The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #158878 Message #3763229
Posted By: Lighter
06-Jan-16 - 08:53 AM
Thread Name: folk process: tune evolution?
Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
> Is any of this so far inaccurate/controversial?
> Broomfield Wager/Maid on the Shore; Unfortunate Rake/Streets of Loredo/St James Infirmary
The members within these groups aren't related in the same way. "Broomfield" and The Maid" address similar (though not identical situations) without being textually (or melodically, AFAIK) related. "The Maid" was conceivably inspired by "Broomfield," but it is probably more likely that both, perhaps coincidentally, reflect a much older motif of a young woman (presumably a virgin) magically outwitting a rapist or seducer. One might also compare "The Twa Magicians." (And "Lovely Joan," if you don't care for magic.)
"Streets of Laredo/ Tom Sherman's Barroom" clearly descends from "The Unfortunate Rake." What makes it especially significant is that there are no broadsides of the cowboy song: the changes were entirely via oral tradition. The alteration of the cause of death from syphilis (shocking) to a bullet (less so) is also interesting as a reflection of the tastes of singers and audiences.
"St. James Infirmary" is only a very distant relative. The situation is barely comparable and the tune is entirely different. The main point of commonality may be the appearance of "St. James" in the name of the hospital.
Best of luck with your course! Your description would certainly lead me to approve it in our English Department!