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Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain

Will Fly 08 Feb 17 - 10:57 AM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 17 - 12:13 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 17 - 12:21 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 17 - 12:30 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 17 - 12:51 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 17 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Ray 08 Feb 17 - 01:13 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 17 - 01:19 PM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 17 - 02:23 PM
The Sandman 09 Feb 17 - 04:02 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 17 - 05:52 AM
The Sandman 09 Feb 17 - 08:59 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 17 - 10:36 AM
The Sandman 09 Feb 17 - 12:34 PM
Will Fly 09 Feb 17 - 01:15 PM
The Sandman 09 Feb 17 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 09 Feb 17 - 06:15 PM
The Sandman 10 Feb 17 - 11:10 AM
The Sandman 10 Feb 17 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 10:57 AM

I was browsing through a local antiques, junk and bric-a-brac shop this morning, and spotted a first edition of Fred Woods' "The Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain", (1st edn., Warne, 1980). Only a fiver, so I snapped it up - identical copies on AbeBooks are going at £30+ - and have had great fun reading it.

Fred Woods, born in 1932, was a prominent music journalist. He died in 1995. If you want to read more about him, there's an excellent obituary in The Independent by one Valerie Grosvenor Myer (first wife of our own late Michael Grosvenor Myer) here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-frederick-woods-1609645.html

It's fascinating reading, with an excellent selection of black & white photos. How young they all looked! Some interesting observations as well - many of which would be cause for some more of the "what is folk" arguments on Mudcat! Here's a nice snippet:

One thing must be remembered, though, in any approach to folk song. The wider we throw our net of acceptance, the closer we will probably be to the attitude of the traditional musician. As we will see in the next chapter but one, the Victorian and Edwardian collectors made a fatal error in trying to fit folk song into their own predetermined theories, thereby rejecting whole areas of the total tradition. What those collectors discovered - which was an immense amount - was still only a part of the whole, and the incomplete picture they presented produced a distorted view of British folk song which is now only being cleared away."


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 12:13 PM

Keep your voice down or somebody will do a spoof Ladybird about it. "How It Works: The Folk Singer".


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 12:21 PM

Or perhaps a small volume in the "I Spy" series...


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 12:30 PM

That's a contradiction in terms: if a thing was part of the tradition it was within (later) the 1954 Karpeles definition.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 12:51 PM

After a series of critical reviews, Fred Woods once acidly referred to this book as "Spot the Deliberate Mistake'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:10 PM

The book is full of "interesting" statements and viewpoints! I really bought it for the potted biographies of the musicians mentioned in it, plus the black & photos.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:13 PM

I have one of the originals somewhere - I don't think it was intended for children. Wasn't Fred also something of a expert on Winston Churchill?


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 01:19 PM

He was indeed - and it's certainly not aimed at kids!


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 17 - 02:23 PM

Observer's books weren't for kids. Some were pretty arcane, like the one on mosses.

I work in a second hand bookshop; we've ended up with our Observers sandwiched between the vintage theology and the erotica. It's a pity they never produced an Observer's Book of Gods and an Observer's Book of Genitalia to link them.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 04:02 AM

I dont know about mistakes , my entry is correct.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 05:52 AM

I doubt that there are factual mistakes in the book. What might be cause for discussion these days is the author's then take on the folk scene at the time - who and what was important, who was influential, etc. All in 1980.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 08:59 AM

its easier to get a better perspective years later.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 10:36 AM

Absolutely, Dick. If you take a completely arbitrary date of, say, 1964 for the "folk revival", there's a significant difference in the perspectives of the scene from 16 years later (1980) and 53 years later (2017).

As an aside, there's a wonderfully double-edged comment on Dylan which had me sniggering:

His songs became rallying-points for both the protest movement and other young singer-songwriters, to whom he demonstrated that a mediocre voice and limited guitar technique were no barriers to success."


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 12:34 PM

yes, that is a very amusing comment.
I was active in 1980 and am still active, performing at clubs and festivals in the uk, however the amount of people still doing that are not that many.
37 years is a long stint,
in my opinion, the uk folk scene has sadly incorporated a lot of the worst aspects of the ukpop music scene., too much about form hype and promotion and not enough about content.
there is in my opinion no singer songwriter of the calibre of MacColl, there are some that have written a couple of good songs, but they are light wight[ imo] in comparison.
I did not particularly like Ewan, and I   also think that the policy at the singers club was a curates egg.
but I would recommend any young aspiring performer to study his song writing his song wrting technique and his attitude to performing, I feel the uk folk scene could do with him right now.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 01:15 PM

I started playing in clubs in 1965, then gradually dipped out of the folk scene as I got heavily into jazz and other forms of music, leaving it completely around 1983.

When I came back to folkie stuff - mainly through starting going to sessions around 2006 - I found the folk club scene a very mixed bag. Lots of peering over music stands, shuffling of sheets of music, people just not knowing their stuff. A far cry from the clubs I used to frequent in the north and in London in the 60s and 70s...

Reading Fred Woods' book was a reminder of the good years.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 03:06 PM

"I found the folk club scene a very mixed bag. Lots of peering over music stands, shuffling of sheets of music, people just not knowing their stuff. A far cry from the clubs I used to frequent in the north and in London in the 60s and 70s..."
absolutely , I have stood and watched, on occasions appalled and aghast and occasionally totally dismayed, if i lived in royal tunbridge wells i would probably be disgusted. the uk folk scene has been badly led, within the last 30 years, the fault imo mainly lies at singers clubs[ the ill prepared performer shuffling their music stands rather than at guest booking clubs.


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 09 Feb 17 - 06:15 PM

I knew Fred Woods from his time living in Nantwich and then Crewe in Cheshire and he was a regular at the local folk club in the 1980s.

Classic error in the book was:

Kennedy, Peter (born 1922). Son of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and nephew of Maud Karpeles....

[This entry was followed by...]

Kennedy-Fraser, Marjorie (1857-1930)

And no mention of Peter's Dad, Douglas.... (and his Mum was Helen Kennedy (nee Karpeles).

His work on Winston Churchill was more sound .. he got his doctorate on his researches from Keele University I think.

Derek


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 11:10 AM

Pity you didnt write the book, Derek


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Subject: RE: Observer's Book of Folk Song in Britain
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Feb 17 - 11:37 AM

my comment was not sarcastic, Derek does normally get his facts right


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