I guess this discussion has moved on since I dipped my toe in last night, but here's my riposte to Jim.
>"every element of a song needs to be ruthlessly subordinated to the telling of a story harks back to something that barely exists anymore"
That's what ballads are Raymond - narratives. Nothing wrong with doing them in any way you choose - full orchestra if that's what turns you on, but then they lose their identity as ballads.
Steeleye et al did it all twenty odd years ago and move on.<
Several people have already addressed this, and I tend to agree with them that your ex cathedra pronouncement of how and why a ballad loses its identity merely reflects your rather reductive view of what constitutes a ballad. Steeleye developed a way of dramatising the narrative by various means familiar to the world of popular (and classical) music. Their idea was to draw non-traddy listeners into the heart of the narrative using techniques those listeners already understood. It may seem quaintly old fashioned now, but I can't see how those narratives lost their identity (ceased to be stories?) in the process.
Incidentally, it's not the first time you've dragged in the old canard about Steeleye breaking into an Irish reel in the middle of their desecration of Long Lankin. Well, suck it for yourself –
and see that they do no such thing. Perhaps you were thinking of the fiddle reel at the end of Orfeo (different ballad, different album).
>"But I'm not putting words into your mouth, of course."
That's exactly what you are doing - Sean is entitled to perform in any way he wishes, just as, if he puts his performance up for general consumption, I am entitled to pass an opinion on them - anything else and we really would have 'folk policing' - not a term I'm fond of but I'm sure it's not hovering too far from your typing finger.<
It's a phrase I've never used, even in jest.
>"And why is responding robustly to someone's criticism somehow self-obsessed?"
Sean has made it clear (once again) that he is only interested in complementary input - therein lies his self obsession.<
So he has to meekly acquiesce to your criticisms in order to rebut the charge of self-obsession. Yes, I understand...
>We'll be at a singing weekend here in a few weeks time which will be attended by a number of excellent singers from all over these islands, - Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, Elizabeth Stewart, Kitty Cassidy, Tom McCarthy, Antione O'Farachain, Len Graham.... and a whole load of 'non-name' English and Irish language singers, all superb and who don't bother too much about "cutting edges".<
Or about being thirty years behind the times? Good for them.