The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105070   Message #2439694
Posted By: llareggyb (inactive)
13-Sep-08 - 11:00 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Lady Vangeline, Greek folksong
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Lady Vangeline, Greek folksong
Well...

I came back today to this thread (after once again fruitlessly searching the web for the original Greek lyrics or provenance) after I finally got smart, and asked my barber, Nick the Greek, as he was cutting my hair, whether he knew the song. I sang a couple of phrases to him (in English, of course), and he sang a couple back to me. As George Papavgeris says, the tune is well known in Greece and a favourite for dancing to; Nick thought it was at least 100 years old when he left Greece 40 years ago.

Thank you, George, for setting the record straight. I feel a little disillusioned, but it is also amusing to see how far from the original the beautified English lyric has come.

Q, I am not familiar with Eleanor Graham Vance -- is that the known provenance of these pseudo-medieval English lyrics to this tune, or was it just meant as an example of the type?

Nevertheless, the "fake olde worlde" style of the English version I learned is at least 40-50 years old - definitely pre-new-age. But then William Morris was writing fake medieval lyrics and carols in the 19th century, and no doubt if I'd studied Classics I could find a Roman poet who was writing fake Homerics in 25 AD, so there's not much new under the folk-song sun. And not all mock-medieval songs are bad: Morris's own Carol "Masters in this Hall" bounces right along with a rollicking rhythm that makes "Good King Wenceslas" (another 19th century burlesque of an old Latin Spring carol) freeze solid in his own footsteps by comparison.

Soppy words or not, I love the tune, and I have now done a couple of choral arrangements of it myself. And there are so many folk songs that have undergone that kind of transmogrification, from a down-to-earth, homely or even grim original to a prettified lyric -- it's all part of the folk process. So the stark Twa Corbies becomes the courtly Three Ravens, complete with a "derry, derry down"; and a snippet of chorus overheard on a Scottish Ferry becomes "Charlie is My Darling".... My personal working definition of a folk song is any song that two or three people like to get together and sing (so long as it isn't tied up in copyright), to which my ex would add "and so long as it's simple enough that you can sing it in the kitchen while cooking dinner".

This comes a long time after the original thread, I know, but George, if you see this, I would love it if you would indeed do a singable version that is truer to the original, as you say.

If there is any legitimate reference for the English lyrics I learned, why not add it to the DT? There are far worse bits of doggerel with no better claims to authenticity. I did try to add the tune at the time I started this thread, but the email address I sent it to was out of date, and I set it aside for later. If nothing else, I think the tune deserves to be much better known outside its native land.

Tony Patriarche