The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621   Message #2724666
Posted By: Brian Peters
16-Sep-09 - 06:00 AM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
>> 'a kind of droning recitative, depending much on expression & feeling'. This description fits MacColl's Jon o Grinfilt's 4-Loom Weaver version much more, in fact, than Bert's Poor Cotton Weaver on Iron Muse, which is quite catchily tuneful <<

I don't think I've ever heard 'The Iron Muse', but if the tune there is the same as the one printed in 'Folk Song in England', then it's the generic tune to which all of the broadsides of the 'Jone O'Grinfilt' family were sung (Sid Calderbank gave a very interesting presentation on the history of these broadsides at Sidmouth a couple of years ago).

I would hardly describe the tune to which MacColl sang 'Four Loom Weaver' - a magnificent, soaring Dorian melody that's one of the most dramatic in the revival canon - as a 'drone'.

>> The question I have is whether the "Mary Barton" version reflects the politics claimed to have been reversed/inserted by Bert Lloyd? <<

The original broadside, as Pip says, contains all the bitter expressions of anger and injustice that we know from the song. The interesting question is whether those scars ran so deep that the song was still alive in the memory of a singer in the immediate vicinity of Greenfield as late as the 1950s - when MacColl met Beckett Whitehead. One of these days I really am going to get down to the necessary research, but my hunch is that Mr. Whitehead (a prominent local historian and dialect enthusiast, rather than the humble mill-hand of legend) might well have had a copy of the text in Harland and Wilkinson's 'Ballads and Songs of Lancashire', rather than holding the piece in his repertoire of songs.

We already know that 'To The Begging' appeared in the Folk Revival with a completely different tune from the Beckett Whitehead original.