The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82243   Message #1546881
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
21-Aug-05 - 11:56 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
Thank you for that, Dan. I had suspected that Frank had altered the song to make it seem more Irish than it really was, but I didn't want to say so without knowing what his source had sung (and now we have a provenanced example with "spurs" rather than "car" or "bar", as well: even better).

Frank Harte was a great singer, but I remain uncomfortable with the slant he sometimes imposed on his material that seems to have reflected what he thought ought to have been said, rather than what actually was; mind you, I never met him. That's my loss.

People do tend to assume that what comes from a performer of stature has authority of itself, and, while that may reflect very well the way in which tradition operates, it may at the same time badly mis-represent the stuff of which it is made. I suppose it depends on which "truth" one is looking for; the objective record or the subjective interpretation.

Of course, they both have their value; but problems can arise when the two become confused and a modern artistic interpretation is mistaken for an accurate image of what was; or a raw broadside song, unsmoothed by transmission, is criticised for its lack of artistry.

That's drifting off topic, I guess; and I should know better. I hope that the tribute concert goes well (not much doubt on that score, really).