The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4029437
Posted By: Vic Smith
21-Jan-20 - 10:53 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Steve wrote: -
I know you are aware of this but their collections do include quite a few songs that were definitely Music Hall and parlour songs. And what of those of us who were collecting in the 60s? Should we have ignored Music Hall songs?

This is, of course, was the centrally disputed point in the long, contentious - at times aggressive - thread on Steve Roud's book with the main objector not currently taking part in Mudcat debates.
One of the strangest things for me about this is that quite a number of the songs that my father (born -1914 - & raised in rural Oxfordshire not far from where Freda Palmer lived) sang around the house now have Roud numbers. Two examples would be The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me (Roud 10437) and Two Sweethearts (Roud 1783). The latter is the "One had hair of silvery grey..." song.
I particularly hated the "Little Shirt" song when I was young finding it a silly, annoying song. Much later on when I started spending time with the old rural singers in Sussex, I was surprised to hear it sung by, amongst others, George Belton and George Spicer. Significantly, the versions in words and tune that the Georges sang showed differences from one another and both these showed differences from that version that I had learned (unwillingly, reluctantly but very vividly in my memory) from a previous Vic Smith. By that time it was too late to ask my dad where and how he had learned it.
I would bet that none of these three singers could tell you that the song was written by Harry Wincott (1 January 1867 – 20 April 1947) who composed songs for many of the Music Hall greats. All of them could have the song learned from recordings, from the radio or sung by members of their family or community. The important thing for Steve R. and other modern ethnomusicologists/folk song scholars is that the song had been taken up by the "folk" and had been subject to the process of change.
This raises two (not all that serious!) questions for me: -
1] If I learned songs with Roud numbers from my father, does that make me a traditional singer?
2] If the answer is Q.1 is "yes" can I expect to be treated with more respect and reverence on this forum?
Apologies for the thread drift but don't blame me, guv, blame that Steve Gardham, He set me off - honest!