The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #124638   Message #2754510
Posted By: Young Buchan
28-Oct-09 - 08:50 PM
Thread Name: The Curse of Digitrad
Subject: RE: The Curse of Digitrad
I entirely sympathise with Jim Dixon when he says "It takes only a second to unthinkingly copy and paste lyrics from some other web site onto this one, but please think about the inconvenience you are causing someone else if the lyrics you post are EXACTLY THE SAME as another copy of lyrics that has already been posted." The truth is it never occurred to me for an instant that anyone would do that. But I'm sure he is right. I am very old and of the pre-computer generation; but I dare say that those of the Cut and Paste generation might well do that, because it is what passes in some places today as research. I always had in mind what I always do on Mudcat - laboriously typing out the full version I sing, or the relevant sections from someone else's performance that I am familiar with.

That said, I am less happy about his comment "And what do you get when you get when you compare ten different copies of a song at Mudcat? Do you think you would find ten different versions? Probably not. You'd be lucky to find two or three distinctly different versions... In other words, you'd find that comparing them has been a waste of your time." I accept his description, but not the conclusion he comes to. I don't believe that it is necessary for a version to be 'distinctly different' in order for it to be useful/important. I believe that quite small differences can be important, not just from the point of view of analysing a song or tracing roots, but also simply to the enjoyment and appreciation of a song.

Two anecdotes to illustrate what I mean. I'm afraid that since they both involve me they come from the extreme end of the spectrum, but I think the point remains good and many others would identify similar feelings.

a) In spite of having heard versions by many great singers from Belle Stewart downwards I never really 'got into' Lakes of Killin/Coolfinn. Then one day I heard the old gypsy singer Geoff Ling sing it. Instead of Willie or William Leonard he sang Bill Leonard. I realised from that one word that to him this was not some remote courtly event, but something very real that could have, and perhaps did, happen in the local duckpond. I came to love that song, and though I don't sing his version in other respects, I always sing Bill.

b) As I think I once admitted in another thread, I once spent much of a day's holiday doing nothing but singing Robin-a-thrush over and over again, certainly in excess of 50 times, for no reason other than to decide whether Jiggedy Jaggedy or Hippety Hoppety worked better as the first two words of the chorus. It may seem extraordinarily sad, but to me as a singer it was important, and I was glad that collectors had given me the opportunity by recording both.

[The answer, by the way, is Jiggedy Jaggedy. But don't take my word. Try it yourself.]