The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621 Message #2323516
Posted By: Brian Peters
23-Apr-08 - 07:53 AM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
"Because of his deceit we don't know what song is genuinely 'traditional' and what is a Lloyd creation."
"It seems quite clear that Bert was doing things to songs with a purpose other than simply creating good songs but he wasn't being honest about it."
I think there's a danger of overstating this. Most of Lloyd's editorial changes seem pretty clearly to have had as their main purpose the creation of what he considered a more interesting song. Steven Winick's paper on 'Reynardine' makes this point very well. Attaching a bit of Balkan rhythm or melody to an old English song likewise served to sex things up a bit.
In the case of 'Recruited Collier', what seems to have happened is an alteration of the lyric, not directly for propaganda purposes, but to help validate the concept of 'Industrial Song'. This was Lloyd's Big Idea, on the one hand establishing that song making and transmission amongst "the folk" had not (contrary to prevailing orthodoxy) died out with the Industrial Revolution and urbanization, and on the other giving the folk revival movement some claim to relevance at a time when heavy industry still operated across much of Britain. As the 'Blackleg Miner' thread shows (and by the way, I'm getting a bit confused with three different Bert-related threads), some of 'Industrial Folksongs' cited by Lloyd and others may not have been sung as widely as the rural folksongs that turned up all over the place in countless variants. But since not too many song collectors spent time amongst the urban working class, we don't really know.
My own interest in "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid" centred on the possibility that the Lloyd version actually did tweak a pre-existing song to imply the downtrodden status of the factroy worker. Having seen the full text Malcolm pasted above, I'd say the jury is still out on that one.