The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621   Message #2322616
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
22-Apr-08 - 12:00 PM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
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.