The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621   Message #2334274
Posted By: Nerd
06-May-08 - 03:44 PM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
Actually, Phil (to get back to heaping praise on Lloyd), I do agree with Maddy to an extent. Lloyd greatly enriched the music and songs for musicians and singers (of which I am also one).

If he had had the confidence to simply note what he had done to each song and why, he wouldn't have mucked it up for scholars. Instead, he not only hid his editorial changes, but in some cases lied about it by inventing sources. This was partly due to his trying to live in both worlds--music scene and scholarly community. It was partly, I think, the insecurity of not having any academic credentials coupled with the paradoxical self-certainty that championing the cause of the industrial worker was right, even if he had to tell some white lies.

It was also partly due to his being a pioneer--there weren't too many other scholars who were really looking at songs as historical evidence yet, so there was no methodology in place. Finally, it had to do with him being untrained--as most of us know, he wasn't a trained historian, and kind of made up his methods as he went along. For all these reasons, we can be amazed that he accomplished all he did.

But, we can STILL wish he hadn't done some of the things he did...

Captain B., you're right, of course, about Sharp et al. But just as we must make allowances for Lloyd, we also have to for Sharp. One of the reasons that Sharp et al didn't look for industrial folksongs is that they didn't think they existed. Indeed, they did NOT exist for those collectors, in the sense that they wouldn't have called singing about coal-mining, by colliers, "folk song." It seems absurd to us now, but in Sharp's day "folk-song" meant rural and pre-industrial songs, or songs preserved among rural folks, by definition. So it was simply outside his scope. While we tend to think of the "definition" of folksong as a bit of hairsplitting that only affects a rarified few, it really did affect what got collected and entered in as historical evidence!

Michael, Lloyd did, in fact, dig up some industrial songs through the "Come All Ye Bold Miners" project in the early 1950s. But the book of materials collected in that project includes songs that he himself had secretly "industrialized," most notably "The Recruited Collier." So one of the things we do owe to Lloyd is that he raised the profile of industrial song beyond the north-east (in much of the rest of England, it was much less well known). But then, in the process he made up some of the evidence.

It's a remarkably complex legacy!