The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #104168   Message #2129606
Posted By: GUEST,Shimrod
20-Aug-07 - 09:13 AM
Thread Name: Songbooks: Review: The Folk Handbook
Subject: Review: The Folk Handbook
Strictly speaking this is a review of a review (sorry!).

In yesterday's 'Independent on Sunday' newspaper there was a perceptive review, by Charlotte Greig, of a new book called 'The Folk Handbook' ed. John Morrish, pub. Backbeat.

This is, apparently, a collection of English folk songs - so the title sounds like a rather witless publisher's title to me.

To quote from Ms Greig's review:

"The odd thing about English folk song is that very few people in England seem to know anything about it. Otherwise cultured, literary people seem to have no idea that we possess an extraordinary rich canon of popular song ... It's a lyric tradition that more than compares to ... Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Romantics, but for some reason - whether through snobbery, ignorance, or the peculiarly British disease of self-deprecation - this valuable national treasure has been systematically trivialised and ridiculed over the years, to such an extent that today it remains virtually unknown."

I totally agree with that quote but would go further and suggest that the attitudes described above extend to some of the people who claim to be folk music enthusiasts. I've just been to a 'Folk Event' in southern England - in one of the counties which, a century or so ago, turned out to be a veritable 'treasure-house' of traditional song. Nevertheless, at this particular event very, very few people seemed to know anything about it - or to care. Even worse I seemed to detect, among certain factions of attendees, an antipathy, or even outright hostility, towards traditional song. This is a very sad state of affairs - but I'm not sure what can be done about it.