The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #145654   Message #3373594
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
08-Jul-12 - 10:08 AM
Thread Name: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
Subject: RE: A.L.Lloyd & Sea Chanties
"South Australia" may have been written by Lloyd as well.

I wouldn't be as charitable as Steve. L & M presentedthemselevs as much more than simple entertainers: their extensive sleeve notes, their learned references to scholarly sources, their (deserved) air of unusual knowledgability advertises them as being dedicated to documentary authenticity, particularly in the '50s, when nobody but a relatibe handful of academics and aficionados had the slightest idea of what English folksong, including shanties, was all about.

They were great singers. They hooked me on the subject. They could also be good scholars when they wanted to be.

Unfortunately that was not all the time, and they sometimes got very sloppy if not downright misleading - though by non-academic standards their transgressions were harmless, if occasionally tawdry (I'm thinking especially of Lloyd's blithe anglifying of American whaling songs he got from Colcord, though that was early in his career).

I doubt that Hugill was guilty of either "hypocrisy" or "bullshit." He was not a trained scholar, and like most people he often spoke off the cuff, basing his remarks on impressions and recollections that he may not have scrutinized. As he says frankly in the intro to SSS, he never wrote down the songs he learned at sea until he started writing his book in the 1950s. After thirty years of being away from sail, and without graduate training in textual criticism, it's no surprise that his texts are sometimes a hodgepodge of what he genuinely learned, what he made up at sea or in a German POW camp, and what he picked up as presumably genuine from shanty books. It would be easy to confuse these things, just as it would be easy for a busy amateur to edit some songs more rigorously than others. He may even have relied heavily on memory when writing down verses he got from print. Why not? Think of the time saved. And of course shantymen varied even established words somewhat when singing.

Hugill is outspokenly skeptical of many of Davis & Tozer's texts for being too drippily sentimental. Yet I believe he also mentions somewhere that his father owned a copy and thought it was a fine collection. (And we know that Stanley Slade, of the generation preceding Hugill's, recorded some of D&T's versions. His own preference? The BBC's requirement? It would be good to know.)