You expect a bit of tidying-up, but not new rhyme words or entire new verses. What I don't know is how up-front Lloyd was about the changes he'd made to it. I guess "Trad. arr." could cover a multitude of sins.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SKEWBALL / STEWBALL
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 05:57 PM

In America, the Stewball ballad was "...most popular in the Negro south, where the winning horse is known variously as 'Stewball' or 'Kimball," and was apparently one of the chain-gang songs. The song was recorded by Leadbelly in 1940 (cd available via the Smithsonian Museum), by Joan Baez (album title Joan Baez/5), by Peter Paul and Mary, and a number of successive artists.

There is a closely-related American song, called Molly and Tenbrooks (also Run, Molly, Run; Old Tim Brooks; Tim Brooks; The Race Horse Song), which celebrates the famous east-west four-mile Kentucky match between the California mare Mollie McCarty and the great Kentucky racehorse Ten Broeck in 1878.

There are several versions of the Molly/Ten Broeck saga, as well, and Folklorist D.K. Wilgus believed there was a connection between the Skewball ballad and that of Molly and "Tenbrooks." In the real race, which Ten Broeck won, Mollie was distanced in the first (and final) heat, an incident seen in the Baez version of Stewball.   
Up until the 19th century, broadsides were the most inexpensive means of disseminating information in Great Britain, the earliest dating to the sixteenth century. Popular songs printed on a single side of a sheet of paper sold for a penny or less, and treated a broad variety of subjects, from the political to biblical, from medieval romance and very old ballads to contemporary events treated in a satirical vein. The ballad broadsides were often set to already familiar tunes. They were frequently illustrated with woodcuts.

The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford has a substantial collection of over 25,000 items, in named collections which have been donated over the past 300 years. Among these are a collection bequeathed to the University in 1975 from Walter N.H. Harding, and within the 15,000 broadside ballads in this collection are several versions of Skewball. To see images and actual appearance of the original broadsides, and the thousands more in the Bodleian collection, all organized in a very useful on-line database (search for ("Skewball"), please visit the Bodleian Library Broadsides Ballad collection.

   


Some recordings of this song in various versions include: "Timbrooks and Molly" (Warde Ford, The Hole in the Wall (AFS 4210A1, 1939, AMMEN/Cowell); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys (Columbia 20612, 1949); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (Sonny Osborne (Kentucky 605, n.d.); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (The Stanley Brothers (Rich-R-Tone 418, 1948). The versions were noted by Wilgus in Kentucky Folklore Record V. II, No. 3; Vol. II, No. 4.

Below are two of the five versions of Skewball from the Bodleian ballad broadsides; the one on the right is dated 1784, the one on the left undated, but it appears to be the older of the two. To show how lyrics change over time, the Steeleye Span version of Skewball (from Ten Man Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again, available on cd from Shanachie Records Corp. (� 1989)) and the version (Stewball) sung by Joan Baez on the album Joan Baez/5 (Vanguard: VSD-79160), the latter set to a tune by the Greenbriar Boys. Beneath those are different versions of the saga of Mollie McCarty and Ten Broeck, where Skewball/Stewball starts making an appearance.

Skewball (Harding B-6 (54) 00668)

You Gentlemen Sportsmen I pray listen all
I'll sing you a song in the praise of Skewball
And how they came over you shall understand
By one Squire Irvine the Mell of [of] our land.

500 bright guineas on the plains of Kildare
I'll bet upon, Sportsmen, that bonny-grey mare
Skewball hearing the wager, the wager was laid
He said loving master, its don't be afraid.

For on my side thou'st laid thousands of pounds
I'll rig in thy castle a fine mass of gold.
Squire Irvine he smiled, and thus he did say,
You gentlemen-sportsmen to-morrow's the day

Your saddles and bridles, and horses prepare,
For we will away th [to] the plains of Kildare.
The day being come, & the horses bro't out,
Squire Irvine he order'd his rider to mount.

All the people then went to see them go round
They swore in their hearts that they ne'er touch'd the ground.
And as they were riding this was the discourse
The grey mare will never touch this horse.

O, loving kind rider come tell unto me,
How far is the grey mare behind you said he...
O loving master you bear a great smile,
Grey mare is behind me a large English mile

For in this country I was ne'er seen before
Thou hast won the race & broken lord Gore.

Skewball (Harding B-25 1784 10198)

Ye gentlemen sportsmen I pray listen all,
And I'll sing you a song in praise of skewball,
And how he came over you shall understand,
It was esquire Mirvin a peer of our land.

And of his late actions is I have heard before,
And how he was challenged by one Sir Raph Gore,
For five hundred guines on the plains of kilder,
To run with Miss Sportsly that charming grey mare.

Skewball then he hearing the wager was laid,
He to his kind master said be not afraid.
For I on my side you thousands will hold,
I'll lay on your castle a fine mass of gold.

The time being come and the cattle led out,
The people came flocking from east, west, and south,
To beat all the Sportsmen I vow and declare,
They'd enter their money all on the grey mare.

Squire Mirvin he smiled and thus he did say,
Come gentlemen sportsmen that's money to lay.
All you that's got hundreds I will hold you all,
For I will lay thousands on famous Skewball.

Squire Mirvin he smiled, and thus he did say,
Ye gentlemen sportsmen to morrow's the day,
Your horses and saddles and bridles prepare,
For we must away to the plains of kildar.

The time being come and the cattle walk'd out,
Squire Mirvin he order'd his rider to mount,
With all the spectators to clear the way,
The time being come not a moment delay,

These cattle were mounted away they fly,
Skewball like an arrow past Miss Sportsly did fly,
And the people stept up for to see them go round,
They swore in their hearts he ne'er touch the ground.

And as they were just in the midst of their sport,
squire Mirvin* to his rider begun this discourse,
O loving kind rider come tell unto me,
How far is Miss Sportsly this moment from thee.

O loving kind master you bear a great style
The Grey Mare is behind me a full English mile,
If the saddle maintains as I warrent you there
We ne'er shall be beat on the plains of Kildar.

And as they were running past the distance chair,
the gentlemen cry'd Skewball never fear,
Although in this country thou wast never seen before,
Thou beating Miss Sportsly has broke Sir Ralph Gore.

*Corrected the next year to: Skewball to his rider began this discourse

Skewball (Steeleye Span)

You gallant sportsmen all, come listen to my story
It's of the bold Skewball, that noble racing pony
Arthur Marvel was the man that brought bold Skewball over
He's the diamond of the land and he rolls about in clover

The horses were brought out with saddle, whip and bridle
And the gentlemen did shout when they saw the noble riders
And some did shout hurray, the air was thick with curses
And on the grey Griselda the sportsmen laid their purses

The trumpet it did sound, they shot off like an arrow
They scarcely touched the ground for the going it was narrow
Then Griselda passed him by and the gentlemen did holler
The grey will win the day and Skewball he will follow

Then halfway round the course up spoke the noble rider
I fear we must fall back for she's going like a tyger.
Up spoke the noble horse, ride on my noble master
For we're half way round the course and now we'll see who's faster

And when they did discourse, bold Skewball flew like lightning
They chased around the course and the grey mare she was taken
Ride on my noble lord, for the good two hundred guineas
The saddle shall be of gold when we pick up our winnings

Past the winning post bold Skewball proved quite handy
And horse and rider both ordered sherry, wine and brandy
And then they drank a health unto Miss Griselda
And all that lost their money on the sporting plains of Kildare   Stewball (Joan Baez/5)

Stewball was a good horse
He wore a high head,
And the mane on his foretop
Was as fine as silk thread.

I rode him in England,
I rode him in Spain,
And I never did lose, boys,
I always did gain.

So come all you gamblers,
Wherever you are,
And don't bet your money
On that little gray mare.

Most likely she'll stumble,
Most likely she'll fall,
But you never will lose, boys,
On my noble Stewball.

As they were a-ridin'
'Bout halfway around,
That gray mare she stumbled
And fell on the ground.

And away out yonder,
Ahead of them all,
Came a prancin' an' dancin'
My noble Stewball.

Stewball: A Version
Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

Way out in California
Where Stewball was born
All the jockeys said old Stewball
Lord, he blew there in a storm

CHORUS: Bet on Stewball and you might win, win, win
Bet on Stewball and you might win

All the jockeys in the country
Say he blew there in a storm
All the women in the country
Say he never was known

When the horses were saddled
And the word was given: Go
Old Stewball he shot out
Like an arrow from a bow

The old folks they hollered
The young folks they bawled
The children said look, look
At that no good Stewball   Stewball: Another Version
Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

There's a big race (uh-huh), down in Dallas (uh-huh)
Don't you wish you (...) were there? (...)
you would bet your ( ) bottom dollar ( )
On that iron ( ) grey mare ( )
Bet on Stewball & you might win, win, win
Bet on Stewball & you might win!

Way out / in California / when old Stewball / was born
All the jockeys / in the nation / said he blew there / in a storm

Now the value / of his harness / has never / been told
His sadlle / pure silver / & his bridle / solid gold

Old Stewball / was a racehorse / Old Molly / was too
Old Molly / she stumbled / Old Stewball / he flew

Run Molly Run
Source: Kingston Trio ("Goin Places")

Chorus: Run Molly, run (oh, Molly). Run Molly, run.
Long John's gonna beat you, beneath the shinin' sun.

Long John was the youngest horse and Molly was the old.
Molly was an old grey mare and he was a stallion bold,
oh, Lordy, he was a stallion bold.

Long John said to Molly, "You're runnin' your last race
'Cause when I turn my head around I'm gonna see your face,
old gal, I'm gonna see your face."

Molly said to Long John, "Don't take me for a fool.
If you didn't cut your ears and tail, I'd think you were a mule
(Yeah!) I'd think you were a mule."

Long John, he got mad, oh, Lord, and shook his wooly mane.
"Last time that I run, old girl, I beat the Memphis train.
I beat the Memphis train."

Chorus

See them waitin' on the track. The man, he hollered, "Go!"
Long John runnin' fast, Lord, Molly runnin' slow.
Molly runnin' slow.

Long John said to Molly, "Take a last look at the sky.
'Cause baby when I pass you by, my dust's gonna blind your eye,
oh, Lord, my dust's gonna blind your eye."

Run, Molly, run. Look out for the turn,
oh, Lordy, Lordy, here she comes!

Long John beatin' Molly. Wait, what do I see?
Molly passin' Long John. Molly runnin' free,
oh, Lordy, Molly runnin' free.

Run Molly, run (oh Molly). Run Molly, run.
Put old Long John out to stud and let old Molly run!   Molly and Tenbrooks
Source: Steve Gillette and Linda Albertano, Cherry Lane Music, 1967

Tenbrooks was a bay horse, had a long, shaggy mane
Rode all around Memphis, beat the big Memphis train.
Run, Tenbrooks, run, if you don't run
Molly gonna beat you to the bright shinin' sun.

The women were weepin', their babes cryin' too.
The nine proud horses came thunderin' through.
With molly the leader, her head tossin' high.
With Molly the leader, with Tenbrooks behind,
She came flyin' by.

We shouted to Kuyper, you're not ridin' right.
Molly is a beatin' Tembrooks out of sight.
Kuyper, oh Kuyper, Kuyper my son,
Give him the bridle, let Tenbrooks run.

Tenbrooks looked at Molly, your face is so red.
Been runnin in the hot sun with a feverish head.
You're fallin' behind me, I'm out here all alone
Molly says to Tenbrooks, I'm leavin' this world
I'm a goin' on home.

Oh, run fetch old Tenbrooks and tie him in the shade.
They're buryin' Molly in a coffin ready made.
Out in California Molly done as she pleased,
Back in Kentucky, got beat with all ease,
Got beat with all ease.


A Related, Possibly Older Version
Source: "E.L."

chorus:
Run Molly, run
Run Molly, run
Tembruck gonna beat you
Bright shinin'sun.
Bright shinin' sun, oh lordy, bright shinin' sun.

They ran the Kentucky Derby on the 24th of May,
Some bet on Tembruck, some on Molly Day.
Some on Molly Day, oh lordy, some on Molly Day.

chorus

Piper, oh Piper, you're not runnin' right
Molly's beatin' Tembruck way out of sight.
Way out of sight, oh lordy,way out of sight.

chorus

Piper, oh Piper, oh Piper my son
Let old Tembruck have his head,let old Tembruck run.
Let old Tembruck run, oh lordy, let old Tembruck run







Skewball was a Racehorse The Ballads Was Skewball a Skewbald?






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with respect LLoyds[steeleyespan] version is the best,I dont feel he has altered the sentiments of the song,just added a bit of colour,much as Roberts did to Gamekeepers lie sleeping,
he is certainly not putting any political agenda over in this song.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:02 PM

stewball/skewbald wins the race,if LLoyd had had the old grey mare winning the race,then we have a noticeable change of plot.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:12 PM

No, Dick. But just suppose a historical linguist was to analyse that lyric in the belief that it was intact as collected? His conclusions would be nonsense.

These are not just old songs, they are historical documents with a value akin to old letters, invoices, workhouse menus or ship's weighbills. Changing them to any extent is not a crime. But failing to explain that you have done so is liable to be construed by historians if not singers as forgery.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:14 PM

I dont feel he has altered the sentiments of the song,just added a bit of colour

It looks to me more like a new song.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: JeffB
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:41 PM

There has been a lot of pain and confusion over Bertsongs in the last couple of weeks. Every who is interested in the old songs is bound to be a little of a historian and musicologist (however humble) as well as a perfomer. Finding out that some old favourites did not date verbatim back to the early 19th C after all can be disconcerting, like when you "see through" an optical illusion and realise the arrow is not pointing to where you thought. Some people, understandably, don't now know what to think about A L Lloyd. But something like this has happened before and people got over it. If you don't mind my squandering a bit of bandwith, in the words of the immortal MB I want to tell you a story ...

There was once a man named Tom Keating; perhaps an unremarkable man except for one extraordinary talent - he was a bloody marvellous painter. Tom could paint in any style from any period - Renaissance, Impressionist, Expressionist, Dadaist: Cezanne, Renoir, Titian - you name it and he could paint it. He knew and loved his craft well. When he was getting on in years and finding it increasingly difficult to get his own paintings accepted by the galleries, he decided to sell some of his home-made Goyas and Canalettos. As it turned out, the art dealers were delighted and completely taken in, despite their expertise. The critics, who knew their subject very thoroughly indeed, were in raptures of praise. Before long, there were Keatings in New York penthouses and Arabian palaces and everywhere between.

For some time everyone was happy. Tom was enjoying the resurgence of his career (even though he couldn't talk about it down the pub), the dealers were making pots of money, and the art-loving public was enjoying beautiful masterpieces. Some of course had been bought as investments, but others simply because people liked what they saw.

Eventually, in the 1970s, Tom gave the game away. I forget whether it was because of disgust over the art market, or whether he had been rumbled. The dealers were furious of course, the critics embarrassed and irritated, and the art investors very nervous. Tom was prosecuted, but the trial was halted because of his ill-health. He refused to say which pictures were his forgeries. (In law they were forgeries because he had put another artist's signature to them). He took the view, I suppose, that they were either 1] good enough to be judged on their own merits next to genuine Rembrandts and Turners, or 2] should otherwise be exposed by the self-proclaimed art experts.

An interesting development is that nowadays Tom's forgeries, "genuine Keatings", (those that have been identified, that is), are highly collectable and fetch high prices. There must be an element of marketeering in this of course, but the bottom line is that people will not spend money on something they don't really like. In fact, so collectable have Keatings become that, ironically, they are themselves now being forged. It needs a real expert to identify a genuine Keating!

This story provides, I hope, a useful analogy to the Bert Lloyd furore. (I say "furore" on the strength of the sheer number of e-mails it has generated. In fact, a clear concensus of opinion has emerged). If "Bert Lloyd" is substituted for "Tom Keating", then the folk song academics are in the position of the art dealers and critics, and we - the singers and club audiences - are the art lovers. Every analogy is somewhat crude of course, and one huge difference here is the absence of money in the business of disseminating songs at one end, and learning and performing them at the other. For "money", try putting in "appreciation of emotional impact, effort to learn". But as an analogy it might help in deciding how you value the "product".

The academics who have invested time and work into English song in general will, understandably, be annoyed at finding some are (in their terms) forgeries. But to those who "bought into" Bertsongs because of their inherent qualities will not be unduly disappointed. To them, the songs are the masterly creation of an artist who was inspired by historical originals. Their response to the songs has not (and should not) change. If there is a changed response on the part of some, we must question why the songs were "bought into" by them in the first place, given that the songs' inherent qualities are exactly the same. That, of course, is an answer only they can give. I hope that, after due consideration, they will decide that what a song means to them is less important than who wrote it.

M'Lud, the case for the defence rests. Until someone objects ...


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:57 PM

JEFF B,well put.Tom Keating had crossed my mind as well.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 03:48 AM

Tom was one of the first people featured on Channel 4 when it started - a fascinating series, explaining how he made his 'sextons' - as he called them.

An excellent analogy in some ways, as you say, but missing the mark in others (as you say).

I wouldn't personally pillory Lloyd, and I agree that he'd probably do things differently today. As Eliza Cathy has pointed out elsewhere, there was a different philosophy around at that time, and people who 'failed to attribute' their own authorship felt they were doing a good thing - adding to the pool of good 'free-to-use' material, and helping to develop and encourage the tradition.

But it was, we now realise, misguided. And our task is to make sure that everyone understands - so that a new culture of correct attribution can start to flourish.

Pete quite rightly points out that we don't have time when singing live to present a scholarly explanation to every song (well I almost do sometimes and seem to get away with it!) but I do think there should be time for a quick credit - just a name would often suffice.

The more important habit is to try to provide references on CD sleeves and websites.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 03:53 AM

I am sure you have constructed a strong argument Jeff but most of us do not doubt the value of what Bert did as a song writer or arranger.

But as most people have said all through the thread, that really isn't the point. We have clearly been deceived, but that is only a part of the problem.

Almost everybody who ever sang a song, be they 19C source singers giving songs to Sharp, 20C source singers like Jeanie Robertson or revival singers like Martin Carthy - they have all sang songs who's authers were known and they say so.

More competent scholars of folk song will put a better argument than I can but I think it goes something like this:

Folk songs are not just old songs. They are songs that have passed through communities and have been fashioned by the lives of people in those communities. A good example is songs about poaching that were written and passed on after the Inclosures Act. People were transported for taking game the songs tell us about the conflict between the people who took the land and the rural working class who lost it.

I think Bert wanted to show that when people moved from the land to the industrial towns in and after the Industrial Revolution they took their rural songs and re-fashioned them as industrial songs.

Thousands of songs about industrial life were wrtten during the 19C most by individual, known or unknown songwriters, Tommy Armstrong is a good exampl writing songs about the mining industry in the North East.

Most of these songs were not re-fashioned by industrial communities. It looks as if Bert re-fashioned some to make it look as if they had. From our perspective it looks a bit of a waste of time but Bert et al were trying very hard to prove the collective creative ability of the industrial working class so he altered more than a few songs to support that idea.

I don't think I have that quite correct so perhaps others can explain what they thought Bert was up to.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 04:13 AM

The more important habit is to try to provide references on CD sleeves and websites.

Tom,exactly what I have said on the froots discussion.
both Nutty and I have already said that if LLOYD were alive today he would act differently and that he was a product of the times,in fact,both of us said it long before Eliza got involved in the discussion.
however the material lloyd gave us, is more important [imo]than his passing off of his own compositions as traditional.
In the present day and age no one is going to attempt to do what LLoyd or Roberts did .
in fact most songwriters are more concerned about getting either kudos or financial reward for their compositions.
one of the aspects, Jim Carroll was talking about in another thread,was the disappearance of sharing of music.,and the changes in attitude in the folk revival[please correct me if I am wrong Jim].
Bert LLoyd was generous with his material,his material was very good,and [imo]the tradition and the folk revival benefited.and IMO that outweighs his doubtful scholarship
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 04:18 AM

he doesnt appear to have been up to anything in skewball,apart from improving the song.
lES,what are you up to.Bert is dead,can we let him rest in peace,and can this thread be let to die.Bert has taken those answers with him to the grave.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Santa
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:02 AM

I still think one point is not being stressed enough. There are songs for which we have a long history in broadsheets, music books, or whatever, and for these we can say what the original was, and how it was changed down the years. For songs without this history, all we know is how it was sung at the time it was collected. We do not know if this was the original song. From the songs that do appear in different collections, we know that they are not always (normally? rarely?) identical. Singers have been changing songs throughout history. In that sense Bert Lloyd was very much a part of the tradition he is being accused (by some) of perverting.

There is a store of recorded folk songs, there for those who care to go looking for them, and the songs live on as the singers change. The collected piece is one slice though the history: not holy gospel as sometimes implied.

One divergent thought has occurred: how much does the modern emphasis on copyright drive the rate of change of these songs? Does the need to produce something different mean that change is much more rapid than in earlier times? Perhaps I'd better raise this in a separate thread, but I'll leave the comment here.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:31 AM

"lES,what are you up to.Bert is dead,can we let him rest in peace,and can this thread be let to die.Bert has taken those answers with him to the grave.Dick Miles"

I guess this is for me Dick?

What am I up to? Good point.

This discussion started on the thread about with about he origins of Do me ama. It would appear that this is mostly Bert. This opened up the whole discussion about what was Bert and what was traditional.

If, as we have many of us tried to say, this was simply about good songs it wouldn't really be a discussion, Bert collected, shared and wrote many.

But Bert was a scholar with a hypothesis to test. I cannot sum up all that has been said. I think this thread has said it all. The points made by all sorts of people like Malcolm Douglass, Brian Perts, Greg Stephens, Phil in Chorlton and about 20 others make the same point: It was dishonest scholarship and Bert was a scholar. Folk song has a history of scholarship - an attempt to understand the songs and the lives of the people who shaped the songs. Bert has at least confused that study and to some extent discredited it.

I guess Bert was an atheist so what resting means is hard to say. As for taking answers to the grave, this thread shows that is not entirely the case.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:56 AM

I pulled back from this thread because I was getting concerned about words like "lies" and "deceit" being bandied around willy-nilly. Malcolm Douglas made the point on the other thread that such accusations shouldn't be made without proper evidence. However, I don't think it's sufficient to try and stifle any discussion by saying (a) "He only did what most other singers do", and (b) "He made a bloody good job of it." The point is that Lloyd literally wrote the book on English traditional song, and those of us who gained much of our early knowledge of this music from 'Folk Song in England' would like to be reassured that the things we've believed for decades are soundly based. I don't want to join any kind of witch hunt of a man that I admire in many ways, but I do think there are questions to be asked and tangled threads to be teased out.

I first became curious about Lloyd's work when I tried to find out more about 'The Cutty Wren', purely because I found it a strange and stirring song and wondered where it had come from. In his earlier writings Lloyd makes much of the performance by a certain shepherd who stamped his foot violently whilst singing it, going on to speculate rather wildly that the song was (here I paraphrase) a relic of medieval protest against baronial oppression, remarking by the by that the tune resembles that of 'Green Bushes'. Actually the shepherd concerned didn't sing it to the 'Green Bushes' tune at all - one wonders how this melody got attached to the song. Interestingly, by the time Lloyd wrote FSIE, he'd thought better of the baronial oppression stuff, and left it out. Perhaps Phil Edwards (above) is right that he was more circumspect that he had been previously when he put FSIE together.

In this context it's also interesting that, in describing 'The Handweaver and the Factory Maid' in FSIE, Lloyd refers to it only as "a broadside from the Oldham district", and makes no mention of Mr. William Oliver of Widnes, whom he told Roy Palmer was the source for the song - or at least the broadside (see Malcom Douglas, above). If my earlier speculation were accurate, and Lloyd was anxious to prove that some kind of oral tradition for industrial broadsides existed, you'd have expected him to have made much of the fact that a man in a North West industrial town sang 'Handweaver' to him in 1951.

Nor does he mention Beckett Whitehead (from whom MacColl had, Jim Carroll reminds us, collected 'Four Loom Weaver' many years previously) in his FSIE discussion of 'The Poor Cotton Weaver'. I realise that merely by stating that such anomalies are curious I am casting aspersions, but "curious" is exactly what they are.

I look forward to the definitive biography.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM

It does seem that some contributors to this discussion have not understood the issues involved, and spreading the topic over three simultaneous threads hasn't helped to achieve a constructive focus. To paraphrase what I have said elsewhere:

1. A L Lloyd was a fundamentally important figure in the folksong revival of the 1950s and thereafter, both as a performer and as a scholar.

2. It is unremarkable when revival performers make alterations to material they have learned from others, or from print sources; though it is helpful if they say that they have made changes rather than just characterising their songs as 'traditional', which may mislead. Although there are parallels with the ways in which songs became changed during the course of transmission in the 'old' tradition, revival modifications may be more self-conscious and calculated, and should not be confused with the 'folk process' as it was understood by the song collectors of the first half of the 20th century and before.

3. Scholars, by contrast, are expected to be scrupulously honest about the material they present. To be anything less than frank about their personal editorial interventions is deliberately to deceive, and this is rarely excusable.

4. As both performer and scholar, Lloyd occupied something of a grey area. As a performer, he naturally polished (sometimes completely rewrote) his material; as a scholar, to quote Roy Palmer's words, 'it seems reasonable to suggest that he should have been more forthcoming with details of his editorial interventions'. The trouble is that he often confused the two roles; and, not unnaturally, those who looked to him for material, commentary, and inspiration were also confused and tended to treat it all as gospel.

5. The fact that Lloyd's re-writes were eminently successful from an aesthetic point of view is irrelevant to questions as to their authenticity as 'traditional' songs. Where unavowed, they misrepresent his sources, and have given many people a false picture of the past and of the traditions that he promoted. To argue that none of this matters 'because they are good songs' is to miss the point entirely. It is precisely because they are good songs that they mislead if presented as authentic products of the tradition. I recall 'The Ship in Distress' (as it appeared in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs) being praised for the lines 'In the blusterous wind and the great dark water' and 'A full-dressed ship like the sun a-glittering' as authentic examples of the poetic genius of the untutored traditional singer of the old times. Bert wrote those lines, but he never let on.

6. Discussion of this kind is not in essence (and should not be allowed to become, as I pointed out in the 'Blackleg Miner' thread) an attack upon its subject; some detailed re-evaluation of the material that Lloyd introduced to the Revival, and his underlying motives is, however, necessary in view of his enormous influence, and in view of the (evidently) wide misunderstanding of its significance. All the earlier prime movers have been the subjects of such re-evaluations, and it is currently the turn of Lloyd, MacColl and Kennedy. It is only through such re-evaluations in the light of new evidence that we can understand what they actually did, and how it has affected our own understanding; and our pre-conceptions.


Re 'Skewball'.

The webpage indicated earlier makes the beginner's mistake of assuming that, because occasionally some of the numbers in Bodleian shelfmarks look like dates, that that is what they are. They are not. The broadside it claims as 'dated 1784' (Harding B 25(1784)) is nothing of the kind, and if the compiler had looked at the next entry he or she would have seen that Harding B 25(1785) is dated 'between 1821 and 1838'; it is just the next in the number sequence.

I can't imagine why Dick thought it necessary to copy-and-paste the entire page here; the bulk of it is irrelevant to this discussion.

As it happens, the Kildare race took place at the Curragh in 1752, when Arthur Mervin's Skewball beat Sir Ralph Gore's grey mare. Gore's bay mare, Sportley (named in the broadside) wasn't involved, though Skewball did beat her in two races in England in July 1747. The incidents were confused or conflated, presumably, by whoever wrote the broadside; quite possibly long after the event. The American 'Stewball' appears to be a separate song on the same subject.

The only substantive comment I can find so far on Bert's 'Skewball' is 'this version is Irish in origin', which tells us very little. In fact it seems only very rarely to have been found in Ireland (Roud lists only one Irish version at present). Whether or not any oral example is known that resembles the Lloyd one I can't say. It might be worth looking into further.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:29 AM

>> 'In the blusterous wind and the great dark water'
Bert wrote those lines, but he never let on. <<

Oh shit.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:44 AM

At risk of thread drift, is it only I who have noticed some similarity between 'Harding B-6 (54) 00668', as posted by the good Captain, and 'Master McGrath' ?

Or is 'Master McGrath another one which Lloyd, allegedly, "doctored" ?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:44 AM

I can't imagine why Dick thought it necessary to copy-and-paste the entire page here; the bulk of it is irrelevant to this discussion.
in response to phil edwards thread immediately before,to which it is relevant.
secondly, anyone interested in learning, [stewball aka skewbald] to sing,might like to see the alternative versions.
still, I dont suppose that interests the scholars,that someone might want to sing the different versions.
I repeat, Bert did not appear to divulge his motives to anyone now living,so this thread is just idle speculation,which could easily see his doubtful scholarship given too much prominence in relation to his abilty as a performer and his importance in the folk revival.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 07:10 AM

What are you afraid of Dick?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 07:20 AM

Dick's post rather illustrates my point. Discussions like this will never get very far while people who have no understanding of the issues involved insist on poking their oar in.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 07:45 AM

I wish I'd said that, Malcolm.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 08:00 AM

I am not afraid of anything.
I also have a very good understanding of the issues involved.
I see Berts importance to the revival as a performer and contributor,more important than his doubtful scholarship.
if anyone on this thread thinks his doubtful scholarship is more
important,please say so.
furthermore no one has been able to say why Bert did what he did ,and neither will they be able to.
that is a secret Bert has taken with him.
the fact of the matter is this discussion will not get far,because it is pure speculation,only one man can answer the question,and he is dead.
Malcolm, why is it necessary to be offensive to those who have adifferent opinion to yourself


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 08:15 AM

Bryn - I think it is just you; Skewball and Master McGrath are both about a four-legged animal unexpectedly winning a race, but I can't see many other similarities.

Brian - I don't want to join any kind of witch hunt of a man that I admire in many ways, but I do think there are questions to be asked and tangled threads to be teased out.

Hear, hear.

I'm puzzled by the Tom Keating analogy, for a number of reasons - I think it's actually too harsh in some ways, as well as being too kind in others. First, Keating was an artist who couldn't make a living from his own work, and turned to producing fake rareties instead. I don't think Bert Lloyd's harshest critics would accuse him of rewriting traditional songs because he couldn't find an audience for original material - so it's a bit odd to see this argument apparently advanced in his defence!

Second, Keating turned out new paintings by Samuel Palmer et al, and put them into circulation as the real thing. Again, I don't think anyone's accused Bert Lloyd of writing songs from scratch - he may have put a lot of time and energy into some of his rewrites, but rewriting is what it was.

Third, and most important, Keating was an artist rather than an art expert. As Brian said, Bert Lloyd wrote the book (literally!) on English folk song; he was in a particularly strong position to certify songs as being the product of folk creativity preserved through oral transmission. (It's as if Tom Keating had been an authority in the field of authenticating Samuel Palmers.) He seems to have abused that position repeatedly.

I like Les's argument, but I don't think it's the whole story - perhaps turning a poem called "Jenny's lament" into a traditional song called The recruited collier makes a point about folk culture in mining communities, but what's the political point of the expanded Skewball, the explicit Long a-growing or Reynardine with the added shining teeth? I think a lot of it was down to giving the people what they want - a good story, well-written, with a point that's not too obscure and mysteries that aren't too baffling, and a good tune to carry it. And that is something he was very good at - it's just a shame Bert Lloyd the perhaps-a-bit-on-the-creative-side folk singer was the same person as Bert Lloyd the collector.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 08:18 AM

"I see Berts importance to the revival as a performer and contributor,more important than his doubtful scholarship.
if anyone on this thread thinks his doubtful scholarship is more
important,please say so."

It's not one or the other.

"furthermore no one has been able to say why Bert did what he did ,and neither will they be able to."

I think we have a good idea of why Bert did what he did and I tried to describe it above:

"I think Bert wanted to show that when people moved from the land to the industrial towns in and after the Industrial Revolution they took their rural songs and re-fashioned them as industrial songs."

How much evidence existed for this hypothesis?

"that is a secret Bert has taken with him.
the fact of the matter is this discussion will not get far,because it is pure speculation,only one man can answer the question,and he is dead."

I think you over state the case.Much has been written about what Sharp et al were up to 100 years ago and that scholarship has helped us to understand our musical heritage and the people that kept it alive.

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Sue at work
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 08:19 AM

Just a point of pedantry Phil, but since we're on about accurate scholarship 'Jenny's Lament' ought to read 'Jenny's Complaint'.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 08:21 AM

Thanks, Sue. I guess I can't even cover myself by saying I'm at work!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: JeffB
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 11:01 AM

To Phil at work.   Phil, I tried to make it clear that it was just an analogy and did say that its greatest fault as an analogy was that money was the big issue in Keating's case, as opposed to Bertsongs. I wanted to take some of the heat out of this debate (unsuccessfully it seems) by getting a perspective on a case which has some similarities with this one. I tried to emphasis that there is a gulf between "artists" one on side and "academics" on the other. It seems to me that while the "artists" can cross between the two positions, the "academics" cannot easily do so, if at all.

Now get back to work! Your tea-break must be over by now.

To Malcolm Douglas.    Be assured that I for one (and I expect CapnB among others) do understand the issues involved. They are primarily issues of scholarship and provenance. But it seems that you are, to all intents and purposes, unconscious of the other issues (which I have called "inherent qualities" above) which are also of high importance. The relative importance of of these issues is naturally dependent on individual temperament. Can you grasp this first basic point?

Your fifth para above is significant. Your stress is entirely on "traditional" song as historic artefact, and reveals that you do not understand the issues involved from the point of view of the performer. Performance is not about educating an audience in, for instance, the socio-economic conditions affecting urban labourers in the first half of the 19th C. Performance is a little peice of theatre, for which the performer needs and chooses suitable material. If you were ever aware of this basic fact, which informs the essential nature of song, then you appear to have forgotten it.

It seems to me that while you are assiduously classifying, describing, tracing lines of descent, like an obsessive collector pinning down lepidoptera in neat rows onto a board, you are completely unaware that that your specimens are, in many cases, things of beauty. If so, that is entirely your loss, but might explain the curious antipathy you seem to have towards those who place a different kind of importance on your subject-matter.

You gloss over precisely what you mean in saying "giving a false picture of the past and the traditions he promoted". By "false picture of the past", do you intend the extremely narrow sense of the conditions of workers I mentioned above? If so, you need to give an example of how Lloyd misrepresented them. As for "the traditions he promoted", many would say that adapting lyrics to one's personal taste is precisely within the tradition which he, and many another singer before him, promoted. Your tiresome refrain that "he mislead us as to provenance" is beside *my* point. "They mislead if presented as authentic products of the tradition" is meaningless if one accepts, as many do and as no doubt Lloyd did, that the man himself was an authentic product of the tradition.

Perhaps much of this debate boils down to what is meant by "authentic". To you it seems to merely mean "originating at a known point in the past". But then you are an academic. Academics have their uses of course, and on balance we would not be without them. But for those who put life into words on paper, academics are strictly rear echelon.

I could comment further on your disengenuous sixth para, but it is now time for my rusk and cocoa while watching "Countdown". However, I cannot leave your e-mail of 7.20 am on 29/4 without comment. No doubt that was meant to be scathing and offensive towards those, like CapnB and myself, who have the temerity to argue with you. In fact, such remarks do you no credit as an academic and are laughable in their condescension. Academic study is your chosen field and as far as I am aware no-one has challenged you in that. However, you are deeply and foolishly mistaken if you believe that you have some sort of proprietal authority over English song, which has always and will always belong primarily to singers. You would do well to show a little courtesy to fellow enthusiasts.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 11:21 AM

Dave Arthur, quoted by Steve Winick in his important discussion of "Reynardine":

"One finds in [Lloyd's] manuscripts informants' names crossed out and changed,...and in the case of 'One of the Has Beens,' a very specific note, 'I heard this from a Vaudeville actor in hospital at Cowra, NSW, on New Year's Day,' was changed on publication to 'a teamster from Grenfell sang the song.'"

Arthur adds, somewhat acidly, that a teamster "sounds more 'authentic' than a 'vaudeville actor.'"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 12:07 PM

"Performance is not about educating an audience"

I think we have all attended performances in which the performer clearly felt performance IS about educating an audience. In fact, on this forum, whenever the subject comes up of whether to alter potentially-offensive lyrics, there are always a number of contributors who insist that the songs should be left unchanged for what can only be called pedagogical reasons.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 12:13 PM

Jeff,

"Be assured that I for one (and I expect CapnB among others) do understand the issues involved. They are primarily issues of scholarship and provenance."

I started this thread for these reasons of scholarship and provenance.


"you are completely unaware that that your specimens are, in many cases, things of beauty"

No we are not and we have endlessly said so.

" "They mislead if presented as authentic products of the tradition" is meaningless if one accepts, as many do and as no doubt Lloyd did,that the man himself was an authentic product of the tradition."

He was probably unique, of great value and interest and part of the second folk song revival not a source singer from the 19C.

"You would do well to show a little courtesy to fellow enthusiasts.

Jeff most people have but please read your last post. Pots and kettles mate.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 12:35 PM

I tried to emphasis that there is a gulf between "artists" one on side and "academics" on the other.

Unfortunately for this theory, I'm a singer; I've never even read Classic English Folk Songs (sorry, Malcolm - maybe next birthday).

I did "Reynardine" once, with a couple of changes of my own to bring it closer to "The mountains high". I introduced it by saying that it was a song Bert Lloyd had messed around a bit, and I'd messed it around some more. When I said that, somebody booed. For a lot of people, to say you got a song from Bert Lloyd is a guarantee of authenticity.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 01:15 PM

JeffB:
I'm a singer, too. I don't need to be reminded that many of the old songs I sing are things of beauty, nor educated on the nature of performance. I just want to know, when I stand up and introduce a piece as "an old song", that it actually is - substantially at least. Otherwise, the whole thing is a hollow sham. I've lost count of the singers I've heard introduce 'Reynardine' as a relic of some ancient superstition about 'were-foxes'. It ain't true!

Whether or not we accept Bert Lloyd as "an authentic product of the tradition" (and like Les, I think there's a bit of a difference between him and, say, Harry Cox), the fact is that his influence over the course and repertoire of the English folk revival from the 1950s onwards was unique (the contribution of MacColl notwithstanding), and on that ground alone his methods and legacy are deserving of scrutiny.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 04:01 PM

There's another issue that should be brought to the surface.

What proportion of our best traditional songs owe their current excellence mainly to the efforts of a few sophisticated rewriters and editors? We don't yet know the answer to that question, but unfortunately it's worth thinking about.

Almost certainly a relatively few writers (several dozen perhaps?) are behind most of the 19th C. broadsides that entered tradition. But those songs have been subject to continual later influences, including the adaptation to (and of) melodies. Modern rewrites tend strongly to be preserved "as is" simply because they're so good already.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:15 PM

Almost certainly a relatively few writers (several dozen perhaps?)

Really? Evidence please

cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 05:56 PM

Actually Brian, there is an English tradition of werefoxes, just as there is a Greek (and Romany) tradition of werecats. Shape shifters are not that unusual in folklore.
What tickles me enormously about all this is that I remember going to one club in the sixties where the elders were ranged at the back sucking their dentures over what was traditional(!), revering the works of Messrs Miller and Lloyd, and setting themselves up in the process as the fons et origo of all things folk in the immediate vicinity. There have been numerous examples of bad scholars making a half-decent living out of folk music, largely on account of the rest of us simply not having the time, wit or academic rigour to put them in their places (or maybe we just can't be arsed). Some are charlatans, some thought they were something they weren't ( and in some cases still do), and I suspect many were simply posessed of more enthusiasm than skill.

Kipling had it about right in "When 'Omer Smote 'is Bloomin' Lyre" -"We knew 'e stole, 'e knew we knew...but kept it quiet, same as you".

Academically, it is important - probably vital. Perhaps Mudcat is akin to peer review, so nobody can complain if it gets a bit harsh; that's how it works provided we can retain some common politeness. For the rest, Domeama for one is too good a song to let slip, and perhaps what is really getting up our noses is that every last one of us has been taken in to some extent at some time.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 06:39 PM

Merely a reasonable inference, Les. The number of broadside printers was limited and they frequently stole songs from one another. Surely the shop owners would not hire more songwriters than they could afford to pay, and anyone who could write one suficiently good broadside text was likely capable of writing another and another and another. Some of the likeliest writers might be the printers and publishers themselves, not to mention their spouses.

My estimate of "several dozen" (which could mean 100 or 150 or more) was intended to provoke, not stifle, thought about the matter. Our usual assumption seems to be that "common folk" all over the British Isles were constantly creating new texts; perhaps they were, but only a finite number of original songs made between, say, 1800 and 1900 became truly "traditional." A very large number of independently
inspired amateurs writing one or two texts each would not, I think, be necessary to account for all of the superior texts. (And I'm speaking only of texts, not tunes.)

Part (and only part) of the reason that the style of the broadsides is so conventional may be that not many people were behind them.

I'm not claiming any special wisdom here, just raising some possibilities that need to be addressed, if they have not been already.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 03:11 AM

I've actually often found myself ruminating along these lines, but with no evidence at all, just 'songwriter's hunch'. I'd be fascinated to know if anyone's ever researched this theory. Tom


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 03:42 AM

Sorry Lighter, I miss-read your post.

"but unfortunately it's worth thinking about."

Not unfortunate at all. The Broadside tradition is clearly interrelated to the cannon of songs collected from source singers at the end of the 19C. I read somewhere, sorry I cannot remember where, that many of the songs collected in the 19C appeared first as Broadsides in the 18C or earlier.

I was just hopping we could come to some concensus about Bert and I think we probably have but it still needs somebody to sum it up.

As for who wrote Broadsides and what happened to the songs and the writers that really is another story that is well worth digging into.

Best of luck I think you have a job for life

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 04:16 AM

You can find broadside examples of the majority of "folk" songs. And in some cases the author is known. My Johnny was a Shoemaker, written 1859, is one example. The American composer, and his wife who was a singer, toured Europe in the 1860's, which is no doubt how the song came to be collected from the oral tradition. But did he base it on an older song? Who knows?

The folk song collectors just collected those that were remembered.
But no-one knows where the songs originated, and it is clear that the broadsides were often just existing songs written down (as shown by the numerous variants) and probably edited in many cases to provide a moral or a happy ending.

Nic Jones was one of the revival singers who used broadsides which he had discovered to great effect. But he did provide this information.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: nutty
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 04:37 AM

Broadsides developed in many ways with publishers, printers. singers and sellers all responsible for making changes.

They were all in the business of making money and providing material that could be sold .. Songs were changed or adapted to cater for the preferences of the region and the client.

This is why you will get the same song printed in different ways in different areas and where the oral tradition played as much a part in developing songs in the past, as it does today.

I have always believed that there is no such thing as a definitive version of a folk song unless you have proof of its originator.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 04:37 AM

Academically, it is important - probably vital. Perhaps Mudcat is akin to peer review, so nobody can complain if it gets a bit harsh; that's how it works provided we can retain some common politeness. For the rest, Domeama for one is too good a song to let slip, and perhaps what is really getting up our noses is that every last one of us has been taken in to some extent at some time.[quote from theVulgarBoatman]
no,once you start using this criteria[a song is agood song] for singing, ignore categorisation,it doesnt matter whether Do Me Amma was traditional or not.,neither does it matter that we have been fooled.
It matters to scholars,but it is not a reason for not singing the song.
was Do me amma entirely a lloyd composition,or a part composition?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:29 AM

"Actually Brian, there is an English tradition of werefoxes, ..."

I'd like to know more about that, TVB - where can I look it up?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:47 AM

This is all interesting stuff. The re-evaluation of Lloyd and MacColl's legacies is certainly valid, but one distinction seems important to me: MacColl seems to have rubbed a few people up the wrong way, whereas everyone who met Lloyd seems to have liked him very much. Hence any criticism of the man seems painful, as he was obviously an amiable and helpful chap.

Was it thanks to Lloyd that folk song LPs tended to include detailed liner notes, giving song provenance details? He seems to have been responsible for a lot of the Topic sleeve notes, and I'm very grateful that this approach became the norm.

I have sometimes wondered, though, reading through some of his comments, if he occasionally embellished some of the information on the sleevenotes. I don't have examples to hand, and I may be entirely wrong, but I remember one or two 'facts' about songs that seemed highly speculative to me.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:49 AM

'The Book of Werewolves' by Sabine Baring-Gould (yep, him).


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:50 AM

I was going to ask whether this thread - warts and all - might be conflated with other threads about Bert Lloyd, but then it occurs to me that doing so might cause more problems than might be solved.

I have posted in one of the other threads to the effect that, purely for me, I am not arsed whether a song which I might have sung (in the days when I could sing) has, or has not, been "doctored" ;

nor am I arsed to learn the identity of the person who might have "doctored" said song.

Incidentally, I loved that image of the "folk old gits, sucking their dentures . . . and setting themselves up as the fons et origo of all things folk". There is many the true word spoken in jest . . .

It is, I think, at least arguable that without the alleged "doings" of Ewan McColl and in particular Bert Lloyd, we might still be singing the Clancys' (Clancies ?) recorded canon.

It was the likes of Bert Lloyd who showed me that "folk music" wasn't just 'The Banks of the Ohio' and 'Bould O'Donoghue'.

Please, please do not construe the foregoing as criticism of those who are concerned whether a song has been "doctored", and if so, by whom. Speaking purely for myself, it makes no never mind to me,

if I like the song under consideration.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:53 AM

"Actually Brian, there is an English tradition of werefoxes, ..."

I'd like to know more about it, too but, assuming you're correct, it still ain't true that people in 19th century England were singing folksongs about it.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:09 AM

Perhaps I should revive a Reynardine thread to say this, but first I am persuaded by the theory that the narrative is an import about the early french brigand, and second I harbour an idea that its resonance to Victorian times lies in its possible reference to the budding of female sexuality. There was both in and before Victorian times a fear of the possibility that men have a largely fixed (and worsening) tumescence-detumescence time, whereas female sexuality may be insatiable: this couples to the fear of vagina dentata, the symbol of castration through sex, to which the "teeth" line (if it is not a contemprary addition) might allude.

IMHO the source of a folk song is the basis of its meaning, and it is well to know (say) that the tune we usually sing to the Lykewake Dirge is actually a Victorian neologism (as IMHO is the Prince Albert verse in "the Deserter" (aka "Radcliffe Highway")


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: JeffB
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:10 AM

To Les in Chorlton and Brian Peters.

My apologies if you were offended in any way by my post, but please be assured that those remarks were not directed at either of you.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:16 AM

I am not so sure. There are broadsides of Reynardine and The Mountains High, going back to around 1814. The name of the 'rake' in all the songs seems to be consistent with a more or less corrupted form of Reynardine

(examples Randal Rine, Roynel Doine, Randal Rhine, Rynordine).

It is surely likely that a fox is involved somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:44 AM

Absolutely no offense taken Jeff, in fact I think you have opened up a whole new area for investigation.

I see you writing learned books and giving workshops at Whitby! Best of luck


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 08:10 AM

Pavane - isn't it just as likely that those variants are more or less corupted forms of "Reynoldin" or "Randall Ryan"? And, in answer to Richard, the teeth do appear to have been added by Bert Lloyd. I think some shirts are being sewn onto buttons here.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 08:36 AM

Steve Winick's paper on 'Reynardine' can be found here:
Reynardine

No offence JeffB, but I did want to point out that it's not just academics who are bothered about this sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 02:35 PM

I think at least one of Les's original questions has been answered:

There is clearly a growing number of songs that owe much more to Bert Lloyd than to the people he claimed to collect them from.
...

Two questions:

1. How long is the Bertsong list
2. How much does it matter?


If nothing else, over the last week we've established that:

a) there are some people for whom it matters a lot;
b) there are some people for whom it doesn't matter at all;
and
c) there are some people in each group who hold uncomplimentary opinions about people in the other group.

Perhaps - in the interests of not exposing people to arguments they don't like - this discussion could be continued on a thread called, say, Bertsongs (For Those Who Think It Matters)?

Something I was looking at today, for reasons unconnected with Bert Lloyd, reminded me of this thread (and why I do think it matters). On the Copper family Web site you can find the family's own version of "Spencer the Rover"; you can also find the version Bob Copper collected from a man called Jim Barrett in a pub in 1954. A look at the Bodleian's Web site will find you several broadside copies of "Spencer the [young] rover", printed around a hundred years earlier. They're not identical - there are differences in wording and word order; the Coppers' version is all in the third person, Barrett's is all first-person, and the broadsides are inconsistent. They're not identical, but they're very, very close; they're obviously variants on a common source, and variants that haven't diverged very far.

So: here's a song preserved by the Copper family and collected by Bob Copper in 1954 - and if you look at these mid-Victorian broadsides, you see the same song. For me there's something wonderful about that. If you can write a song you're a songwriter - it's a good thing to be, but there's no shortage of them. If you can collect a song, pass a song along and keep it alive - that's a much rarer honour, and the two shouldn't be confused.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 03:40 PM

"MacColl seems to have rubbed a few people up the wrong way, whereas everyone who met Lloyd seems to have liked him very much. Hence any criticism of the man seems painful, as he was obviously an amiable and helpful chap."

Nothing's ever simple, is it? I had exactly the opposite experiemce. On the occasions that I met MacColl he was always open and friendly, listened to what I had to say and answered my questions. On the other hand I found Lloyd rather aloof and difficult to get into conversation with, and I had one bruising encounter with him in which all I did was politely ask him to sign my copy of 'Folk Song in England'. I only mention this because the quote above now appears to be the 'standard line' on two remarkable men.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:05 PM

My late wife Jacqui who was in "the soup" at the time (I wasn't) used to say that Bert Lloyd's principal interest in her music was the hope of getting into her pants.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:07 PM

PS. Steve Winick's paper is not there. I'd like to read it but must kip as some loony has had the idea of dancing the sun up at 0532 tomorrow morning at Bluebell Hill.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 05:14 PM

Brian & Shimrod, where to look? The web's not a lot of use unless you want the tradition of fantasy role playing (!)...but there are a number of academic libraries that list acquisitions on the subject, including UCL, Cardiff, & LSE (of all places), and a good social anthropology department could be a likely starting point if you really are wanting to research it further. My own brief contact with the subject began with A - level latin and that was along time ago to be quoting sources, but the werefox reference stuck in the mind and now that you've asked the question, I will try to dredge up more. I wasn't suggesting that it had formed the subject for song, though it might well have done, only that it existed.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:38 PM

RE: Skewball

"In fact it seems only very rarely to have been found in Ireland (Roud lists only one Irish version at present)."

This may not be the best place to bring this up, but I also have believed that Skewball was an Irish song. I was fairly certain I read something to that affect on this site, and upon looking through some threads I found these comments (below lyrics) by Bruce Olson.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 06:43 PM

Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 05:57 PM

In America, the Stewball ballad was "...most popular in the Negro south, where the winning horse is known variously as 'Stewball' or 'Kimball," and was apparently one of the chain-gang songs. The song was recorded by Leadbelly in 1940 (cd available via the Smithsonian Museum), by Joan Baez (album title Joan Baez/5), by Peter Paul and Mary, and a number of successive artists.

There is a closely-related American song, called Molly and Tenbrooks (also Run, Molly, Run; Old Tim Brooks; Tim Brooks; The Race Horse Song), which celebrates the famous east-west four-mile Kentucky match between the California mare Mollie McCarty and the great Kentucky racehorse Ten Broeck in 1878.

There are several versions of the Molly/Ten Broeck saga, as well, and Folklorist D.K. Wilgus believed there was a connection between the Skewball ballad and that of Molly and "Tenbrooks." In the real race, which Ten Broeck won, Mollie was distanced in the first (and final) heat, an incident seen in the Baez version of Stewball.   
Up until the 19th century, broadsides were the most inexpensive means of disseminating information in Great Britain, the earliest dating to the sixteenth century. Popular songs printed on a single side of a sheet of paper sold for a penny or less, and treated a broad variety of subjects, from the political to biblical, from medieval romance and very old ballads to contemporary events treated in a satirical vein. The ballad broadsides were often set to already familiar tunes. They were frequently illustrated with woodcuts.

The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford has a substantial collection of over 25,000 items, in named collections which have been donated over the past 300 years. Among these are a collection bequeathed to the University in 1975 from Walter N.H. Harding, and within the 15,000 broadside ballads in this collection are several versions of Skewball. To see images and actual appearance of the original broadsides, and the thousands more in the Bodleian collection, all organized in a very useful on-line database (search for ("Skewball"), please visit the Bodleian Library Broadsides Ballad collection.

   


Some recordings of this song in various versions include: "Timbrooks and Molly" (Warde Ford, The Hole in the Wall (AFS 4210A1, 1939, AMMEN/Cowell); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys (Columbia 20612, 1949); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (Sonny Osborne (Kentucky 605, n.d.); "Molly and Tenbrooks" (The Stanley Brothers (Rich-R-Tone 418, 1948). The versions were noted by Wilgus in Kentucky Folklore Record V. II, No. 3; Vol. II, No. 4.

Below are two of the five versions of Skewball from the Bodleian ballad broadsides; the one on the right is dated 1784, the one on the left undated, but it appears to be the older of the two. To show how lyrics change over time, the Steeleye Span version of Skewball (from Ten Man Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again, available on cd from Shanachie Records Corp. (� 1989)) and the version (Stewball) sung by Joan Baez on the album Joan Baez/5 (Vanguard: VSD-79160), the latter set to a tune by the Greenbriar Boys. Beneath those are different versions of the saga of Mollie McCarty and Ten Broeck, where Skewball/Stewball starts making an appearance.

Skewball (Harding B-6 (54) 00668)

You Gentlemen Sportsmen I pray listen all
I'll sing you a song in the praise of Skewball
And how they came over you shall understand
By one Squire Irvine the Mell of [of] our land.
500 bright guineas on the plains of Kildare
I'll bet upon, Sportsmen, that bonny-grey mare
Skewball hearing the wager, the wager was laid
He said loving master, its don't be afraid.
For on my side thou'st laid thousands of pounds
I'll rig in thy castle a fine mass of gold.
Squire Irvine he smiled, and thus he did say,
You gentlemen-sportsmen to-morrow's the day
Your saddles and bridles, and horses prepare,
For we will away th [to] the plains of Kildare.
The day being come, & the horses bro't out,
Squire Irvine he order'd his rider to mount.
All the people then went to see them go round
They swore in their hearts that they ne'er
touch'd the ground.
And as they were riding this was the discourse
The grey mare will never touch this horse.
O, loving kind rider come tell unto me,
How far is the grey mare behind you said he...
O loving master you bear a great smile,
Grey mare is behind me a large English mile
For in this country I was ne'er seen before
Thou hast won the race & broken lord Gore.
Skewball (Harding B-25 1784 10198)

Ye gentlemen sportsmen I pray listen all,
And I'll sing you a song in praise of skewball,
And how he came over you shall understand,
It was esquire Mirvin a peer of our land.
And of his late actions is I have heard before,
And how he was challenged by one Sir Raph Gore,
For five hundred guines on the plains of kilder,
To run with Miss Sportsly that charming grey mare.
Skewball then he hearing the wager was laid,
He to his kind master said be not afraid.
For I on my side you thousands will hold,
I'll lay on your castle a fine mass of gold.
The time being come and the cattle led out,
The people came flocking from east, west, and south,
To beat all the Sportsmen I vow and declare,
They'd enter their money all on the grey mare.
Squire Mirvin he smiled and thus he did say,
Come gentlemen sportsmen that's money to lay.
All you that's got hundreds I will hold you all,
For I will lay thousands on famous Skewball.
Squire Mirvin he smiled, and thus he did say,
Ye gentlemen sportsmen to morrow's the day,
Your horses and saddles and bridles prepare,
For we must away to the plains of kildar.
The time being come and the cattle walk'd out,
Squire Mirvin he order'd his rider to mount,
With all the spectators to clear the way,
The time being come not a moment delay,
These cattle were mounted away they fly,
Skewball like an arrow past Miss Sportsly did fly,
And the people stept up for to see them go round,
They swore in their hearts he ne'er touch the ground.
And as they were just in the midst of their sport,
squire Mirvin* to his rider begun this discourse,
O loving kind rider come tell unto me,
How far is Miss Sportsly this moment from thee.
O loving kind master you bear a great style
The Grey Mare is behind me a full English mile,
If the saddle maintains as I warrent you there
We ne'er shall be beat on the plains of Kildar.
And as they were running past the distance chair,
the gentlemen cry'd Skewball never fear,
Although in this country thou wast never seen before,
Thou beating Miss Sportsly has broke Sir Ralph Gore.

*Corrected the next year to: Skewball to his rider began this discourse

Skewball (Steeleye Span)

You gallant sportsmen all, come listen to my story
It's of the bold Skewball, that noble racing pony
Arthur Marvel was the man that brought bold Skewball over
He's the diamond of the land and he rolls about in clover

The horses were brought out with saddle, whip and bridle
And the gentlemen did shout when they saw the noble riders
And some did shout hurray, the air was thick with curses
And on the grey Griselda the sportsmen laid their purses

The trumpet it did sound, they shot off like an arrow
They scarcely touched the ground for the going it was narrow
Then Griselda passed him by and the gentlemen did holler
The grey will win the day and Skewball he will follow

Then halfway round the course up spoke the noble rider
I fear we must fall back for she's going like a tyger.
Up spoke the noble horse, ride on my noble master
For we're half way round the course and now we'll see who's faster

And when they did discourse, bold Skewball flew like lightning
They chased around the course and the grey mare she was taken
Ride on my noble lord, for the good two hundred guineas
The saddle shall be of gold when we pick up our winnings

Past the winning post bold Skewball proved quite handy
And horse and rider both ordered sherry, wine and brandy
And then they drank a health unto Miss Griselda
And all that lost their money on the sporting plains of Kildare   Stewball (Joan Baez/5)

Stewball was a good horse
He wore a high head,
And the mane on his foretop
Was as fine as silk thread.

I rode him in England,
I rode him in Spain,
And I never did lose, boys,
I always did gain.

So come all you gamblers,
Wherever you are,
And don't bet your money
On that little gray mare.

Most likely she'll stumble,
Most likely she'll fall,
But you never will lose, boys,
On my noble Stewball.

As they were a-ridin'
'Bout halfway around,
That gray mare she stumbled
And fell on the ground.

And away out yonder,
Ahead of them all,
Came a prancin' an' dancin'
My noble Stewball.

Stewball: A Version
Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

Way out in California
Where Stewball was born
All the jockeys said old Stewball
Lord, he blew there in a storm

CHORUS: Bet on Stewball and you might win, win, win
Bet on Stewball and you might win

All the jockeys in the country
Say he blew there in a storm
All the women in the country
Say he never was known

When the horses were saddled
And the word was given: Go
Old Stewball he shot out
Like an arrow from a bow

The old folks they hollered
The young folks they bawled
The children said look, look
At that no good Stewball   Stewball: Another Version
Source: Fiddle Players' Discussion List, Meghan Merker

There's a big race (uh-huh), down in Dallas (uh-huh)
Don't you wish you (...) were there? (...)
you would bet your ( ) bottom dollar ( )
On that iron ( ) grey mare ( )
Bet on Stewball & you might win, win, win
Bet on Stewball & you might win!

Way out / in California / when old Stewball / was born
All the jockeys / in the nation / said he blew there / in a storm

Now the value / of his harness / has never / been told
His sadlle / pure silver / & his bridle / solid gold

Old Stewball / was a racehorse / Old Molly / was too
Old Molly / she stumbled / Old Stewball / he flew

Run Molly Run
Source: Kingston Trio ("Goin Places")

Chorus: Run Molly, run (oh, Molly). Run Molly, run.
Long John's gonna beat you, beneath the shinin' sun.

Long John was the youngest horse and Molly was the old.
Molly was an old grey mare and he was a stallion bold,
oh, Lordy, he was a stallion bold.

Long John said to Molly, "You're runnin' your last race
'Cause when I turn my head around I'm gonna see your face,
old gal, I'm gonna see your face."

Molly said to Long John, "Don't take me for a fool.
If you didn't cut your ears and tail, I'd think you were a mule
(Yeah!) I'd think you were a mule."

Long John, he got mad, oh, Lord, and shook his wooly mane.
"Last time that I run, old girl, I beat the Memphis train.
I beat the Memphis train."

Chorus

See them waitin' on the track. The man, he hollered, "Go!"
Long John runnin' fast, Lord, Molly runnin' slow.
Molly runnin' slow.

Long John said to Molly, "Take a last look at the sky.
'Cause baby when I pass you by, my dust's gonna blind your eye,
oh, Lord, my dust's gonna blind your eye."

Run, Molly, run. Look out for the turn,
oh, Lordy, Lordy, here she comes!

Long John beatin' Molly. Wait, what do I see?
Molly passin' Long John. Molly runnin' free,
oh, Lordy, Molly runnin' free.

Run Molly, run (oh Molly). Run Molly, run.
Put old Long John out to stud and let old Molly run!   Molly and Tenbrooks
Source: Steve Gillette and Linda Albertano, Cherry Lane Music, 1967

Tenbrooks was a bay horse, had a long, shaggy mane
Rode all around Memphis, beat the big Memphis train.
Run, Tenbrooks, run, if you don't run
Molly gonna beat you to the bright shinin' sun.

The women were weepin', their babes cryin' too.
The nine proud horses came thunderin' through.
With molly the leader, her head tossin' high.
With Molly the leader, with Tenbrooks behind,
She came flyin' by.

We shouted to Kuyper, you're not ridin' right.
Molly is a beatin' Tembrooks out of sight.
Kuyper, oh Kuyper, Kuyper my son,
Give him the bridle, let Tenbrooks run.

Tenbrooks looked at Molly, your face is so red.
Been runnin in the hot sun with a feverish head.
You're fallin' behind me, I'm out here all alone
Molly says to Tenbrooks, I'm leavin' this world
I'm a goin' on home.

Oh, run fetch old Tenbrooks and tie him in the shade.
They're buryin' Molly in a coffin ready made.
Out in California Molly done as she pleased,
Back in Kentucky, got beat with all ease,
Got beat with all ease.


A Related, Possibly Older Version
Source: "E.L."

chorus:
Run Molly, run
Run Molly, run
Tembruck gonna beat you
Bright shinin'sun.
Bright shinin' sun, oh lordy, bright shinin' sun.

They ran the Kentucky Derby on the 24th of May,
Some bet on Tembruck, some on Molly Day.
Some on Molly Day, oh lordy, some on Molly Day.

chorus

Piper, oh Piper, you're not runnin' right
Molly's beatin' Tembruck way out of sight.
Way out of sight, oh lordy,way out of sight.

chorus

Piper, oh Piper, oh Piper my son
Let old Tembruck have his head,let old Tembruck run.
Let old Tembruck run, oh lordy, let old Tembruck run







Skewball was a Racehorse The Ballads Was Skewball a Skewbald?






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with respect LLoyds[steeleyespan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 01 May 08 - 04:17 AM

The Broadside tradition is clearly interrelated to the cannon of songs collected from source singers

A nice image, Les, much more evocative than using "canon".

Dave Arthur, quoted by Steve Winick in his important discussion of "Reynardine":

"One finds in [Lloyd's] manuscripts informants' names crossed out and changed,...and in the case of 'One of the Has Beens,' a very specific note, 'I heard this from a Vaudeville actor in hospital at Cowra, NSW, on New Year's Day,' was changed on publication to 'a teamster from Grenfell sang the song.'"

Arthur adds, somewhat acidly, that a teamster "sounds more 'authentic' than a 'vaudeville actor.'"


Thanks, Lighter. This was the Australian component of Bert's scholarship that I was trying to recall.

While the English tradition is one I can trace my ancestry to (thus allowing me some "right" to shove my oar in, so to speak) I thought I'd leave most of the debate about his effects on scholarship to those who figured their connection to the tradition was closer and allowing more pungent comment. Where Bert's scholarship can be described as "dodgy" and is applicable to my current context I feel justified in saying that, while it's a great song and I'm pleased Bert made it available to us all I'm peeved, as a performer, educator and scholar, that he fudged its provenance, no matter what his motives.

I'll leave my comments about how such behaviour allowed others to engage in unwarranted arrogation of "authenticity" for their own purposes for another time.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 May 08 - 05:10 AM

"I'll leave my comments about how such behaviour allowed others to engage in unwarranted arrogation of "authenticity" for their own purposes for another time."

Rowan, this sounds rather interesting could you describe briefly what you mean?

Boom, boom!
Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 08 - 05:15 AM

The link to the Reynardine article is working this morning. On reading it, I found I was re-reading it. It is wholly clear from it that there was a song of the general nature circulating at least 100 years before the Lloyd text, and given the divergencies of the cited researched texts, apparently long before that. It is that fact, and the fact that the French court in the 1500s and 1600s was adversely noted for its licentiousness plus the curious similarity to the French rebel's name that combine to cause me to favour the idea of a French history for the tale underlying the song.

However that leads to the question of whether the possible mixed fear and joy over female sexual awakening indicates a prior song to which the outlaw, with his rejection of licentiousness, but his succumbing to temptation, came, or whether the outlaw was there first and the inherent contradiction in the sexual theme of the song came later.

I also note that the article seems to have an axe to grind, certainly in its earlier parts.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 May 08 - 05:33 AM

Looking at "The mountains high", I can't see any outlaw, with his rejection of licentiousness, but his succumbing to temptation. Before it was embellished by Campbell, Hughes and most of all Lloyd, it seems to have been a straightforward cautionary tale about a girl who's seduced by the charms of a glamorous outlaw. As for mixed fear and joy over female sexual awakening, you can find that mixture in any song that presents loss of virginity as a calamity while also getting entertainment out of it... which is to say, about half the traditional songs in England.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 08 - 09:52 AM

Did you note that I referred to a (lost) progenitor song and did you note the referenceces in the article to the French outlaw?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 01 May 08 - 10:24 AM

I saw a single reference to a French outlaw ("la Renaudie"), alongside references to an Italian outlaw ("Rinaldo Rinaldini") and an English outlaw ("Reynoldin"). If I was going to follow up any of those it would be the last one.

On the point about the (lost) progenitor song, all I would say is that I wouldn't expect any song that predated "The mountains high" to be closer to "Reynardine" than it was to "The mountains high". Otherwise you'd have to argue that the oral tradition turned a song seething with unavowed magic and repressed sexuality into a common-or-garden "maiden's warning" number, and that Bert Lloyd saw the diamond in the rough and restored it to its former glory. It's all a bit 'green man' for me (Sedayne, are you there?).


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 May 08 - 11:55 AM

The difficulty with "lost originals" is that one can always imagine some and they always have the characteristics one is looking for!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 May 08 - 11:59 AM

Is this where we came in?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 May 08 - 07:45 PM

Possibly, Les!

For those who don't know, Nerd is the mudcat handle for Steve Winick, who wrote the Reynardine article kindly linked in by Brian...so, that's who I am!

On the Reynardine stuff...I din't have an axe to grind, particularly. But to publish in prominent academic journals these days, you need to show why your paper is both novel and theoretically interesting. This is particularly true if you are not yourself a prominent academic-- which I am not really now, and certainly wasn't then.

Novelty is generally not a problem outside academia, but for something to be "theoretically interesting" often amounts to proving a theoretical point. This looks a lot like axe-grinding to non-academics. So a good deal of that impression was probably added to the paper through my need to fill that requirement.

Also, even though many people here on Mudcat were willing to supply instances of Lloyd's "tinkering," what i was saying--that Bert tinkered with songs and didn't admit it sometimes--was still pretty radical in British academic folklore. In fact, one of the anonymous reviewers for the journal said that when he started reading the paper he was sure I was wrong, but was finally convinced by the end. In order to convince such folks, I had go very deeply into each piece of evidence to be sure no stone was unturned--which may feel like overkill to people whose attitude is "ok, I accept that Lloyd did this, but so what!"

My educated guesses on why Bert changed Reynardine, and why he let his changes be accepted as traditional, do appear in the paper, in the section called Negotiating Authenticity: A. L. Lloyd and the Mystery of "Reynardine" The analogy I use is not Tom Keating but The Brothers Grimm--a more directly applicable one, I think. As others have said, Keating wasn't creating the standards by which people evaluated and verified the authenticity of artworks on the one hand, and forging them on the other. If he had been, he would inevitably have put in his books on "how to evaluate Rembrandt's works" ideas which validated his forgeries. In doing that, he would have introduced flaws in the model by which Rembrandt's works were studied.

Lloyd basically was doing this. He was able to condition people to accept his rewritten pieces as genuine--by telling them "people in the industrial revolution felt this way," and then providing the songs which "proved" (and were proved by) his assertions. Interestingly, the effect academics are interested in isn't the creation of new songs, but the creation of theories and standards to validate what are essentially forgeries: THAT's what was damaging to folklore scholarship. People who listened to the revival recordings Lloyd influenced were also reading his books, hoping to be told by an academic folklorist what the songs meant--and they were getting potted theories that only fully held up if you accepted his forgeries as real. As (I think it was) Brian pointed out, this began very early in Lloyd's career, with The Singing Englishman, in which he had a whole theory about the peasants' revolt of the 1380s that included "The Cutty Wren"; at once claiming the song was far older than it probably is, and poorly describing the song's performance so as to make it all seem plausible. By the time of Folk Song In England, no-one would have believed the song was that old, which I think is one reason he left it out.

The people who absorbed all this circular thinking include generations of folklore and ethnomusicology students who studied with Lloyd, as well as revivalists like Brian who treat songs as more than just entertainment. So Lloyd's actions could in theory have had disastrous effects on our understanding of traditional song in England. Luckily he wasn't consistent, or calculating, or deliberate enough to have done that much damage. It wasn't what he was trying to do, after all.

To people like Dick Miles who say that his sins are outweighed by the good things he did...that's well and good, and I agree. But it's really irrelevant. The great American linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf was never an academic--he was, in fact, a fire safety inspector. It so happens that his papers were great works of linguistic scholarship. But what if they had been deliberately misleading, and set our understanding of language and cognition back years. Would it be logical to argue: "well, maybe, but he saved a lot of lives as a fire safety inspector, so we can't blame him for those bad things he did?" In short, Bert's good effects on the world outweighed his bad ones, but I can still wish he hadn't had the bad effects.

In my paper, I try to be balanced here. I really do think Lloyd was a wonderful figure for twentieth-century folksong and folk music. I see his tinkering more as a form of mischievous play than as a crime. In fact, he often left a trail of breadcrumbs to the truth, that people like Dave Arthur and Roy Palmer and Keith Gregson and myself have been able to follow. One could even argue that the discipline has been strengthened through us being kept "on our toes" by Bert, years after he left us!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 May 08 - 07:51 PM

A separate post, for those who are interested:

I pursued all three outlaw leads, La Renaudie, Rinaldo Rinaldini, and Reynoldyn, much further than the final form of the paper would indicate. When it was being published in academic folklore's most august journal, I ran afoul of their rather strict length limit (who knew?) In the end, they were probably right to force me to cut, as the discussions of previous outlaws were all essentially digressions.

In brief:

I don't think the La Renaudie hypothesis is convincing, mainly because there isn't a shred of evidence for it except that someone once noticed the similarity of names--in particular, there are not (to my knowledge) any French songs about him, nor is he a particularly well-known figure. To Richard's "whether the possible mixed fear and joy over female sexual awakening indicates a prior song to which the outlaw, with his rejection of licentiousness, but his succumbing to temptation, came, or whether the outlaw was there first and the inherent contradiction in the sexual theme of the song came later," I can only say "you've lost me completely." I keep trying to read that sentence, but never have any idea by the end what it means!

Rinaldo Rinaldini is, I think, a more probable source, because the novel about him by Christian August Vulpius (what a great surname for this particular discussion!) was very popular in German and in English translation almost exactly when the ballad "The Mountains High" arose. But it's almost too exact--if I recall, the first broadside we can date is the same year as the English translation of Rinaldo. If the song existed at all before that, it would be an impossible influence...besides which, the ballad bears no resemblance I could find to any particular incident in the novel (which I had to soldier through just to find that out!)

Reynoldyn, or Reynold, is, I think, the most likely outlaw source, and I have a separate paper coming out on that connection, very shortly, in a book from the University of Delaware Press. Essentially, this Reynold was a peripheral figure in the Robin Hood tales from before the date of the earliest ballads, and the first recorded form of his name (in 1432) is "Reynoldyn." In a later song, which Child prints in his notes but does not assign a number, "Renold" appears to be the real name of Much the Miller's son (although in the 1432 inscription, they are different outlaws.) However, even though I spun it into a separate paper, I am not truly convinced that there is a connection--I am just presenting it as a possibility.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 May 08 - 07:56 PM

To clarify my post of 7:45, I do not think that Lloyd's reason for changing Reynardine was to create validation for some pre-existing historical hypothesis. I do think this about many of his other songs, however, such as "The Recruited Collier." To get my take on Reynardine, it's best to read that section of paper.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 08 - 08:39 PM

I'm sure I read more, some time ago, on La Reynaudie. There was (I think I read) some pretty direct connection to the curious phrase "brought up in Venus train". I also noted, I think ( hope I remember this) that the chateau de la Reynaudie (still I think a wine appelation) was in a mountanous region.

I also vaguely remember something being made of the nature of the melody we use, and evidence of immigration to Sussex.

Now where oh where did I read it?

What I don't think I can rebut is that Lloyd concocted rather than collected at least parts of his version.

But thank you Nerd for your careful and learned explanation. Things like that are the core of what makes the Mudcat such a wonderful place, and help me to remain safe against the idiocies of horse definitioners.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 May 08 - 10:56 PM

Richard,

Next week at work I can look further into La Renaudie if you like. From home, I don't have access to a lot of reference tools that I have at work (work is a library...)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 May 08 - 08:45 AM

Thanks, Steve (originally typed 'Serd'!) I like the breadcrumb-trail image - "TRC" is a good example of this. More later, probably.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 May 08 - 08:53 AM

To people like Dick Miles who say that his sins are outweighed by the good things he did...that's well and good, and I agree. But it's really irrelevant. The great American linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf was never an academic--he was, in fact, a fire safety inspector. It so happens that his papers were great works of linguistic scholarship. But what if they had been deliberately misleading, and set our understanding of language and cognition back years. Would it be logical to argue: "well, maybe, but he saved a lot of lives as a fire safety inspector, so we can't blame him for those bad things he did?" In short, Bert's good effects on the world outweighed his bad ones, but I can still wish he hadn't had the bad effects.
no, because being a fire safety inspector has nothing to do with the tradition or the folk revival,Berts other work[Singing recording] was very important to the folk revival,so his doubtful scholarship has to be seen in relation to his other contributions to the folk revival.
benjamin lee whorf, may have been a great linguisatic scholar,but the was his only contribution.
ALLloyd is a completely different kettle of fish,his contributuions to the folk revival were many faceted.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 05 May 08 - 01:48 AM

Les in Chorlton asked "I'll leave my comments about how such behaviour allowed others to engage in unwarranted arrogation of "authenticity" for their own purposes for another time."

Rowan, this sounds rather interesting could you describe briefly what you mean?


On 22 April Brian Peters wrote The problem is that, for many of us who love traditional songs and choose to sing them, the fact that they are "The Voice of the People" […] is a part of their appeal. We like to feel, realistically or otherwise, that they may offer some kind of insight as to what life was really like, as seen not by historians but by ordinary folk

This elicited (inter alia) a post from Steve Gardham, who wrote Bert went out on a whaler from Hull and claimed to have learnt a version of the shanty 'Heave away my Johnny' from a seaman off Stoneferry in Hull. The explanation of this example Steve used was given as One verse runs 'Fare ye well, ye Kingston girls, farewell St Andrews Dock'. Nobody from Hull (With the sole exception of one Mike Ramsden)would ever call anybody from Hull 'Kingston'. The only things called Kingston are the stadium, a few local firms and a rugby team, but even they're either Rovers or KR. Kingston stadium is KC. Most people from Hull can't stand the bloody name Kingston. St Andrews dock is a relatively new dock and would only have been built a few years before Bert was sailing out of her on his one trip whaling on a very modern boat. It was the fish dock, now filled in.

This struck a chord with me and, although most of my post addressed Bert's magic, I commented there are people who've made successful careers, in and beyond the folkscene, out of their ability to imitate Bert's apparent authenticity (even when their depth of scholarship extends no further than LP covers), while not similarly imitating his politics.

The next day, because various posters seemed to have not separated the issue of Bert's scholarship authenticity from his artistry I wrote The Trojan Horse concept worked for the Greeks and produced, in their opinion, a great result so it should be no surprise that others should imitate it. I don't think anyone here has any criticism of the quality of Bert's artistry, judged by the results around us; the extent of the criticism is the intent of that artistry. The real bother for me is that others used similar techniques to arrogate "authority" to their background so their presentation of "tradition" would be more readily received.


In Oz we have a person who is greatly respected in the folk scene (both here and internationally) and who, early in his career in Oz, presented himself as having similar "authority" in his background, intending it to enhance his presentation of "tradition" so it would be more readily received. I recalled that Mudcat had already hosted some discussion of this and, as you can see, various esteemed 'catters have sprung to his defence. As one who has known all the protagonists in the 'ballad' discussed there I have great respect for the substantive abilities of all of them.   I gather the ballad was regarded in Victoria as a bit of a hoot, although people who weren't part of the Melbourne scene at the relevant period have taken it more seriously.

Danny got an Honorary Doctorate out of it so "all's well that ends well."

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 08 - 03:04 AM

I see once again my right to have an opinion and express it about folk music is challenged on mudcat.

One thing is certain about these songs. The audience is what gives them their power.

Those of us who lived through the height of the recent Irish troubles will remember what a rough ride many Irish singers had in UK clubs - particularly wih republican songs. But I've seen an audience get angry with just the idea of an Irish song after one particularly terrible bomb outrage. Similarly I saw singers stopped from singing Blackleg miner in this area (Nottinghamshire) during the miners strike of the 1980's. History changes and our perspective changes.

If Brian Peters can evoke an interest in folk music and illustrate history to schoolchildren using folksong - that is surely all to the good. We all know what went on in Victorian factories and child labour. This is a great way of getting it over to a receptive audience. If an artist can get a little fizz from any of these old incendiary devices, that's all to the good.

An artist has the right to edit and cut and republish in the most potent way possible to his audience - almost a duty. Call it an obligation. The originals will still be there in the library for the historian and researcher

Look at the different ways folksongs have been sung - John Jacob Niles, Bert Lloyd, Joan Baez, Martin Carthy - and now Brian. The primary obligation of the artist is to make the material live. This is conditioned by his audience, whoever they may be - the minute he stands up to sing. If he ignores them - gets bogged down in other considerations, he will bore people.

If you can't understand this - you can't understand much about the nature of art itself. As Henry Moore used to say about the pebble on the beech that you pick because its shape appeals to you aesthetically, that act of selection and appreciation is the work of art - not the action of the insensate sea on the pebble.

That spark with the audience, that's the dfficult thing to achieve. That is what we must go for - every time. Not some abstract notion of truth, which historians will bicker over, because that is all they can do.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 05 May 08 - 03:58 AM

I cannot imagine that many of us would disagree with what you have written.

But Brian made the point early on - was this song written by people in its time or made up or seriously changed recently - because that's not the same.

Whowill get the lucky 200?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 May 08 - 04:56 AM

>> The primary obligation of the artist is to make the material live. <<

Yes. Because if we lose our audience then it doesn't much matter what the hell we are singing to them.

A little mea culpa: years ago I doctored the final verse of "the Oldham White Hare" (a song which might well have undergone some previous doctoring, incidentally) in order to close it with a mildly anti-blood-sports sentiment. Nobody minded - my audiences probably enjoyed it more because of that, and I came out of it looking proper right-on. Nonetheless, that wasn't really what the song was all about originally. Perhpas I'm more sensitive about this kind of thing having given workshops explaining the history behind the songs, as opposed to doing nothing more that entertain audiences, but I'm not sure I'd want to do that kind of thing any more.

>> The originals will still be there in the library for the historian and researcher <<

By and large, yes. Although this thread has pointed out one or two instances where the 'originals' have proved rather elusive. But the problem is where a general perception takes over (e.g. when a doctored song becomes the standard version, in our little world at least) that it at odds with the actual hisotry.

Did I get the 200 (as if I care, really)?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 May 08 - 04:56 AM

YEEESSSSS!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 05 May 08 - 05:02 AM

Why is 200 lucky? I can understand 100, 1000, but 200?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 May 08 - 05:18 AM

I dunno, but then again I'm still fairly new to the protocol here. Still, in an age when the media can insist that we celebrate 20th and 40th anniversaries of events, pretty much anything with a '0' or even a '5' on the end of it can be the excuse for a Special Commemorative Issue and a documentary on Channel 4.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 08 - 05:24 AM

A further parallel that has occurred to me is this.

They say funerals are not really for the dead, they for those of us who are left. And I think its this way with folksongs.

I have never been in battle, but my Dad was - he served in the Irish Guards, Armoured tank division in the WW2 - through the low countries and Germany. He would never say much about the killing grounds, he said it was incommunicable.

In a way all these songs about Waterloo, the Irish rising of of 1798. and more recently Eric Bogles stuff about WW1. Most of that was written well after the event. It doesn't have much of the smell of fear and homicide.

All these songs are really about people who came later trying to make sense out of nonsense. They're not in a meaningful sense someone sitting down and telling you his story - like say a Chuck Berry song does. Its not first hand - that's surely why we get all this 'seven long years' stuff. What is it? a rhetorical device that the songwriter vaguely remembers from the bible about the seven lean years perhaps.

But that isn't to say that they are valueless as songs. It really does mean though that when Brian gets in front of that class of kids - he surely has carte blanche to tell these people's story the best and most compelling way he can.

The only way we can dishonour the dead is by making them irrelevant and forgettable.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 08 - 06:18 AM

seven years,was often the period of time of transportation.
some of the broken token songs,are connected with transportation to Australia.
[But that isn't to say that they are valueless as songs. It really does mean though that when Brian gets in front of that class of kids - he surely has carte blanche to tell these people's story the best and most compelling way he can.

The only way we can dishonour the dead is by making them irrelevant and forgettable].
Isnt this what Bert was doing?.,by improving the songs,he is telling the story in the most compelling way,he is honouring all the previous song carriers and the dead,by making it interesting.
I find all this tut tutting about his scholarship,over sanctimonious.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 May 08 - 06:25 AM

by improving the songs,he is telling the story in the most compelling way,he is honouring all the previous song carriers and the dead

TThere are no shining teeth in any of the pre-Lloyd versions of "Reynardine"; there's no collier in the original version of "The recruited collier" (quote: If owre the stibble fields I gang/I think I see him ploughin,/And ev'ry bit o' bread I eat,/It seems o' Jemmy's sowing). These changes sometimes make for a better song - I don't think anyone's ever denied that - but they certainly don't honour the sources.

Les has been asking a very straightforward question: "was this song written by people in its time or made up or seriously changed recently - because that's not the same." You may think the difference doesn't matter - that's up to you (and hopefully there's plenty of room here for all of us). The point is that it is a difference.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 05 May 08 - 10:16 AM

Oh come on Dick - I never thought I'd see you say that a desire for accuracy is the same as being over sanctimonious!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 08 - 10:44 AM

ok Tom.
Accuracy is important.,but probably imo not as important as his other contributions
I think we should make a few allowances for Bert,in the same way people should for Sharp,Baring Gould etc,that he should be viewed in the context of his times.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 08 - 11:04 AM

Tell us about accuracy. Seriously. You obviously have some ideal in mind.

Try and explain your point. Not all of us understand where you are heading with this.

Folksong isn't really journalism. Its nearer an attempt to mythologise. So presumably we're not talking about adherence to the historical facts, but adherence to the intentions of the original writer of the folksong.

Or perhaps I misunderstand you.....?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 05 May 08 - 11:44 AM

I think we all do make allowances for Bert. This is why I find Dick's comments puzzling. In my paper, and in my posts, I'm very careful to say that Bert should be viewed not only in the context of his times, but in the context of the scholarly tradition, and that what he did is actually quite in line with what a lot of other popularizing scholars have done--again, the Brothers Grimm being a good example. The achievements of the Grimms, and of Lloyd, should not be minimized. At the same time, when engaging in scholarship, we need to be careful not to take their claims, or their versions of texts, at face value as a representation of the tradition, because they are are compromised in various ways.

I always do say that Lloyd was and remains enormously important, enormously engaging as a writer, enormously entertaining as a singer. For us scholars, it can actually be fun to try to figure out what Lloyd did and why. Still, I say, we can wish he had been less secretive and downright misleading about his editorial interventions.

So this is what I and many of us other scholars say, taking care to heap praise upon Lloyd before saying anything critical. Our criticisms rarely amount to anything like a scathing attack. Yet no matter how much praise we heap, and no matter how gentle our criticisms, any whiff of critique leads to demands that we "make allowances" for him.

I guess our only recourse is to agree that he is above all criticism, then.

Somehow, I don't think he would have wanted that...


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 May 08 - 12:29 PM

>> So presumably we're not talking about adherence to the historical facts, but adherence to the intentions of the original writer of the folksong. <<

I don't think your post was directed towards me, WLD, but let me explain a bit more, using the previous example of the schoolkids and the mill songs.

I could sing them a song I'd written, after proper historical research, that gave them an accurate and quite possibly harrowing account of - say - child labour in cotton mills.

Or, I could sing an old song, telling them: "This is what people at the time were singing about the cotton mills."

Since singing old songs is what I do most of the time, the latter would be the more likely scenario (and would fit with the ideas I grew up with about the stories old songs can tell us). In which case, in order to be able to look myself in the eye, I would have to be confident that the 'old song' was exactly what I said it was, and not a product of the folk revival post 1950. If it were the latter, no matter how historically accurate the picture it painted, I wouldn't be making an honest presentation.

I'm not suggesting here that Bert Lloyd systematically faked songs about conditions in the mills, just giving you an example of why this kind of thing matters to me.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 08 - 12:53 PM

Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters - PM
Date: 05 May 08 - 12:29 PM

>> So presumably we're not talking about adherence to the historical facts, but adherence to the intentions of the original writer of the folksong. <<

I don't think your post was directed towards me, WLD, but let me explain a bit more, using the previous example of the schoolkids and the mill songs.

I could sing them a song I'd written, after proper historical research, that gave them an accurate and quite possibly harrowing account of - say - child labour in cotton mills.

Or, I could sing an old song, telling them: "This is what people at the time were singing about the cotton mills."

[Since singing old songs is what I do most of the time, the latter would be the more likely scenario (and would fit with the ideas I grew up with about the stories old songs can tell us). In which case, in order to be able to look myself in the eye, I would have to be confident that the 'old song' was exactly what I said it was, and not a product of the folk revival post 1950. If it were the latter, no matter how historically accurate the picture it painted, I wouldn't be making an honest presentation.

I'm not suggesting here that Bert Lloyd systematically faked songs about conditions in the mills, just giving you an example of why this kind of thing matters to me.]
we clearly sing old songs for partly different reasons.
I sing them because they have beautiful melodies and interesting stories,and becuase they give us an idea of the life of people in former times,I do not sing them because they are faithful reproductions of that which happened historically.
Why? because history is bunk.
let us take a song about the battle of Trafalgar,who won this war? the French believe they won it, The English believe they were the winners.,
all songs to make them interesting[Or to ease the singing] include poetic licence,they are not necessarily factually accurate,the poetry of the song is more important than factual accuracy[Three Score and Ten,Who cares whether it was February or October]it is the sentiment of the song,that is important.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 May 08 - 01:02 PM

"I sing them because they have beautiful melodies...."

Yes, absolutely.

".... and interesting stories...."

Indeed.

"....and becuase they give us an idea of the life of people in former times."

Exactly my point in the last post, Dick.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 May 08 - 01:13 PM

Capatain Birdseye: you explain your motives for singing old songs very eloquenttly, and Like Brian Peters I totally share your attitide. But we are not talking about old songs here. We are discussing the fact that it would seem that Bert Lloyd wrote some completely new songs, and passed them off as old songs. So the picture they give may be be beautiful, but it is a false.He was putting words into the mouths of people long dead and gone.
   I expect, Cap'n, you have in your family certain heirlooms. Pictures, letters,other possessions from those of previous generations? Things like that help to make a portrait of our forebears. Now, wouldn't it annoy you slightly if a letter you were led to believe was written by your great-grandfather in fact turned out to be a 1963 forgery?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Ballyholme
Date: 05 May 08 - 01:51 PM

I'd be interested in hearing Burl's opinion on this topic. I know that he knew Bert quite well.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 05 May 08 - 02:34 PM

To clarify, Bert rarely wrote ENTIRELY new songs and passed them off as old. What he did most of the time was to take an old song or an old poem, or several old songs and poems, and cobble lines together. Then he would write a stanza here or there, a line here or there, to fill in the gaps. So Lloyd's "Reynardine" has lines and words from Herbert Hughes, Joseph Campbell, A.E. Housman, and Lloyd himself, in addition to the broadside ballad. In "The Recruited Collier," he started with a poem by Robert Anderson and made his own, fairly drastic, changes.

In both of these cases, Lloyd claimed to have collected the song from someone else: "Reynardine," he said, was sung to him by Tom Cook of Eastbridge, Suffolk, while "The Recruited Collier" was sent to him in manuscript by a Mr. Huxtable of Workington. Neither source was ever located in any records outside Lloyd's own claims, and the purported Huxtable manuscript of "The Recruited Collier" has never surfaced either.

Where ideology came into it was that it seems Lloyd would take songs that were essentially rural (like "Jenny's Complaint" or "The Weaver in Love") and specifically turn them into "industrial folksongs," by changing the protagonists from rural occupations (a ploughboy and a serving-maid) to industrial ones (a collier and a "factory maid.")

He was, at the same time, attempting to argue through his scholarship that "industrial folksong" was a crucial and neglected area for research. It is for this reason that his falsifying such songs was wrong--he was essentially presenting bogus "industrial folksongs" to bolster his argument that there were a lot of industrial folksongs out there waiting to be collected. Whatever one's take on Lloyd as a person or as a singer, I think it's pretty clear this wasn't helpful to future scholars. Since the goal of scholarship is to clarify, not confuse, Lloyd must be seen as a failure AS A SCHOLAR.

As a singer, teacher, friend, revivalist, and loving family man, we can all agree he was a great success.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 May 08 - 03:30 PM

So presumably we're not talking about adherence to the historical facts

No, we're not. Take "Spencer the Rover" - presumably it's not a factual account (there aren't any mountains near Rotherham), but that doesn't justify changing the song. If anything, Bert Lloyd could argue that the historical facts were on his side - I'm sure there were colliers recruited to the Napoleonic Wars, and why should the ploughboys get all the songs? For me, at least, it's not about saying "this is how it was" so much as "this is how the song was" - and getting that right (or at least doing my best not to get it wrong) is actually more important than getting the history right.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 08 - 04:00 PM

Thank you all for your thorough and interesting replies.

I could have gone to see a discussion Bert was chairing in the 1970's at Birmingham about Whither the Folk Revival?, but by that time I was so royally pissed off with being excluded from the Grey Cock singers list (because I had the wrong influences), I didn't go and make his acqaintance.

I knew all about Lloyd's reputation and achievements, so there was no real excuse for me - just the imapatience of youth. Or maybe the premature onset of middle aged narrowmindedness.

To clarify further though - were these claims made as a precis-ed introduction from the stage? Or were they made in scholarly publications?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 May 08 - 04:10 PM

WLD: both and neither; I came across Bert Lloyd's claims about "The recruited collier" in Anne Briggs's sleevenotes, for instance. As Steve Winick (aka Nerd) says, in some cases a particular claim (or even a particular song) appears in one of Lloyd's more 'popular' books but not in Folk Song in England.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 08 - 06:31 PM

I thought it might be something like that.

I tell you something that occurred to me. That practice of playing fast and loose with lyrics and beeefing them up to make a powerful connection with an audience is far more prevalent in American folk music. And goes unremarked.

If you think about someone like Derek Brimstone, he had been Rev Gary Davis's roadie and he had bettr insight into the guitar playing than a lot of people who played cleaner versions. His instrumentation was nearer the original - (big Gibson for much of his career) and national steel fingerpicks.

And yet Derek would tell a joke whilst finding the tuning - some completely crazy tale about the song's origins, and the words of say a classic like Candyman would be the cobbled up from the Reverends, Sleepy John's, Donovan's and he'd probably feel free to write a verse of his own. I've seen him do the same with Frank Proffits and Clarence Ashley's banjo songs as well.

And I think Derek probably took this approach from American artists he had seen. people like rambling jack eliot. I seem to recollect seeing quite serious American artists adding a tall tale to spice up presentation.

perhaps AL Lloyd wanted you to look at the artists that he credited with the creation of these songs. Perhaps he saw it as part of his brief and he thought if he pesented it strongly - it had a better chance of surviving than as a fragment.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 May 08 - 06:53 PM

You'd have a hard time looking at the work of Tom Cook or J.T. Huxtable; they don't seem to have existed outside Bert Lloyd's notes. But yes, I'm sure there was something like that going on; I don't picture Bert Lloyd stroking a white cat and plotting to make life harder for future generations of folk historians!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 05 May 08 - 11:12 PM

As Phil points out, Lloyd wasn't trying to get you to listen to his sources, because he never told you truthfully who his sources were. In many cases, the sources he cited were salt-of-the-earth laboring men, who didn't exist outside his imagination. The real sources were professional poets like Anderson, Campbell, Houseman and Hughes--but he never cited them. Lloyd was taking middle-class poetry, assigning it working-class origins, giving the names of nonexistent source singers as his authority that it came from tradition, and using it all to make arguments about the proletarian origins of traditional song.

As for wld's point about American folksingers, scholars generally don't care much what people do on stage in front of audiences--except for scholars of performance, who look at a whole different set of practices. Folksong scholars don't take American folksingers to task for telling tall tales because we don't care what they do in performance. For the same reason, we don't criticize Martin Carthy if he rewrites a song without telling anyone (though he usually tells). And we wouldn't care if Lloyd did it either.

But Lloyd wrote books purporting to be serious histories or studies of vernacular song, like The Singing Englishman and Come All Ye Bold Miners. Because of this, scholars DO care, and we eventually began to check out his sources--once things began to seem fishy. This is only right. Books purporting to be non-fiction ought to contain the facts, and if they contain speculation and invention, it ought to be marked as such.

Finally, Lloyd wasn't, in my opinion, just trying to make a powerful connection with an audience; at least not in some cases. If that was all he was doing, a ploughboy would have worked as well as a collier, and a serving-maid as well as a factory-maid. He changed those details to lend credence to the concept of "industrial folksong," which was still a fairly new idea. It was an attempt to lend credence to a historical theory--and once you begin lying to support your theory, you invite people to believe the theory wasn't viable in the first place (if it had been, you wouldn't have had to lie). This is why it's a scholarly sin to falsify evidence in this manner--it may temporarily bolster your position, but it almost inevitably falls apart and makes you and your theory look foolish in the process.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 May 08 - 02:14 AM

A mischievous spirit then......

Maybe the world of middle class scholasticism was perceived as another front on which to fight the class war. In many ways it was a battle he won.

I would say that his ideas have been immensely influential. He has in fact inspired a generation of songwriters to speak from that'educated working class' promontory through the medium of folksong form. I say 'folksong form' to prevent the usual descent into bickering over what is a folksong!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 08 - 02:31 AM

NERD,If thre were a lot of industrial folksongs that havent been collected,we can partly blame Sharp and his generation,and his next generation, Kennedy etc.
If there werent,it would be an interesting thesis for someone:why werent there?
WLD, I agree,both he and Maccoll have been extremely influential.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 08 - 02:42 AM

So what does 'middle class scholasticism' mean? Is there more than one kind?

Surely scholarship can only logically be a search for the TRUTH.

Genuine scholars can make mistakes, but deliberately faking evidence is clearly not a search for the truth, and therefore the forger cannot claim to be a scholar, whether working class, middle class or any other.

Does that make sense?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 06 May 08 - 03:03 AM

If there were a lot of industrial folksongs that haven't been collected, we can partly blame Sharp and his generation, and his next generation, Kennedy etc.
If there weren't, it would be an interesting thesis for someone: why werent there?


A interesting question. And one that, at this spatial and temporal distance from the dark satanic mills, I can't really attempt to answer. I have heard it argued that mill owners established the original glee clubs in England's industrial areas during the mid 1800s, partly to keep the workers' minds off thoughts of activism but I don't know whether there is even any (let alone how much) truth to such a proposition.

But it is also a question I have pondered in an Australian context, where most of the rural songs collected by Meredith et al. (and I know Dick has a copy of Manifold's collection as published by Penguin) give the impression that sheep and cattle were the main rural industries in pre1950s Oz. My first question, on reading such collections was posed only to myself at the time and was "Where are all the dairy farmers' songs?" Apart from the Cockies of Bungaree, songs by or about dairy farmers have been a bit thin on the ground until Peter Pentland wrote "My Beaut Little Fergie Tractor" and a few others in the 1970s.

The nature of the question was prompted by my patrilineal line being mostly dairy farmers in South Gippsland; they certainly knew how to enjoy themselves and several from my extended family toured that area (and adjoining areas) of Victoria as The Holmes Family Orchestra, playing a (more or less) chamber music ensemble for concerts and dances. For a while I thought that dairy farmers didn't have much spare time for songmaking but then I discovered the family history about the orchestra. Perhaps dairy farmers were isolated from the (largely class-based) arguments between squatters and other pastoralists or the similarly based arguments between bosses and shearers. I haven't yet pinned any satisfactory hypothesis. Perhaps, if Bert's sojourn in Oz had included a lot of time among dairy farmers, we might now have some.

Sorry for the thread drift, South Gippsland used to have anthracite collieries at Kongwak and Wonthaggi but, apparently, no songs from them until John Warner started writing some recently.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 06 May 08 - 04:13 AM

Dear Nerd, (Steve Winick),

Thank you so much for your learned comments earlier. I have had to wade through so much po-faced commentary in this thread that I damned near gave it up in despair.

Thanks also to Brian Peters and Greg Stephens for equally learned and measured analysis, not forgetting Richard Bridge, and the acerbic but valuable WLD's remarks.

Bryn Pugh - with regards and respects.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 May 08 - 04:34 AM

Yes indeed, there is more than one kind of scholasticism. as an ex Open University student of the excellent Arthur Marwick, I can confirm that a working class intellectual is a distinct possibility of the evolutionary process.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 06 May 08 - 06:55 AM

Tangentially, it strikes me that the turn back to source singing is a very recent development. Back in the second (Fairport) and third (Steeleye/Horslips) generations of the revival, the early revivalists were seen as, if anything, too reverential towards their sources. Writing about Skewball, Maddy Prior effectively claimed Bert Lloyd as one of the good guys because he'd changed the source material:

Martin (Carthy) assures me that this version comes from the influential repertoire of Bert Lloyd. Bert had a wonderful lyrical sense of the traditional and was not hampered by false loyalty to any rigid idea of how it "should" be. He consequently greatly enriched the music for us all.

I guess it's a generational thing: we're far enough from Bert Lloyd's heyday to see the Revival as an event in the history of traditional music, rather than as a process that we're still contributing to. Hence the recent revival of interest in singers like the Copper family (how many years did the BBC have to make a documentary like "Coppersongs"?)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 08 - 07:13 AM

Bryn Pugh,trolling?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 May 08 - 07:50 AM

Yes many many thanks to Brian, Steve, Greg, Phil and so many others


So, what should we do now that we understand some of what Bert was up to?

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 08 - 09:10 AM

"I can confirm that a working class intellectual is a distinct possibility ."

An intellectual is not necessarily a scholar (in the sense I used).
And scholarship does not depend at all on social status or class, though this may affect the direction in which you look.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 06 May 08 - 09:13 AM

If the cap fits . . .


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 May 08 - 01:59 PM

My own wild guess: there were scarcely any "protest folksongs" in the 19th C. partly because potential singer-songwriters (unlike those of the 1960s) didn't think of singing as a way to protest.

And who would they mostly be singing to? Friends and neighbors. In other words, the converted.

As to why there wereso few industrial songs in general, industry wasn't a popularly recognized song genre. Songs about sailors, soldiers, milkmaids, lords & ladies, etc., had 200 or more years to develop into recognized genres. They dealt with characters whose lives were sterotypically supposed to be more "interesting" than most
(as for the milkmaids, ye ken very weel what I mean).

Perhaps tradsong/broadside/ballad tradition became moribund before working underground, for example, could be molded into something romantically "fascinating."

And if it had been, maybe the resulting songs wouldn't contain much protest anyway. The protest element in songs that were widespread in tradition, while present, is generally pretty muted. Had it been more overt, I wonder how many people would have passed the songs on. Few traditional folk audiences, I believe, were much interested in listening to "protests" as a way of entertaining themselves (that is, forgetting their troubles).

Now I'll duck....


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 May 08 - 02:18 PM

somewhere in the depths of my attic I used to have a songbook called victoria's inferno - full of pissed off Victorian songwriters. (Was it Jon Raven pu that one together?)

then there were the Irish, they had a few choice things to say about us English in song.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 06 May 08 - 03:17 PM

On the other side of the Atlantic, Archie Green wrote extensively in Only A Miner about a certain class of American industrial folk songs. Unlike Lloyd, however, Green did not invent his sources. I don't doubt that 'industrial songs' were written in nineteenth-century Britain. If Lloyd wanted to write about them, he should have dug some up. There are any number of reasons why such songs might have been less likely to have gone into tradition than songs of love and loss, murder ballads, etc., but inventing sources shouldn't be necessary if the raw material is really out there waiting to be found.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 08 - 03:26 PM

Jock Purdom wrote a fair few,as did TommyArmstrong.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 06 May 08 - 03:44 PM

Actually, Phil (to get back to heaping praise on Lloyd), I do agree with Maddy to an extent. Lloyd greatly enriched the music and songs for musicians and singers (of which I am also one).

If he had had the confidence to simply note what he had done to each song and why, he wouldn't have mucked it up for scholars. Instead, he not only hid his editorial changes, but in some cases lied about it by inventing sources. This was partly due to his trying to live in both worlds--music scene and scholarly community. It was partly, I think, the insecurity of not having any academic credentials coupled with the paradoxical self-certainty that championing the cause of the industrial worker was right, even if he had to tell some white lies.

It was also partly due to his being a pioneer--there weren't too many other scholars who were really looking at songs as historical evidence yet, so there was no methodology in place. Finally, it had to do with him being untrained--as most of us know, he wasn't a trained historian, and kind of made up his methods as he went along. For all these reasons, we can be amazed that he accomplished all he did.

But, we can STILL wish he hadn't done some of the things he did...

Captain B., you're right, of course, about Sharp et al. But just as we must make allowances for Lloyd, we also have to for Sharp. One of the reasons that Sharp et al didn't look for industrial folksongs is that they didn't think they existed. Indeed, they did NOT exist for those collectors, in the sense that they wouldn't have called singing about coal-mining, by colliers, "folk song." It seems absurd to us now, but in Sharp's day "folk-song" meant rural and pre-industrial songs, or songs preserved among rural folks, by definition. So it was simply outside his scope. While we tend to think of the "definition" of folksong as a bit of hairsplitting that only affects a rarified few, it really did affect what got collected and entered in as historical evidence!

Michael, Lloyd did, in fact, dig up some industrial songs through the "Come All Ye Bold Miners" project in the early 1950s. But the book of materials collected in that project includes songs that he himself had secretly "industrialized," most notably "The Recruited Collier." So one of the things we do owe to Lloyd is that he raised the profile of industrial song beyond the north-east (in much of the rest of England, it was much less well known). But then, in the process he made up some of the evidence.

It's a remarkably complex legacy!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 May 08 - 04:03 PM

>> My own wild guess: there were scarcely any "protest folksongs" in the 19th C. <<

There were plenty of protest broadsides. No-one is suggesting that Bert Lloyd or anyone else made up 'The Cotton Lords of Preston', or 'Handloom v Powerloom', or 'The Miners Lockout' (all from Harry Boardman's repertoire, of my fond memory). See also 'A Touch on the Times' and 'Victoria's Inferno'.

The interesting question for me now - having been really turned on by all that stuff in my teens - is whether those industrial broadsides had any currency in oral tradition. For the reasons Nerd cites, we may never know whether 'The Cotton Lords' was ever a folksong in the sense that, say 'Barbara Allen' was, although by giving his chapter in Folksong in England on The Industrial Songs equal billing with the chapters on Ritual Songs, Ballads and Lyrical Songs, Bert Lloyd was implying that.

Which is why Beckett Whitehead and the other source singers for 'Industrial Folksongs' are so important. If Whitehead did indeed sing 'The Four Loom Weaver' to MacColl, that would be evidence that the old broadside piece had indeed exerted a hold on the popular imagination that survived well into the twentieth century. As a song.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 06 May 08 - 06:25 PM

As to why there were so few industrial songs in general, industry wasn't a popularly recognized song genre. Songs about sailors, soldiers, milkmaids, lords & ladies, etc., had 200 or more years to develop into recognized genres.

and
One of the reasons that Sharp et al didn't look for industrial folksongs is that they didn't think they existed. Indeed, they did NOT exist for those collectors, in the sense that they wouldn't have called singing about coal-mining, by colliers, "folk song." It seems absurd to us now, but in Sharp's day "folk-song" meant rural and pre-industrial songs, or songs preserved among rural folks, by definition.

These comments, by Lighter and Steve (Nerd) respectively make me wonder whether we are using the term "industrial" correctly. The genres listed by Lighter are "occupational" and we'd instinctively place them as pre "Industrial Revolution" in folksong context. But soldiering, seafaring, milling and farming are all regarded as "industries", just as coal-mining and cotton-spinning or weaving are, to economists and anthropologists.

It seems to me that, in much of the above discussion the term "industrial" (in its application to collieries and mills) could be replaced by the term "urban" without changing one iota of meaning; the sense of posters' arguments would largely be unaffected. So, was Bert using his political awareness to rebalance notions of the sorts of industry that should be represented in folksong (redressing the effects of Sharp's filters) or did he have wider targets, such as the more class-affected and urban parts of the folksong landscape?

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 07 May 08 - 12:03 AM

Rowan, we on the Mudcat didn't create the category of "industrial folksong," and we can't easily change what is meant by it. But it's not as screwy as you make it out to be. "Industrial" has several meanings, and you're applying the very broadest one. By most meanings of the word "industrial," soldiering, seafaring and farming are not industrial activities, and milling, under some meanings of the word, is considered proto-industrial. Let me explain:

Broadly and loosely, it is as Rowan says: one can use "industry" to refer to all sectors of the economy, as in "the farming industry" or "the shipping industry." But this isn't the most common meaning of the word, or the meaning that is used in folksong scholarship.

"Industry" more narrowly means the secondary sector of the economy: refining and manufacturing.

Also, "industrial" refers to a type of economy, one dominated by the secondary sector, an economy in which refining and manufacturing account for more economic activity than farming or extraction. The "Industrial Revolution" changed the countries involved from a mercantile economy to an industrial one. Secondary-sector activities in a pre-industrial economy are sometimes called "proto-industrial," and this would include most songs about milling, waulking songs, etc.

The term "industrial songs" is generally used for the mining, building, and manufacturing trades. I think it gets this from two overlapping usages of "industrial": one, these are songs about the secondary sector of the economy, and two, they are songs of the modern economy, dominated by the secondary sector (the so-called "industrial economy"). So they're about factories, big textile mills, etc.

Mining, of course, became hundreds of times more important in the industrial economy when machines needed power; so even though mining existed before the industrial age, and even though strictly speaking, mining itself is extraction rather than industry, mining songs end up in this category.

This is why "occupational" songs and "industrial" songs aren't considered to be the same. Field hollers and sea shanties are both occupational, but not industrial. A field holler is, economically speaking, agricultural, and a sea shanty is, economically speaking, mercantile--neither of which is the same thing as the narrower sense of industrial.

Nor are "Urban" songs and "Industrial songs" the same. The Butcher's Boy" is an urban folksong ("In Jersey City where I live now..."), but it's not industrial. "In fair Worcester city" or "Molly Malone" likewise: they occur in the city, but don't have to do with industry.

Hope this helps clarify...it's a mouthful, but I THINK this is why the term is used as it is in folksong circles.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Rowan
Date: 07 May 08 - 01:08 AM

And an eloquent mouthful it is, too. Would I be too far off the mark if I wondered whether Bert was engaging in deliberate extension of the two overlapping usages of "industrial", for political (in the wider sense) purposes?

Most of the collectors mentioned so far have had some connection with socialism (whether they were British or Australian); Bert's socialism seems more active than Sharps so, while he could be just extending Sharp's approach to your "secondary sector" (in which case he could be regarded as merely modernising folksong) you seem to have created a good argument for seeing Bert as using song-modification for a much pointier political agenda. Have I understood this correctly?

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: pavane
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:03 AM

"It was also partly due to his being a pioneer--there weren't too many other scholars who were really looking at songs as historical evidence yet, so there was no methodology in place. Finally, it had to do with him being untrained--as most of us know, he wasn't a trained historian, and kind of made up his methods as he went along"

I think you are being too generous. And there is a contradiction here too. If he was untrained, he presumably wouldn't have known of an existing "methodology". I see no reason why this is fundamentally different to history, which has been studied for centuries. And even an untrained person must surely know that forging 'evidence' is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 May 08 - 04:01 AM

Good point Pavane. Lots of us have used the term "scholarly" because it covers most kinds of academic study.

The treatment of evidence and hypothesis building is generally the same for science as it is for history, economics or philosophy. The exceptions are probably creative arts and religion.

Bert knew about evidence that's why he was so good at making it up to support the hypotheses his Marxist background had helped him to generate. He had decided that the industrial working class were part of an oral tradition akin to that of the rural working class and so he doctored songs and in some cases made up sources to support that hypothesis.

Their are lots if "Industrial"songs but I suspect most cold be tracked back to their authors. Many were recorded in only one variant and so had not been molded by an oral process as were many rural songs. This in no way detracts from their value either as songs or as social records but it does make them different.

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 May 08 - 08:43 AM

I agree with all that, but it doesn't explain Lloyd's root-and-branch rewrite of Skewball (which he didn't own up to), or his brilliant reworking of Reynardine (which he lied about), or even his completely pointless addition of a nudge-nudge verse in the middle of Long a-Growing. Perhaps all of these (plus the 'industrial' songs we've been talking about) are vastly outnumbered by the songs Lloyd put down faithfully; I don't know, I haven't studied the subject.

It comes back to the first question Les asked (which you should be able to see if you scroll up a mile or two): "how long is the Bertsong list?"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 07 May 08 - 04:00 PM

Yes, the deceased equine of "2. and does it matter?" has been thoroughly beaten from all sides! (I realized quite late that I couldn't be annoyed at some contributors given the question actually had been posed...) (and I won't say which! ;-)

I agree with Phil, how about a bit of energy on question 1?

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 08 - 04:31 PM

I think maybe theres a bit of 20/20 hindsight going on here.

Remember that in the 1950's people like Ewan MacColl and Bert had created a folk club movement in England - taking from all kinds of things - maybe from cod ethnic singers like Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White who were gigging American nightclubs in the 1940's -, people who had made a success of raising folk music's profile in a tough industrialised society.

Ewan and Bert had to think - what will carry, what will survive , what is the most armour plated toughened version of folk music that will make it out of the library doors and into the human throng. That's something that English folksingers since haven't had to worry about, because Ewan and Bert succeeded.

Perhaps Shakespeare could have written Richard III as a decent chap who had his good points - but would we have remembered his plays if all Shakespeare had done was chronicle and tabulate.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 07 May 08 - 04:42 PM

"how long is the Bertsong list?"

Thanks, Phil, for re-posting this question. It's been avoided studiously since it was originally posted. buried in giving 'albis' to Lloyd and to MacColl.

How long that list is we may truly never know......

'but it doesn't explain Lloyd's root-and-branch rewrite of Skewball (which he didn't own up to), or his brilliant reworking of Reynardine (which he lied about)

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 May 08 - 07:20 PM

WLD - I appreciate what you're saying, but whether we think Bert Lloyd was a fiend in human form or a hero of the Revival doesn't really make any difference to the question I want to look at, which is what he actually did. I mean, the "Spencer the Rover" John Kelly sings is essentially the same song that Bob Copper collected, which in turn is essentially the same song that you can find in the Bodleian's broadside collection. There are some songs collected by Bert Lloyd that you could make similar claims about, and others that you definitely couldn't. How long is list 2, that's the question - and it's a question we could quite possibly answer, with a little help from the people who really know this stuff. Whether or not Lloyd was justified in what he did is a different question, on which we'll probably never agree.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 08 - 07:46 PM

on which we'll probably never agree.

Phil, I don't actually have an opinion. But it pisses me off somewhat, when I see that people can't somehow see that we are all a bit like flies frozen in the amber of time.

Why didn't bert Lloyd and Ewan macColl take themselves as seriously as wot we do. Well actually they did. the only bloody reason you're here is cos of what they did. They did the best they could in the circumstances and with the insight the and expertise THEY had. Which may I suppose not have been up to the scholastic standards of some round here.

Why didn't they see it like I see it. the same reason Inspector Morse doesn't use a mobile phone in the early episodes.

A future generation will ask why you lot didn't storm the BBC and get things done, and left it to them to sort out.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 May 08 - 12:41 AM

"Why didn't bert Lloyd and Ewan macColl take themselves as seriously as wot we do. Well actually they did. the only bloody reason you're here is cos of what they did. They did the best they could in the circumstances and with the insight the and expertise THEY had. Which may I suppose not have been up to the scholastic standards of some round here."

Well, this does not make a great deal of sense. My grandfather told me about the Wobblies and my uncle told me about Woody Guthrie. Both sang fragments of song. It made me want to sing, but I had to find 'the tradition' on my own because it wasn't lying around anywhere convenient. It wasn't anywhere around me, actually, but there were recordings and books that helped. It makes a hell of a difference whether something in a supposedly scholarly work was actually sung by a real person, or whether it was the product of the author. Re-creations are fine, but I want to know about it. And I really cannot understand why some folks here cannot understand that lying about one's sources is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:33 AM

I'll just repeat myself - whether we think Bert Lloyd was a fiend in human form or a hero of the Revival doesn't really make any difference to the question I want to look at, which is what (specifically) he actually did.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:59 AM

Okay, I admit, all said in annoyance last night. But i really don't think some people here aren't making allowances for the the time and place. Or the lives these people led.

How many millions did Ewan and Bert get out of teaching all the school kids in the land High Germany and countless other folksongs, and the radio ballads. And god knows how many other projects that gave the folk revival its momentum.

I remember going to a Ewan and Peggy gig one night in Leicestershire - it was the night the record comany had old them they intended destroying all the stocks of the radio ballad lps, because they didn't fit the label image. Peggy and Ewan had asked if they could buy them to sell at gigs - as it would have been impossible to finance producing them to that standard- and the company had said.

What I'm trying to say is that these weren't pampered people. they weren't photogenic enough for BBC2 to be queing to make in concert programmes about them! I'm quite convinced they wouldn't have done anything that wasn't with the primary intention of getting the folk music ship afloat.

personally i wans't buying quite a few of the ideas in Folksong in england, but it was one hell of an influential book. Even people who hadn't read it absorbed its ideas through the folk clubs and contact with those who had read it.

I suppose this is why such a lot of the traddies on mudcat go apopleptic when you a suggest maybe some of these old songs aren't actually worth preserving - they really aren't all that good as songs. but they are defended hook, line and sinker by people who have absorbed a view of history that doesn't hold water if you examine the minutiae, or even just weigh up the probablities of how it was.

So Bert invented a few folksingers. If that's what it took to get people listening, good luck to him. I wish I were that creative.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 May 08 - 04:35 AM

well said WLD.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 May 08 - 05:01 AM

WLD: I am with you all the way that Bert was a good bloke and was fantastic for the folk revival. But I can't follow you on the logical leap to "therefore faking historical documents is a good thing". It's not a good thing: faking historical documents is a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 May 08 - 05:24 AM

>> So Bert invented a few folksingers. If that's what it took to get people listening, good luck to him. <<

I know his singing only through several (much-loved) recordings, but even at that distance it's clear that his skill was such that he could have got people listening to the phone book. Did he really need to invent sources, in order to sell the music? (always remembering that the number of instances where this has actually been demonstrated remains small).

I take the point that he was operating in very different circumstances from those we know now. I also realise that without the 'Industrial Songs' concept, there would most likely have been no 'Deep Lancashire', no Harry Boardman, and my life would have been poorer. I still want to know where the songs came from, though.

Talking of which (and this is a genuine question), does anyone know the origin of 'The Weary Whaling Grounds'?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 May 08 - 05:37 AM

>> I suppose this is why such a lot of the traddies on mudcat go apopleptic when you a suggest maybe some of these old songs aren't actually worth preserving - they really aren't all that good as songs. <<

'Traddie on Mudcat' - that's me.

Some old songs are aesthetically beautiful but don't tell us an awful lot. Some are fascinating historically but lousy to sing. Some score on all counts, others have no redeeming features at all. I've never met a singer, traddy or otherwise, who doesn't filter their material, nor one whose motive is primarily one of 'preservation'.

Song collectors post-Sharp have increasingly tended towards the view that you should record everything in a singer's repertoire in order to avoid interposing your own value-judgements, but that's a separate issue.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 08 - 06:27 AM

Call it faking if you want - but we're talking about LP covers and books liely to read by people who went to folk clubs. people who get bored like myself, people with low attention spans, probably only there in the vain hope of meeing somone who looked a bit Marianne Faithful or Judy Collins.

More of a creative precis.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Phil at work
Date: 08 May 08 - 09:09 AM

Brian:

Did he really need to invent sources, in order to sell the music? (always remembering that the number of instances where this has actually been demonstrated remains small).

I can't help feeling we're having this discussion back to front. Surely we need to know more about what Lloyd actually did before we talk about why he did it, never mind arguing about whether he was justified in doing it.

I'll confess to almost total ignorance of Lloyd's contribution to the Revival canon. Here's a question: if I were to name (say) three songs Lloyd extensively rewrote and another two he more or less wrote from scratch, what kind of proportion of the songs he collected would those five represent - 10%? 5%? 1%? Another question: how many of the other 90% (or 95%, or 99%) are solidly attested, and how many are still being taken on trust?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 May 08 - 09:47 AM

sorry to interrupt,when I hear trad music being used to promote fish fingers,or some other consumer desirable,the music becomes spoiled for me.
yet on the other hand we should be pleased the music is being promoted.
Like wise,to seek after historical truth,and know who wrote weary whaling grounds,is undoubtedly commendable,but as we strip away the layers,in search of pigeonholing everything.,we are in danger of reducing the magic.
the late Elizabethan[computer] age will be known as the age of the person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
when I first heard folk music it was all wonderful,as one becomes more knowledgeable,one becomes more critical,but in doing so we lose our innocence.
I sometimes wonder if it wouldnt be better to be ignorant of who wrote traditional songs,and just enjoy them on their merit as songs.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Snuffy
Date: 08 May 08 - 10:12 AM

I sometimes wonder if it wouldnt be better to be ignorant of who wrote traditional songs,and just enjoy them on their merit as songs.Dick Miles

Perhaps Bert Lloyd also believed that and did his best to keep us "ignorant of who wrote traditional songs" so that we could "just enjoy them on their merit as songs"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 08 May 08 - 10:39 AM

From a practical point of view, we could use the resources of an internet forum (such as this) to make a list (thread) of songs known to be doctored or thought to be doctored, citing reasons, but keeping debate about the validity of the practice out of it, which is best kept here. I'm not a scholar, I am a singer, but I would still like to know about the sources of the songs I sing.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 08 - 11:31 AM

I think he was writing for young people who went to folk clubs rather than scholars. you see most people were young in those days. It must have hurt him considerably to see this great wave of youth and enthusiasm slowed down to a trickle by the 1970's.

showbiz versus the crusties - must have broken his heart.

And I think therein probably lies your answer. to understand all is to forgive all.

Theres this beautiful little story in Denis Healey's autobiography where he describes the idealism of socialists after ww2:-

Denis is the prospective MP for somewhere or other, straight out of uniform and not one practical idea in his head.

This poor bloke stands up in the Labour Party meeting. he's got a shoe factory and financially its in the shit because of shortages and with rationing - no one can buy any shoes anyway. What am I going to do? the guy asks.

Denis gets up to speak, and says very grandiosely - as long as there is one barefoot child in this country - your factory will not be idle - your workers will not be unemployed under Labour.

Uproarious applause, but of course it wasn't answering the poor sod's question, as Denis realised when he came to write his biography fifty years later.

We say the things we say and we do the things we do - and it will seem strange and wrong to those who come after us. I really can't see as cribe any evil intent in this case we are discussing though.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 May 08 - 11:56 AM

I think therein probably lies your answer. to understand all is to forgive all.

Perhaps, but it would help a lot on the "understand all" front if we had some idea what the all actually was.

This is not an anti-Bert Lloyd thread. I think we're all agreed that he did some rewriting. All I'd like to know is which songs are heavily rewritten, and what proportion of his work as a collector they represent.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 08 May 08 - 12:02 PM

*Sigh*


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 08 May 08 - 05:39 PM

"...and know who wrote weary whaling grounds..."

It's in Huntington as "Wings of a Goney" -- Tom Hall


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 08 May 08 - 07:03 PM


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 08 May 08 - 07:24 PM

Oops! I'll try again:

I think WLD greatly overstates the case when he makes Lloyd and MacColl into strategically-minded folksong warriors with statements like this:

"Ewan and Bert had to think - what will carry, what will survive, what is the most armour plated toughened version of folk music that will make it out of the library doors and into the human throng."

I see no evidence they thought like this at all. MacColl's strategy was to throw everything at the wall and see what stuck. He recorded between one and two hundred LPs worth of material, of everything from "Songs of the Jacobite Rebellions" to "Songs of Robert Burns" to modern topical songs, to two LPs of "Broadside ballads of plays by Elizabethan dramatists" (I am not making this up). He wasn't carefully selecting the songs he thought were tough and resilient, he was just presenting thousands of songs, and a few of them have turned out to be tough and resilient. I'm not suggesting he was indiscriminate--he recorded material he liked, or that was intellectually interesting to him. I just don't think he wasted a lot of time thinking about a song's resiliency, or strategizing about how the song would lead to a stronger folk tradition. If he liked it, he recorded it, and it was by being out there and doing it (and, not incidentally, by trying to infuse folk music with some of what he knew as an actor and dramaturge) that he hoped to revitalize the music.

Lloyd was different. He didn't really record that much himself--say, about a tenth of what MacColl did. His greatest influence was behind the scenes. He selected singers who he thought would be influential, and passed his songs on to them: Anne Briggs, Frankie Armstrong, Bert Jansch, Maddy Prior, Sandy Denny, Mike Waterson, Louis Killen, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, etc. (He also acted as "artistic director" of Topic Records, although you'll need someone with more insider knowledge than I have to tell you what he actually did in that role.) So he did have a strategy, but it wasn't what WLD describes. He edited songs to make what he thought were compelling versions, and then passed them on to singers who he thought would do them justice and make them popular. Once again, and forgive me for talking loud here, but NO ONE IS CRITICIZING HIM FOR THIS.

Partly because this was his strategy, it's hard to get a handle on how many songs Lloyd edited. The singers didn't always credit him, because he just told them these were good versions of folksongs. much of the material recorded by them, at least in the early and formative years of their careers, is likely to have been touched by Lloyd.

Another thing to point out is that Bert didn't really "collect" very much at all, in the sense that Sharp or Baring-Gould did. I can think of four "collecting" instances from Lloyd's life, for only one of which can we verify what he collected and from whom: he collected seven songs and one tune in Eastbridge, Suffolk, for the BBC in 1939.

Other collecting:

He spent several years in Australia as a young man. When he was there, he later claimed, he wrote down the words of songs from the station hands he worked with, in composition books. Some say those books were destroyed in a fire before he ever went back to England. One person claims he once saw one of them, years later. But whatever happened to them, they don't seem to have survived. All the Australian songs Bert knew were relatively common pieces that were in the standard books and publications on Aussie songs. Because of this, some Australian folksong researchers believe that Lloyd never collected anything substantial, that he went back to England, learned Australian songs from books, and used the fact that he'd lived in Oz to set himself up as an "expert" on Australian songs.

Similarly, he did spend a season on a whaler, and another as a merchant mariner, and later said he'd learned some songs from the men he knew aboard ship. But, as we've seen earlier in the thread, there are reasons to think he either didn't really learn them from shipmates, or that he edited them after the fact.

In neither case did Lloyd publish a volume of songs--there is no "Australian Songs" or "Sea Songs" book by Lloyd. He did record albums on both these themes, but as some have said on this thread, the only writing there was in sleeve notes, and it's often vague.

In the early 1950s, Lloyd was a principal force behind the project that created "Come All Ye Bold Miners." Here, he created a contest for the best mining songs, which he publicized through the Coal Board, in a Newsreel film, and in regional magazines. The material was mailed to him in written or printed form. He then published it later. Whether this counts as "collecting" will depend on your perspective, and also on what actually came to him (if most of the songs were copied out of books by people who didn't sing them, most folklorists wouldn't consider it "collecting," but if a singer wrote out the words to his or her songs, most folklorists would.) How much he edited these materials, again, is unknown. How many of them were actually sent to him is also unknown, though some of the original correspondence may survive; I don't know. This is when the purported Mr. Huxtable purportedly sent Lloyd the text of "The Recruited Collier."

Apart from that, I'm not aware of any "collecting" of English traditional songs that Lloyd did. Others may know more than I on that topic. He worked for the BBC on and off as a writer, and it wouldn't surprise me if he had collected for them a few more times.

Lloyd's principal contributions were not as a collector, but as a singer, as a mentor to other singers, and as an analytical writer about folksong in several books, many articles, and (of course) sleeve notes. His writings were, as we've seen, flawed by the fact that he had an axe to grind, and didn't mind altering songs or making up singers in order to grind it sharper. But he also made a lot of interesting points and wrote very well--so the books are a mixed bag.

By the way, as to Bert writing the line "Blusterous wind and the great dark water," this is a great example of Lloyd's method. "Blusterous wind" is in fact a folksong phrase from the real tradition, which Lloyd knew: Phil Tanner's version of "The Banks of the Sweet Primroses," as arresting a performance as exists in English-language folk tradition, ends on those words. Lloyd seems to have borrowed and expanded the phrase.

As for songs Lloyd edited, we can start a list if we want:

Tam Lin
Jack Orion (Bert's reworking of "Glasgerion")
Skewball
Reynardine
Weaver and Factory Maid
Recruited Collier
Heave away my Johnny
The Ship in Distress


Surely Malcolm knows more about his interventions in the materials in the Penguin Book...


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 May 08 - 08:02 PM

I can't actually see where we differ.

They knew folkmusic's profile could be raised in a modern society - because they had seen it done in America. They knew it was possible. they must been debating with each other, and seizing mainchances in the way that all unregarded artists do.

MacColl's success as a playwright behind the Iron Curtain - must have awakened in him the idea of the using a Brechtian model of doing folksong - and thus the radio ballads. Folksong was beng used in other plays in the 1950's like John Arden's Serjeant Musgrave's Dance and Weskers's Chips with Everything. MacColl with his theatre background must have felt part of all that.

The English being the English rose to the stimulus those two presented in their own peculiar way. And bloody frustrating it must have been, as Lonnie Donnegan and Donovan and Dylan in turns went stellar.

As you say Lloyd had a strategy, and presenting songs rather than fragments with a punchy and compelling and not too diffuse provenance must surely have been part of his effort.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 May 08 - 09:33 PM

"Wings of a Goney" is indeed in Huntington, who unearthed it from the log of the Ocean Rover, 1859. "Wings of a Gull" - revised and Briticized - isn't. Nor do I believe that it was ever "collected" by anyone but Lloyd.

In fact, there's no particular reason to assume that "Wings of a Goney" was anything more than one whaler's poem. It appears in Huntington without a melody.

An example of the alterations:

Huntington :

For a man must be foolish to venture so far
On the broad blue expanse catching whales
When he knows that his life is in danger at times
Or his head being smashed by their tails

Lloyd:

For a man must be mad or want money bad
To venture chasing whales;
For he may be drowned when the fish turns around
Or his head smashed in by its tail.

Note the added internal rhymes. The 1859 "Dutch grocery shop" becomes, in Lloyd's song, "a Deptford pub." The unpoetic "crackers and cheese" of the original disappear. And so forth. The spirit of the poem is unchanged. But it's hard for me to ignore the fact that verses not known to have been sung by anybody have been consciously improved, set to a tune, the cultural references (like "one red cent") altered for no obvious reason from American to English, and turned into a song by a professional 20th C. writer.

Not only that, but the new creation is asserted to be "traditional," by implication known and sung by many British whalers, perhaps for generations.

There's seems to be no evidence at all that it was.

Is the tune identifiable ?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 May 08 - 02:48 PM

Phil wrote:
"if I were to name (say) three songs Lloyd extensively rewrote and another two he more or less wrote from scratch, what kind of proportion of the songs he collected would those five represent?"

What you are asking for would take an awful lot of research (and NB Steve Winick's comments about Lloyd as collector). Steve's conclusions about Reynardine and The Recruited Collier represent a good deal more than an afternoon's work. Malcolm Douglas tells us on the 'Blackleg Miner' thread that he spent a year "attempting to deconstruct the songs in Lloyd's Penguin Book of English Folk Songs". So, someone would have to identify all the songs in Lloyd's publications and discography, then cross-refer them against all the published collections and broadside indexes.   But, as Steve has pointed out, his most significant influence was in passing songs on to important singers in the revival, so you'd have to talk to those people as well, and do the same kind of detective work on the songs they had from Bert.

I would love to have the time and funds to undertake that research myself (I thought about it seriously as a project at one time), but I'm a musician, and it's not gonna happen. Just out of idle curiosity, though, I spent a couple of hours yesterday with one of Lloyd's LPs – the excellent 'First Person' – and cross-referred some titles with the Roud Index available at VWML online [http://library.efdss.org]. I left out the Australian songs – others know more about those – and I should stress that I've only used a list of titles and sources, not the original manuscripts or books, so I can't compare the actual lyrics or tunes.

'Four Drunken Maidens': Lloyd tells us little about the provenance of this song other than that it "spread like wildfire" during the 18th century, and that "the tune we use is the standard one in the Southern counties".
Roud lists two versions, one in Baring-Gould's 'Songs of the West', and one in 'A Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs' (Edinburgh, 1869). I couldn't find a match in the Bodleian Library's Broadside index.
This song has long been a folk club standard, which I guess is due to Lloyd's popularizing it - I'm not convinced it was as widespread as he suggests.

'Saint James' Hospital': As to his source, Lloyd reports only that the tune "was sung in Cork about 1790". I don't have the resources handy to check that, but Roud tells us that Hamish Henderson collected the song in Scotland in 1952, and Mudcatter Jim Carroll recorded a version from Tom Lenihan in Co. Clare in 1978. Harry Cox sang the song as well.

'I Wish my Love'. Attributed to the manuscripts of John Bell of Newcastle, where Lloyd tells us it is titled 'A Pitmans Love Song' - and that he fitted a tune himself. There are over three hundred items from John Bell's collection at the FARNE site [http://www.asaplive.com/FARNE/Home.cfm] but I haven't been able to find the broadside under this title – but then, I'm not sure whether the FARNE resource represents the whole of Bell's collection.

'Jack Orion'. Based on Child 67 'Glasgerion'. "I took it out and dusted it off a bit, and set a tune to it."
A pretty radical rewrite, actually, though none the worse for that.

'The Lover's Ghost' "The great Irish Collector Patrick W. Joyce learned this as a boy in Co. Limerick."
The title is listed in Roud under Joyce's 'Old Irish Folk Music & Songs' (1909), but I don't have a copy to cross-check. Looks sound, though.

'Short Jacket and White Trousers' "I can't find [this] in any of the English printed collections, but Firth of Pocklington (Yorks.) published a broadside of it…. A bit longer but perhaps not as good as our version here".
Roud has only one entry, 'Short Jacket and Blue Trousers', from Newfoundland, but if it's the same song this at least places it in oral tradition. I couldn't find the broadside version on the web.

'Sovay the Female Highwayman' "Every collector of prominence has found versions of it" – there are indeed a number of versions in Roud, several collected by Sharp and others from Kidson, Hammond and Gardiner. "The Dorian tune here is …. substantially the same as H. E. D. Hammond's tune from Long Burton, Dorset… I've added a pinch of spice to the rhythm." Hammond did indeed collect a version about 'Shilo' from a Mrs. Young of Long Burton, and Lloyd does indeed seem to have spiced up the rhythm.

'Farewell Nancy' "Substantially the one that Sharp noted from a 74-year-old Somerset woman with lovely tunes but an uncertain voice." There are several versions in Roud, but Sharp only collected one from a woman, this being Susan Williams of Haselbury Plucknett. Strange, then, to find that Sharp wrote that her voice was "sweet and pure as the note of the woodland thrush." Perhaps Lloyd confused her with another of Sharp's singers.

'Fanny Blair' "Sharp noted this extraordinarily handsome and elusive tune in Somerset", says Lloyd, who goes on to explain that the source singer jumbled the words and that Sharp himself collated a text. Lloyd also mentions that a version from a whaling ship's log specified Fanny's age as eleven, which ties in with Roud's entry for the song's inclusion in Huntington's 'Songs the Whalemen Sang'. Roud also lists a number of broadsides and several traditional versions from Southern England.

And that's it. It looks to me (again stressing that I haven't checked the named sources against the actual MSS) that most of these have sound traditional antecedents, even though some are clearly rarer in tradition than others. Only 'I Wish my Love' defied my attempts to locate a source, but that may mean no more than that FARNE didn't have access to the entire John Bell collection.

Of the rest, 'Jack Orion' is the kind of major Child Ballad reworking that a number of singers (myself included) have indulged in from time to time. 'I Wish My Love' uses an original tune, 'Sovay' a 'spiced up' tune, and some of the others may well have been collated. 'Short Jacket and White Trousers' is a rarity. At a guess, though, I don't think he wrote any of the songs "from scratch". His notes on the sources (he wrote a lot more than I've included here, in characteristically colourful style) are actually very full. So there – for what it's worth – you have it. If anyone has the time to check the sources more fully, please do.

'The Weary Whaling Grounds', however, thanks to the contributions of Curmudgeon and Lighter, we might now add to the list of 'Bertsongs'. And what a great job he made of it!

Finally, in answer to WLD's comment: "I think he was writing for young people who went to folk clubs rather than scholars. you see most people were young in those days."

I first read 'Folk Song in England' when I was seventeen. I was fascinated not just by the songs and the background information, but by Bert Lloyd's way with words. The fact that I now sing these songs for a living is due in part to his book.... and so too is the fact that I want to know where they came from.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 May 08 - 03:01 PM

Thanks, Brian. I suppose my question should really have been preceded by "do we know enough to answer this question: ". As I've said, I don't know a lot about Lloyd, and one of the problems with not knowing a lot is that you don't know what it is that you don't know but other people do.

Which is a slightly roundabout way of saying I wasn't asking anyone to do loads of work to answer that question - just asking whether anyone already knew the answer. It looks as if it's a much bigger question than I realised. (The EFDSS doesn't award research grants, by any chance?)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 May 08 - 04:19 PM

Thanks,I am off to play some concertina.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 May 08 - 04:32 PM

Yeah, I do that, too.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:58 PM

Brian ,you do,and very well,I might add.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:01 PM

You are right, Brian. My being able to be specific about what Lloyd had done to "Reynardine" was not only more than an afternoon's work, it took lots of luck, too. I happened upon the Campbell rewrite in a book I chanced to find in a used bookshop in Seattle. Then I happened upon a recording Lloyd made of the song in about 1956, in another used bookshop in New York. It was when I realized that Lloyd's 1956 version was much shorter than the version he recorded ten years later, and that Shirley Collins had also sung the shorter version in the late 50s, and that the short version was entirely made up of verses from rewrites by Campbell and his friend Hughes, that I realized Lloyd had worked it over twice, and that the first time he had recourse to Campbell and Hughes.

That's where his claim about Tom Cook came in for scrutiny: when had he encountered Cook, how did Cook get a version that shared almost no lines with any traditional or broadside version, but only with Campbell's and Hughes's rewrites? It was years of work and good fortune to put all that together!

Thanks for your roundup of "First Person." I agree, they sound like pretty good ones. I do wonder about "Four Drunken maidens." In the Notes to English Drinking Songs, Lloyd is more specific about Four Drunken Maidens, stating that it was primarily spread in a chapbook known as Charming Phylis's Garland.

One thing about the Bodleian site: their search engine isn't very good. If you don't get the title exactly, you're likely to miss versions....

Oh, well, I'm off to have supper (I know you blokes do that, too...)


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:02 PM

'sorry to interrupt,when I hear trad music being used to promote fish fingers,or some other consumer desirable,the music becomes spoiled for me.'


so you're not the real Captain Birdseye. Another false source of folk music! I bet that buggers up an entire folksong PhD thesis for some researcher in the 22nd century.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 May 08 - 02:22 AM

Thanks a lot Brian I think what you have done is given us a sense of proportion about Bert's interventions.

I suppose that since he was so influential it is so much more important that we get nearer the truth.

I once met a man in a Liverpool Club, the 43 Club on Catherine Street as it happens, who claimed that Stan Hugill had written most of the songs in "Shanties from the Seven Seas", clearly nonsense but I do believe, and will go and sort out my refernces, that a collector made up most of the verses to Hullabaloo belay!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 May 08 - 04:00 AM

do you not think it possible that shanties were created spontaneously,that new verses were added as the work was being performed.
so a collector was dishonest,but left us with a better shanty,how important is it?isnt the performance of the music the most important thing.
when I play Irish tunes, I treat the tune as a skeleton,and often when I play,I might play a phrase with different ornamentation,or just differently.
folk music, traditional music, should change and evolve.who put the parrot in the outlandish knight?who cares.,Isnt this one of the differences between folk music and popsongs.
I have learned something from this thread, [the origins of some so called trad songs],but it wont make any difference to how I perform them,nor do I think it vitally important to mention in an introduction exactly the alterations Bert made.
Why?because all traditional/folk music by its nature gets added to, its a Folk process,is it necessary to mention the Parrot as being an addition.
what is important for the singer is to try and convey the sentiment of the song.
that which is a Bert song,IS important for scholars,but not so important[imo]to those who sing the song.,as regards its performance.
which bring me to modern composed folksongs,I would always try and credit the author.why? because he/she wants to be credited for agood song,BertLloyd clearly did not,he just wanted people to enjoy the music. http://www.dickmiles.com

Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 May 08 - 04:12 AM

Dick


do you not think it possible that shanties were created spontaneously,that new verses were added as the work was being performed.

Yes.

I was greatly entertained by Stan Hugill's account of the origin of Hullaballo-Balay:

P484 Shanties of the Seven Sea

Hugill met a collector called Taylor-Harris who had been commissioned to produce 6 shanties. In his search he had run to earth an aged seaman called Woodward and got 5 shanties from him. After sometime he got one verse and the tune so Taylor-Harris made up the rest.

I have to say I think it's a good song and I enjoy singing it and telling the story.


I feel sure that most people agree with what you say about Bert but he did willfully deceive us about the origin of quite a few songs - it's just dishonest, that's all really


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 May 08 - 04:19 AM

who put the parrot in the outlandish knight?

"I'd like to shake his hand..."

Thanks, Dick - there's a song in there.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 May 08 - 05:19 AM

Do any of you lot remember Eric Illott who used to travel round with a sort of kit bag full of ukeleles?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 May 08 - 09:14 AM

This thread

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63876#1040999

nails down the origin of "Hullabaloo Belay." Briefly, stanza one and the tune are legit; the rest of the story was made up in 1925 by the arranger, S. Taylor Harris, because the singer could not recall any more of the lyrics, if theer were any.

No earlier version of the shanty is known.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 10 May 08 - 09:33 AM

Thanks for the First Person analysis, Brian. Very interesting stuff.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 May 08 - 09:36 AM

"The Weary Whaling Grounds," another American piece solely in Huntington, is distinct from "The Wings of a Goney/ Gull." The original title, from the log of the Catalpa, 1856, was "The Whalemen's Lament."

Huntington tells us frankly that the whalinhg logs he examined contained no tunes at all. He explains that the melodies he prints "come from every possible source," and that he trimmed and changed some to fit the words.

Lloyd's tune is a modal version of Huntington's.

Lloyd's verbal alterations are less extensive than those he worked on "The Wings of a Goney," but "The Whalemen's Lament" does not include the climactic and memorable phrase, "those weary whaling grounds."


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 May 08 - 12:30 PM

Can we just clarify this? On my copy of 'Leviathan', Lloyd gives the title 'The Weary Whaling Grounds' to the song beginning "If I had the wings of a gull, my boys...."

'The Whaleman's Lament' is also on the LP, and it finishes with the lines:
"The pleasures they are but few my boys
On them bitter whaling grounds."

Only the former has has a modal tune. We're probably talking about the same two songs, but I don't have a copy of Huntington so I thought I'd better check.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 10 May 08 - 12:43 PM

"All I'd like to know is which songs are heavily rewritten, and what proportion of his work as a collector they represent."

Apparently no one appears to know the answer, thus the reason(s) for studiously avoiding the question.

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 May 08 - 01:23 PM

Brian, you are correct. "The Weary Whaling Grounds" on "Leviathan" is the song now known as "The Wings of a Gull."

"The Whaleman's Lament" on "Leviathan" ends with the words "them bitter whaling grounds." The Catalpa version in Huntington ends, "For the pleasures are but few my boys /Far from our native shore."

Huntington doesn't say where he got his tune for "The Whaleman's Lament." Lloyd's is, appropriately, rather more melancholy.

"Leviathan's" notes (by Lloyd) say that the "Lament" "comes from some time between the 1820s and '40s." Since the log of the Catalpa dates from 1856, it is difficult to account for Lloyd's certainty.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 May 08 - 01:24 PM

Charlotte, no one does know the answer.

As far as I know.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 May 08 - 01:30 PM

43.7%


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 10 May 08 - 01:44 PM

"Charlotte, no one does know the answer.

As far as I know."

That's the answer I was expecting :-D Thank you

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: astro
Date: 10 May 08 - 03:03 PM

Sure, why should we bother trying to answer questions that have not been answered YET? Surely that's a waste of time... let's shut down all the research departments of universities while we're at it.

I'm sincerely hoping, Charlotte, that you were being as sarcastic as I.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: astro
Date: 10 May 08 - 03:04 PM

Sorry - the above from astro is actually Desert Dancer on his machine.

~ Becky in L.A. at the moment


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 May 08 - 03:58 PM

I just posted my findings on the "Drunken Maidens" to the song's own thread - for those interested.

For those less interested, Lloyd's "English Drinking Songs" LP/CD features the song pretty much as Baring-Gould collected it from an old man in Lydford in 1887-88.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Nerd
Date: 10 May 08 - 04:39 PM

Charlotte, it's not so much that no one knows the answer as that it's inherently unanswerable (and the answer wouldn't necessarily tell us much). The question assumes Lloyd was a significant "collector," which he wasn't; his "collections" from Australia and from his days on ships may never have existed at all; if they did, they were never published and the manuscripts (if there ever were any) have disappeared. His "collection" "Come All Ye Bold Miners" is really an anthology; he reprints previously published material, sometimes claiming an "as-sung-by," which is almost always unverifiable, sometimes making no claim at all that an item was ever sung, or a "folksong." (One item in the book is a 400-line-long abridgement of an even longer poem by Edward Chicken, which was never in the oral tradition.) Often, the material is reprinted from old books, sometimes from old sheet music, with no indication that they were ever in oral circulation. So it's not what a folklorist would call "collecting."

Because of this, the only "collecting" work Lloyd did, in the sense of collecting from verifiable oral tradition, was (1) a very small project (seven songs and a tune) and (2) recorded on disc by the BBC, so any alterations he made will be immediately apparent (if the BBC saved the recordings).

Sometimes, he created a song text and CLAIMED to have collected it from someone. The two times we pretty much know that happened were with The Recruited Collier and Reynardine. Other times he changed the person he claimed to have collected a song from ("one of the has-beens"). If we add these three to the seven songs we know he collected, we get ten songs. Three of them he made false claims about, or 30 percent. Two of them we know are substantially different from any collected version, so 20 percent. If someone could compare his later sung versions of "The Foggy Dew" and "Pleasant and Delightful" with the ones he collected, I suspect we'd get ap around 40 percent. But these are all based on a very small sample of material he "collected," and therefore pretty meaningless numbers.

If we wanted to base it instead on the number of songs he "passed on," we'd doubtless get a smaller percentage that he had substantially altered in a way that misrepresented the past. But we run into the difficulty that no complete list exists of the songs he passed on, so we can't work out a proportion.

When Dave Arthur's book on Lloyd finally comes out, we MAY have a better idea of how many songs from the revival have been substantially altered by Lloyd, but even in that work it isn't likely Dave will have had a chance to do all that much song-sleuthing.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 May 08 - 03:00 PM

When is Dave's book expected?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 May 08 - 05:20 PM

Thanks, Steve - as the saying goes, I'm still ignorant but at least now I'm ignorant on a higher level.

Perhaps one of the things that makes this such a slippery topic is that we're bundling together several different (but related) elements of Lloyd's working practices:

1. Reworking traditional sources, sometimes quite heavily (Skewball, Wings of a Gull, TW&TFM).
2. Patching together traditional material with substantial chunks of his own work (probably Long a-growing, possibly Blackleg Miner)
3. Using authored material without acknowledgment, either to make a whole song (TRC) or to patch together with traditional material (Reynardine).
4. Giving patched-together songs false and misleading attributions (TRC, Reynardine, possibly Blackleg Miner).

I think Bert Lloyd did all of these, but they're not the same thing - most of us have done 1. to a greater or lesser extent, but I shouldn't think many of us have done 4.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 May 08 - 06:50 PM

I think Bert Lloyd did all of these, but they're not the same thing - most of us have done 1. to a greater or lesser extent, but I shouldn't think many of us have done 4.
I must work on it then.
now how about Bob Roberts,does anyone know did he rewrite Gamekeepers lie Sleeping? or is it a Bert song


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 May 08 - 01:07 AM

What you're not allowing for is that where you say a song is from, may be part of where you want to take it.

I can see that such a subject might be of overwhelming concern to an academic or an educator like Brian who doesn't wish to impart false information.

its amazing rthough how people will warm to a song if you tell them its from their local area. Sometimes they even tell you they knew the writer, even if you've got your facts all wrong.

The artist must surely take the version of the song he feels most able to 'sell' to the audience - however unsatisfactory its provenance. That's my instinct at least, and I wouldn't be surprised if these considerations crept into Lloyd's considerations.

Even if he didn't leave a record of himself thinking like this - isn't it how all singers think?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 May 08 - 03:02 AM

This thread is very informative in places - but not all places.

Oh, and 300!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 12 May 08 - 05:58 PM

"I'm sincerely hoping, Charlotte, that you were being as sarcastic as I. "

nope...but there again I'm not really that concerned about what Lloyd wrote and what he didn't write, I'll perform the songs regardless.

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 12 May 08 - 07:19 PM

Nerd said:
When Dave Arthur's book on Lloyd finally comes out, we MAY have a better idea of how many songs from the revival have been substantially altered by Lloyd, but even in that work it isn't likely Dave will have had a chance to do all that much song-sleuthing.

Les asked:
When is Dave's book expected?

The book is due to be launched at the Tribute to Bert day at Cecil Sharp House on 15 November. The book is being published by the EFDSS.
Incidentally, I have enjoyed the debate as it's unfurled here... lots of food for thought. And ... i have alerted Dave Arthur to the thread ...
Derek Schofield


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 12 May 08 - 08:22 PM

The refreshed "Paddy and the Whale" thread now shows how Lloyd altered that song from a simple tale of an Irishman accidentally swallowed on his way to England into a comic whaling epic set in Antarctic waters.

He may also have added the tune. My very old notes do not indicate whether Greenleaf & Mansfield provided one when they printed the only known traditional text in 1933.

As far as I can see, the Bodleian has no broadside version of the song, though an Irishman does get swallowed up near Greenland in this otherwise unrelated ballad:

http://bodley24.bodley.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/acwwweng/ballads/image.pl?ref=Harding+B+11(4100)&id=05035.gif&seq=1&size=0


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:41 AM

Yes, Lighter, they did. Collected from Thomas Edison (!!) - 1929 - but it's not the tune Bert used.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM

What a long thread. But nowhere within it can I find [or if it's there I missed it] the fact recorded that a version of 'Four-Loom Weaver', aka 'Poor Cotton Weaver' (one of the songs named by OP in first entry, and about which argument occurs above as to whether it was more the work of Bert or Ewan) is reproduced in a very full version, extremely close to the one Bert sang on 'The Iron Muse', under title 'The Oldham Weaver', in Chapter IV of Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Mary Barton, a Tale of Manchester Life' [*1848*].


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:07 AM

I haven't the time to look through the messages again, but I'm sure the 'Mary Barton' reference has been mentioned at some point on this thread or another one. It's widely recognized that the text of 'Four Loom Weaver' is drawn from one of the Jone O'Grinfilt (spell it how you like!) broadside ballads of the 19th century. The mystery surrounding it relates to its 'collection' by MacColl from Beckett Whitehead of Delph. Was it actually part of Mr. Whitehead's apparently small repertoire of songs, and from where did it acquire that mighty tune?


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Santa
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:14 PM

The question I have is whether the "Mary Barton" version reflects the politics claimed to have been reversed/inserted by Bert Lloyd?

To clarify an earlier point, what Martin Simpson said about "Peggy and the Soldier" is in the text of his Kind Letters CD.

"....appears in one form only in the EFDSS Journal. Carthy took it and married it to the tune "Lord Ellenwater". This required him to alter the scansion of the verses. He then asked Bert Lloyd for any verses he might know which miraculously duly appeared, fitting the scansion of "Lord Ellenwater", suggesting that Bert had probably written them himself. Martin also recalls writing the odd verse. Ah, the folk process."


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:17 PM

Santa - having checked Mary Barton and the Jone O'Grinfield broadside, I think we can say Bert's off the hook with regard to this one. The "fight with blood up to th'een" line is in the broadside, I think (the printing gets very smudgy at just that point). The relevant verse is also in Mrs Gaskell's version, although she seems not to have liked the idea of a weaver's wife talking about fighting the power - rather than "fight till she was in blood up to her eyes", she has the woman saying she'd sew up her own mouth and eyes.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 11:15 PM

Mrs Gaskell presumably heard the song from one of her husband's Nonconformist congregation, whom she befriended on their having, to her initial distaste, to move northwards to heavily-industrialised Manchester [the subject of some obviously autobiographically-derived incidents in her later novel North&South], subsequently interpolating it into Mary Barton where it fits well thematically. Obviously she gives no tune, but she describes one - 'a kind of droning recitative, depending much on expression & feeling'. This description fits MacColl's Jon o Grinfilt's 4-Loom Weaver version much more, in fact, than Bert's Poor Cotton Weaver on Iron Muse, which is quite catchily tuneful, & whose text, as I have already remarked, is very close to Mrs Gaskell's Oldham Weaver. Bert, incidentally, in his Iron Muse note, expresses the opinion that this version excels the Grinfilt version, unlike most of many parodies of the latter which he doesn't adduce; adding the information [but without citing any authority] that his version is known as 'Jon o Grinfilt Junior'; but within the context of the theme of this thread, it may be begging the question to mention this, or to know how seriously to accept it as fact.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 11:38 PM

BTW - in a post of 06 May 08 0910a.m., Pavane drew a distinction, which seems relevant to this thread, between 'intellectual' & 'scholar'; Bert was much aware of this distinction, discussion of which forms a fair part of the theme of an interview I did with him for Folk Review (published in issue of September 1974 under title "The Donkey & the Zebra" [a phrase he used to illustrate how two kinds of song could have similar outlines but not be identical, part of the traditional/contemporary distinction]. The main theme of this thread obviously didn't explicitly arise as the doubts hadn't really surfaced then; but some parts of the interview might nevertheless be germane — Dave Arthur has commented to me that he found my interview helpful in the biog of Bert we know he is working on, though 'Bert chose to ignore huge areas of his life as he always did'. If anyone would like to read this interview but can't access it [I am not sure how accessible back numbers of folk review are after all this time], I should be glad to send a copy to anyone who requests & lets me have a steam-mail address - my email is - mgmyer@keme.co[dot]uk -

Michael Grosvenor Myer


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:00 AM

>> 'a kind of droning recitative, depending much on expression & feeling'. This description fits MacColl's Jon o Grinfilt's 4-Loom Weaver version much more, in fact, than Bert's Poor Cotton Weaver on Iron Muse, which is quite catchily tuneful <<

I don't think I've ever heard 'The Iron Muse', but if the tune there is the same as the one printed in 'Folk Song in England', then it's the generic tune to which all of the broadsides of the 'Jone O'Grinfilt' family were sung (Sid Calderbank gave a very interesting presentation on the history of these broadsides at Sidmouth a couple of years ago).

I would hardly describe the tune to which MacColl sang 'Four Loom Weaver' - a magnificent, soaring Dorian melody that's one of the most dramatic in the revival canon - as a 'drone'.

>> The question I have is whether the "Mary Barton" version reflects the politics claimed to have been reversed/inserted by Bert Lloyd? <<

The original broadside, as Pip says, contains all the bitter expressions of anger and injustice that we know from the song. The interesting question is whether those scars ran so deep that the song was still alive in the memory of a singer in the immediate vicinity of Greenfield as late as the 1950s - when MacColl met Beckett Whitehead. One of these days I really am going to get down to the necessary research, but my hunch is that Mr. Whitehead (a prominent local historian and dialect enthusiast, rather than the humble mill-hand of legend) might well have had a copy of the text in Harland and Wilkinson's 'Ballads and Songs of Lancashire', rather than holding the piece in his repertoire of songs.

We already know that 'To The Begging' appeared in the Folk Revival with a completely different tune from the Beckett Whitehead original.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:41 AM

Brian, I am surprised to see you say that you haven't heard "The Iron Muse" as it probably still stands as a milestone in recorded folk music. As well as Lloyd it featured some of the major singers and musicians of the day including Bob Davenport, Louis Killen, Anne Briggs, Ray Fisher, Matt McGinn, Colin Ross, Jim Bray and Alf Edwards.
Bert uses the 'Jone O'Grinfilt' tune, as in Folksong in England, but he omits the three verses concerning the bailiffs on the LP.
When I first heard it, around 1968, it was undoubtedly the main item on the album and I still go back to it on occasions. I once asked Bert to sing it but he told me that he didn't do it very often and that it was rather long.
Since those days I have heard the original "Jone O'Grinfilt" sung on various occasions and I have seen printed versions of the ensuing family of songs.
Hopefully I'll see you at Grand Union Folk in a few weeks time, if so I'll try to remember to bring you a tape of "The Iron Muse"


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:59 AM

Yes, Dave, it's a gap in my education and I'd love to hear a copy, thanks.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 09:37 AM

Brian - I agree that Ewan's '4-Loom Weaver' has a fine dramatic tune, which would appeal to us as folk-oriented people [I know you will understand what I mean by this]: but I don't think that sort of 'soaring Dorian-ness' is the sort of thing to appeal, melodically, to a Victorian Noncomformist minister's wife as melodic, but rather as a sort of recitative. Our ears are attuned to a certain kind of air, which non-folkies just don't get: — my father, just for a for instance, could never even hear any tune whatever in Fanny Blair, which I think has one of the most magnificently scary tunes of the lot of them.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM

Point taken, MtheGM (and who wrote the 'Fanny Blair' tune??). I've just realised - my recent messages repeat completely a load of stuff I'd already posted. Whoops. And still no smoking gun on the 'FLW' tune after a year and a half! One day...


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Anglo
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 11:00 AM

Checking the contents, I discovered that Topic's CD reissue of the Iron Muse had only seven pieces from the original LP. Not including The Poor Cotton Weaver. I have a strong memory of Lloyd singing it. I thought I had the original LP, but can't turn it up, so that may be a figment of my imagination, but the cut listing is on Musical Traditions' Topic Discography page, 12T86.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Andrez
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 07:01 AM

Refreshed so I can trace this thread.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Aug 11 - 05:26 PM

To clarify an earlier point, what Martin Simpson said about "Peggy and the Soldier" is in the text of his Kind Letters CD.
Any way the original has a happy ending


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 03:08 PM

If it helps, what Bert did was part of a long-lasting tradition indulged in by many highly-respected and great men, some of whom, but by no means all, came clean and regretted their forgery. Almost all of them were poets or were well endowed with creative genius. None of them ended up in prison!

Allan Ramsey, Thomas Percy, Robert Jamieson, Walter Scott, William Motherwell, Peter Buchan, Sabine Baring Gould, to name but a few.

As a singer I greatly admire their forgery/creative genius, indeed the mischief maker in me admires their daring.

However, as a researcher, it saddens me that some of them didn't see fit to eventually come clean or leave behind better clues to the extent of their creativity.

All of this sums up my feelings towards Bert.

BTW a project I'm involved in involves the recording of a version of The Weary Whaling Ground. Can anyone please give me the date of Bert's whaling season out of Hull? The recording is for Hull Maritime Museum and we will be crediting Bert with the song. We won't be including Bert's version of Heave away my Johnny, but not because he wrote it, because it's crap!


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:10 PM

According to David Gregory's article in the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music (1997) A.L. Lloyd and the English Folk Song Revival, 1934-44 Bert sailed from Liverpool on board the Southern Empress for a seven month whaling voyage in 1937, and on his return he shipped aboard a freighter out of Liverpool in 1938.

I can't recall where I read that Bert joined the ship in Birkenhead Docks and found it crewed mainly by Welshmen who sang hymns. It may be somewhere in his sleeve notes.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: mark gregory
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 02:56 AM

Bert: The Life and Times of A.L.Lloyd by Dave Arthur is being launched on 31 May 2012 at

Venue: Cecil Sharp House
Start Time: 7:30:PM

Music by Dave Arthur and his band, Martyn Wyndham Read and Iris Bishop.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 07:57 AM

We won't be including Bert's version of Heave away my Johnny, but not because he wrote it, because it's crap!"
   your subjective opinion, others may view it differently, your post reminds me of early folk song collectors who did not include songs in their collections, because it did not fit their idea of what a folk song should be.


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Subject: RE: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 29 Jul 18 - 10:40 AM

I know this is an old thread, but I only just read Arthur's book and have found it interesting on a range of topics. I was surprised it hadn't been discussed more on this site.

To this list of 'Bertsongs' I would maybe add 'The Coalowner and the Pitman's Wife'. The EFS version seems to be a composite with tune selected by Lloyd. Lloyd did not say so in that book, though he seems to have done elsewhere. Given how highly he praises his own 'improved' version several times in that book, it seems a bit of a cheek to me. I don't know where the originals might be, so I cannot judge how much he 'improved' upon it.

Another, which is a pair really, would be 'The Unfortunate Rake' when masquerading as a 19th century broadside, when so such thing of that name appears to exist, and a closely similar version called 'St James' Hospital' both of which seem to be Bert Composites. There is a long discussion on this website, partly on a 'The Unfortunate Rake' thread and some on another one, maybe about St James' Hospital.

Arthur also mentions the 'misinformation'/confusion about the date Lloyd returned from Australia, and gives an example or two when it seems Lloyd misrepresented his own background and/or his background was misrepresented on record covers to make it seem more folk-based than it was.

Not to downplay the contribution Lloyd made, but to try to get some sort of realistic overall picture. Like most of us, he was not a 'perfect' human being.

Sorry if I am repeating points already made on the thread: I did skim it first to see but may have missed stuff.

An interesting point raised by Arthur was that Lloyd did not remark on or write about how Traveller culture in Eastern Europe was side-lined by Eastern European folklorists of his time, and how staged folklore celebrations were put on by the regimes. I forget which country Arthur mentioned. And what Arthur said was more nuanced that this brief summary. Also you cannot expect Lloyd to know/do everything: not expecting him to be Superman.


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