The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4031506
Posted By: Jim Carroll
01-Feb-20 - 06:12 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
I really wasn't going to bother with this - I have always believed that everything that was worth saying about this book was said three decades ago when it was more-or-less rejected by a still healthy folk song scene
However, as this discussion appears to be lacking the same two most important features as did ‘Fakesong’, perhaps it is worth mentioning them here

As with Harker, there has been no attempt to examine ‘the forgeries’ in question – the songs that were collected and presented as ‘the voice of the people’ by Sharp and his colleagues and later on by those who accepted (more or less, with reservations), those who followed them into the field – the Lomaxs and the Library of Congress researchers, the BBC team, Goldstein, Mike Yates, Hamish Henderson, Peter Hall, David Buchan, Hugh Shields, Tom Munnelly…… (all taken in by the big con)
Harker chose to denigrate the earlier collectors systematically, personally and by questioning their competence and veracity, rather than present their ‘forgeries’ as evidence.
This discussion has more or less followed the same pattern – no examination of the songs, just the characters and abilities of people who, up to now, have been regarded with a degree of respect and in some case reverence

Harker was totally ignorant of the genre of songs he was dismissing as “fakes” – he relied on the assistance of others to produce his book and, in doing so, aroused a great deal of anger and resentment in the way he treated the help he had been given
He said on a number of occasions that his appearance at conferences had been curtailed because of the hostile reception he received
I see little that has happened since to alter that position – on the contrary, the confusion and often hostility that now exists surrounding the term “folk” seems to indicate that that effect of ‘Fakesong’ has been to add to the mess that is now ‘folk’

The second stunning omission has been the singers themselves – no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen

The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served – without them all that is left is personal opinion and (not very well-informed) guesswork

In my opinion, if any sense is to be made of the enigma that is folksong, it lies in gathering together all the research from as far back as possible and examining that as a whole
Harker adopted the Pol Pot ‘return to the year zero’ approach of throwing everything out, yet he presented no suggestions on who we should remove the scales from our eyes and start again – classic ‘baby out with the bathwater’.
It obviously has achieved nothing but harm to date
Jim Carroll